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Experts provide branding advice to BC-based startup GentStone

Links from this article:
Futurpreneur Canada

Clausehound’s partner organization, Futurpreneur, has provided an insightful article about branding strategies for a startup business. Futurepreneur provides the advice of multiple branding experts on how they believe a startup like GentStone can stand out in a competitive space, like the jewellery industry. The advice provided in this blog can help members of Clausehound’s entrepreneurial community understand how to conduct market research to understand what customers value in a brand and use that knowledge to develop a branding strategy for their business.

 

To read all of the advice provided to GentStone, click here to read Futurpreneur’s full article.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Collage evaluates the Ministry of Labour’s results from recent ‘inspection blitzes’ conducted on Ontario employers with a history of non-compliance

Links from this article:
Collage Human Resources

Clausehound’s partner organization, Collage, has written an eye-opening blog on the most common labour infractions in Ontario, as determined by the Ministry of Labour’s ‘Workplace Blitz’ report. A shocking 74% of employers inspected were found to be in violation of Ontario’s labour laws. Collage provides simple advice on how to proactively address these concerns so that your company remains in good standing with the Ministry of Labour. This is a must read for all employers, as non-compliance with Ontario labour laws can be both time consuming, expensive, and have a detrimental effect on employee productivity and morale.


Read Collage’s blog post here!

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Name a social impact business!

Links from this article:
Etsy IPO
Patagonia
Ben and Jerry

They are wonderful, profitable and sustainable. Sounds great, right? But…can you name just five?

Umm. Lyft? Arguably, no. It’s just a driver-friendly Uber. Red Cross? No. That’s a charity. Umm Toms?? Buy one – give one to someone in need! Err – maybe, there’s some controversy around the displacement of local shoe markets, but Toms now has other giving options. Umm… American Apparel? I’m digging deep here. (I met Dov Goldberg in my impressionable years and so this one was just a throwback.) Okay, frankly none of these businesses were even top of mind for me as a social impact business. Oh, Etsy!? As we all remember, Etsy IPO’d with a prospectus declaring their value of community benefit over profit.

So what if they are hard to name?

People in the social impact business know who and what these businesses are.

My social impact colleagues are quick to point out that Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s are B-Corps and are social impact businesses, as well as a number of others. With decades of work productivity behind me, it’s definitely sexy to think about solving “meaningful” problems: social and real-world problems, rather than purely commercial problems. And of course, there are lot of other social and societal issues that our team members and employees at large care about.

Purpose over Profit is Sexy.

But that won’t necessarily pay the bills.  So…how do you transition your business from profit-oriented to social/community/purpose drive?  Here are some ideas:

  • Share in the “upside”.   Various mechanisms exist for this, and much guidance can be found by existing models.  Some shares of a business can be held in a personal or family trust with rules around community-based or purpose-based investing.  Organizations like Upside Foundation have created a pledge for businesses to transfer 1% of their equity to charity.
  • Focus on core values that are purpose-driven. Changing the DNA of a business to be purpose-driven is equally, if not more, important than a small equity pledge. Shared core values will help shape the business in its recruiting, culture and overall vision.  By way of example – at my beloved Clausehound.com – for us it’s simple: the law is complicated and therefore requires unique expertise, however, we believe in reducing power imbalances by creating affordable access to legal answers. Providing substantive value in every customer interaction (to keep customer costs to a minimum), and sharing learning materials with customers “up front” are two lawyer paradigm shifts that have resulted from this goal, and also forces us to stay lean. (I should share that figuring out a sustainable business model that is not derived from high billable rates is not easy.)
  • Pledging employee time towards social initiatives.  I had written about the idea of putting 5% of employee time towards social initiatives in a previous post, but even 1% would create significant impact.
  • Formally change the business structure to be purpose over profit.
     The natural purpose of a business (for which the board of directors has a fiduciary duty to fulfil) is to maximize profit.  Converting a business to a certified B-Corp flips these requirements by making the main purpose of the business to create a socially beneficial impact.

Don’t forget about the advertising

Of all the positive change created by social impact business, mainstream awareness appears to be one of the most difficult to achieve.

