Dell Technologies
BMS-center-logo
 

Guide to Legalese for Veteran Business Owners

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

We’ve all heard of “legalese.” It’s famously confusing. But how are we supposed to follow the law when barely understand the letter of it? We all must deal with business contracts, especially in the business world. But slogging through the thick language is enough to send the best of us into a trance.

What do Veteran Business Owners need to know? Let’s start with the basics that might help us wade through the marshland without getting stuck in the mud.

Business owners should understand the concept of offer and acceptance. An offer legally binds us and grants us the right to accept at any time before withdrawal. In fact, the offeror may withdraw at any time before acceptance. Business owners should realize the weight of such terms when dealing with customers and contractors. 

Weasel words abound, so scan any document you sign. Also, here is an important point. Not every contract involves a signature on paper.

Before you sign (or agree to) a contract, look out for these terms, however, worded, before any danger breach:

Offer: Remember that the offer itself carries its own legal weight. The offer in most cases grants the right to accept. Ideally, the offer carries terms precise enough to convey what is expected. Assuming a “meeting of minds” (and yes, that is a term of art), the offer becomes law upon acceptance.

Acceptance: When the offer is accepted, it binds both parties. An outstanding question remains: what are the terms? 

Negotiators need to think of what they are agreeing to. Also, think carefully about how you are supposed to agree to it. sometimes just behaving like you’ve sealed the deal is enough to bind you in court.

Breach: This is a magic word. A contract binds each party. The terms of the contract, however, may get wrangled over in court. Parties should always know what they agreed to. 

Force Majeure: Some legal terms are tough to pin down. Force majeure can encompass any variety of circumstances that make performance impossible. It is a fancy way of saying undue burden. 

Perhaps Hurricane Katrina just struck on the other side of the country, where you get your supplies. Maybe someone in the supply chain got the flu during the Pandemic. The situation will differ on a case-by-case basis, and the burdened party may be excused from performing their part of the deal.

Parties: A contract should make clear the identity of the parties. 

Indemnity, Waiver, Hold Harmless: Each of these terms is a fancy piece of jargon to get someone off the hook. 

First, a contract may indemnify against harm to third parties, assigning liability entirely to one of the contractors. 

Second, a waiver may spell out conditions under which some responsibility under some circumstance.  Occasionally, a contract may even waive liability for a court claim. These clauses may or may not be completely enforceable and should be read carefully.

Third, a contract may hold a party harmless in cases of harm to the other party. Again, these clauses have varying degrees of legality, and their validity should be verified by an attorney.

Now let’s see what happens after a breach:

Arbitration or Mediation: In some cases, parties may agree to pass through a professional who will settle disagreements. They may escape a trial in court, but the resulting decision is considered an enforceable contract.

Forum/Choice of Law: Sometimes, the physical location of a court case may influence the outcome of a court case. Other times, controversy arises over the law to be applied case itself.  Lawyers routinely fight over these questions. The law is not the same in any jurisdiction. Similarly, the forum, or physical location, may unduly burden one party. For this reason, parties often spell out these issues beforehand during the formation of the contract.

Liquidated Damages: Contracts may prescribe a preset compensation in case things fall through. These clauses are usually enforceable when reasonable.  However, remember that “reasonable” may be a matter for the courts to decide.

Severability: Sometimes, part of a contract is simply unenforceable. A severability clause ensures that the rest of the contract is still in force.

Each of these terms may be referred to as something else. However, all appear routinely in business, and even in personal transactions. An understanding of the basic principles behind each can term prevent a serious headache for everyone involved.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It was not written by attorneys and should not be considered legal advice.  VAMBOA recommends that you consult your own attorney before entering into any type of legal agreement.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

Other eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid: Part 2 of 2

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Choosing the Wrong Metrics of Success

Consider the industry and market. Many businesses are seasonal, especially in the eCommerce field. Short-term measurements may hold limited relevance for long-term success. In addition to sales revenue, important considerations may include customer satisfaction, customer turnover, customer engagement, and the cost of acquiring new clients. Feedback from customers may prove just as useful for long-term growth as raw numbers reflecting factors such as sales revenue.

Remember the bottom line. Metrics such as site views are a good sign, but don’t let your head puff up until you’ve seen the end rewards. Beyond tactics such as “search engine optimization,” businesses should flesh out their intelligence with a multidimensional approach that provides multiple perspectives and can better develop strategies for the future.

Plan for a Reasonable Balance Between Supply and Demand

In the initial excitement of contract negotiation, business owners might overestimate demand for their projects. Wise entrepreneurs take baby steps while wading through the planning phase. The time for a deeper plunge is after a realistic assessment of product demand. Only after meeting demand becomes a challenge in itself should a new business expand its initial investment.

Too much product at the outset complicates a website, adds to maintenance costs, and wastes the original investment.

Work Out Sales Promotion Strategies in the Early Stages

New business owners can also go overboard with their initial advertising. Remember to carefully ponder sales promotions, and tailor them to your company’s goals. Some business managers can dump money into advertising that can misfire, even harming brand image or simply wasting resources.

