The most popular True North Business Consulting newsletter  and video is on the topic of charities.  The holiday season is a good time to revisit the topic and update it.  First, as a business you may want to choose one or two charities to support- a local food bank, a larger organization or something personal.  When you choose a charity to support you want to do some homework.


First, check the grade of your charity.  Charity Navigator ( provides information on where funds go in each charity.  For example the American Red Cross gets 3 out of 4 stars versus Feeding of America gets 4 stars.  Why the difference? Possibly expenses or salaries could be an issue.


Second, make sure you agree with the mission of the organization.  You may be a pet lover and want to link to an animal shelter, but you should see if it is a no-kill shelter if you believe that is important.


Charitable giving can also be to your benefit.  Not in the way that is makes you feel that you are helping others, but it may help your business. Try to choose a charity with an active website or social media program that is willing to recognize your business as a contributor (a link back to your webpage would be great).  If the charity has a newsletter, then ask to be featured. This may be easier with a smaller organization than a larger organization.

Friendly Competitors
By: True North Business Consulting, LLC

Each month True North Business Consulting, LLC presents a different topic to help you in your business.

Recently, I was giving a lecture about the saturation of the marketplace with certain professions. My suggestion was to do some research to see if the market could sustain all the same profession. Are there enough people that want that service?

As much as I try to encourage business owners to branch out to under utilized locals, there are still those that want to stay local. I can understand the need to work, play and live locally. Not only is it good for the environment, but also cutting down on commute times creates less stress.

My suggestion was to reach out to the local competitors. This is important for a few reasons. Predominantly, this is a great way to network. In your profession you may have a focus that is different from your competitors. Because of this, you may want to set up a referral system. This will lead to happy clients for everyone, and a professional atmosphere that clients will appreciate. My friend likens this to when you go to a hairdresser, and the new hairdresser tells you all the things wrong that the old hairdresser did. There is no need for this, especially if the market will support everyone.

Next, competition makes you do better. If your competitor does something differently than you, then evaluate it. It may be something you can improve upon or it may be something that you feel you do better. Either way it makes you stay current, and your business significant.

One step further would be to form a group with your competitors. You could bring about local improvements; perhaps sponsor an intramural sports team. By banding together you help your profession and the community at large.

TrueNorth Business Consulting is available for educational seminars on the topics of marketing, negotiation, mediation and business law. One on one legal coaching is also available for a fee. Group discounts are available.

A Holistic Approach
By: True North Business Consulting

Each month True North Business Consulting, LLC presents a different topic to help you in your business.

The idea behind holism is that all the parts must be taken into account, not just the whole. In the health and wellness community it is known as alternative medicine, taking into account social, physical, and other components to help those with illnesses. It has been successful, so why not apply the same idea to business?

What this means for businesses is that it is not just about reaching the end goal, but how you get there. All the businesses I work with want to be successful, meaning they want to make money. But, there has to be thought given to all the dimensions.

When advertising are their truthful statements being made? And where did the statements come from? So many times people use written information from websites as if it is open to the public. It’s not. Someone wrote that copy and it should be respected. Ask permission, if you want to use their words.

Part of managing a business is the everyday dealings. Those dealings are with clients and with employees. Each should be treated with respect. No one wants to do business with a practice that is not well run.

As employees we spend a lot of time at work. There needs to be benefits, even small ones like sharing a meal. Never take employees fore granted.

Make sure the contracts are fair to both sides, that all of the ramifications and risks are understood. Too many times one party takes advantage of the other party. Even more so, there is a vindictive nature that seems to come out to destroy each other. I am sure that was not the primary intention of dealings, and all of the ramifications- more than loss of money are not being considered.

A holistic approach to business takes into account the social impact of business decisions, not just for the sake of business. There is an understanding that people are humans, and that there is an end ramification, trying to be holistic will leads to more satisfaction in your business dealings.

If you want more information on this topic or wish to make a consultation appointment, please go to

Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting’s presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on helping businesses, especially health and wellness practitioners maintain and grow their business using the areas of business law, marketing, insurance and project management.

How can you tell if something is fair? In a negotiation, object criteria is something outside of the negotiations that lets the parties know the options or offers are fair. An example is when buying a house the seller does not make up a number. It is based on a market analysis, comparing the houses to other that have sold in the neighborhood, along with the assessed value. When the buyer goes to make an offer, the buyer can say that what they are offering is fair based on the same analysis. The market value is not set by the two parties, the buyer and the seller; it has been set by an outside, third party. The market analysis is the objective criteria.