Branding and integration of social impact businesses into mainstream behaviour/activities proves to be an area of improvement for social impact businesses. Toms does a pretty good job of creating visibility – ‘buy one to give one’ gets consumers involved. There are a lot of great and missed opportunities to build awareness though. Solar-powered social impact businesses have brought mobile phone commerce to and changed lives in many parts of the world. Integration of a solar-mobile phone icon inside of my G-chat or Facebook messenger contact list would be an example of such businesses building some cool awareness. Pedometers track footsteps, and that’s pretty mainstream. But integration with a carbon offset calculator such as myclimate.org could possibly catalyze positive change. Certified B-corps get a sticker (among many other points of pride) but add a domain (eg BenandJerry’s.b or BenandJerrys.si (“social impact”) for immediate brand recognition, or (hypothetically) from a brand powerhouse like a SpaceX.si would create a branding impact (“si” is already taken by the way, by Slovenia).

We (the “mainstream”) want to help

We want to build, work for and support social impact businesses.

So..my challenge goes beyond trying to name a social impact business. Please try to make your business into a social impact business.  Not just you business owners, but also you, the influencers, social intrapreneurs, or otherwise like-minded.

We will support you!

 

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Rajah is the Founder and CEO of Clausehound.com — a $10 per month DIY Legal Library containing tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentary and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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INFINITI partners with Multiplicity to create INFINITI LAB, a technology accelerator designed to grow companies focused on Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city initiatives

With the help of Multiplicity, a Toronto-based nonprofit that provides education and mentorship to startups (and co-founded by Clausehound.com CEO Rajah Lehal), INFINITI has launched its first North American-based INFINITI LAB. The INFINITI LAB aims to grow companies focused on Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city initiatives.

Applications for INFINITI LAB Toronto are already open, and the program is open to pre-seed startups who work in IoT and smart city innovation. The program launches May 29th, and the group of selected startups will work closely with corporate and industry partners including Techstars, OMERS Ventures, TELUS Ventures and the City of Toronto (among others), who will provide the participants with access to technology, mentorship and education throughout the month-long program.

For more information on the newly launched INFINITI LAB and how your company can apply for this great opportunity, please see this link.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Should I ask potential investors to sign an NDA before pitching my idea?

A startup, like any new business, is inherently risky, and you’ll want the venture to be as financially and legally secure as possible. But more than that, it’s kind of your baby. It’s something that you have created, and obviously you don’t want someone taking that away from you.

 

So it seems to make sense to want to make every potential investor you show your work to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). It’s meant to keep an investor from having the ability to pass off your hard work to someone else and cut your competitive advantage.


 

It is very likely however, that a potential investor will refuse to sign an NDA before you’ve even gotten halfway through sliding it across the desk towards them. In some circles, it’s actually considered a faux pas.

 

It’s usually not worth it at this point in the relationship

A non-disclosure agreement is meant to keep the potential investor from spreading the confidential information (here, your idea) they have received from you. It  is essentially a promise to keep a secret, and if the investor doesn’t keep it, you have an enforceable legal action available to you. The reality is however, that it is only effective if you can afford to go to court to enforce it.

 

Consider the following points:

  • Though an NDA is meant to build trust on the side of the startup, the vibe an investor will get is, “If you do X, I can sue you.” That sort of attitude will not get you any traction in the tight-knit world of investors.

  • You may not have a lot of cash to successfully pursue a claim based on your NDA—after all, you’re a startup that’s strapped for cash. Isn’t that why you’re looking for investors in the first place? And what other investor wants their money spent on this litigation? Having outstanding litigation may just deter other investors from investing in your company.

  • The life cycle of a startup is potentially like a shooting star, burning bright and ending quickly, so time is of the essence. The courts are notoriously slow—you can’t wait to enforce it anyway.

Instead, strike a balance

You don’t want to come on too strong on the first date, so don’t bring an NDA to your first meeting with a potential investor. That’s a bit too much commitment, and you might not have anticipated all the things that go with it.

 

So here’s a suggestion: strike a balance by changing the way you pitch your idea to investors. If you aren’t comfortable with what you’re sharing, perhaps you’re oversharing. It would be a good idea to consult an intellectual property or patent lawyer to see if you’re at risk of overexposure.

 

A good first pitch is one that gives the investor just a taste. Hook them in with the big idea in all its novelty, and support it with an outline of your business plan, what specific market need it addresses, and an assurance that with how you’re approaching the idea, it would be hard for anyone else to duplicate. Don’t rely upon the technical details of how the idea works, focus on what it does and can do. Save the rest for when that investor is seriously interested— and bring your NDA to that meeting.

 

To see a standard non-disclosure agreement and other documents you may want when securing an investment, visit our Small Business Law Library!

This blog was co-authored by Alina Butt.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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startGBC’s Summer Company Entrepreneurship program is now accepting applications!

