Business legalities. Now, I don't mean to scare you here. Many times, small business owners and people who work from home or remotely won't even face some of the issues that I bring up today. I just want you to know about them and determine if they apply to your business. This is way better than not knowing about the issue and accidentally violating some law that you never even heard of. Now, this is by no means a fully comprehensive list. My purpose today is to get you thinking before making quick decisions that may have unintended consequences.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 561
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See Tom's Stuff – https://linktr.ee/antionandassociates[02:19] Tom's introduction to Business Legalities [03:36] Zoning, chickens and getting a business license [05:28] What type of entity are you [07:05] Getting certifications [08:28] Trademarks and defending it [10:15] CAN-SPAM Act and contracts [12:05] Employment law [15:43] Board of Directors vs Advisory Boards [17:52] Testimonials [19:20] Truth in advertising and truth in lending
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Episode 561 - Business Legalities
[00:00:09] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey everybody, it's Tom here with episode five hundred and sixty one of Screw the commute podcast today we're going to talk about business legalities now. I'm not giving you legal advice. I'm not qualified to do so. But you can be sure that I've been through many legal situations, and I certainly have opinions and stories of how things played out. So I consider myself highly qualified to give you my opinion. Ok, now I hope you didn't miss episode 560. That was Joe Libby. He actually did a magic trick on an audio only podcast, so it's very cool, and it talks about the business of magic and how much fun it is and so forth. And he actually, I tease that Arnold Schwarzenegger actually opened for him at an event in Australia. All right. So check that out. Episode 560. Anytime you want to get to a back episode, you go to screwthecommute.com slash and then the episode number that was 560. I'm sure you'll want to refer back to this one five sixty one because of all the the issues with business and legal stuff. So there you go. All right, now, we've got this great program going to help persons with disabilities get scholarships and internet and digital marketing, so you can be really proud to be part of this program by contributing to their scholarships.
[00:01:53] And we have three people in the program right now, and two of them are blind, so. So man, they're shooting videos and stuff. Just amazing what they're doing. So I'm really proud of the program. So check it out at IMTCVA.org/disabilities, and then you can click on the Go Fund Me campaign and actually see their videos of people that are blind. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
[00:02:21] All right, let's get to the main event. Business legalities. Now, I don't mean to scare you here. Many times, small business owners and people who work from home or remotely won't even face some of the issues that I bring up today. I just want you to know about them and determine if they apply to your business. This is way better than not knowing about the issue and accidentally violating some law that you never even heard of. Now, this is by no means a fully comprehensive list. My purpose today is to get you thinking before making quick decisions that may have unintended consequences, and there in all these things I bring up or in no particular order. Now, before we get into it, make sure you pick up a copy of our automation e-book. It saved me millions of keystrokes and allows me to work lightning fast. Saves me tons of work. I mean many, many hours a week. So pick up a copy at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. And while you're at it, pick up a copy of our podcast app. It's at screwthecommute.com/app, where you can put us on your cell phone and tablet and take us with you on the road. All right, let's get into some of these these things, first of all, is zoning. I mean, can you do the type of business you want to do in the place you want to do it? And even in big cities, there's way different zoning in different parts of the city. For instance, in certain parts of Virginia Beach, you can have chickens, right? And in certain parts you can't. I'm not allowed to have chickens in my in my yard, right? In this part of Virginia Beach. So you got to see what do I want to do? And this comes up when you're talking about dog training. I had dog training friends that they were allowed to have five dogs on the property at any one time. More than that, they were violating some zoning law say so. You've got to check to see if what you want to do. You can do. Some places you've got to have a sprinkler system involved to get your business license, so business license is another thing you need to get. And so basically they're pretty easy to get, but you might be subject to an inspection. Sorry, my throat's a little rough today, folks been doing a lot of work outside, so business license, whatever.