Having an objective criterion can help strengthen the options you have put forward in a negotiation. Some other examples of objective criteria are:

1. A third party professional
2. Quotes from other manufacturers or service providers

The following are not objective criterion, because they are not impartial:

1. Friends
2. Someone in a higher position than you (or other party) at the company

It is important to have objective criteria—it can make a difference in a good deal or a bad deal. Remember, would you want to pay too much for a house? That would happen if you did not have the market analysis.

Contact TrueNorth Business Consulting about our legal coaching services.

Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting’s presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on helping businesses, especially health and wellness practitioners, maintain and grow their business using the areas of business law, marketing, insurance and project management.

Could you afford contacting an attorney every time you need to make a legal decision? The answer is probably no. Most small businesses cannot afford to keep a lawyer on retainer. But, there are so many times that you wish you had more information or something to go on. This is where legal coaching can help you.

Recently, a client needed a licensing agreement. They had a form from another country. I evaluated it and determined it would take me hours of work to create something from that contract. Instead, I sent over a few forms and we had a discussion of what they needed to be protected from. This took only two hours of time, and the client understood what they needed to look for in the future for these types of agreements.

I have also talked clients through negotiations, having them practice what they will say and giving them some other options. Again, they are gaining knowledge so they are able to make these types of decisions on a daily basis. Legal decisions come up every day for most business owners.

This is legal coaching, a revolutionary idea where clients are empowered. Legal assistance is in their framework, utilizing their expertise and building upon it, keeping in mind that there are other considerations like insurance and marketing. Attorneys do not have expertise in every industry- they are not painters, web designers or massage therapists; they are lawyers with legal knowledge. You bring the expertise of your businesses and what you want out of the contract or negotiation.

If you are interested in legal coaching or mediation services, please contact TrueNorth Business Consulting.

The Truth about Multi Level Marketing

Too good to be true?
My friend wanted a passive income stream, which means making money without actively selling a product or service. A business associate suggested a product line, explained that customers would order online and she would make money. She went to an information session, was sold on the products and signed up without having a lawyer look at the documents.

She sold the products, and then wanted to known when she would be collecting her payments. It was then she was told she would not be paid, but instead received points towards products. It was not a passive income stream she was looking for, but instead a multi level marketing company or MLM.

Multi level marketing is a system where one business person, the top of the pyramid, receives commissions of their sales and the sales of others they get to sign up under them. It is sometimes referred to a pyramid scheme. This is not to say that they are all illegitimate, they are money makers for some.

What you should look for?
If you want to sell product, you have been approached and are interested, then there are some things you should keep in mind.
• Recognize that you are signing a contract. You may want to have a lawyer review it.
• Is there a penalty if you decide to terminate it?
• Can you easily terminate the contract?
• Next, look at how much money you have to give up front.
• Is the only way for you to make money to find someone else to sell with you so that you gain their commissions?
• Can you just sell the products in your office and do a markup. In this way you are treating the company more as a distributor.

There are opportunities in multi level marketing, but there are also risks. You need to have a good understanding of what it expected for you to make money before signing the contract.

Contact TrueNorth Business Consulting for your legal coaching needs to review your MLM contract.

Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on small businesses, but especially helping health and wellness practitioners to maintain and grow their business using the areas of law, marketing, insurance and project management.

I gave a seminar, and when I finished I had a few people come up to me to ask questions. I was surprised that the questions were ones that would require about 5 minutes of internet research to get an answer. It struck me that people don’t do research, and part of managing any project or making a business decision is looking at historical information.

Historical information let’s you see what was done right and what was done wrong. Other people have made similar or the same decisions. You may be able to find some information on the internet, or you may have to ask others.

An example I like to use to illustrate the usefulness of research is designing a website. Once you decide you need, or want to revamp a website, what do you do? Well, first you want to look at other websites-see what they have done successfully and not so successfully. What do you like about that website? Next, you want to think about the elements—do you want a blog? Do you need a shopping cart?

Before you hire someone, you want to look at what is available that you can do yourself. There are online blogging programs, like WordPress or LiveJournal that you may want to use, which would be less expensive.

If you are using a web designer, then get referrals to many. Ask to see their work, and talk to their clients, if possible. You want to make sure your project comes in on time and within budget. Check out the web designer’s previous experience.

Lastly, you want to make a list of all the things you want on your website, along with a date of when you want them completed by. As time goes on with your project, then you can check off things on your list, and also write comments on what is going well and what you need to change.

