Thoughts on Law and Life

The Official Blog of Astrab Legal Services LLC

Centers of Influence

Any successful small business owner is going to need to establish several Centers of Influence (COIs) in order to maintain long-term success.

  • What are Centers of Influence? They are individuals well-established in their particular practice area or social sphere. A COI can be an attorney, a CPA, a financial planner or simply a ‘social butterfly’ who knows everyone.
  • Why are Centers of Influence important? COIs are important in all aspects of a business. They can help jump-start a new venture by providing instant referrals. They can assist a business owner with practical advice on a particular topic or by simply acting as a sounding board for ideas or rants. They can be your very own unpaid sales force if kept in the loop of your business.
  • How do I find Centers of Influence? COIs can be individuals already existing in your business or social pipeline or they can be individuals sought out after careful research. They don’t have to know that they are a ‘center of influence’ for you…the term Center of Influence is not really a title that is bestowed upon someone officially…it is more of a relationship that develops on its own over time.
  • Do I need to repay Centers of Influence with referrals or gifts? That depends on each individual relationship…some folks like to help out and expect nothing in return. Others have a ‘quid pro quo’ in mind when giving advice or referrals, and this is an area where the start-up business owner must be careful, as that expectation is often implied but seldom demanded. If a COI expecting a return referral does not receive that benefit from you, then your relationship may suffer over the long-term. My best advice is to simply ask the person in some variation of the following: “Thanks for sending Bob over to me…is there any particular type of business that I should be looking out to send over to you?” If the person responds affirmatively and gives you some examples, you should darn well be on the lookout to return that favor in the future. If you don’t ever come across that particular target, make sure that you take the time in the future to remind the person that you are looking, but nothing has come up. This will reassure them that you understand that they are looking for help as well.

This is pretty basic advice, but I hope that it serves as a starting point for thinking about broadening your social networks to ensure that a lot of people know who you are and what you are doing!

Don’t ever hesitate to send me an e-mail or refer my blog to your friends, family members or business associates.

Mike Astrab is the owner of Astrab Legal Services LLC, a general law practice located in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. Mr. Astrab is working to concentrate his practice on business consulting, estate planning and criminal defense. More information can be found at www.astrablegal.com.

This blog post is for informational purposes and should not constitute legal or business advice that can be relied upon by the reader, as each individual or business has unique issues that must be explored before concrete advice is offered!

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Law, Legal, Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Back on Track

Things have been hectic over the past few weeks, and I truly have neglected by blog posts, which were a stalwart of my business plan. I am promising myself to get back on the wagon again and start posting, as professional and personal consistency are necessary prerequisites to any successful business person.
I ask those of you who read and enjoy my posts to comment and yell at me if nothing come up for a while…while ultimately the postings are my responsibility, it does not hurt to have others kicking me in the rear end when I slack off!
For today’s post I urge all of you to look at your own businesses and planning – Are you being consistent or have you also slacked off in certain areas? In order to succeed, each and every one of us must have not only a viable plan but also the internal drive to maintain that plan and modify it where and when necessary…by ‘modify’ I don’t mean drop things if they become an inconvenience, but to take a hard look at what is working and what is not working. If you are not doing something in your plan but have no data to show that by not doing the item you are helping or hurting your business, then you need to start it up again until you can gather enough facts to make an informed decision.
With my blogging, I honestly and simply slacked off – I had a seemingly consistent group of readers that was slowly growing, so there was no reason (nor any excuse) to stop. That is why I am going to get back up on the horse and start riding again!

Mike Astrab is the owner of Astrab Legal Services LLC – his company’s website (currently under construction) is www.astrablegal.com.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Law, Legal, Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Susan Boyle

Just a quick post for today. I have to comment on the Susan Boyle phenomenon. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, she is a 47 year old woman from Scotland who recently sang “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent. She is not an attractive person and was initially treated with derision by the audience and clear doubt by the judges until she opened her mouth and began to sing. What followed was an incredible performance that immediately won over everyone in the crowd as well as what is quickly becoming one of the largest You Tube audiences ever.
The bottom line here is obvious: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Ms. Boyle had a dream and she pursued it despite the odds against her due to her physical appearance.
We can learn some lessons from Susan in the business world – Do not let anyone take away your dream…keep fighting and one day you’ll have your Susan Boyle moment!

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Card Check Legislation

The buzz around legal and small business circles of late has been the Card Check legislation that is going to be introduced into Congress any day now. I am going to write a detailed blog in the next day or so regarding facts on Card Check and my opinions on what it might do to small business if passed. If you have any thoughts on Card Check or unions in general, please let me know by posting a comment and responding to the poll that I have attached.

March 11, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Law, Legal, Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Business Seminar Ideas

I’d like to hold a working seminar for small business owners in the Northeast Ohio area in the near future. Please pass along suggestions as to concepts/ideas that you would like to see discussed and that might draw you to the event. I’m looking at topics such as business plan drafting, budgeting issues, finding financing, insurance matters, retirement savings, etc.
Just post your responses as comments to the site to allow others to respond as well!

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Law, Legal, Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quick Observation: Grab This Week by the Throat!

A little graphic perhaps, but in this economy you need to be the one stepping up to the plate…Don’t sit around and wait – get out there and make it happen! Grab the week by the throat and take charge of your life and your business!

Very quick post, but it says what it needs to say!  If you can’t figure it out, there’s always groceries to bag…

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Observation: Stop watching the news!

