Hurley Law merges law practice, adds second office location, adds associate attorney

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Hurley Law Office is excited to announce our merger with the Law Office of Joshua Gunsher located in Fairfield, Ohio. We will continue our strong focus on business law, commercial real estate, and business litigation. We now have increased capacity and experience in complex estate planning, probate administration, probate litigation, and employment law. 

We now have a second office location in Fairfield, Ohio at 1251 Nilles Rd., Suite 15. We will maintain our office location in Middletown, Ohio at 301 N. Breiel Blvd. These two offices are strategically located at opposite ends of Butler County to serve clients across Southwest Ohio. 

In addition, we added an associate attorney, Michael Richardson. Michael graduated from Miami University magna cum laude in 2009 and University of Cincinnati College of Law summa cum laude in 2012. He previously practiced at two of the largest law firms in Cincinnati, Ohio. Michael has experience in complex business transactions, commercial lending, employer and employee representation in employment matters, and litigation. 

Our new firm will be known as Hurley Gunsher. Our team of five lawyers includes Dustin Hurley, Joshua Gunsher, Michael Richardson, Gregory Pratt (of counsel), and James Schnell (of counsel). 

4 Traditional Types of Startup Capital

If you are thinking about starting your own business, you are certainly concerned about having enough startup money. Even the smallest business ideas will require a couple thousand dollars at a minimum to get them off the ground. Larger ideas might require several hundred thousand dollars before you can even open your doors. 

So, what are your options? This article discusses the 4 traditional types of startup capital. There are others, but these are the most common. 

1. Your own savings.

In an ideal scenario, you would have enough of your own cash saved in order to get your business off the ground. This avoids the risk of incurring debt or the added obligations owed to investors. If you don't have the cash, some people look to their retirement savings as possible avenue, but it certainly increases the risk. This articles further explains how you can use retirement savings through a mechanism called a "Rollover as Business Startup" (ROBS).

2. Bank loan. 

If you don't have enough cash, or you want to spread the risk by keeping some of your cash, you could consider a traditional bank loan. These come in many varieties depending on the lender. In almost all situations, a lender would not issue a loan to a brand new business entity; therefore, you will likely have to incur the debt under your personal name.

In rare cases, you might qualify for a simple unsecured loan or line of credit; sometimes referred to as a "signature loan." More often, the bank will require some security and you will have to pledge your home as collateral. Another option is to explore your eligibility for an SBA loan. Be cautioned that SBA loans allocate the highest degree of risk to you, because you will have to sign a personal guaranty for the debt and you will also have to pledge collateral. 

3. Debt securities. 

In lieu of a traditional bank loan, you can consider small loans from a variety of individuals. For example, if you need to raise $100,000, you could offer to issue promissory notes in the amount of $10,000 each. If you can find 10 people that are willing to give you a $10,000 loan, you hit your $100,000 mark. This is often easier than convincing one person to give you a $100,000 loan, or qualifying for a bank loan. Be cautioned that complicated securities laws regulate an offering of debt securities. You must use specific legal documents to avoid violating these laws. 

4. Equity Securities.

Another option is to bring on investors. They could be friends and family, or venture capitalists. You can sell a portion of your company in exchange for startup cash. For example, you could give someone a 5% ownership interest in your company in exchange for $10,000. The downside is that you have to share your profits, and your investors will hold you accountable for your decisions. Again, be cautioned that complicated securities laws regulate an offering of equity securities. 

Understanding Ohio's Minority Business Enterprise Program

Ohio, like most states, has adopted a program to assist traditionally disadvantaged businesses. This includes businesses owned by minorities, women, and economically disadvantaged individuals. This article explains the benefits of the program and how to get certified. 

What is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification?

The state of Ohio sets aside 15% of all government contracts for MBE certified businesses. Essentially, when a state department, agency, board, or commission needs to hire a company to provide a product or service to the state, the state must hire an MBE certified business at least 15% of the time. 

The main benefit to the business is the potential for new revenue opportunities. Once certified, a business is permitted to bid on certain contracts that are not available to the general public. In addition, MBE certified businesses are listed in a special database used by state agencies. There are several other benefits, such as access to financial assistance, counseling, and marketing assistance. The complete list of benefits is listed here.  