In the future, when you need another website, you will have your research, plus your historical information to go back to. You will notice a faster project, and have used your research skills to get you there.

Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting’s presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on helping businesses, especially health and wellness practitioners, maintain and grow their business using the areas of business law, marketing, insurance and project management.

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where a third party neutral, or mediator, facilitates so the parties can come to a mutually beneficial resolution. Mediation is not binding, but a contract or an agreement can be the end result, which is legally binding.

One reason small businesses fail is because they cannot afford litigation, fear losing the business relationship with the contracting business, or misunderstanding of contract terms. The small business owners are experts in their own profession, but lack resources in conflict management. In normal business circumstances, conflict arises, and usually there is litigation. Mediation is less expensive and can preserve the business relationship.

Most businesses are not familiar with mediation or mediators. To be a mediator the neutral must complete a course, which is usually a 30 plus hour class. Mediators have all different backgrounds- law, psychology or industry experience. In choosing a mediator you want to be aware of their background so that you can have confidence in their ability. Family disputes would be better with a mediator with a psychology background, while business disputes may need a lawyer mediator.

However, the mediator does not make the decision for the parties—that is up to those involved. The idea is that when that happens, the parties will stick to the decision. In order for there to be mediation, a clause should be added to a contract which states the parties will use mediation along with naming a local mediation service or mediator. TrueNorth Business Consulting provides business mediation in Massachusetts.

The importance of good conflict resolution skills along with access and recognition of mediation services is critical. Many fiscal opportunities are lost, resulting in impacts to the community at large. Businesses strengthen a community with jobs and contributions when they are successful, businesses closure brings with it an increase crime rate and population decrease. Therefore for conflict resolution you should look into mediation first.

Most small businesses accept the idea of a verbal contract, agreeing to terms that were said. If there is a problem, then they hope each side has perfect recall. More often than not, memories are faulty and the business relationship is broken.

When a verbal contract is not used, there is a written contract and the small business owner finds it overwhelming. Does not understand it, but signs it anyway because it is supposed to provide protection for both parties. Plus, the business owner wants the money the contract promises when he/she performs their service.

In legal coaching my first question is: What do you need to be protected against?

There are all sorts of risk from financial to physical. If you are afraid that if something goes wrong and you could lose everything, then you need to make sure you understand the damages section in the contract.

You need to make a list, in your own terminology from your own experience of what can happen. Can you afford to be paid at the completion of the project which may be a year or two years later? What if you are unable to deliver your product or service? What could happen that will stop you from completing the project?

Next you want to think about the client, since that is who is receiving your service. From their point of view what can happen? To answer this question you can use personal experience, and you may want to do some research. What have been problems that clients have had when using vendors in the same service? Using the internet you can see what the issues have been with that particular client, and then make sure to contract to avoid them from happening again. This is a great opportunity to hone your business.

Then my job is to help you understand how that can be added into a contract, and bring awareness so that you can complete contracts confidently. I can also point out if a contract does not minimize the risk, then there are other ways to protect yourself.
Contracts are a common occurrence in the business world, which you need to manage successfully.

Most businesses, in my experience, are unable to afford a lawyer for every contract they sign; they are basing decisions on their own expertise, which is not the law. Using services provided by TrueNorth Business Consulting can help you learn to make these decisions on an ongoing basis with confidence.

Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting’s presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on helping health and wellness practitioners to maintain and grow their business using the areas of business law, marketing, insurance and project management.

There are many factors that go into any negotiation- what style you use (competitive collaborative, accommodating), cultural issues that impact values and habits, and lastly gender. Men and women negotiate differently.

“I want this for this amount,” is a male statement.

“I’d like to know how you came up with that number,” is a female negotiation statement.

Men view negotiations as a one time event. They are better at negotiating for themselves and reaching individual goals. They are usually more competitive.
Women, on the other hand, often let negotiation opportunities go by, set low goals and concede easily. Unlike men, usually women let their emotions show through, but are more about mutual gains than individualistic tendencies.

Neither style is right or wrong. There are suggestions so that men and women can negotiate more effectively, especially when it is a long term relationship whether business or personal.
First there should be a correcting of impressions. Also look to taking turns talking and possibly moving physically closer together than staying farther apart. Take the opportunities to ask questions. Negotiation, in this case, does require preparation. This would not be a one time negotiation to buy a car, for example.

Men and women can have successful negotiations with a little understanding of the differences that each brings. It is not a hindrance, but a chance to learn how to communicate effectively and for women, an opportunity to level the playing field where sometimes they feel at a disadvantage.