Business owners can learn about forming, operating, and staffing a business from the game of golf.
As Charlotte welcomes the 2017 PGA Championship to Quail Hollow, we started thinking about the links (pun intended) between golf and business. Golf and business have a long history and both require passion and tenacity to be successful in the long run. Plus, the game of golf has been utilized as a tool for developing friendships, and business relationships. But, did you know there are several lessons from the green that can be utilized when you are forming and operating a business, too?
Scope the Green: Know Your Business Landscape
As with golf, it is extremely important to know the landscape of the business that you are pursuing ahead of time. Who are your competitors? What are your areas of concern? What opportunities might you have that you can leverage to your advantage when choosing your course of business?
Identifying opportunities, the equipment you will need, and all the skills necessary for you and your potential employees to be successful are essential before investing your time and money in pursuit of a new venture. Just as it is essential for professional golfers to have discipline and course management, businesses must lay the groundwork through proper corporate formation, strategic planning, preparation for traps (or bunkers) and handling adversity.
Golf Strategy and Business Formation
Depending on the type of business, and the individuals forming it, an initial determination should be made about the best business formation for your venture. Whether you decide to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC), or a corporation, the decision you make will help protect the owner(s) from liability and could have a dramatic impact on how the business is taxed. Once you’ve met with your business attorney and decided on the route that is right for you, your business must then prepare and maintain all the appropriate documentation and procedures to keep the LLC or corporation protection in place for years to come.
Business formation is not the only strategy a new business owner should consider early on. Other questions you might ask are:
- What is your strategy for growth?
- What are your strategies for handling that growth?
- What legal documents should I have in place to protect my business as it grows?
The expectation is that your business will continue to grow so it is important to plan accordingly from the start – not once that growth has begun. As businesses grow, other potential problems and opportunities may arise. Meeting with an experienced business attorney can help you tackle the important task of being knowledgeable about the challenges your business might face and will assist you in preparing in advance for any hurdle you may face.
Preparing for Adversity: Navigating Employment and Trade Secrets
Often, business owners find that the most important part of handling adversity is to recognize the areas of concern early and create appropriate plans of action. Many business owners find that a majority of these problems arise when they begin to hire, and manage, their first employees.
An experienced employment law attorney will work side-by-side with business owners as they prepare to protect themselves, and their business, with the proper employment contracts and employee manuals. These contracts can cover multiple potential issues for a business owner such as: trademarks, protection of trade secrets, necessary insurance coverage, safeguards for employee dishonesty and identification of wage and hour issues for different levels of employees.
Now that you’re in business, what is the best strategy to protect your business and keep your customers and client’s safe? Non-compete and non-solicitation agreements are both valid legal protections in North Carolina if done correctly and without overstepping certain reasonable limitations. For example, territorial and specific customer contact information can be protected to prevent employees from leaving your business and stealing the lifeblood of that business – your customer base – when they go. Further, trademarks and the protection of trade secrets are key components to protecting your business identity and safeguarding the keys that make your business unique and successful.
Just as mulligans are a fresh start in golf, having the proper legal documents in place to protect you from employee dishonesty and liability can provide comfort and protect your business should you shank a ball out of bounds.
Deliberate Practice: Your Business and Employment Law
“Practice, practice, practice,” is a mantra that is often repeated when it comes to golf. Or, perhaps you’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master any given skill. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect, even when it comes to owning and operating a business.
Just as it is vital for professional golfers to stay on top of their ever-evolving swing, or the landscape of the next golf course, it is important for business owners to stay aware of the constantly changing laws and legislation that govern the business world.
As any business owner knows, as a business grows and changes so do employee roles within that business. And, when employees change roles, it may also effect their pay structure. Has the employee reached a level of being an executive, administrative or professional that moves the business forward or supports its growth? If so, that employee may be exempt from the requirement to receive overtime pay. If not, a business owner may want to consider options for monitoring hours of hourly employees to prevent unexpected overtime pay from accruing.
In the end, just as golf courses have difficult holes, including bunkers, hazards and areas that are penal by nature, identification of those areas in business are also vital to successful management and growth. Meeting with an experienced business litigation or employment lawyer about all of the above methods of protecting business owners should be considered prior to, or soon after, a business is formed.
The sooner the better. Estate planning for your business can take many shapes. Attacking the question early, investigating the options and making an informed choice will always be…