Thoughts on Law and Life

The Official Blog of Astrab Legal Services LLC

Know When to Say When

Hello from the world of the small business owner. Summertime is traditionally a slow time for many businesses due to many factors, many legitimate. There is no reason, however, to slow down prospecting activities during this period. There are always potential avenues for new business out there, and now that summer is coming to an end there are also no more excuses for not getting out there and seeking out new clients, customers or accounts.

A positive mindset is critical for achieving new business growth. If you believe you can do it and reinforce yourself each day with positive thoughts about building your business, then good things will come your way…it is when one slips into a negative, excuse-driven mindset that slowdowns, or at worst failure, will occur. I am not saying that thinking happy thoughts will bring in oodles of new business, but it is a start. Having a positive mindset will allow you to get up each morning and seek out new clients or brainstorm new ideas. A ‘woe is me’ attitude is a blueprint for slacking and transmits itself subconsciously to new business prospects.

What should you do? First of all, don’t sleep in – get to bed at a reasonable hour and get up at the same time each day. If you need coffee to kick-start your mind, set the pot the night before to have fresh java waiting for you when you get to the kitchen or the office. Shake off any negatives that may have occurred the previous day and re-affirm for yourself the reasons you started the business in the first place. Have a plan for the day, be it cold-calling, letter-writing or delving into busywork…try to schedule these activities as you would a client or prospect meeting and commit yourself to that time block. Don’t make exceptions – the first exception will snowball into another, and so forth. I cannot stress enough that remaining in a negative mindset or setting aside scheduled activities for non-business larks will kill your business in the long run.

Another key thing to think about is exit strategy – sometimes despite your best efforts a business plan will not work. You must know when to say when before you dig yourself and your family into a hole from which you cannot recover. I don’t mean to counteract the first three paragraphs of this post, but financial survival is critical…if despite your positive attitude and daily attempts at business development things don’t seem to be working out it is time to sit down and re-evaluate the business plan that you developed at the start of your venture. Analyze what your plan was, look for deviations from that plan and work to find why things aren’t going the way you believed they would. Seek out trusted friends/advisors to discuss your business efforts – listen to their feedback carefully. Look at your prospect ‘pipeline’ and determine if those individuals can be converted into paying clients within a reasonable period of time. Do NOT resort to measures such as financing your business through credit cards or home equity loans – you are doing nothing but incurring debt to potentially maintain life support on a dying proposition for a short period longer. Make a go/no go decision and stick with it.

The bottom line is that small business ownership is indeed the lifeblood of this country but that it is not for everyone. Do not destroy your family and your financial life over a business…in the end it is not worth the grief that will be brought. A lot of business gurus will tell you to never give up and never give in, but failure is indeed an event that every business should plan for and make efforts to avoid or alleviate.

Know When to Say When – it may be the best business decision you’ll ever make.

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 This blog is designed for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


August 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog Followup…Contact me for some suggestions!

As I put out my diatribe, it occurred to me that many readers may be unsure about what to do with their investments. Although I am no longer in the field of offering investment advice, I am willing to discuss working with you to find a financial advisor that shares my beliefs. If you have any questions regarding your present advisory relationship, give me a call at (216) 577-0013 and I’d be more than happy to help you find someone that is willing to sit down and work with you over the long term!

March 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Competence, Consistency & Character (Part III)

Today marks the final blog in my series on the ‘3 C’s’ of Competence, Consistency and Character. Today I’ll focus on Character, which I believe is by far the most important of the three, as without character your competence and consistency probably won’t be worth a darn to anyone.

In a quick blog post yesterday I commented on criminal defense attorneys who make outlandish pronouncements of innocence on behalf of their clients in order to get some face time on TV. The vast majority of attorneys know that these statements are BS, and I’m guessing that most of the general public sees them that way as well. What these statements do, however, is reflect on the character of the attorney at issue, in my opinion. If it is clear that the attorney is acting out for the cameras, I believe that this reflects a serious flaw in his or her character…our duty is to zealously represent and defend our clients and to do so in the Courtroom, not in the media. If I see a criminal defense attorney who is constantly making these comments, my opinion of his character will be severely diminished, as he is, in my opinion, hurting his client in the process.

