How to Handle a Florida Business Dispute

Florida business disputeNo business wants to get sued or become a part of a lawsuit that could have been avoided. Florida business disputes are settled much more pleasantly when the proper actions are taken before, during, and after the incident arises. In addition to avoiding litigation, the following tips are business practices that all entrepreneurs should implement to ensure professionalism, consistency, and customer satisfaction in their business:

1. Establish and maintain good relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, and business partners. A dispute will be much easier to settle outside of court if you maintain a good relationship with the opposing party. Litigation often causes rifts in relationships, and the need to avoid these rifts could aid you in avoiding litigation.
2. Know who you are doing business with. Persons and businesses with a history of entering into litigation are much more likely to engage in litigation in the future when a Florida business dispute arises.
3. Put every agreement in writing and do not sign a contract or agreement unless you know what you are signing. This will ensure that both parties understand both their responsibilities and the responsibilities of the other party. Additionally, if the agreement is in writing, then the parties will be able to refer to the agreement if a Florida business dispute arise. It is usually a good idea to have an experienced Florida contract attorney draft or review the agreement before you sign the document.
4. Purchase orders and standard agreements are another form of contract, and it is equally important to ensure these documents reflect your current business practices and the most recent laws. A Florida contract attorney will be able to properly review and revise these documents for you and your company.
5. You should maintain written files and documentation of your business relationships. If the relationship is not properly documented, then a “he-said, she-said” situation can easily arise and cause confusion. If a Florida business dispute should arise that requires litigation, this document trail will be important evidence in the process.

When a dispute arises, it is important to address the issue immediately so that it does not escalate. Many cases that proceed to litigation could have been avoided or settled if properly handled from the onset. One of the best examples of this is when a customer complains. The manner in which you handle this complaint could not only keep your company out of litigation, but it offers an opportunity for your company to exemplify its customer service. If you are able to transform a disgruntled customer into a happy customer, then they are much more likely to use your business in the future.

Source: Business Journal

Florida Registered Agent

Florida Registered AgentWhether you are incorporating a Florida Corporation, forming a Florida Limited Liability Company, or registering to do business in the State of Florida, the State requires you to have a registered agent. If you fail to properly comply with the requirements for a Florida registered agent, then you may be subject to fines, or you company may be dissolved.

A registered agent acts as the company’s representative for “service of process.” This means that they will accept writs, summonses, or other legal papers to which your company is required to respond. Hiring an Attorney as your Florida registered agent adds a layer of protection for your company. In the event that your company is sued, you will only have twenty (20) days to respond. If you do not respond on time, a default may be entered against you or the cost of the litigation may be greatly increased.

The address of the registered agent must have a Florida address and be open to the public during regular business hours. The Florida Division of Corporations states “The registered agent must sign and state that he/she is familiar with and accepts the obligations of the position.”

Here at Boyer Law Firm, P.L., we offer our registered agent services to both already formed companies and those who need our assistance with formation. If you are thinking about starting a company or need to change your Florida registered agent, then contact our business law attorneys today.

US Subsidiaries and Branch Offices

US SubsidiaryBoth branch offices and subsidiaries are separate locations where business is conducted from the main office of the corporation. The major difference between these is that a subsidiary is a separate legal entity, while a branch office is the same entity as the parent, or larger, corporation.

Although branch offices are sometimes a good idea for domestic companies, it is usually a better idea for foreign corporations to setup US subsidiaries to conduct business in the US for both tax purposes and liability issues.

Subsidiaries can be formed by purchasing a controlling interest in an existing company or by creating the company itself. The most common forms of subsidiaries are corporations or LLCs. The parent company has a duty to the subsidiary to promote the subsidiary’s corporate interest, act in its best interest, and to maintain a separate corporate identity. If the parent company fails to meet these requirements, the courts will view the two entities as one for liability purposes.

**Remember, if you are not currently conducting business in Florida and you want to setup a branch office or subsidiary, you must register to do business in Florida.**

If you are interested in setting up US subsidiaries or registering to do business in Florida, contact Boyer Law Firm’s business law attorneys today.

Gov. Scott in Paris to Encourage International Real Estate Buyers

Gov. Scott in Paris to encourage International Real Estate BuyersIn support of the Florida Real Estate Industry, Governor Rick Scott, Florida Realtor’s President Dean Asher, and Vice President of Public Policy John Sebree traveled to Paris on a trade mission that took place June 16-21 at the 50th annual International Paris Air Show.

The trio traveled to Paris to encourage French nationals to invest in business and encourage international real estate buyers in the US. Representatives from about 80 Florida-based aviation, aerospace and defense companies, educational institutes, and economic development agencies also participated in the event.

During the event, Ashe and Sebree met with members of the French national real estate federation (FNAIM) to discuss expanding ties between the two associations.

“Florida Realtors’ leadership and members always do an exceptional job promoting Florida, both home and abroad,” said Gov. Scott. “…the state Realtor association has continued to encourage job growth and business development in the Sunshine State. Florida’s housing market and economy are on the rise, and it is clear that the policies we are implementing to create opportunities for Florida families are working.”

According to Florida Realtors’ 2012 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida, French nationals made up five percent of the international real estate buyers purchasing homes in the Miami- Miami Beach area and the Orlando-Kissimmee area. French nationals made up 10 percent of international home buyers in the Palm Beach area.

Source: The Destin Log

Florida Small Business Then and Now

Florida Small Business then and nowOwning a Florida small business is drastically different than it was 25 years ago when Rhonda Abrams started her first company. Here are the differences that she has noticed betweeen Florida small business then and now:

–          Start-up costs are less expensive: Desktop publishing alone has decreased the need for small businesses to go to graphic designers to print simple things like stationary and letterheads. Although graphic designers can still be useful to small businesses, you can save a lot of money by learning to do part of the work yourself.

–          Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur: Twenty-five years ago, the goal of most business graduates was to work for a large corporation. Today, business graduates are striving to open their own businesses.

–          Start-up financing is easier to find: Angel Investors did not exist twenty-five years ago, and small business loans were only for larger, established businesses.

–          Small business diversity is respected more: Small business now encompasses every market you can imagine. Twenty-five years ago, a small business usually meant a dry cleaner or corner store.

–          Large corporations want small business customers: Today, corporations have entire divisions just to reach and serve small companies.

–          The internet: What a wonderful tool for small businesses! The internet allows small businesses to easily market their company, have the most up-to-date technology, and work from anywhere.

–          Speed: Everything is now instantaneous.

–          Global competition: The business world, including small businesses, has become globalized.

Whether you are a foreign national or U.S. resident, Boyer Law Firm can help you incorporate your Florida small business, help with business planning, and much more. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

Source: Florida Today

Florida State Symbols

Florida Panther: A Florida State SymbolThe State of Florida has many official state symbols for everything from animals, to flowers, to even an official state day.

Here are the Florida State symbols according to StateOfFlorida.com:

  • State Animal: Florida Panther
  • State Beverage: Orange Juice
  • State Bird: Mockingbird
  • State Butterfly: Zebra Longwing
  • State Day: April 2
  • State Flag: Florida Flag
  • State Flower: Orange Blossom
  • State Wildflower: Coreopsis
  • State Freshwater Fish: Largemouth Bass
  • State Saltwater Fish: Sailfish
  • State Gem: Moonstone
  • State Marine Mammal: Manatee
  • State Saltwater Mammal: Porpoise
  • State Play: “Cross and Sword”
  • State Reptile: Alligator
  • State Seal: State Seal
  • State Shell: Horse Conch
  • State Soil: Myakka Fine Sand
  • State Song: “The Swanee River” (Old Folks at Home)
  • State Stone: Agatized Coral
  • State Tree: Sabal Palm

These Florida State symbols may give you an idea of the attitude and experience of living in Florida. If you are interested in living and doing business in Florida, check out our legal guides or contact Boyer Law Firm, PL today.

Source: State of Florida

Six Necessities Small Business Owners Procrastinate

Procrastination conceptRhonda Abram, a publisher of books for entrepreneurs, says there are six necessities that small business owners procrastinate:

Meetings: Meetings can help you more efficiently communicate with your staff and help them to stay motivated. However, it is important that you have a specific agenda for the meeting; if you have nothing to say, then you are wasting everyone’s time.

Deadlines: It is important to create internal deadlines so that you don’t miss critical external deadlines.

Invoices: It is important to bill clients immediately after the work is done or the product is delivered. Delayed invoices can cause delayed payments and additional problems.

Planning: An annual planning session is crucial for long-term success. It is important to have these meeting with your employees as well as with a business professional, such as one of Boyer Law Firm’s business planning sessions.

Backing Up Data: What happens if your computer crashes? It is important to have a backup plan so that you do not lose all of your company’s work. It is suggested that you use a cloud-based service.

Customer Problems:  Abrams says that customer problems are good because most unhappy customers just walk away. If you do encounter negative comments on an opinion site, do not give into the “trolls” and reply; just let them rant.

Source: Florida Today

Venture Capital to Start a Business

Venture capital is the high-risk investment needed to start a business, and venture capitalists, such as angel investors, are investors who are willing to take these risks in order to receive high returns.

The Wall Street Journal points out a flaw in relying on “angel investors” by noting that only 2% of startup companies who applied to the largest angel-capital group attracted enough attention to even be considered.

In reality 90% of entrepreneurs raised their venture capital on their own through personal savings, business partners, family, friends, bank loans, or other means.

Venture CapitalIf you are unable to raise your venture capital through these means, then you need to get investors. The best way to do this is with a solid business plan. Take the television show Shark Tank, for example. The “sharks” ask the person seeking the investment tough questions such as:

–          How much did you sell this past year?
–          What is your profit margin?
–          Where do you see the business going?