[00:04:55] All you got to do is type Google business license and then your city and it'll tell you, OK, you've got to pay 15 bucks and come down to the courthouse or something, but it's depending on your type of business. They might have an inspector come out. And that's where. If it's a retail business, you probably have to have exit signs and a sprinkler system and ADA compliant bathrooms and all kinds of stuff like that. So if you're thinking about retail, which I do not think about anymore, okay, you have to check that stuff. Now you got to think about what your legal entity. Are you a sole proprietor? Are you a corporation LLC and even corporations have S.A.C. corporations? So this is something for an accountant or or a highly skilled bookkeeper to advise you on, depending on your financial situation. You might want to have insurance or you might need insurance for certain types of business. I think it's a good idea to have insurance no matter what type of business you're in, because people look at you like, Oh, moneybags, we'll sue you. Even if you're just writing books, you got errors and omissions insurance. In case somebody says, Oh, you said something in the book and I got my leg cut off because of it. Yeah, that's tough legally for them to prove. But the thing is, is you still have to defend yourself in court, which costs a fortune, you know, so you might want to have insurance for all kinds of stuff and sometimes you're required to have insurance.
[00:06:32] You know, like, for instance, driving a car. So many states you have to have insurance. If not, you're in violation of the law, especially if you take that a step higher in business. And you might have maybe you're you're zoned for a certain thing, but you still may have restrictions on how much noise you can produce, how much traffic, I mean, even if you're selling Mary Kay and you had cars coming in and out of your house all day long. Well, that might be violating some, some local ordinance, you know, say so. You got a check on all this stuff. Now, certifications medicolegal. I know a lot of health people have to watch that. They don't cross the line into giving medical device advice. And again, like I said with here, I'm not giving legal advice. I'm just telling you. Areas that you need to look into for whatever business you're in. So certifications are are important thing now. Copyright now, where it affects a lot of the people that do. The business I do is they use some kind of graphic or photo that's copyrighted. And you can't trust Google Images to say, Oh, this is OK for commercial use. There's stuff tied to Bing and PowerPoint that says, Oh, it's OK.
[00:07:52] No, you can't trust it. And there are companies that their whole business model is designed to locate. They can locate these pictures electronically, and then they sue you for copyright infringement like a quarter of a million bucks per occurrence. Ok, so and then they settle out of court with you for four to six or seven thousand dollars, knowing that if they go for a quarter of a million, you'll just go bankrupt and they'll get nothing. So, so they they just make it high enough to scare the heck out of you. And where you could come up with the money. So you've got to be extremely careful with that. Now you got issues of trade marks and people ask me all the time, should I trademark something? Well, the first question I asked them back is can you afford to defend the trademark? Now it's getting cheaper to trademark stuff than when I first did it years ago. But the thing is, is big company. There's many scumbag big companies that will just violate your trademark knowing you can't afford to defend it. They'll just steal your intellectual property. Very common. So it's not a bad idea to trademark something. But can you defend it? That's the that's the question. Now, here's another thing for for a lot of us that sell ebooks and books and everything pre-publication sales. I mean, this would apply to anything that you're selling where people have to wait for it to actually be created before they get it.
[00:09:25] Well, the rule is, as far as I know, I've been living by and I forget where I what legal entity I saw this in a long time ago is that if you can't produce the product. At the time, you promised them, so let's just say, hey, I'll give you half price on this new book of mine if you can wait five weeks for delivery. Well, when that five week mark comes up, if you can't deliver at that time, you're by law required to contact the person that purchased and give them a chance for a refund, or ask them if they're willing to extend the time before delivery. Then you're cool. But if you just ignore the deadline and don't ship it for 10 weeks while you've violated a law, and people will probably start complaining at five weeks. All right, you have the Canned Spam Act, this is yucky or unsolicited commercial email, you need to know all about that. I get so many people that say, Oh, I got this directory of accountants and I'm going to type it all in and email them all. All right, good. You're a spammer. There's no I don't care if you're in the association, you're still a spammer, so you must comply with that. That's in the canned spam as the U.S. But Canada has one. Europe has a different one, you know, so you've got to be careful with that.
[00:10:50] Contracts, yeah, contracts are legal, legally binding instruments, and you can write them yourself. I've written plenty of them myself. That doesn't mean I did the best job in the world, OK? I saved legal fees, but doesn't mean I knew exactly what I was doing. I got a lot of experience with it now. I couldn't write one for you. That'd be, I believe, given legal services. So but you know, I've shown people examples of ones that I wrote and say, Hey, use it at your own risk. You know, I'm not vouching for it, and you have to be careful that you don't violate some law from where the contract is written. You know, it could be different. States have different laws and you know, you got arbitration clauses that can be put in. You have consideration, which is money or goods and services, changing hands and all those things. So yeah, you can do it, but you better have some experience knowing to cover yourself and be, you know, I like to be fair with both parties, you know, but you do have to cover yourself. But that's so that's contract and contract law. Now here's another biggie employment law. You got hiring and firing issues, you got interviewing, you have to be careful in interviews what you say and what you don't say and that everything is fair and non-discriminatory. Then you have firing laws, you know, and sometimes it I think it applies to different numbers of employees, the different laws, you know, so.