Good Morning! Quick thought for today – If possible, take some time away from the news…We all know the economy is in the pooper and the media will take every opportunity to remind us of the utterly worst sides of the story. Don’t let them get you down!

February 27, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Life | , , , , | Leave a comment

Starting Your Own Business Series (Part II-Passion)

After a long absence due to business development work and other issues, I am back to blogging and will make my best efforts to maintain a daily post on this site. I had a post a couple of weeks ago that was the start of a series on starting your own business and discussed buy-in issues with regard to a spouse or significant other as a critical issue that must be addressed before any further planning is contemplated.

Today’s blog deals with deciding what to do with the business that you want to start. This may seem like common sense, but in the quest for easy money it is an area often overlooked and can doom a start-up business if not thought out properly.

My advice is to take a self-inventory and think about what you have done in the past on both a personal and professional level that has really brought out your passion. I believe that having passion is a primary key to developing a successful business. If you have no passion for something, but are merely excited about the concept, you will burn out quickly and wonder why in the world you decided to pursue the venture in the first place. Take a look at the mortgage industry – I am willing to bet that in your town a significant percentage of empty storefronts in strip malls were formerly occupied by mortgage brokers. In most instances, a wannabe entrepreneur took a look at the business environment a few years ago and saw that folks in the mortgage industry were making lots of quick easy money. The thought of “I want to be there too” came into the person’s mind and he or she quickly threw together a business. The mistake here was that the person did not look beyond the quick buck to see what was going on in the industry, such as market saturation and the clearly apparent bubble that was beginning to form in the sub-prime market. The result became that Joe, who used to work as a cell phone salesman and had no experience at all selling mortgages, got a couple of similarly inexperienced friends together, obtained a license and threw up a shingle. When the market took its inevitable downfall, selling mortgages was no longer appealing, and as the group had no collective passion for the industry, they simply gave up and folded the business.

We’ll use Joe again for a more positive example. Joe, in addition to being a cell phone salesman, was also a black belt martial artist. When he was not selling cell phones he was at a training facility not only learning but also teaching his art to less experienced students. He had a passion for the sport and knew it inside and out. What Joe should have considered was opening his own small martial arts training facility where he could use his experience and passion to not only teach his art, but also make some money while doing it. This is a pretty simplified example and does not take into consideration Joe’s business skills, market research, start-up costs, etc. What it does take into account, however, is his passion. If you have the passion for something then the rest of the pieces can fall into place much easier.

Take some time and think about why you want to start your small business…Is it because you truly have a passion for the point of the business or is it because you see the potential for a large, quick monetary gain? There will be rough times in any business – it will take your passion to get you through those rough times and onto the next level. Instead of reaching your monetary goals in six months it may take two or three years, but the trade-off is worth it!

If you are considering starting your own small business, I’d like to help. I have assembled a multi-disciplinary team that includes representatives from the accounting, insurance, banking and financial services industries to aid you in getting started, building on what you have in place already or saving what you have built from impending financial disaster. I can be reached at (216) 577-0013 or astrablegal@sbcglobal.net. There is no question that the economy is in danger – don’t let your business or dream go down because some Wall Street goof-offs could not get their houses in order!

Michael K. Astrab is the principal attorney for Astrab Legal Services LLC, located in Cleveland, Ohio. He may be reached at (216) 577-0013 or via e-mail at astrablegal@sbcglobal.net. This blog is designed for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should ALWAYS seek out the advice of an attorney and financial professionals before starting a business.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Law, Legal, Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Slacker

Sorry all…I’ve been extremely busy on multiple fronts for the past few days and just have not had a chance to update the blog. I’m working on ideas for new content and want to continue the small business series, so please stay tuned for updates!

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Law, Legal, Life, sales & marketing, small business | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Personal Budgeting Assistance

A practice area that I am currently developing is a ‘family budgeting’ practice wherein I plan to work with individuals and families on structuring and maintaining a personal budget designed to help them meet savings goals, pay off debt and develop life-long good cash management habits. I will not be providing investment advice but simply acting as a coach of sorts to help folks understand their cash flow in a difficult monetary environment. I plan to utilize three primary steps:

  1. Comprehensive Review of Assets/Liabilities
  2. Estate/Education Planning Review
  3. Goal Discussion & Setting

Clearly there is a lot more to the process than this, but I’m not one to give out too much of my proprietary processes, so you’ll have to call me for more information on how I plan to assist my clients.

My plans are to offer, among many other services, regular in-person meetings with clients, assistance with tax-time document gathering/explanation and 24/7 availability for budget questions/concerns. This practice area fits into my ‘holistic’ concept, which I believe is the future of the practice of law…attorneys must learn to move beyond being viewed as transaction-based and evolve into trusted advisors to their clients. Today’s clients deserve more than a document and an invoice…they deserve personalized attention and constant contact.

If your present attorney is not helping you in these areas, or if you feel he or she is more interested in billing hours than actually listening to you, please call me at (216) 577-0013 or via e-mail at astrablegal@sbcglobal.net.

 

Michael K. Astrab is the principal attorney for Astrab Legal Services LLC, a general practice law firm located in Cleveland, Ohio. He may be reached at (216) 577-0013 or via e-mail at astrablegal@sbcglobal.net. This blog is designed for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Financial, Law, Life, small business | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment