Category Archives: business law

Protect Yourself From Brand Thieves!!

Brand Thieves and Squatters

I LOVE business. I find having a business idea, developing a plan, giving “birth” to it, watching it grow and generate revenue is so exciting. What can be worse than building it all and  having someone snatch not only your business idea, but also your business or product name?!! YIKES!!

I help so many people develop amazing businesses and the last thing they think about is protecting their name. I get it. Often I meet people that have been in business for awhile and STILL aren’t concerned about it. They get real concerned about it- to the point of tears and a bunch of bad words- once someone else starts using the same (or a very similar name). The anger and fear is at even higher levels when they learn that someone else may have even gone as far as obtaining a federal trademark registration for the name.

It is a sick feeling. The thought of “your baby” being snatched from you, all the money you spent on branding and possibly merchandise flushed down the toilet. They got the trademark registration and now own the name, right? WRONG! It is still yours, but just like a great relationship, you may have to fight for it.

Don’t feel intimated because you think someone “one upped” you. Here’s the deal:

If you were the first person to use the name in commerce before the weasel trademarked the name, you can have their trademark canceled. Great news, right?!

So, what does “use in commerce” mean? Briefly it means a) when the name is placed on the goods, labels, tags, etc ; b) the goods are sold or transported in commerce; c) on services, when the name is displayed in the sale or advertising of services.

One may feel intimated upon receipt of a demand to stop using the name because it has been registered by another person. However, knowing your rights and having the proof of when you began using it in commerce, can help in your fight for your name.

Although it may not be hard to prove, it is a headache to present everything and seek cancelation of the other person’s trademark so that you can then seek registration. A headache that can be avoided. My advice is to just handle this before it can ever become an issue. Seek trademark registration early on in your venture. In today’s social media age, when someone sees a name that they like, unfortunately they “take” it. They will bully the real owner, ignore all requests to stop and even offer to sell it back to the real owner.

Treat your business like a REAL business. Handle your intellectual property/ brand ownership before someone mishandles you!

Need help? Click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.

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3 Tips To Reduce the Risk of Your Business Being Sued

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Let’s face it…we live in a “sue-happy” nation. Lawsuits for this, lawsuits for that. Some are warranted and others are not. Either way no one wants to get caught up in the paper trail and the headache associated with being served a petition. I have a few tips to share to help REDUCE (because of course there are no guarantees) the chances of being sued.

  1. Incorporate Your Business: If you are sued it would suck if your personal assets got all caught up in the headache! Incorporate your business in your state so that it can exist as an entity separate from you and your personal assets. There are several different types of entities that may provide you with protection. These include: Limited Liability Company, S-corp, C-corp, partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, etc. Each entity is taxed differently. Therefore you should check with a professional in your state to determine which would be the best fit.
  2. Trademark: You print marketing materials, create branded products, create an amazing website all under a business name that you did not know already existed. YIKES! If you do this you are infringing upon the other company’s trademark rights. In order to avoid this from happening be sure that the name you are using is available.. not just in your state but in all states! If it is a name that you  do not want anyone to use in the same business category for which you are using it, you will want to trademark the name.
  3. Legal Agreements: Of course having legal agreements in place will not prevent someone from filing a lawsuit against you. However what it does is makes things crystal clear between each party so that there will not be any (or at least minimal) confusion later. Popular agreements include an employee agreement, vendor agreement, contract employe agreement and more.

This list is short. There are so many other factos that come into place when it relates to protecting your brand. However this list gives you an idea of some things you can implement if you have not already.

Business Blessings,

Lenise

***Sharing this information does not create a professional relationship and it does not replace an attorney. Please seek legal advice for your specific needs.

3 Ways Authenticity Puts Money in the Bank

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Think about successful entrepreneurs that you know or follow. One thing you may find that they all have in common is that they are authentic. They open up about their lives, they share their passions, they give you an invitation to get close to them although you never really meet them.

That authenticity comes from confidence. You see, when you are confident in yourself and what you believe you really don’t care about what anyone may think about you. Therefore you don’t really hesitate to share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc with others. There is no hesitation even if  it requires going against the grain in order to stay true to yourself.