[00:12:34] So you've got to pay attention to that. Then another thing that's happened a lot is that people say, Well, I don't want to pay any employment taxes, so everybody that I hire is going to be a contractor. Well, yeah, until the state says they aren't. And then they hit you up for all these back payroll taxes. They're never going to hit the the contractor or the employee up. They're going to come after you and it could be enormous amounts of money. And luckily, you know, I'm a kind of a pack rat. In the back when I was in Maryland, I had thirty five different contractors working for me and my entertainment company and some snooty but lady from the state came in and tried to hit me up and say that they were all employees. Well, thank God, I had all these magazines saved up for another. I was doing another project. And so for several years I saved the Washingtonian magazine, and virtually all the people that were working for me as a contractor were advertising themselves in the back of Washingtonian magazine. When I showed that to her, she got all mad and left because that was clear proof that these people were in business and just doing jobs for me on a contract basis. But there's loads of little details of calling somebody a contractor or not that you need to know about, because if you try to pull it off and all these states are getting mercenary and trying to come and get more money out of you, then you could be hit with the enormous back payroll taxes or have to get a lawyer to defend it in state court.
[00:14:17] And, you know, so all kinds of stuff. All right, and along with employment, I think I think this was an army captain that gave a speech and after dinner speech, this was in the news several years ago. And he had to resign because he told a couple off color jokes and some of the females in the crowd complained that it was sexual harassment. So you got to really watch that, I mean, you've got, you know, high levels of sensitivities nowadays compared to the old days, whether that's good or bad, I'm not going to make any comment on it. It's just the fact that it's there and you have to protect yourself legally. So you've got to be extremely careful what you say. And I know some businesses are have a different culture than others. I mean, I know I know places that were landscaping companies. And, you know, all they did was tell dirty jokes all day long and everything. They survive just fine, but you hire the wrong person that makes a complaint. It can change your whole life, the whole culture of your business overnight. So you've just got to be darn careful. Then you got issues.
[00:15:31] I'm still on employment stuff drug testing, wrongful termination, discrimination, you know, all these kinds of things are are things that could affect you legally and you need to know what you're doing if you're the business owner. Ok, another topic is boards of directors versus advisory boards. See, a board of directors is a legal entity and they can be held legally liable for decisions made by the board where advisory boards don't, you know, so you want to look into what are the differences? Do I need a board of directors? Do I need an advisory board? Should I pay them? What's the contract? Are they going to require errors and emissions insurance to be on the board? You know, so these can be very, very important to your business for business advice from people that are that are substantial. But there's legal aspects to it, so you need to know them board of directors versus advisory boards. And then products, you got product disclaimers. So is your product have any chance of hurting somebody or is it an ingestible where I know a lot of people want to be an affiliate for supplements and things? Well, you know, that scares me because, you know, as soon as somebody gets some heavy metal contamination because the the. Ingredients came from overseas, this is another trick they pull is all the ingredients came from overseas and then it's bottled in the United States and then it says, made in the USA.
[00:17:15] Well, that's just totally disingenuous. All the all the ingredients came from overseas where there's much more lax control. So I'm very afraid when somebody ingests something that that you could be liable because they're going to sue everybody if something really bad happens to them. So let's product disclaimers, affiliate disclosures, you have to nowadays you have to disclose if you are promoting a product as an affiliate, we're in the old days. You didn't, you just told how great it was and you got a commission behind the scenes, but now you got to tell people. Oh, let's see, and then some things are just stupid. All right, I can't help it. There's this stupid. Like testimonials, I don't know how many years, five, six, seven years ago. I think the Federal Trade Commission came out and said your testimonial can only be the average results of all your clients. I'm thinking to myself, you can't regulate the relatively small infomercial industry, and now you want to take on the entire internet. It's just it's just stupid. There has been zero change that I can see, and all I do is look at ads and do this seven days a week for the last 28 years. I haven't seen any changes in testimonials or anything. I imagine if you're some super big company, they could go after you because your deep pockets. But I haven't seen any changes in testimonials, but that is the deal. That's what it's supposed to be.