How do you get certified?

The process is not very complicated, assuming your business meets the criteria. The basic requirements are:

  • Owned and controlled by a US citizen and Ohio resident
  • Black, American Indian, Hispanic, or Asian
  • At least 51% minority-owned
  • In business at least one year
  • The owner must have knowledge of their industry
  • The owner must have control over the day-to-day operations of the business

The full list of requirements can be found here. If you meet the criteria, you can apply online. The application process requires you to submit various documents to verify your eligibility. There is also an option to apply in person, which is processed faster. 


 

Dustin R. Hurley, Esq. is a small business attorney serving Southwestern Ohio. 

5 Steps Toward Self-Employment (Before You Leave Your Current Job)

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Most businesses start with an idea; then fear gets in the way.  Can you earn enough money to replace your current income? Is the business sustainable long term? Do you have what it takes to be self employed?

The reality is, you won't ever find absolute answers to these questions until you try. These are the inherent risks of entrepreneurship. However, before you put in your 2-week notice with your current employer, you can use your evenings and weekends to understand and evaluate these risks before you decide to jump.

1. Evaluate yourself. 

In this article, the SBA nicely summarizes what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I think it can be summarized even further by asking yourself, are you self motivated? Being an entrepreneur is often lonely in the beginning. You have to keep yourself motivated to push through the inevitable struggles. 

2. Differentiate your idea.

The odds are that someone is already doing what you want to do.  You should thoroughly research your competitors and find ways to differentiate your idea. For example, are you going to be better, cheaper, faster, or closer in proximity? 

3. Write a business plan. 

The process of writing a business plan is arguably more valuable than the plan itself. If done properly, it will force you to consider a lot of potential challenges that you might not have otherwise considered. The SBA has some excellent information on this webpage. Also, you should take advantage of the free business plan counseling offered by your local SBDC

4. Find startup capital.

You will need money to get started. If your business requires equipment, materials, or employees, for example, the necessary startup capital may be large. If you're lucky, you have enough cash saved. Otherwise, you must resort to loans or finding investors. Again, a good business plan will help identify the amount of startup capital you need and how much you can afford to take on regarding loans or investor obligations. 

5. Develop a marketing plan. 

After you have refined your idea and determined your budget, you should consider how you will promote your business once you open. This article is a good summary. The most important steps are to define your target audience and determine how best to communicate with them. 

These five steps will get you closer to starting your own business, and you can easily tackle them while still at your current job. 

Drive Your Business Like Your Kids Are In The Back Seat

Imagine you are shopping for a vehicle. There are many safety options to choose from. You are essentially in control over how safe you want to be. 

Do you want seat belts? Anti-lock brakes? Front air bags? Passenger air bags? Rear air bags? Side curtain air bags? Air bags in the seat? Air bags in the seat belt? Air bags in the door? Automatic braking? Automatic steering? I'm sure there are even more safety options. 

Driver A is content if their car has only a few of those safety options. Driver B recognizes life is priceless and wants every possible safety option available. "Can you cram another airbag inside those heater vents for me?" - Driver B.

This decision comes down to a miniature risk analysis, which looks something like this: How likely is it I will be involved in a life threatening accident with my children or other passengers in the car? Versus, how much do all these extra safety options cost? 

Driver A is willing to take on more risk. Driver B knows it only takes one accident to end it all. Driver B wants to take advantage of the available tools to help minimize risk.  

You can use this analogy to think about how you run your business. Are you like Driver A or Driver B? Do you take shortcuts to save time? Do you do-it-yourself to save money? Do you procrastinate until you are right up against a deadline, leaving insufficient time for due diligence? Do you feel like you are constantly putting out fires? 

My experience tells me that most small business owners are more like Driver A than Driver B. Much of that is out of necessity due to such limited resources when starting a new businesses. However, there comes a time in the business life cycle when you move beyond germination and you need to start thinking about growth and preservation. A focus on growth and preservation requires a focus on planning, analyzing options, and avoiding risk. Its the Driver B's of the business world that tend to come out on top.