Character is something that is built and maintained on a daily basis. It is the core of our being and the model by which we live our lives and by which we are viewed by others. If we maintain a strong moral code of integrity, honest and humility, among other traits, we will gain the respect of those around us, including colleagues and potential clients. We cannot deviate from our character on a case-by-case basis…it is how we should handle all of our dealings every day, no exceptions.

What is character? A few simple examples are keeping our word consistently, returning phone calls on a daily basis, treating colleagues with professional courtesy, refraining from gossip and being willing to lend a helping hand when requested. There are many facets to character, and we must find out for ourselves what our own personal traits may be. My point with this blog is to remind folks that others are watching our words and our actions and we should maintain top-of-mind awareness of this fact. The old saying goes that satisfied individuals will tell one or two people about the service that they received, while those treated poorly by a business will tell ten or twenty. The same goes for character – those put off by our words and actions will take every opportunity to tell their opinion to others if our name comes up in conversation.

Being perceived as having poor character will hurt us personally and in the business world as well. It could mean the difference in getting that job or signing up that client. It could affect the way that promotions are handed out or how we are treated by authority figures.

Take some time today to perform some introspection. How do you believe your character is perceived by others? If you are feeling adventurous, ask a close friend what people think of you. Regardless of your methods, you need to make sure that your moral compass is pointed in the right direction if you wish to have success in life and business.

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 This blog is designed for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 New Scams for Troubled Times

Here’s an interesting piece from another blog page. Recognizing scams like these are critical to preserving your money and identity. As the economy grows worse, behavior like this will surely increase and will become even more sophisticated. If you believe you are the victim of a scam or are being targeted by a potential scammer, please contact your local law enforcement as well as an attorney for legal advice.

By: Daria Dolan
Nov 26th 2008 at 8:00AM

We have a very important warning for you today about a new wave of scams being reported nationwide. This financial crisis has unleashed a new torrent of scam artists who are working overtime to get their hands on your money. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Many of these scams prey on current fears about bank safety, mortgage foreclosure, and the credit crisis. Learn how to protect yourself as we expose 10 popular scams being run right now.

1. Phishing scams related to the financial crisis
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there is a new round of email scams out there that are tied to the financial crisis. Many of these emails “phish” for personal information — your Social Security number, account numbers, passwords, etc. The scammer then uses that info to steal your identity.

Proceed with extreme caution if you get an email that purports to be from your mortgage company, a government agency, or other official institution. If the email is requesting ANY personal information, you know it’s a scam. No government or reputable financial institution will ask you to share confidential information in an email.

2. Scams related to the banking crisis
The banking crisis is presenting scammers with another golden opportunity. We’re hearing numerous complaints about official-looking emails that claim to be from a bank or from the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). These emails prey on your fears, claiming your bank is in trouble or that money has been stolen from your account. Most ask for your personal information, which they then use to steal your identity or illegally access your account.

If you receive an email from your bank requesting any personal information, contact your bank immediately and do not respond to the email.

3. Home rescue scams
With today’s housing troubles, mortgage rescue scams are crawling out of the woodwork. These scams target people who fear losing their home and ruining their credit because of foreclosure. A “real estate investor” contacts you and offers to bring your payments current if you’ll sign over the deed. He offers to keep making the payments in the future. You’ll need to move out so he can rent the house, but you won’t have a foreclosure on your credit.

Here’s what really happens: the “investor” will rent the house to someone else alright, but he’ll never make a payment on your mortgage. Eventually, the bank will foreclose, you get the black mark on your credit and the renter will be evicted. The only one who gains here is the “investor,” who collected his free rent.

