Welcome to 5 Questions With, a “behind the business” series from Bella Domain Media. This interview style post is published every few months and I’m very excited to bring you my fourth interview! This one is with podcaster and small business attorney, Nina Kaufman.
I clicked with Nina during the pre-interview we did together soon after she invited me to be a guest on her popular Business Breakthrough podcast. Nina and I share a passion for helping others grow their service-based businesses and Forbes Magazine even calls Nina, “One of the 25 Most Influential Women Tweeting about Entrepreneurship.”
So, let’s jump right in…
Here are Nina’s helpful and informative answers to my 5 fave questions. Thanks for participating, Nina!
- If there were “one thing” that most people don’t get about being small business attorney, what would that one thing be?
Lawyers aren’t a necessary evil. We’re just plain necessary. If you want to build a business that has “legs”—and provide you with the income and longer-term options to cash out big (note that I said longer-term—this doesn’t need to be today’s task)—don’t waste your time trying to DIY. Why? Well, if you’re trying to DIY your legal work (among other things), you’re a lead-DOER, not the leader your business needs. The company will never get off your shoulders. And, laws change all the time. Rules and regulations can be obnoxiously labyrinthine and complex. Do you really have time to keep up? Leave this to the professionals who do it all the time. Your time and expertise is too valuable to be spent mucking about in areas that aren’t your core business.
- What does someone need to understand in order to work with a professional advisor well?
“Trust, but verify.” Choose wisely by screening counsel just as you would screen a potential employee or strategic partner. Ask about their experience, and make sure they have what you need. Get references. Find out pricing ranges and estimates to make sure they’re in budget. See if there’s “chemistry” (while you don’t need them to become your best friend, you don’t want to cringe every time they call you). Do you feel good about this choice?
The rest is up to you. For lawyers to represent you well, they need to know the facts. Give them all the information you can. If you withhold information, change your tune, or alter your strategy, you’re making them duplicate their work. Let them push back and gently challenge you on your plans and ideas. Ultimately, it’s your call, but you’ll find you emerge with a much stronger business for the input of trusted advisors.
- Of the information you just shared, what is most important?
Like everything else in business, it’s a relationship. All of the same things apply. Honesty. Transparency. Integrity. Feedback. Trust. Being good to your word (which includes paying fair invoices timely). Reasonableness. Not micromanaging. You make a sound investment when you allow others (especially advisors) to take some of the burden off your shoulders so that, together, you create the foundation for a solid future.
- Was there ever a moment when you had an “aha!” around your own business and suddenly it all made sense?
A big “aha!” for me came a number of years ago when my first business partnership began to implode. I was miserable and wanted out. And while I was a professional advisor, I didn’t have an active, outside advisory team of my own (at the time). In trying to come up with a fair offer to my business partner, I consulted a business valuation expert. He told me that my business was worth about as much as “a hole in a doughnut” because it was way too dependent on me.
That’s when I learned that growing a business isn’t just about making good money. It’s also about creating freedom. Having options. Building a life.
And unless I built a business that could function without me, I’d always run into difficulty trying to sell it … or, more immediately, trying to take that 6-week unplugged trip to Australia and New Zealand I’ve been dreaming about. You better believe I have that advisory team on speed dial now!
- When you picture how all this information fits together, what image comes to mind and why?
A healthy business is like a healthy body. The way I look at it, there are four main systems in your business—like there are four major systems in your body: Sales (muscular), Service (circulatory), Supervision (skeletal), Strategy (nervous). All have to be working well for your company to be in optimal health. If one of them is out of whack, you can’t function at peak performance. It often takes the input of an expert advisor to get in there and help recalibrate so that the (body) system can function smoothly.
Nina Kaufman, Esq. is an SBA Small Business Champion and Entrepreneur.com legal expert—not just your ordinary business attorney. Forbes Magazine calls her “One of the 25 Most Influential Women Tweeting about Entrepreneurship.” A Mets fan by marriage and former stand-up comic, she is a sought-after professional speaker and trusted media resource. Nina has a particular passion for showing owners of service businesses how to build, grow, and sell their companies so they can break free into a life they love.
If we have experience working with each other, and you’d like to be considered for an upcoming 5 Questions With post, please contact me!