COVID-19 has and will continue to pose unprecedented issues for our small businesses. Social distancing guidelines, while necessary, have created tremendous hardship for all industries. Business owners are left grappling with how to weather such an unpredictable event.
Technology can help
Technology will play an important role in sustaining ourselves through this pandemic. A number of employers have resorted to remote workforces. Others try to maintain in-office operations, still adhering to state and local guidelines for social distancing. In either scenario, technology is the key.
During this crisis, our Firm has adapted a healthy mix of remote access, as well as in-office operations. As an alternative to face-to-face meetings, we are encouraging communications via live chat, email, conference call, or video conferencing.
No and low-cost options
We found technology options, for little or no cost, that allow us to stay in communication with our clients. Some of those include Zoom®, Google Hangouts®, Skype®, Facebook Live®, and YouTube Live®.
Lake Norman area restaurants
Many of our small business clients include restaurateurs. Take-out and curbside delivery will become the new norm. Patronize these establishments to ensure they come out viable on the other side of this crisis.
Visit Lake Norman has compiled a list of ALL restaurants in Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville - their hours of operation and whether they have curbside dining, takeout, delivery, and any specials. Click on the Visit Lake Norman Link for this List.
Help is on the way
The coronavirus is causing financial difficulties for all of us. While we patiently await confirmation on exactly what the government relief packages might include, we thought it might be helpful to know what type of help is on the way.
o Disaster assistance loans from the SBA - low interest loans for up to $2 million for businesses that have sustained "substantial economic injury"
o U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made the following recommendations to the Administration and Congress:
o Enacting legislation to cancel payment of payroll taxes paid by employers for 90 days
o Enacting legislation expanding and streamlining loan programs for small businesses
o Facebook has launched a grant program for small businesses to help with operational costs. https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grant
We know Lake Norman area businesses are resourceful and resilient. It is time for us to embrace our entrepreneurial nature once again as we weather this storm together.
Author: Bob McIntosh, President & Attorney
The McIntosh Firm, P.C.
After much anticipation, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 141, ("Order") on May 20, 2020, labeled "Phase 2", which, among many other things, allows for the reopening of certain businesses and lifting the stay at home order. This Order is in effect from May 22, 2020 until June 26, 2020, unless altered by the Governor. The full text of the Order can be found here:
Many businesses have suffered under the current COVID-19 crisis, including commercial landlords, who are experiencing the loss of income, as well as numerous requests for rent reduction or abatement from their tenants. While is it wise for the parties to work together at this time, landlords have many factors to consider, such as paying contractors servicing the leased property, and the landlord's ability to service any loans on the property.
While there is no magic pill for all commercial leases, the obvious solutions are, full or partial rent abatement, rent deferral or a combination of both.
As expected, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-36 ("Order") today, May 18, 2020, which allows for "Incremental Modification of Non-Essential Business Closures". Included in the list of facilities that may reopen for access or use by the public, are fitness, exercise centers, commercial gyms, and commercial or public swimming pools.
Subsection 1 B of the Order provides that:
Any businesses, venues, facilities, services, and activities that elect to re-open to non-employees and for access or use by the public, as authorized herein, should consider and incorporate any corresponding industry guidelines regarding the same, in addition to undertaking and implementing all reasonable steps to comply with any applicable sanitation guidance promulgated by the CDC, DHEC, or any other state or federal public health officials.
As a business owner struggling through this latest crisis, we know that the last thing you want to have to deal with is jumping through more hoops. However, the federal Paycheck Protection Plan is actually one of the few programs where the hoops are worth it. This program is designed to help businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing for potentially forgivable loans of a maximum of two and half times your monthly payroll.
Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and Business Journals show that guidance will soon be issued around forgiveness, but that changes are to be expected. In the interim, we are seeing the programs help businesses weather this economic storm, but there are five things you need to be aware of during this
time of uncertainty.
Forget my New Year Resolution; I am a fair-weather gym member. I will even use daylight savings time as an excuse to why I avoid the gym in the morning. When I do go to the gym, I remember the golden rule: stretching before exercise has its benefits!
THE ANSWER IS YES! Highway widening can be both concerning and confusing for landowners along the construction corridor. There are several important procedural steps involved in the State's acquiring a portion of your property. This process can be very confusing and counter-intuitive, but understanding it is key to receiving value for your property and maintaining "peace of mind" through the process.
Blended families have become more prevalent in our society, and thus in the world of estate planning. It is likely that a couple sitting in the initial estate planning consultation is in a second or even a third marriage. Planning is critical, especially for blended families, to address the wishes of both spouses.
There are many steps necessary to a successful business set up. For LLC's (Limited Liability Companies) there are five key items that should be included. Every North Carolina LLC has an "operating agreement" - whether the members of the LLC know it or not.
Allegations of sexual harassment frequently depend on private conversations between two people and as such are difficult to verify. Moreover, what some find offensive others would dismiss as harmless banter. No employer wants to depend on judgments that are so inherently difficult to make.
Typically this is NOT the first question that pops into your mind after being involved in an accident, nor should it be. If you have ever been involved in an accident, the first thought or question is usually, "Is everyone alright?" Once it has been determined those involved have not been seriously injured, the adrenaline kicks in, then the anger, fear, or compassion as your internal wiring dictates.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows a person or organization to handle your financial affairs during your lifetime if you are unable to do so yourself. The document is critical for anyone over the age of eighteen (18) to have because, if you become unable to handle your own affairs and do not have a valid power of attorney, a court will have to determine who the proper person or organization is to act on your behalf through a guardianship proceeding, which requires more time (months) and money (thousands of dollars), than a power of attorney does.