I am going to share 6 reasons why being authentic PAYS. For the sake of time (and not losing your attention) lol I am going to share three of them today.

1. It’s Super Easy To Make Great Decisions For Your Life & Business:
If you remain true to yourself and your visions nothing will distract you.Confident and authentic people do not feel the need to be like anyone else. They do not feel pressure in making a decision or in voicing their own truths. Outside influence does not bother them.

Once your vision is clear you will begin to spend less time explaining yourself, explaining your prices and explaining how you do business. Therefore sticking to who you are, what you believe in and remaining focused on your goals makes the decision making process easier.

When you know WHO you are and WHAT you want to do it becomes easy to see what decisions will go in furtherance of your mission. The more consistently you do things in alignment of your mission, the more people understand and see that you are genuine. Once others see that they trust you more people will do business with you. Confident and being genuine is the catalyst to trust.

2. You Will Attract the Best Customers That Will Pay You:
People want to do business with HUMANS. Humans make mistakes, humans have feelings… people don’t like robots.

When you convey your feelings, admit your mistakes, share your story (even when it’s not flattering) you gain respect. Real leaders are those that are capable of gaining respect. People will pay someone that is human.

3. You Learn More:
Have you heard the saying:  The more you learn the more you earn? I have no idea who to credit with that, but I am honest enough to say it is not my quote..lol. Regardless of the author, this statement is true. If you are “perfect” you lose opportunities to learn.

Authentic people are open to admitting that they do not know everything. Therefore they are open to learning about new experiences and subjects. Authenitc people can admit when they need help. They recognize when it is time to hire an expert and when they coaching.

Avoiding the pitfall of being a stubborn entrepreneur that can do everything yourself will help you stay in business, develop new strategies and EARN MORE MONEY!
I hope this is helpful. Please share your comments/ thoughts.

What Home Depot Taught Me About Vision Boards

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Earlier in the year I sent several messages out about goal setting, visions boards and having a 2015 mission. For the most part I try my hardest to practice what I preach. This year I decided that I wanted to speak in a different capacity. I speak at events that I plan and at conferences, but I wanted to speak at corporations, at international conferences… I wanted to take it up a notch! Although I often speak on business and legal topics I wanted to add more. My question to myself was how I would transition and merge into a market of this nature when I ordinarily speak on entrepreneurship. What company would want me to talk to their employees about opening a business, right?! I sure they would be itching for someone to come in and tell their staff how to quit …. that was not going to work LOL

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” -Habakkuk 2:2

Well it happened! I put it out there that I was a corporate speaker. Although I had not done corporate speaking before I just declared it! Well within a few weeks of putting myself out there I got a call from Home Depot Corporate office. They invited me to tell me story and speak to their female leaders at their annual Women in Leadership Conference on the importance of women in leadership. WOW!!! I was blown away! I of course said YES 🙂

The conference was yesterday and I enjoyed it. I spoke to the female leaders from three divisions in Georgia. I shared my story of how I was a recent law school graduate that had to seek food stamps. I told them I pushed through that period of my life followed by a heartbreaking divorce to build a multiple 6 figure law practice. I then told them how I walked away from it all! Eyes always get really big when I tell that story..lol I then shared statistics with them on how women make up 52% of the population, but only hold 18% of leadership positions. I gave them my reasons of why I think this exists as well as offered my personal suggestions of how we as female leaders can change that.
The most profound moment was when I asked the ladies that would rate themselves as a 9 or a 10 as a leader to raise their hands. No one raised their hand. I asked those that would rate themselves as a 5, 6,7 or 8 to raise their hands. At that point all of the hands went up high. My point: had I asked a room full of males that same question the majority of the hands would have been raised the first time.

As women we need to give ourselves more credit. Malcolm Forbe said it best, “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

My point in sharing this with you is to stop doubting what you can do. If you want to do it just make it part of your vision and make it happen. If I doubted whether I could speak in a corporate setting I would not have put myself out there. Had I not put myself out there I would not have spoken at not just any company, but a Fortune 50 company. That still blows me away!

