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How To Understand Legalese

In this transcript, Clay Clark (U.S. Chamber National Blue Ribbon Quality Award Winner) and  discuss the importance of Wes Carter (Published attorney) on Thrive15.com, the most elite sales training program.

Clay Clark:    Wes Carter, how are you sir?

Wes Carter:    I’m doing well. How are you doing?

Clay Clark:    I’m doing well, I’m doing well. I’m operating without glasses so I just look into this nebulous region not really sure who you are, you could be somebody else, but I just believe that you look to be … You look like you could be Wes Carter.

Wes Carter:    I like it that way.

Clay Clark:    We’re going to talk today about legalese anxiety and how to get over it. Before we do, I’m going to ask the question that I know Thrivers worldwide coast to coast are asking themselves, they’re wanting to know and I’m going to ask you the tough question so here we go. Are you or are you not legally related to Benny Carter, the American jazz, alto saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer, arranger and band leader?

Wes Carter:    Unfortunately not. I have no musical talent.

Clay Clark:    I’ll choose to believe that, but I do find that hard to believe. Wes, I know there’s a ton of reluctant entrepreneurs out there who’ve always wanted to start a business but they’re always worried about complying with the law, state, federal, local. What would you say to somebody who is really feeling overwhelmed and worried about, “Gosh I wonder if I’m complying with all the regulations,” what would you tell somebody from a legal perspective?

Wes Carter:    Educate yourself on the basics, did you incorporate, do you have bylaws, do you have employees, have you looked through employee issues, but you’re going to have to calm yourself down, do some yoga, take a Prozac, whatever you need to do, because you’re always worried about things that you don’t know about. A lot of people that start a business don’t know about legal issues. Just have a good counselor, a mentor, an attorney that can walk you through it, trust them and focus your energies on actually doing your business.

Clay Clark:    Now, it seems like a lot of the business owners that I’ve met who are very successful are doing exactly what you just said. They’re calm about it, they just do the best they can, they’ve hired an attorney to help them and they don’t get too worked up. They focus on growing their business. Let’s just say that I’m a hardware store owner or maybe I’m a dentist and I’m super worried about complying with the various local and federal laws. Can I go out there and hire an attorney and say, “Hey I want you to do a deep dive into my company and to find out if I’m complying with all the local and federal laws,” can you do that? Is that something you can pay an attorney to do?

Wes Carter:    Sure, they can do an audit depending on what kind of area you’re in. There’s people who specialize in niches all over the country. If you have a local guy or a local lady you ask them and they’ll have the resources to find someone if they can’t do it themselves whether it’s OSHA or HIPAA or one of these other acronyms that have 800 pages of regulations, they’re someone who lives and breathes and eats and sleeps in that all day long and let them come in and help you with that.

Clay Clark:    Let’s make it real for a second. Let’s say for one of my businesses, we have a men’s grooming lounge, we just cut hair. If I said, “Hey I want to hire you to come in and to make sure that we’re complying with all the employment laws, state and federal laws,” how long should that take and how much should it cost?

Wes Carter:    Depending on how broad the review is, it can be a significant investment.

Clay Clark:    Really?

Wes Carter:    Yeah. If you’re talking about going through workplace safety issues or some other kind of specialized workplace regulation, then expect to pay at least a few thousand dollars, five thousand dollars to start out if it’s a small business and we’re only talking four or five employees. If you’re just talking about regular come look and make sure my documents are pretty much in order, there’s no specialized regulations, look at my articles, my bylaws, my liability release, my contractor agreement, then that can just be maybe four or five hours of your attorney’s time.

Clay Clark:    Okay. The reason why we’re asking is we have so many Thrivers who are emailing us legal questions. They just really feel like, “I want to start a business but I’m so worried that I’m going to get sued.” Thrive15.com also teaches sales training tools. I know we’ve talked about this on different episodes, but if I’m in business for five years, no matter what kind of business I’m in, what is the probability that I’m going to get sued at some point or have some sort of … 

Wes Carter:    It’s probably a 9, maybe a 9-1/2. If you’re in business for five years, you’re going to sue someone or be sued. You’re going to be involved in some sort of aspect of the legal process pretty soon.

Clay Clark:    On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most likely you’re going to get sued or being involved in some sort of legal entanglement and one being the lowest, we’re saying a 9. If you’re in business, you’re probably going to have to get … You’re probably going to have to go through some sort of legal issue at some point.

Wes Carter:    Correct.

Clay Clark:    What we’re trying to encourage you today is just really don’t get too freaked out about some of these legal issues because you’re going to run into them. It doesn’t matter how conscious you are about trying to follow every rule, you’re going to break them.

Wes Carter:    The important thing is educate your attorney about what you’re doing. An attorney can’t help you if they don’t have any information. If you’re not sure about something, ask and talk to your attorney about what should I be telling you, what kind of things when they come up should I call you about and you guys get on the same page so your attorney knows when you need help and you know when to ask your attorney for help.

Clay Clark:    I want to give you an example. If you’re watching this and you’re a Thriver and you’re saying to yourself, “I just really don’t want to break any laws,” I want you to know, I actually hired an attorney, not this guy, full disclosure, not this guy, but years ago and had gone out there, we tried to comply with all the different laws. This is a true story. The State of Oklahoma felt like that our DJs who work just on the weekends and had irregular hours, that those guys were definitely employees. On the federal level, they thought that they were definitely contractors. I’m not exaggerating. Literally the state and federal disagreed with each other, so the federal and the state, one of them told me that I owed a ton of money to them and the other one said that they owed me money.

I was literally receiving refund checks from one group and have to write checks to the other. I ended up, I think I’ve been in business for about eight years at the time, I think I had to pay about $40,000 of back taxes and various things to get them back later. We had done everything we thought possible to comply. We had hired people to look at it and give us their best recommendation and sometimes you just have to realize that you don’t know everything and you’re just going to have to go with it.

Wes Carter:    Sometimes there’s just no bright-line rule. You take your best shot and sometimes you still have to figure it out later.

Clay Clark:    I think it’s important you think about that. If you’re watching this and let’s just say that you’re somebody who’s a big President Obama fan or let’s say you’re not, either way, they can’t agree on whether certain parts of the legislation he wants to pass whether it’s legal or not and these are people at the highest powers in the land. Don’t freak out about it. Calm down. You can make it happen. Wes, I appreciate you coming here and answering some of these questions.

Wes Carter:    My pleasure.

Clay Clark:    As always, I look forward to suing you soon.

Wes Carter:    I can’t wait.

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