The State is cracking down on businesses treating employees as independent contractors. Starting on December 31, 2017, the "North Carolina Employee Fair Classification Act" ("EFCA") will require all employers to display a poster stating (1) that workers defined as "employees" under the EFCA shall be treated as employees; and (2) that any employee who believes that he or she has been misclassified as an independent contractor may report the suspected misclassification to the Employee Classification Section of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The statute also requires state occupational licensing boards and commissions to require businesses to report their compliance.
If you live in a planned community, chances are you are a member of aHOA Image homeowners' association. Such associations are legal entities typically formed pursuant to Chapter 47F of the North Carolina General Statutes that codify obligations an association has to its members and outlines the powers an association may have to enforce the rules and covenants of the community.
Folks often ask me if they should use online attorney services. Like every business,Online-Legal attorneys have to adjust to the internet in their business models. Lawyers are professionals, not regular businesses, but to ignore the impact of the internet on our profession would be more than risky, especially in the areas of marketing and service delivery.
Business decisions are guided by legal opinions. In a large organization, those opinions come from lawyers. Lawyers help craft policies on how business decisions are made, create forms to execute management choices, and write scripts for sales professionals or customer service.
If you are like most people, a large part of your wealth may consist of "non-probate" assets: assets not controlled by a written Will, but instead controlled by a "Beneficiary Designation" or "Pay on Death" directive which directs who will receive that asset at your death. Common examples of non-probate assets include life insurance policies, annuities, 401(k) plans, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's), as well as survivorship bank accounts.
How does giving relate to business? How does it add to the bottom line? Where does marketing, goodwill and creating a positive business persona cross the line and become charity? All of which are very good questions which are debated in boardrooms across the country.
One of the biggest challenges of any small business is deciding who makes what decisions. The owners of an electronics company in Guilford County adopted bylaws which required a unanimous vote by the three owners for any business decision. All meetings required all three owners for a quorum, and the bylaws could be amended only by a unanimous vote.
Every day tens of thousands of drivers start their morning commute or errand run without knowing the answer to this simple, but vital question. Realistically, most drivers and vehicle owners do not find out the answer to the question until it is too late, after an accident happens. In some cases, the lack or insufficiency of insurance coverage results in the inability to replace a vehicle, or worse, a breadwinner's income.
What will you accomplish in 2017? Is making a Will at the top of the list? Probably not, but you know you need to do it. It has been in the back of your mind for years now. Your financial advisor keeps nagging you to do it, and you worry about what would happen to your family if you were no longer here.
It is no secret that there are many upcoming Road-Work-Ahead-Signroad projects in our area. You would have to be blind not to see that we need roads in the North Mecklenburg and South Iredell area. The unfortunate, but necessary, land acquisitions that accompany those projects present a very difficult and emotional conflict between landowners and the governmental staff charged with acquiring the needed right of way.
Seeing an attorney is not very high on the average person's "To Do" list. In fact, most people rarely think of an attorney unless it is part of the punch line of a good joke or there is an immediate issue, such as a speeding ticket, possible litigation or will probate. Even when there may be an acute need, the most commonly asked question is "Why do I need to hire an attorney?"
Protections available to majority and minority business owners can vary greatly, depending if your business is a corporation or an LLC. It's crucial to understand these differences when you are starting a business, so you can plan properly and minimize potential problems down the road.
The state of North Carolina recognizes an individual's right to a peaceful and natural death. A patient or a patient's representative has the fundamental right to control the decisions relating to the rendering of the patient's own medical care, including the decision to withhold life-prolonging measures in instances of a terminal condition.
One minute you are driving down the highway on your way to spending a long-awaited vacation with your family at the beach. Next thing you know, a distracted driver has crashed into your car. The entire back end of your car is smashed in, your glass windows are shattered on the pavement, and your family is stranded in the middle of traffic in a deserted part of eastern North Carolina. What do you do next?
As a business lawyer, I'm often asked about non-compete covenants or agreements. If you are selling a business, or if you provide specialized training, trade secrets, client lists, or other confidential information to employees, you have a need to protect your investment. Businesses often use covenants not to compete to help provide this protection.
Let's start with the easy part for us as voters. In North Carolina, appellate judges are selected by popular election in a non-partisan (no Democrats or Republicans) statewide campaign. Typically, they are listed on the ballot separately from other political candidates.
The United States Congress this year has enacted, and the President has signed into law, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA). The DTSA expands significantly on the protections in The Uniform Trade Secrets Protection Act, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 66 Article 24. More importantly, the DTSA contains certain requirements that affect all employment and independent contractor agreements with provisions protecting confidential information.
Most of us like to say "Age ain't nothin' but a number," but most 18-year-olds, and their parents, beg to differ. For parents, their children turning 18 is more than just another birthday. It is a milestone that marks your child's first steps into legal majority. It also marks the beginning of your child's semi-automatic response to your house rules: "I'm an adult now. You can't tell me what to do!"
In 2000, 12 billion emails were sent per day. By 2016, that number skyrocketed to 215.3 billion. Email has become the primary means of communication in business because it is immediate and easy. It has surpassed the telephone and almost made facsimiles obsolete. With the every increasing frequency of emails, it is important to know when an email exchange becomes a binding contract.
We see handshakes every day exchanged between strangers, acquaintances, business associates, politicians, world leaders, adversaries, and friends. It can convey different emotions or messages such as hospitality, respect, or congratulations. Many successful negotiations, whether they involve peace treaties, land deals or neighborhood wagers begin and end with a handshake. But in the business context, is a handshake enough to consummate a deal?