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Promise me that if you did not already make your vision clear you will do it today. Promise me that you will start to celebrate all that is great about you and continue to make a difference. The world needs you; they are waiting. Home Depot taught me that vision boards can work. Just remember to couple it with action! What are your thoughts on this? Comment below; I’d love to her from you.

Business Blessings,
Lenise

Do as I Say Not as I Did

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I met or connected with many of those that follow me and my endeavors through an organization I started some time ago called Mompreneur, Inc. Mompreneur, Inc was designed to celebrate and educate the mompreneurs- the female entrepreneurs that are successfully running their business and being the matriarch of the home. As you may personally know that is NOT AN EASY TASK!

Mompreneur, Inc provided education opportunities for mompreneurs. This was mostly done through live events. I then started providing more private consulting and legal services to entrepreneurs which left me with less time to focus on Mompreneur, Inc. With so many women-owned businesses closing and women feeling frustration and losing hope it was important to me to find the resources and experts to help ensure success. My passion remained with the organization.

However in addition to the time constraints there where other struggles. My primary struggle was that I found it was incredibly difficult to impact a community of mompreneurs when they were spread all over the globe. So many women were requesting live events and for chapters to be organized in their city I found myself overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with trying to manage my own start-ups, my children AND attempt to execute the organization. I honestly stepped back because I could not handle the demand. I was not expecting such a huge global response. I was thinking a small local organization meeting at a small table at Starbucks! SURPRISE, SURPRISE! It was a classic example of thinking too small and not planning BIG enough.

After months and months of brainstorming and talking it out with my team of advisors I feel I have created the perfect solution to reach the masses! ***Clears throat and smiles****I am pretty darn excited about it too!

(INSERT DRAMATIC DRUMROLL HERE PLEASE)

I am pleased to have the ability to unite and educate mompreneurs nationwide through a virtual subscription box. Do you love subscription services as much as I do? This works much like a subscription box service that delivers hair products, jewelry, snacks, etc to your door step every month. However instead of delivering beauty and snack treats to your MAILBOX every month we deliver educational services and resources straight to your email INBOX every month.

This will provide education and resources to help subscribers’ grow their business. It also provides tips on the balance that mompreneurs have been yearning for. The service also provides monthly e-books, virtual business group coaching, business motivational conference calls, access to a private online community, specialized business educational webinars from industry experts, access to exclusive interviews with successful mompreneurs, a mobile app with discounts to over 200 vendors and MORE!

I already know you will LOVE it!! For more info on the service and how it works click here.

Mompreneur, Inc launches at 12 am tonight (June 7). For the month of June there will only be 100 subscriptions. FIRST COME FIRST SERVED. Here is the secret… Registration is open for a few hours RIGHT NOW for my VIPs. HURRY UP!!!  Click here.

I hope this relaunch helps you to see the importance of thinking BIG. Had I thought and planned for big initially there would be no need for a relaunch. Nonetheless it was a learning experience and I good story to share with my clients. “Do as I say, not as I did”!

Hope to see you on the subscription list!

I’d love your feedback! Check out the site and let me know what you think below.

XOXO,

Lenise

My Top 3 Mistakes as an Entrepreneur

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I am addicted to making my own money. When a first time entrepreneur earns their first 50 bucks ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT A BOSS the feeling is empowering. Well, I can only speak for myself. 🙂
I have been a business owner in some capacity for eleven years. I absolutely love it and would not have it any other way. However in buying businesses, starting businesses and growing businesses I have learned so much. Many of the things I have learned I learned by making mistakes…plenty of them. I want to share the top three mistakes I made as an entrepreneur with you. Hopefully you can learn from them. Here are a few more tips on budgeting.

1. Don’t think every opportunity is the best opportunity.
In the beginning I thought everyone that reached out to help me or support me were all “Team Lenise”. Guess what? Many of them were not. People that I thought were “Team Lenise” would present to me what I thought are opportunities. I would jump at them without hesitation. After getting burned several times I realized that some (not all) get close to you because they want to see you fall. Some disguise that with what looks like an opportunity that you just can’t pass up. Do me a favor: investigate, investigate and investigate again. Trust your intuition. If it seems too good to be true it very well may be too good to be true!

