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Brick and Mortar Businesses and the Internet: Expansion, Survival or Extinction?

By Internet Lawyer

I want to share with you what happened this week when speaking to a small group of brick-and-mortar business owners and employees at lunch.

As everyone talked about what they did, there was a feeling that this is what it must have been like at a meeting of blacksmiths right at the time cars were first making their appearance.

Denial for some. Business as usual.

Others exploring the options for changing their businesses to reflect that horses would no longer play a key role in transportation…

…and yet another subset knowing that changes needed to be made but not what to do.

The Internet is doing that to brick-and-mortar biz. As you’ve seen, competition is no longer the guy across the street. The entrepreneur in South Africa, Singapore, or India is just chomping at the bit to take your clients.

And where there is fear and uncertainty, con artists move in and pluck the money from the ignorant. For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just nailed some hucksters who were sellingweb services franchises.

You can find my take on franchises versus licensing in these two blog posts:

Licensing Agreements Can Grow Your Business” and

Franchises – Consider Doing Something Different For Your Business


Ten years ago, virtual mall scams were the rage. Some things don’t change. Business owners who don’t know their way around the Internet are easy prey.

On the other hand, technology opens up a global market of potential clients that you never had before, i.e. there’s greater opportunity too.

Whatever you do, don’t be the blacksmith who has the narrow focus on how to capture a larger share of the dwindling market of horses to shoe within trotting distance of your shop.

Get out there and compete. If there’s a way to do it online, then do it.

Buy-Sell Agreements Can Protect Ownership of Your Business

By Internet Lawyer

A buy-sell agreement, also known as a buy-and-sell agreement, allows business owners to make arrangements by contract for surviving owners to buy out the interest of a co-owner who dies or decides to leave the company. Whether your business operates as a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company, a buy-sell agreement can help you plan for the future.
This type of contract can provide for mandatory or optional purchases of an owner’s interest upon death, divorce, bankruptcy, retirement, and other events. Because you, your co-owners, and your company operate under unique circumstances, a one-size-fits-all approach usually doesn’t cut it when creating a buy-sell agreement.

You should prepare to make the best of all circumstances that can trigger a buyout so that your business continues operating and each owner benefits from the advance planning made in the buy-sell agreement.

And because circumstances often change both on a business and personal level, it is important to have any existing buy-sell agreement reviewed on a regular basis with your lawyer to ensure that it still accurately reflects what you want.

Living Trusts, Wills, And Business Owners

By Internet Lawyer

There are some financial planners, and even a few lawyers, who pitch living trusts (a.k.a. inter vivos trusts) as the solution to all estate planning issues. The alleged benefits are asset protection, avoid probate, and evade taxes. Take these with a grain of salt. In most instances, creditors can and will go after assets, probate is necessary, and tax evasion brings the I.R.S. knocking at the door with assessments, penalties, and sometimes with handcuffs.

Does this mean that business owners should avoid living trusts? Of course not. Just avoid professionals who claim that a living trust is always the best estate planning device.
In some cases, a living trust is a legitimate part of estate planning. For example, living trusts can provide some privacy, speed up asset transfers at death, and make it harder for disgruntled heirs to challenge asset distribution. But there are additional costs associated with these trusts and probate of a will is often a simple matter.

More importantly, a will is often needed even if there is a living trust.

Here’s why.

If a person has assets not in the trust, and there is no will, the government decides who gets what.

And even if these non-trust assets are not that important, what about minor children and family pets? If there isn’t a will in place, state law decides where they go. This means that an unfit (or greedy) relative can get custody of the kids and the dog may end up being put to sleep because no financial and custody arrangements were made.

To protect business and family, consult with an experienced estate planning professional. Never take the word of someone who says that a living trust solves all estate planning needs without seeking a second opinion.