My friend called me on a Saturday to ask for advice. She was at the gym and the person sitting next to her felt she was too close and threw a weight at her. He had threatened her in the past. She had decided to go to the police after talking to the gym with no results except for, ‘You need to work this out amongst yourself.’ Wrong answer.

She had a bruise, a minor injury and although there was a video recording, the police did not want to get involved.

My thought went to how poorly the gym handled the situation. It did rise to negligence- the gym owes a duty to its members to provide a safe work out environment, and that duty was breached. However, the gym was as, Jessica Nagle of Nagle Law called it, ‘ethically challenged.’

Conflict is a growth industry. Because of that business need to have systems in place on how to deal conflict whether that is among employees, vendors or customers.

My suggestion is to have a written policy about how you will deal with conflict. Amongst employees, for example, this may be an anonymous hotline to report issues or for customers there may be a formal complaint process.

These small ideas would create an ethical business and also one less likely to have negligence claims.



A snowstorm is a good reason to stay in and I can always find something to do.  This time though I caught back to back episodes of the Property Brothers.  If you have not seen this show on HGTV then you are missing out on Jonathan and Drew, twins that help find and remodel homes (in Canada).  In each episode there is doubt by the buyers that the house can be remodeled to the way they want it—they cannot see what Jonathan sees.


It is the same with mediation.  Unless you have been involved in a mediation, then it is difficult to understand and see what is going on.  Most people are familiar with courtroom dramas and judges making a decision.  Most cases settle using mediation or negotiation where you are part of the decision, have more of a say and can usually keep the business relationship intact.


For the new year why not try a new perspective?  Think about using mediation for your disputes or before entering a contract negotiate and get negotiation coaching from True North Business Consulting.  I understand that you know your business, but I frequently see that people do not know the legalities of their business. Take the time to take a new look and avoid problems later. I also offer a UDEMY class for those who want more information on alternative dispute resolution, which is the opposite of litigation.


Dishonesty Is Not Honesty In Disguise
There was an exposé recently in the Boston Globe about the fishing industry. I was one of the readers struck by the epidemic of mislabeled fish, but it was a local chef’s comment that caught my eye. He commented that he thought it was perfectly fine in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to say that sablefish was butterfish. He liked to use the word, butterfish, because it rolled off the tongue better.
There is not a state within the United States that allows misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is dishonesty about material facts. You need to give consumers the right information about your product. Therefore the accurate name of your product or service is important.
In the same week I came across another article, not in the Boston Globe, but an online source where the author was advocating plagiarizing web content. Yes, it was eye-catching, and I can imagine it made an effective tweet, but again, like misrepresentation, this is not allowed. Just look at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If you feel someone has stolen content from your website, then you can send a cease a desist letter for them to take it down.
For example, let’s say one of your clients has given you permission to use their comment. “XYZ business was great. Claire helped explain exactly what I needed to bring attention to my business. AB, my new product wouldn’t have been a success without her.” Now we add in a new competitor who doesn’t have any feedback, and they take your comment as their own, just changing the name. Is that fair? You would follow the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so that you could stop your competitor from using your quote.
Remember be clear and honest about your business even when it comes to marketing. Advertising is important for your business, and you need to be creative, but not dishonest. Not all fishes are the same. You cannot plagiarize from a website, no matter how much you wish that was your content. It’s not.

If you need advice on this type of situation, contact True North 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.

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.

I was reviewing a contract for a client who was offered what seemed to be a great business opportunity. No money up front, but a share in the profits. It seemed to good to be true, and as I read I found numerous issues which needed to be discussed.

In speaking with my client I found the need to backtrack and explain and define many terms that as a business person she needed to know to be able to make daily decisions. The words tumbled out of my mouth, “Each decision has legal ramifications.”

A scary thought for my client, which put what s/he was about to do in perspective. Suddenly, my hypothetical questions like, “What happens if you do not want to sell the business?” Because according to the paperwork I read my client, in a weaker position, would be forced to sell. This was not even a daily decision either– day to day things like purchasing office products, dealing with employees and clients.

It can be overwhelming because my client did not have a business background, but this was an opportunity, granted with some negotiation and some risk, but still in essence there was some possibilities. So here was my advice.

1. Do not panic.
2. Ask questions until you are clear or you make yourself clear.
3. Separate your personal feelings…this is not your friend, but a business associate.
4. Do not be rushed in making a decision. On things I am unfamiliar with (as a business person too) I invoke a 24 hour rule. It works on emails too.
5. Collect opinions because people have been faced with similar situations before, and you can learn from their history.

My client feels empowered now with understanding, and that is what you are striving for- to be able to make confident decisions especially in the New Year!