Small Business Tips

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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Marketing with a Dash of Controversy

Heart Attack Grill — the name just makes you want to run, but which direction? It’s intriguing, to say the least.

So is the whole atmosphere of Jon Basso’s grease-filled restaurant in Tempe, Arizona, which opened just over a year ago. It’s that atmosphere and the controversy surrounding it, that has put Basso’s business on the map. Advertising isn’t even necessary for him these days.

The attention he’s getting revolves around items on the menu such as the Quadruple Bypass Burger and Flatliner Fries, some topping out at 8,000 calories each! Other items available for purchase include full-sugar sodas from Mexico (no Diet Cokes here) and even filterless cigarettes.

And, get this, the guys used to own fitness training studios! But, after hearing weight-loss motivated clients confess over and over about their diet cheats, Basso decided that everyone needed a place to dive into the grease once in awhile and indulge themselves.

The boldness doesn’t stop there. He has already faced opposition from the Arizona Board of Nursing and the Center for Nursing Advocacy because of his waitresses being scantily clad in sexy nurse uniforms. The associations claim it “degrades” the profession, but Basso claims that it helps to “glorify the job for the younger workforce.”

And Basso is eating it all up (pun intended). Afterall, he’s already obtained national recognition for his grill. And, despite the negative tone many reports may take, business is booming! Can you say viral marketing?

It don’t know that the Heart Attack Grill is on my list of places to go before I die (or maybe to die, in this case), but I commend Basso for his enthusiasm, creativity and daringness to be different.

Fries anyone?

• Cashing In On Controversy

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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, May 26th, 2017 @ 12:04 AM CDT

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Avoiding the Courtroom: Tips for Deterring Litigation

It’s a risk every business owner takes the moment he/she opens their doors – being sued. And there are a lot of reasons your business could be pulled into court – everything from unpaid bills to outrageous claims of fraud against your company.

Anything from the substantial and justified to the frivolous can come against your business at any moment, and if you want to avoid the long, tedious court process, you’d better make sure you’re ready.

Attorney Fees Clause
Every contract you have should contain a dispute resolution section. Within that section, it’s a good idea to state that, should any dispute proceed to litigation and you win the case, the client would be responsible for your attorney fees.

This would make any client who doesn’t really have a case against you think twice before filing a lawsuit. On the other end, should you need to sue a client for an unpaid balance, etc., they will probably refrain from fighting you much if they know they will have to pay attorney fees for you.

Limitation of Liability Clause
In addition, consider adding a clause in your contract that limits your liability and damages, should there be a flaw with the product you provide, etc. For example, if you provide a product or service on a regular basis that is worth $5,000.00 then put a clause in your contract that limits your liability to $5,000.

This covers any defective products you may have, avoids needless court proceedings to determine an amount for damages, and keeps you from losing the shirt of your back to pay for non-economic damages.

Arbitration Clause
Another option is to put in the contract that any disputes that cannot be immediately resolved are to be conducted exclusively through Arbitration. More or less, arbitration is another form of mediation.

One party files a form requesting Arbitration and provides the fee up-front, which can be in the ballpark of $750. This sounds like a lot, but can be much less than a trial in court would cost with attorney fees and the like. And, whatever is decided during Arbitration, is held with the same regard as a judgment in court. More information can be found on the American Arbitration Association website.

It’s important to be aware that your business insurance may cover your liability if there is a dispute. If something comes up, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance company to see if such matters are covered under your policy.

If the situation is covered, the insurance company will take over negotiations on your behalf and, hopefully, settle the matter. Be aware, however, that the insurance provider will only pay out to the extend of the policy limits. You are responsible for anything above that (but they will always try and settle below the policy limits if possible).

Another smart move, before any threat of lawsuit even comes close to your business, is to purchase additional liability insurance through your provider. A typical business policy will, unfortunately, only cover minimal disputes.

There are additional provisions for matters that would be more likely to occur for your specific business – from employment practices liability coverage to advertising practices liability coverage and the like. Be sure to talk to your provider and be aware of all of your options.

Though these steps cannot guarantee that your business won’t go to court over something, they will help to avoid it as much as possible. Keep in mind that the best thing to really do is protect your business and your customer. If you do both honestly and efficiently, then the problems should be minimal.

Always consult with an attorney before changing or developing your business contracts to make sure your business is fully protected under the law. The statements in this article are not to be taken as official guidance, but, rather, as an informational supplement to the legal aspect of your business strategy.

• 5 Litigation Secrets

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Thursday, May 25th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

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The Adverse Effects of Poor Communication

Anyone who is in the sales industry knows the importance of how you communicate to a potential buyer. One false move, or should I say word, and you may have lost their business forever. Truth be told, however, the way you talk can affect every aspect of your business, whether you’re in sales or not.

Here are some ways you might be turning customers away because of how you speak:

Bad Grammar
This is the most obvious and common problem, which can often convey to others that you lack intelligence. Yet, it is the most difficult flaw in speech to change. Using “good” when you should be saying “well” is extremely noticeable, but also extremely hard to unlearn.

I honestly feel that parents these days don’t step up enough and teach their children the correct way to speak at a young age, not realizing that they are allowing a laziness that, down the road, may adversely affect their child’s career.

There is one false move that is often made unknowingly by many people, and that’s to end a sentence with a preposition (words like as, in, on, by, to or since). Grammatically, prepositions are supposed to be placed prior to a noun or pronoun, so ending a sentence with one is incorrect.

But, this is a common grammatical bad habit from childhood, which even I am guilty of. In fact, you could probably find that I’ve done so in a couple of posts (oops), which is really sad since I have a degree in English Literature. And it’s unfortunately ingrained in most of us as okay at a young age, and even after a college degree I still mess up. It is just something we should all be aware of and watch ourselves.

Too Majestic
What I mean by this is talking over people’s heads by using uncommon vocabulary (like those who enjoy learning and using a new word from the dictionary each day) and overly emphasized proper grammar. There has to be a balance between saying things correctly and using common local colloquialisms (like using “ya’ll” in the south) to keep whoever is listening engaged in what you have to say.

If you constantly talk to everyone as though you were a scholar of the English (or whatever) language, no one will want to listen. They will reach the same conclusion as if you were using bad grammar — that you’re a moron without any social skills.

Too Technical
With any industry there are terms that are only known and used by those within the industry. The average Joe likely won’t understand what in the world you’re talking about when you try to tell him that you feel like it would be best to proceed with filing a Trial De Novo in his case (going with the legal field here because it’s what I’m familiar with).

Instead, you would tell him that you think it would be best to ask the court for a “new trial.” The acronym KISS (keep it simple, stupid) most definitely applies. Keep it in laymen’s terms when discussing your industry with the general public.

If you’ve realized that you might be guilty of committing one or more of these communication flaws, find someone you can trust and rely on to help you recognize when you are making the errors.

The only thing you can truly do is vow to fix the problem, be self aware and practice. People will notice the effort and commend you, either with a pat on the back, or by really listening to what you have to say.

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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

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