2. Create a budget and stick to it.
Whether you have created a budget for the year or for the month try your hardest to stick to it. Troubled financials is one of the biggest reasons that small businesses close. Every dollar counts…it all adds up! Don’t be scared to switch vendors and price search. If you are going over budget research other vendors and make sure that you are getting the best price possible. I had an office supply vendor that I worked with for years; however I had to stop doing business with them after finding lower prices elsewhere. Loyalty is great, but business is business!

3. Don’t ever get comfortable.
Business is booming. All that marketing you did has really paid off. Here is my tip: DO NOT STOP! Keep marketing and keep working hard like you did before anyone knew anything about you or your products/services. It is that same hunger that will keep you afloat. I remember when my phone in my first business (my law office) never rang. I did some effective marketing and for 2 months straight the phone rang off the hook. I got comfortable and way too confident. I stopped airing commercials as often. I figured I did not need it. Needless to say my phone did stop ringing and I had a drought for awhile. Once I started marketing again it picked back up. However had I kept the momentum going I wouldn’t have experienced that drought.

There are so many other things that I have learned. However these stand out the most. Take the time to listen to stories from others. You can learn so much and avoid so many pitfalls if you just take the time to listen. I did not have the privilege of having a mentor when I started my first business. It was so competitive that everyone feared that the other person would take their clients. Silly, I know. Back then I did not know that business coaches, consultants, etc even existed. Had I known I could have saved myself lots of time, headache and money. But then again if I had known then I wouldn’t be able to share with you!

What is your biggest lesson learned? Share below.

What I Learned When I Intentionally Checked Out

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I have been SUPER, SUPER busy lately. Advising and working on projects with my clients, creating new material for entrepreneurs, hosting a radio show on Business RadioX, getting my kids everywhere they need to go… I could go on and on but I will stop there …lol!

Lately things have been going so fast I couldn’t even think straight. I found myself becoming overwhelmed and pretty flighty and loopy at times. As women we just keep going and going with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

My two little boys were headed out to Jamaica with their dad for Spring Break for a week. I felt that I needed my own Spring break!  I decided to “intentionally check out” for EIGHT days. YIKES! If you know me personally you would know that it is hard for me to sit for even 30 minutes without doing anything. However, I am happy to report that I successfully completed all eight days of my intentional check-out. (Insert applause and cheers here!!) I took my time off to travel, rest, prepare my mind & spirit for revelations and do pretty much whatever the heck I wanted to do!

I spent 9 hours at a day spa in the beautiful and serene mountains of North Carolina, I went to dinner by myself, I had a mani and pedi day, I was able to visit family in Louisiana…ahhhh. I forgot what it was like to just RELAX! I was also able to see my little brother graduate from the Louisiana State Police Academy. Becoming a State Trooper had been his dream since he was 5 years old. What an honor to witness him achieve his childhood dream 🙂

In my eight days of relaxing I realized that for the last few months I have been really busy, but not successful. Busy is not always a good thing. In my solitude I learned that busy is sometimes a way to keep from focusing on what really needs to be done or to prevent from focusing on how/what we are currently feeling or experiencing in life.

The time away was a great gift to myself. It caused many revelations and new ideas for what I can do to better my clients and myself both personally and professionally. I have promised myself that I will schedule at least 90 minutes a day to just RELAX and REGROUP. It can be lounging in bed an extra 30 minutes, having a silent 30 minute lunch and 30 minute evening prayer time or it can be 90 straight minutes in the gym. However I break down the time I WILL GIVE MYSELF 90 MINUTES a day. I am certain that this will give me more clarity, more focus and LESS overwhelm.

I invite you to join me in this Intentional 90 minute a day check out. You deserve to do absolutely nothing for 90 minutes per day/ 10.5 hours per week/ 315 hours per month. Otherwise your head will ache and your brain will explode… like mine almost did 🙂

Cheers to checking out! What are you going to do to intentionally check out? Let me know below.