[00:18:50] I don't know how anybody could ever figure out the average results of all their customers. But anyway, that's that's something to pay attention to. I mean, testimonies. You shouldn't overstate things and have see a lot of people will give you a testimonial just to get a link back to their website so you don't want them hyping things over the top of the moon, saying how great you are and there's no proof of it, and they're just lying to get in so that you'll put them up there and give them a link back to their stuff. Oh, let's see. And that's part of truth in advertising. Also, truth in lending, if you do finance for your customers, you've got to disclose if there's any interest charges, how much the whole thing will cost. I have no idea because I just do zero interest and I just split the payments up to whatever the total is. That's it. Now I do give cash discounts if they pay all at once to save me the the hassles. But I don't want to be in a financial institution because there's probably a zillion laws that I wouldn't even know about. So you've got to be careful with truth in advertising and truth and lending. Then you got liable versus slander. Things like LIBOR is a defamatory statement, I mean, both of these are defamatory statements. Libor is written and slander is oral and you bet, and the thing is, if you're telling the truth, that's your best defense, but you better be able to prove it in court that you're telling the truth.
[00:20:28] And this is a very touchy area of law. I mean, I've come out very publicly against some people and they threatened me. They got the biggest shot lawyers and in Los Angeles that that that defend all the worthless celebrities and and just scumbags, basically. But. I triple dared them to sue me because I had this massive evidence file and which would have gone public. Had they sued me so they just disappeared under the rocks and went home with five pieces pieces of crap. But anyway, you better have the darn proof in court, and like I said, this is a touchy area of law, but I'll tell you what that Kyle Rittenhouse kid is going to be wildly rich. I predict this because. And I don't care what you think about what happened there when he, you know, shot those people. It makes no difference. We're just talking about the legal aspects of this. So there's still people on TV calling him a murderer after he's been cleared by a court of law with a jury trial that he's not all right. Whether you think he is, even though he's cleared does not matter. It matters legally that he's not. And all these celebrities making all this noise and all these pieces of garbage people just to get their their 15 minutes of fame on TV, he's coming after all of them, all of them.
[00:22:08] He started some kind of foundation or something to go after all of them and to help other people that have been defamed. And it kind of reminds me of that, that kid that was standing on the D.C. mall and they just tore him up like he was smirking and doing something to a Native American. And that was all B.S. and that's boy is rich now. All right. He settled with going after the media networks because he had them dead to rights. You know, that was all made up stories and they knew it. That's the thing. I mean, making a mistake is one thing, but when you know something's untrue and you promote it, boy, you're asking for trouble. So what does this mean to you? It means don't rag on your competitors unless you can prove stuff, you know? You know, definitely in a court of law because all they have, you know, because you think you might be getting a competitive advantage. But. You might eat up the whole competitive advantages in legal fees if they sue you for libel or slander. So. So these are just, you know, there's just not a comprehensive list, but hopefully you'll have thought, OK, how does this apply to me in my business? I better do this. I better do that. I better check this. I better check that. A lot of times you can just look up the laws on the on the Google, and a lot of times an attorney will take the actual legal.
[00:23:35] A lot. The, you know, writing of the laws and and give you a breakdown of what it means to use in regular normal language, so so you might look for those kinds of things. Well, the other thing was contest, you know, you got a lot of companies want to throw contests, see enormous amount of contest law involved. So you need to know that you don't accidentally become a lottery in the feds show up at your door. Ok. I'm all for doing these things and being proactive in business, as long as you know the potential downside of what you're doing and and take steps to protect yourself. That's what I'm saying. All right. So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Hey, give us a hand over there on that scholarship program for the persons with disabilities. Hey, if you want high level training like I've been providing for over twenty five years, then check my mentor program at a great internet marketing training. It's the most unique, longest running, most successful program of its kind any, anywhere, ever. And I Triple Dog dare anybody to put their program up against mine line for line. Nobody will do it. All right. So check it out. Greatinternetmarketingtraining.com, and we'll catch you all on the next episode. See you later.