4. Mortgage renegotiation scams
A smooth-talking salesperson tells you he can renegotiate your mortgage with your lender and help you keep your house. He’ll require a fee (as much as $1,000 or more) before he can start, of course!

Problem is, the “deal” he gets is one that you could have gotten on your own, and it probably won’t be enough to keep you in your home. However, because he was “successful” in getting the loan renegotiated, he has technically earned his fee and there’s little that you can do about it.

The lesson here is you don’t have to pay someone else to negotiate with your mortgage company. If you’re having problems making your payments, contact your lender and tell them you need to renegotiate your loan. You have nothing to lose, and – believe us – they don’t want to foreclose!

5. Fake check scams
Everyone is looking for a little extra money these days. But if you get a check in the mail that you weren’t expecting, don’t get excited-and don’t cash it. It could be one of the many “fake check” scams going around.

These scams involve everything from claiming you won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes to offering you work as a “mystery shopper.” But they all have one thing in common: you receive a check – a real-looking check, payable to YOU – for several thousand dollars. They tell you the money is to pay for contest fees, or is your fee for being a mystery shopper. They ask you to deposit the check and then wire them most of the money back.

But here’s the kicker …

6. Fake check scams, part 2
That check they gave you is no good and will bounce eventually. When it does, you are left holding the bag for the amount you wired plus a bounced check fee plus the wire transfer fee!

Here are a few warning signs to spot this kind of scam before you get taken:

A. The check will have the name and address of a company completely unrelated to the offer. Scam artists steal the name and account number of real companies so that the check won’t bounce as soon as you deposit it.

B. Anytime you are asked to wire money at someone else’s request, it’s a big red flag.

C. No legitimate company requires you to send money to enter a contest.

7. Advance-fee credit card scam
In today’s tight credit market, getting a new credit card is becoming more difficult. That means this next scam is only going to get more popular and it’s going to cost consumers millions.

The gimmick is simple: get a $7,500 credit limit with an unsecured card – guaranteed, regardless of your income or credit history. All you have to do is send in a “processing fee” of $79 to $99. Of course, the credit card never comes.

We don’t know of a single legitimate credit card issuer that collects its annual fee before the credit card is approved or issued. Never, EVER agree to pay a fee in advance!

8. Credit repair scam
Most of the claims that these “credit repair” companies make are downright false. The simple truth is nobody can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from your credit report. Nobody!

There are no shortcuts to rebuilding your credit report. If you do have legitimate mistakes on your credit report, you can work with the credit bureaus on your own – for free! – without getting a credit repair company involved.

9. Work at home
More and more people are trying to find ways to make extra money, so we’re hearing a steady drumbeat about “work at home” scams. Most of these scams all try to accomplish the same thing, though, and that’s to get an “application” or “initiation fee” out of you.

You will be asked to pay $49 to $99 for the privilege of being added to their group, but of course, there’s no real work to be had. Once they get your money, you never hear from them again!

Never, ever give any of these work-at-home companies any money in advance.

10. Fake emails that prey on your good nature
This is the time of year that many charities will be asking you to open your hearts and wallets to help others in need. And scam artists are right in the mix to take advantage of your charitable nature.

Beware emails that appear to come from big charities such as Red Cross and UNICEF. These scams use images and domain names that are so close to the real thing it’s VERY hard to tell the difference. But when you click a link to contribute, you’re taken to a Web page that has NOTHING to do with the charity!

When in doubt, make your donation through the organization’s Web site or use their toll-free number. Also, be sure to pay with your credit card to protect yourself from fraud!

Now that you know what to look for, please be sure to send this information to your friends and family so that they don’t lose a penny to scam artists. If you have a scam you want to warn others about, email us at

This blog is a service of Astrab Legal Services LLC and is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advice. As always, please consult your legal, tax or financial advisor for the specifics of your particular situation.

January 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment