Category Archives: Business Management

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Managing Your Business’s Online Reputation

Category : Business Management

The Internet is an effective and low-cost way for many small businesses to spread the word about their products and services. But what happens when you are hit with a bad review?

Yelp, Google Local, Citysearch, Trip Advisor, and other online review sites are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, a survey by the Opinion Research Corporation found that 84 percent of American consumers consult online reviews when making purchasing decisions.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can also be a way for businesses to interact with their customers. However, you should be prepared to deal with both praise and complaints. Designating a staff member to monitor social media and online review sites. In most cases, quickly addressing concerns can remedy the situation. Of course, it is imperative to always respond in a respectful and courteous manner, no matter how justified your position may be.

While no one wants to read unflattering (and often untrue) statements about their business, it is also generally not a good idea to try and manipulate online reviews. Regulators and online review sites are increasingly cracking down on the practice of “astroturfing,” which is defined as “[t]he practice of preparing or disseminating a false or deceptive review that a reasonable consumer would believe to be a neutral, third-party review.” It is essentially a modern day form of false advertising.

Trying to game the system can lead to administrative penalties and costly lawsuits. In New York, the state attorney general levied more than $350,000 in fines against companies who attempted to manipulate consumer-review websites by posting fake reviews. In California, Yelp filed a lawsuit against a firm that used its own employees to post favorable reviews.

The bottom line is that despite advances in technology, delivering a quality product or service in conjunction with superior customer service is still the best way to generate positive reviews.

How We Can Help?

Marketing activities can lead to significant liability, if you don’t play by the rules. Our knowledgeable business attorneys can evaluate your current marketing program and offer personalized legal advice. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


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Buying a Business: A Thorough Investigation Can Save Legal Headaches

Category : Business Management

Buying a business can be a cost-effective way to launch a new venture or expand an existing one. However, prior to signing on the dotted line, it is imperative to conduct a thorough, objective investigation.

After you have identified a potential business acquisition, you should gather as much information as possible about both the potential risks and benefits. Below are several key areas to consider:

  • Financial documents: Key financials that you should obtain and review with an experienced accountant include a current balance sheet, profit and loss statements, audited financial statements, and accounts payable and receivable. To verify any outstanding debts, you should also review any existing tax liens and UCC-1 forms, which are publicly available.
  • Business assets: To get a complete picture of the company’s worth, you should inventory and appraise all of the business’s tangible and intangible assets. This includes physical assets, as well as intangible assets like copyrights, trademarks, patents, licenses, and good will.
  • Tax liability: Review of the company’s tax returns reveals an array of valuable information, ranging from the profitability of the business to its potential tax liability.
  • Employees: If you plan to retain key staff members after the sale, you should review all relevant personnel files to determine any ongoing obligations and liabilities. Issues to look out for include employment agreements, ongoing grievance investigations, and government audits.
  • Licenses and permits: You should verify that the company currently holds the proper permits and licenses and determine the process for transferring them after the sale.
  • Lease agreements: If the business leases commercial space, you should determine whether the lease addresses the sale of the business or whether you will need to negotiate a new lease with the landlord. The same applies to leases of office equipment, company vehicles, etc.
  • Property concerns: If you are purchasing land in conjunction with the business sale, it is advisable to conduct due diligence regarding any potential contamination or other environmental concerns. You should also verify that the type of business you intend to operate satisfies any applicable zoning requirements.

Because some issues may not be readily ascertainable, it is always advisable to hold back payment of a portion of the purchase price. Spreading out the payments over a period of months provides financial assurance should you later discover that the former owner failed to disclose significant liabilities.

How We Can Help

 Our business attorneys can help you evaluate both the risks and benefits of a potential business opportunity and help ensure that the transaction proceeds smoothly. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.