If the business owners cannot answer these questions, they will not get an investment. The same is true in the business world. If you can’t answer these questions, then it will be very difficult to find somebody who is willing to invest in your company or idea.

The most professional way to answer such questions is through corporate documents such as a business plan or company bylaws, which should be drafted by a Business Law Attorney. This gives investors confidence in the professionalism and ability of the business to succeed, which will help them achieve their goal of receiving a return on their investment.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Business Checkup: A Legal Business Audit

It is necessary for businesses to conduct a legal business audit periodically in order to determine any existing legal problems. An audit should be done by an attorney so that attorney-client privilege applies and the results of the audit cannot be used against the company in legal proceedings.

A legal business audit will review the company’s documents, practices, and activities to determine any legal issues that may arise in the future and potentially lead to lawsuits, the interruption of the business, or criminal penalties. The audit should also show the company how to correct these issues.Legal Business Audit

An audit may also reveal unknown business opportunities, such as the discovery of unprotected intellectual property.

The legal business audit may include a review of the following areas: Corporate Records, Company Stock, Contracts, Federal and State Filings, Protection of Intellectual Property, Insurance, Employment forms and policies, and the Compliance of the company’s website in accordance with Florida State Law.

The complexity of the audit is unique to each company depending on factors such as the industry of the company, the number of employees and shareholders the company has, and where the company is in its growth objectives.

Sources: CorpLaw ; Bullivant

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Florida Registered Agent

All companies in Florida, whether they be corporations, LLCs, Limited Partnerships, etc., are required by law to designate and maintain a registered agent. Failing to do so can result in civil sanctions such as fines or loss of incorporation.

A registered agent acts as the company’s representative for receiving Service of Process of important documents, such as legal documents, notices from state agencies, and tax documents from the IRS. Your registered agent is the only person authorized by the State of Florida to receive these documents.

A registered agent must have a Florida address, not a P.O. Box, and be open to the public during regular business hours.

It is a good idea to hire an attorney for your company’s registered agent. This will ensure these important documents get to you in a timely fashion.Florida Registered Agent

One of the main benefits of hiring an attorney as a registered agent comes in the instance that the company is sued. If this occurs, the company has 20 calendar days to respond. If not, it could result in the automatic loss of the case by default or a much greater expense to defend the case.

A lawyer will also insure that you understand the importance of maintaining your corporate formalities, such as annual returns, corporate minutes, and annual meetings for your company. This is critical to maintaining your personal liability protection.

Sources: EHow.com , Florida Registered Agents

*Image courtesy of stockfreeimages.com

 

E-commerce and Virtual Storefronts

E-commerce is the term for any business or commercial transaction that takes place across the internet.

e-commerceThere are different categories of e-commerce, which include “virtual storefronts” (like amazon.com); the gathering and exchange of demographic data; data exchange, such as email, between businesses for the use of reaching perspective clients and establishing customers; and buying and selling between businesses (B2B) over the internet.

Both already existing retail businesses and new ventures operating solely online are using the “virtual storefront” as a method of selling their products. Ordering items and having them shipped through the mail was available long before the internet, but using the internet for this method of buying and selling has many benefits.

These benefits include lower transaction costs, especially in the areas of ordering and customer service; the ability to offer more information about a purchase, such as where the item is in the shipping process; a larger inventory to choose from (no one wants to read a 1000 page magazine, but it’s convenient to use a search toolbar to find the item you want); and improved interaction with customers through mediums such as email.

Although there are many benefits to building a “virtual storefront” for your business, there are certain hoops you have to jump through to make it a success. These include building an effective website, the cost of shipping (the price of postage has gone up since the good ole’ days), and accepting online payments.

As with any start-up business, a good business-law attorney can help you strategically place your business in the online landscape.

Sources: How Stuff Works ; Network Solutions

* Photo courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Do you need a contract?

Whether you are entering into an agreement with a private party to buy or sell a vehicle, creating an employment contract with a contractor or subcontractor, a contract for the maintenance for your boat, or any number of things, it is wise to have a written contract. While any person can legally write a contract and have all parties to the contract sign and date it, it is wise to enlist the help of a practicing attorney. The sequence of words, the placement of a comma, and the structure of each sentence can create an obligation or liability that one or both of the parties did not intend. It is also possible for one party to create a contract that will heavily favor them in the eyes of the court, leaving the other party with all the obligations and liabilities, which they may not fully comprehend.

It is in the parties’ best interest to form a contract that will create a “win-win” situation; one that will benefit both parties and address both parties’ needs. Another reason to form a contract is that it will spell out exactly what will happen if and when one party does not perform an obligation they agreed to in the contract. If one party does not do something they are supposed to do, or does not do it at the proper time, it can create a situation where a court will order them to perform a specific act, pay some amount of money to the other party, or a number of other things.

Don’t be left in a situation where you are not sure of what you are legally obligated to do. If you are entering into some form of agreement with one or more people, make the call to Boyer Law Firm. We have handled a number of contracts which include international business transactions, maritime vessel repair and maintenance, and more.