A tasteless, spammy, or annoying sales promotion does no one favors. Neither do wasteful practices such as carelessly executed free sample campaigns. Remember that ads should take advantage of the right time, place, and style to effectively influence potential clientele.

Prioritize Wise Contract Negotiation

Irrational optimism can doom new companies. Small business owners need to put together contracts with the worst possible outcomes in mind. Human nature tends to assume everything will go smoothly, but the inevitable snags often pop up unexpectedly. Veteran business owners should pour over contracts with a fine-tooth comb with an eye toward the life of a contract rather than the bare minimums and the foreseeable future.

Careless Choice of Advertising Partners

Remember that you have as much of a right to choose your advertisers as they to choose you. Advertisers need to stay relevant, ethical, and lucrative. Advertisements should stay interesting and tasteful. In other words, new business owners should maintain self-respect and not get carried away in the excitement of finally receiving sponsorship.

Consider Effective Customer Contact Strategies

Email lists can provide a free method to reach prospects on demand. Remember to form these lists quickly, efficiently, and ethically. When soliciting contact information, make sure to obtain a full profile of the customer’s interests, goals, and potential. Effective customer contact lists can save a fortune in advertising later.

Conclusion

Ecommerce presents its own set of risks. Without careful contemplation, Veteran Business Owners can go overboard in the wrong direction at the outset, in ways that can quickly deplete resources. The remote nature of the online customer relationship amplifies these. Careful, realistic, and multidimensional feedback and planning can effectively prepare for success in the modern, largely internet-based economy.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

Strategies for an Exceptional Business Website

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Remember the Importance of Standing Out from the Crowd

A distinctive online presence can attract new prospects. A flashy website should never occupy too much time or too many resources. However, always remember that first impressions are very important and matter. The sloppy online presentation does not do Veteran Business Owners any favors.

White Backgrounds are a Cross-Industry Staple for a Reason.

White backgrounds lend clarity, elegance, and professionalism. For this reason, eCommerce sites rarely deviate from this standard. Such a background creates the perfect backdrop for memorable, distinctive content. 

Web designers should take full advantage of the “blank slate” provided by a white background. In other words, remember to keep plenty of white space around any content you choose to highlight. Plenty of white space prevents clutter and draws attention to the important parts of your presentation.

The Layout Should Spark “Friendships” with Possible Customers.

Websites should introduce your customers to the enterprise’s personality. Angles may include the company’s values, the company’s history, and the company’s inspiration.

Strategies may include photos, biographies, and videos. Essentially, business owners should make their brand relatable. The personality of your business should be the first thing prospective customers think of when considering their buying needs.  The idea is to tell your story and keep your audience and customers engaged.

Finally, badges and awards signaling special recognition should be prominently displayed.

Make those Photos Top-Notch or even Professional.

Photos can provide a link between a prospect’s world and that of your company. Owners should place great care in making them not only good but spellbinding if possible.

Due to legal restrictions, beware of stock photos or unlicensed material. Good websites keep the pictorial content original. For example, some businesses produce their own pictures, and others hire professional photographers. The investment can really pay off.

Keep Your Website Dynamic: Add a Blog Section.

A blog section can make a site more interesting by providing information relevant to your industry. Frequent updates can hold the interest of regular customers. Thusly, Veteran Business Owners can show off their expertise and qualifications. In this way, a business owner can impress readers with their ability to meet customers’ needs.

Use the Website to Spread the Word. Promotions and Special Deals Matter.

One strategy is to “wow” potential customers with special deals. Consider any bonus inventory in your lot that may supply a catchy new sales campaign. A prominent display on your home page can distinguish you from other merchants.

Similarly, remember that small things count. A small gift or even a “thank you” at the end can go a long way in establishing goodwill between yourself and the customer. 

Conclusion

From the smallest gestures to the most outrageous deals, the content of your website should take center stage. The aesthetics should primarily function to highlight that content. 

Obviously, your operations should come first even for a web-based business. Simplicity is key, but a wisely put-together site can complement effective operations and draw new customers into your spell. 

Veteran Business Owners should always keep their priorities straight. A website should integrate with your everyday activities. No one needs distracting bells and whistles, but customers can sense your competence with a first impression that effectively and professionally displays what you have to offer. 

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

How Small Businesses Can Minimize Tax Liability in 2022

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

  1. Registering your corporation has Benefits. . . and Liabilities

One important consideration during tax season is your company’s organization, including any registration with government bodies.

Many small businesses outgrow their initial registration types. As a small organization grows, often the ownership needs to choose different organizational strategies.

Each business structure has its own “fit.” The simplest corporate structures retain the status of pass-through businesses. This category includes sole proprietorships, LLCs (limited liability corporations), and S corporations. Some of these business structures may not pay a corporate income tax.

On the other hand, these companies may lose out on other benefits. For example, companies that pay corporate taxes may receive asset protection against creditors, such as when a natural disaster forces bankruptcy and the ownership justifiably seek to keep their private assets separate from those of their enterprise.