Clausehound’s partner organization, startGBC, is looking for students to join the Summer Company Entrepreneurship program where they will have the opportunity to get hands-on training, mentoring, and awards of up to $3,000 to start a summer business! This is a great opportunity to learn skills that will last a lifetime and try your hand at becoming an entrepreneur. The best news? There are no strings attached to the $3,000 stipend!

 

Applications for the Summer Company Entrepreneurship program are due May 8, 2017, and startGBC will be hosting information sessions from April 3-19, 2017. To learn more about this fantastic opportunity, click here!

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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Is your business looking to leverage video content? Read this interview with Twisted Frame Productions co-founder Onur Arslan

Clausehound’s partner organization, Futurpreneur, has shared an eye-opening entrepreneurial journey. After immigrating from Turkey to Canada, Onur Arslan continued his studies in film and went on to launch Twisted Frame, a successful digital media agency based out of Toronto. Onur shares his advice on starting a business, keeping up with digital trends, and how small businesses can incorporate video content into their marketing programs. If your business is looking to leverage video content, this is a must read!
Read the full article by Futurpreneur, here!

 

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

What you don't know can hurt you! Subscribe to stay informed.

Sign up now and receive an email when we publish new content.

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Beware the Continuous Operation Leasing Clause


Leasing requires more than just a good eye for location. Your professional duties require you to provide competent services. This means you must understand the legal implications of standard commercial lease terms and how these terms can make or break your client’s business.

 

The scenario

Your client, a hairdresser, has no money to operate her business. The popular coffee shop that generated a huge portion of her clientele shut down. She has no choice but to close her business, let her staff go and work out of her basement. Although she closed the business and turned off the lights at the retail location, she continues to pay rent. Everything was fine until she received a letter from the landlord’s lawyer telling her to reopen.

The letter threatened that if she didn’t reopen she would be in breach of the lease. This meant that she would be required to fork up the entire term’s rent increased by 50 per cent. The lawyer referred her to the Continuous Operation clause and the fact that she and her agent (you) signed the Offer to Lease that attached the lease terms.

She’ll lose money if she opens, but she’ll lose money if she doesn’t! Your client is now threatening to sue you for negligence.

 

What happened?

You didn’t see the Continuous Operation clause.

It is in the landlord’s interests to make sure its tenants are fully operating because this attracts people.

More people generate more customers. More customers drive up a tenant’s sales. And higher sales drive up the amount of rent owed to the landlord. High customer volume also attracts grade “A” tenants, a bonus for landlords looking to refinance. In order to make sure that these interests are protected, you may find a Continuous Operation or Conduct of Business clause stipulating the following:

Tenant shall operate its business on all regular business days except legal holidays, at least eight (8) hours each day between 9 am and 10 pm. Tenant retains the right, in its discretion, to be open on Sundays or holidays [….]. Landlord has the right to terminate the Lease should Tenant at any time elect to discontinue the operation of its store and Tenant shall immediately pay to Landlord the Present Day value of all rent remaining due for the balance of the term increased by 50%.

This clause requires your client to always operate her store even if she is financially unable to do so. She also can’t “shut down” to go on holiday for three weeks. This is because she has to be open during regular business days. If she goes on holidays or shuts down, as she just did, the landlord not only has the right terminate the lease, but also to accelerate rent payments at a 50 per cent mark-up.

Canadian courts are unclear as to whether or not they’ll enforce a Continuous Operation clause.

Some judges have and others haven’t. So, don’t leave it up to chance to determine the fate of your client’s livelihood. You might find yourself in a lawsuit.

 

What should you do?

If you’re representing the tenant, strike out this clause completely. If that isn’t possible, request that the clause be modified so that the tenant can close its business, but will still be responsible for all rent, as per the terms of the lease. This is called a “Go Dark” clause and gives tenants the flexibility they need to run their business.

It is unlikely, however, that the landlord will grant the tenant a “Go Dark” clause without some restrictions. Be prepared for the landlord to request a recapture right that allows the landlord to take back the tenant’s space. The landlord may also restrict the tenant’s ability to open up a similar business nearby.

If a “Go Dark” clause is rejected, another approach that would protect your client is to add a “Co-Tenancy” clause to the lease. Generally, “Co-Tenancy” clauses allow the tenant to stop operating its business or be entitled to reduced rent if another “key” tenant closes up its business. A properly drafted clause would have allowed your client to close her doors or get reduced rent, depending on the terms of the clause, as soon as the coffee shop closed.

The next time you’re negotiating a lease, think of these issues and make sure your client is protected.

 

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.

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