The Hart of the Issue: Our New Year’s Resolutions

 If you’re like me, then the start of a new year means dieting.  Throughout the year, I track my weight with a spreadsheet, and it looks like the blueprints to a roller coaster.  And the incline from Thanksgiving to Christmas makes for an embarrassing peak, with a necessary fall to follow.  But unlike a roller coaster, the ride down is never fun, and it seems to take longer, much longer, than the anticipating climb up. 

And so, begins the big diet that starts the year. It’s not all bad.  With dieting comes saving money.  A typical work week at Hart Law includes luncheons with clients, colleagues, and employees alike.  While I usually will pack myself a lunch each day, there’s almost always those inescapable phone calls from friends who’d like to grab a bite.  Or when I ask what my legal assistant is having for lunch, she’s on her phone looking up Door Dash for local restaurants to grab a burger, tacos, or a hoagie.  When we moved our offices to Dunmore, the temptations multiplied!  The amount of incredible culinary options within a 3-block radius from HART LAW is out of sight!  And so are my feet after throwing caution to the wind during the holidays and eating everything I got my hands on. 

There’s no way to get around it, dieting is difficult, and reluctance to start one is at an all-time high right after the holidays. But the start of a new year means a fresh slate to put bad habits behind us and we are at least able to make our best efforts to better ourselves.  Positive reinforcement makes it easier.  Plus, we’re all on board with starting fresh so I recommend finding others who have committed to the same resolutions so you can adhere to your plan together.  It’s not difficult to find friends who are also starting up a diet this month.  

But dieting is only one of the common New Year’s resolutions. A quick online search shows that the most popular resolutions involve dieting, fitness, and finances.  When talking about finances it used to be spend less and/or save more.  Traditionally, people have been limited in how they can positively impact their financial position because income is a fixed figure for most employees.  However, there has been a growing trend in “side hustles”. There are a number of ways someone can earn additional income through modern approaches.  And we’re not talking about mowing lawns, shoveling sidewalks, or opening up lemonade stands.  People are finding new ways to bring in some additional income and they’re often doing it without much additional effort or consumption of time in their already busy day. 

Many people are utilizing today’s technology to earn some additional cash.  Some are doing so passively, by investing in unique areas of business such as crowdfunding and real estate investment trusts. Others are enjoying the ease of part time platforms such as shopping for Instacart, delivering for DoorDash (as mentioned earlier), or driving for Uber.  You can even rent your car out on Turo.  It’s like AirBnB for your vehicle!  These opportunities have all of the legwork taken care of for you.  You just have to be willing to dedicate some down time to “turn the meter on” and drive or shop or rent. 

For those who are more ambitious starting a small business can also be a way to earn additional income.  Whether it be a novel idea or a business that is tried and true that they’re passionate about, there are many new small businesses popping up everywhere.  I personally have been learning of them through the City of Scranton’s Office of Economic and Community Development. As solicitor for OECD, I review applications for small grants and larger loan-to-grants through various programs that Scranton has to offer.  This aspect of my position gives me great insight to the growing number of small businesses in our community.  I’ve seen breweries, pet bakeries, spice markets, and even a gourmet mushroom store open up over the past few months. I’ve seen people who have a passion for “yard sailing” who go around looking for used furniture that they can refurbish and resell for a profit.  And I’ve come across “home chefs” who sell their signature dishes right out of their homes.

However, there are many risks that come along with side hustles.  If you happen to enjoy the work and don’t mind if your side job succeeds or fails, then it’s still a win as long as you are having fun.  But if your new venture starts gaining traction and you see the potential of turning it into a successful business then a bit more consideration is needed to plan your next steps.  Creating a successful small business involves many legal considerations. 

Having a lawyer on your team can help you navigate the legal landscape and avoid potential pitfalls.  To start, you must decide the legal structure of your company.  There are several options to choose from such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, and HART LAW can help you determine the best structure for your business and handle all of the legal work required to get you up and running. 

As your business grows, you will inevitably have to enter into a variety of contracts, including leases, vendor agreements, and employment contracts.  Whether you need these contracts drafted on your behalf or you are asked to enter into a contract that’s been put in front of you, HART LAW can help you understand the terms of these contracts and ensure your rights are protected. And if your new business is novel with a lot of creativity intertwined with your venture, you may need to look into protecting your intellectual property. 

And of course, with the good, comes the bad.  If your business becomes involved in a legal dispute, having a lawyer can be invaluable, whether it be in court or in negotiations, a lawyer can help you reach a resolution that is favorable to your new business.  

Having an attorney during the infancy of your startup is the most beneficial way to protect yourself from the potential pitfalls that can come your way as your business grows. If you’re looking for complete legal assistance from the start and to be there along the way, there are some firms that are starting to offer subscription-based legal services. I know about this because HART LAW offers this new arrangement of legal services.  

While I’m reluctant to go on a necessary diet, many people are reluctant to call an attorney.  The problem is that often times, attorneys get a call after the otherwise preventable issue has spiraled out of control. Whether it be a contract that went south, or even having no contract at all or being sued and not having the proper business structure in place to protect you and your assets, an attorney is needed, but the issue might have been avoided or at least mitigated if they were called sooner. (Remember the idiom penny wise and pound foolish?) 

In an effort to avoid these catastrophes, having a legal service subscription plan can take the reluctance out of making that initial phone call.  Subscription-based legal services offer affordable and predictable legal fees, with a fixed monthly or annual fee. These types of plans allow for convenient access to legal advice, which is beneficial if you have multiple legal issues or need ongoing legal support.  Additionally, since HART LAW is a general practice handling several areas of law, they can provide comprehensive legal services to small businesses.  Having a subscription plan provides you with a wide range of legal services, such as contract review, business formation, estate planning, and legal assistance with disputes and to obtain positive results.

Overall, it’s important to remember that resolutions, whether related to dieting, fitness, or finances, take time and effort to achieve, but the start of a new year is a good time to make a fresh start towards improving ourselves. Know that we’re all in the same boat.  We get to start the year fresh with a positive approach to reach the goals that we’ve set.  If your resolution is to start up a new business and you intend to be successful, having a lawyer on your team from the inception can provide peace of mind and help you avoid potential legal issues down the road.  It is worth taking the time to contact HART LAW because they’re knowledgeable and experienced in working with small businesses and can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the process of starting and growing your business.

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