Does Your Terms of Use Actually Protect Your Startup?

Scroll down to the bottom of pretty much any website and what do you see?

Among the other small-font links, you’ll probably find something labeled “Terms of Use,” “Terms of Service,” “Privacy Policy,” or just “Legal.”

When you’re launching a new business website, you know that you need something like that yourself. All the other websites have this stuff, so it must be important – right?

But what does all that legal mumbo-jumbo actually mean?  And will it really protect your business?

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How to Train Your Lawyer

Legal training doesn’t end in law school. Every client continues a lawyer’s training – for better or for worse.

Your lawyer may already be well-trained, or may have picked up some bad habits over the years. You may need to break those bad habits, or you may have a new lawyer who hasn’t been properly “broken in” yet.

Training a lawyer might seem like a lot of effort, but it shouldn’t take all that long and it’s well worth it. A well-trained lawyer can save you time, money, and frustration.

Here’s how to do it, with a focus on contract review. Read More

Smarter New Year’s Resolutions for Your Startup or Small Business

People routinely make New Year’s resolutions, and just as routinely break them before January is over.

How can you make resolutions for your startup or small business that you can actually stick with?

Habit-Forming

Some resolutions are one-shots: this will be the year you lose 20 pounds, finally get the new website up, or find new office space.

But other resolutions involve habits you need to make or break:  more exercising, less procrastinating, or writing a blog every week.

To help yourself make or break habits, it’s helpful to know how habits work and how you can use them to your advantage. For example, check out Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.

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5 Smart Ways to Use Post-Xmas Downtime to Improve Your Business

Unless you run a retail store, a pizza delivery service, or a bowling alley, the week between Christmas and New Year’s (also known as WAC – the “week after Christmas”) is probably the slowest, quietest time of the year for your startup or small business.

About 26% of businesses, small and large (such as Oracle), shut down entirely for all or part of the week.

But in between lounging around, watching football, and eating leftovers, you might want to take a few hours – or a few days – to do some “low priority” (but high-value) tasks that can get your business off to a good start in the new year. Read More

What If Your Christmas Present Turns Out To Be A Lemon?

Understanding Consumer Warranties

This is the time of year when many people splurge on big-ticket items for themselves and their family members, but when these gifts break they often end up in the trash because of warranties that are either too complicated to comply with or expire too soon.

Warranties aren’t required by law, but consumers have come to expect them for most major purchases. Here are some issues to be aware of.

Read before You Buy

A more expensive product with identical features may be worth it if it comes with a longer warranty. For example, the blender that costs $30 more may offer a five-year warranty instead of only one year. If you’re a hardcore smoothie-maker, that could be worth a lot to you.

If warranty terms aren’t printed on the outside of the box, ask a salesperson to open the box for you so you can read the warranty before you buy. Read More

Christmas Gifts Worth Getting: 8 Ideas for your Small Business Wish List

It’s that time of year when people start dropping hints about what they’d like to see under the Christmas tree. It’s also time to think about what to give valued clients, bosses, and employees.

Following are some ideas for business-related gifts that won’t just get re-gifted or end up in a closet. Some of them can even boost productivity. If you’ve been VERY good this year, you could even get one for yourself.

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Are Arbitration Clauses Evil? Part 3

In part 1 and part 2 of this three-part blog we talked about how arbitration clauses work and why they’re controversial.

In this part, we’ll talk about some advantages and disadvantages of putting an arbitration clause in your own contracts.

Using Arbitration Clauses in Your Own Contracts

If you’re the one likely to get sued, then you may think arbitration sounds like a good idea. Before deciding, however, you should be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of including an arbitration clause in your own business contracts.

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What if an Airbnb Guest Dies on Your Sofa?

Two Must-Do’s To Protect Yourself from the Risks of Running a Home-Based Business

The New York Times recently reported on the death of a guest at an Airbnb rental. When the man swung on a rope swing on a Thanksgiving morning, the tree trunk it was tied to broke and came down on his head — “immediately ending most of his brain activity.”

It’s not so shocking that someone would die at an Airbnb rental. As the Times notes, “Airbnb hosts are putting up so many people each night that fatal accidents are almost inevitable.”

But who assumes the risk of such accidents?

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Are Arbitration Clauses Evil?  Part 2

In part 1 of this three-part blog we talked about what arbitration clauses look like and how they work. In this part, we’ll talk about why they’re controversial.

So what’s wrong with arbitration?

On their face, arbitration clauses don’t seem so bad. What’s not to like about staying out of court?

One problem – at least from the consumer perspective – is that arbitration clauses discourage consumers from bringing class actions.

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Are Arbitration Clauses Evil? Part 1

The New York Times recently ran a three-part series on how arbitration clauses in many contracts “stack the decks” against consumers.

These clauses include language like the following from a contract used by American Express:

You or we may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.

That doesn’t sound so awful – but those dozen words give rise to a host of legal issues.

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