Every January there are an infinite number of blog posts on how to make or stick to your personal New Years Resolutions. But what if your business could write its own resolutions for 2017, what would they be? I don’t think many businesses would be begging for more of your time – entrepreneurs are notorious for devoting all of their time to the business. But is that precious time used effectively?
As a litigator, I meet far too many small business owners who were so busy trying to move their business forward that they didn’t notice they never made time to stop and protect the business they were working so hard to build – until it was too late. The potential points of failure for a small business are unfortunately many. Leases, employees, personal situations, intellectual property, product malfunction, and weak (or absent) contracts to name a few.
More often than not, the entrepreneur has been taken for a ride. Perhaps not maliciously, often through some misunderstanding, but the net result is that the business loses out. Interestingly, in many cases, the business is not in the wrong and has legitimate options to resolve the situation in its favour. Why then does the business lose out? Essentially, the owner doesn’t stand up for what they are entitled to. I think it’s the Nova Scotia nice guy effect. We are all brought up to be so neighbourly that the idea of standing up and demanding to get what we are entitled to somehow feels rude.
I’m here to tell you it’s not rude to stand up for yourself. If something bad has happened, go see a lawyer. You owe it to yourself, and the business you’ve worked so hard for, to at least find out what your options are. Many law firms offer this sort of initial consult for free or at a reduced fixed rate. You get to explain what has happened and get an opinion on where you stand in the eyes of the law. Walking into a law firm for a consult is a long way from actually suing someone and you may walk out with some suggestions on how to resolve the situation without any further need for a lawyer’s assistance.
And please, rest assured - you’re not alone. When clients finally do come in, many reveal that the reason they delayed coming in was that they were embarrassed to have landed in the situation. None of us are perfect and none of us are born knowing how to run every element of a business. We all make mistakes. But burying your head in the sand and pretending your mistake didn’t happen is never a smart business decision.
So, I’ll throw it out there that if your business could make a New Year’s Resolution this year, it would be to help you see that if it’s worth investing all of your time and energy into building, then it stands to reason, it’s worth standing up for it if things go wrong.
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