Consider a balance of the different considerations at each stage of the development of your business. A sole proprietorship or home business almost never requires any kind of registration. Such a measure would only bring tax liabilities and nothing else. As a business grows in complexity, perhaps the benefits of registration may outweigh the tax liabilities.

  1. Charity Work Can Provide Low-Cost Marketing While Freeing You from the Taxman

As described in other posts, involvement in the community can market your ideas, services, and products. Never forget the importance of tax breaks as well. The advantages of community engagement can lift hearts and spread the message of your company far and wide, but never forget the tax advantages. Charitable contributions are deductible, as are expenses in the pursuit of community enterprises.

  1. Consider How you Treat your Employees: Tax Benefits can Arise

The IRS provides many incentives to treat employees well. For example, retirement benefits can not only improve employee retention but can also help pinch pennies when tax time comes.

For example, a 401(k) account for your employees, or even for yourself, can allow deductions in the amount of any contributions you make. As an alternative, a SEP may provide some of the same benefits to employers

More importantly, especially considering the coronavirus pandemic, several plans allow credits for employers who work to minimize the impact on their employees during the pandemic. Consider the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

Without going into too much detail about each of these Pandemic-era legislation measures, this legislation applies to employers who paid their workers during periods of lockdown, who provided benefits to such employees, and who allowed paid time off for the purpose of getting vaccinations.

The Bottom Line

Some changes may provide increased opportunities for Veteran Small Business Owners during the 2022 tax season, not least due to the pandemic. Overall, the best strategies for minimizing tax liability may arise from investigating the right organizational strategies. Remember to apply a holistic approach to balance the right strategies not only to avoid the worst tax liabilities, but to maximize benefits to yourself, your employees, and your community as well.   This article addresses generalities, and we highly recommend that you consult a tax professional with your specific questions.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

When Copyright Law Prohibits Image Use

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Commonly, a Veteran Business Owner might choose to incorporate an image onto their materials. Visual images capture more vivid responses on social media, more so than verbal content. However, remember that legal responsibilities attach when using other peoples’ work. Generally, the creator owns the image itself.

“Trademarks” actually differ from “copyrights.” The owner of a “trademark” more likely registers at a government office. “Copyrights” can be registered but are hazier and more complicated. “Copyrights” can acquire relevance through repeated use and association with a certain brand. No official maneuvers in any public office need precede the attachment of a “copyright.” The creator of an image has rights to that image regardless of any bureaucratic steps they may take.

The “Berne Convention Treaty” determines certain basic permissible uses for copyright and applies in various countries. Among these rights is the freedom to “reproduce the work,” “make derivatives of the work,” “display the work publicly,” and “distribute the work in public.” Note the general bias against commercial use of copyrighted material.

The concept of “fair use” 

In some cases, an image can be used without the permission of the creator. Generally, these uses are not-for-profit and for the public benefit. The law has codified fair use as encompassing uses that are “for commercial, non-profit, or educational use,” “highly creative, or more fact-based,” as well as “how much of the work is reproduced,” and “how the use affects the potential market for the original work.”

However, this exception rarely applies in cases of advertisements or marketing.

What About Stock Images?

Website designers can find “stock photos” and images throughout the internet and can expect different levels of permission for use of those images.

Examples may include 67% Collection, istocphoto.com, Pexels, Stocksnap, Unsplash, Pixabay, and Freestock. The list of these sites is endless, and many stock images have become all too familiar to the public from excessive use.

When does copyright law interfere with the legality of any public use of stock images by a private company? Users should read the fine print on a stock image page, especially before use on a for-profit website. Many of these sites request licensing fees in consideration for use of these images. Even after payment, the provider and creator of the image may forbid certain uses. Remember that actors, artists, and photographers put their work into these images, and each has their own interest in how the work is used. Each might have its own “terms and conditions” for wider use.

“Creative Commons” Licenses

“Creative Commons” licenses address many of these concerns. These licenses restrict the unincumbered use of copyrighted material. For example, some artists may choose to restrict their work for noncommercial rather than commercial use. Others, for example, might choose to prohibit use for a certain political cause. Perhaps a model doesn’t want their image doctored in Photoshop, or a photographer doesn’t want changes to the lighting or background.

“Creative Commons” licenses exist in law to balance the interests of creators with those of users, especially in cases where the creators hope for widespread, but not unrestricted, use of their work.

How to Handle Copyright Concerns with Image Use

Unencumbered commercial use of online images is never a good idea. Stock photo sites provide one avenue for business owners in need of graphic imagery. However, these images generally have caveats, and business owners should carefully scan any use restrictions.

Frankly, the best option would be for business owners to produce their own imagery. In addition to evading legal complications, an independently produced image speaks to the capacities of the company.

All internet users should assume online images are never absolute public domain. Careless use of possibly copyrighted pictures can not only land Veteran Business Owners in legal hot water but could damage the reputation and legitimacy of their business as well.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

ibmpos_blurgb