What to Do When You are Sued

This post from NFIB offers good advice on what to do when the process server enters your business, hands you some papers and declares, "You've been served."

"There are several acts that can bring advantageous results in responding to a lawsuit.

Do not ignore the lawsuit
The most important point is to never ignore the claim, no matter who makes it or where it comes from...If you fail to defend against a lawsuit in the time mandated by the law...you lose the lawsuit, even if good defenses to the claim exist.

Contact an attorney
Despite any fears toward lawyers, do not hesitate to get legal advice. Call your attorney, or if you don't have one, find one quickly...

Organize information
Generally, an attorney will ask a client to collect information for litigation. Gather all documents together in a logical order that the attorney can easily access. Don't destroy any documents, including e-mails or other electronic records, related to the case...Coordinate any investigation and data collection with your attorney...

Work with your attorney
Don't just turn the matter completely over to your attorney. Stay on top of the case and work closely with your attorney to make decisions on how to proceed...

Formulate a plan...
Your strategy for defense may depend on what you are willing or able to afford. Ask your attorney for an estimate on fees and expenses, and then determine your potential liability exposure with your lawyer based on how much the case could cost, what the chances of winning the lawsuit are, and how long the case may take. Decide on settlement possibilities and legal strategies, such as whether to countersue, using sound business judgment."

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Conduct Effective Board Meetings

Pascal Levensohn makes available an excellent slide deck on conducting effective Board meetings and a link to a related post from Brad Feld on structuring board meeting agendas. The presentation is from a two hour seminar that Pascal recently moderated on Best Practices for Running a Board Meeting hosted by the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop and is well worth reviewing.

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First of All, Let's Use a Lawyer

Lena Khorshid at MindPetals.com, the network site for young entrepreneurs, observes the following about the need for startups to engage legal counsel:

"Sometimes, I am stunned at how many entrepreneurs underestimate the value of competent legal counsel. They seem to do some sort of “weird math” that justifies subtracting legal fees only to add more money to the decorating budget...

In the long run, legal fees do add up. But, having competent legal counsel will save you money. I like to think of it as an expenditure with a concrete return on your investment.

For example, your lawyer will help you to negotiate favorable terms in your contracts; draft contracts that clearly reflect the terms of your business deal; and he/she can ensure that your contracts contain provisions that safeguard your revenue stream. In addition, your lawyer can apprise you of new developments in the law that can affect the operations and profitability of your business..."

A sentiment with which I must agree.

Read more at this Mind Petals post.

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Doing Good Through Social Entrepreneurship

Ashoka.org announces a new website that reflects its culture of innovation. The new site provides:

Easily navigable fellow profiles and increased search functionality
New information on Ashoka programs
Interactive maps to locate country information
A pressroom with the latest Ashoka news highlights and archives
Improved options for donor contributions
A comprehensive resource center on social entrepreneurship

"Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, Ashoka has elected over 1,800 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries.

Ashoka Fellows inspire others to adopt and spread their innovations—demonstrating to all citizens that they too have the potential to be powerful changemakers and make a positive difference in their communities.

By unleashing the same innovative and entrepreneurial mindset which has driven business sector growth over the last two centuries, Ashoka is leading a dramatic transformation in society, fueling the citizen sector’s unprecedented growth. With our global community of social entrepreneurs, Ashoka develops models for collaboration and designs infrastructure needed for this growth."

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Big Ideas in the Big Moo

From this Seth Godin post

"Griffin does a nice job of summarizing some of the big ideas in the Big Moo:

1. Real security comes from growth ( Page xiv ) To me this is the best statement in the book and it's right there in the preface.

2. Wanting growth and attaining growth are two different things ( Preface xv ) - Companies usually end up paralyzed by trying to focus on how they'll grow instead of actually growing.

3. Those who fit in now won't stand out later ( Page 5 ) - It's difficult to change once you get into a rhythm of mediocrity.

4. If you name something, you get power over it ( Page 18 ) - Ever try to change a bad nickname ? When a name catches on, it becomes very powerful.

5. Don't concentrate on making a standard. Once you create the standard, you've created a commodity and your customers will seek something like it, but cheaper ( Page 23 ) - *cough* Netscape *cough*

6. Being efficient is not as good as being robust ( Page 52 ) - There's such a thing as "good enough". Being flexible is better than trying to squeeze out a few extra performance cycles.

7. You can't predict the future ( Page 55 ) - ...

8. Everything is version .9, waiting for just one more upgrade before it's done ( Page 86 ) - Releasing something stable, but not complete is better than waiting it's "perfect". It will never be perfect.

9. Betting on change is always the safest bet ( Page 91 ) - You can't constrain change. People have scars from trying to.

10. Creativity is made up of iteration and juxtaposition ( Page 95 ) - Mash things together enough times, and something interesting will happen.

11. Compromise kills. Doing something half-ass is worse than doing nothing ( Page 97 ) - If you don't have enough information to implement something, ignore it and move on. It's better than trying to guess. Remember #7.

12. Novelty for the sake of novelty is risky and a recipe for irrelevance ( Page 100 ) - Solve a problem. I've written about this ...

13. The energy isn't in the idea, it's in the execution ( Page 101 ) - Everyone wants to sit around and think up cool stuff. Sooner or later, you're going to have to actually build something.

14. A product is what the customer thinks it is ( Page 131 ) - How many times have you gotten pissed at a user of your software for "using it wrong" ?

15. Don't let the seeds stop you from enjoying the watermelon ( Page 134 ) - The world is grey. Every solution, product, feature is the result of several trade-offs.

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Be an Authentic Leader

The following articles from BNET.com (with BNET's commentary) explain how to develop a more direct, authentic style of leadership as well as the obstacles you'll face along the way.

Gaining An Edge: Authentic Leadership Lessons
Authentic leadership is leadership that can be trusted; leadership that is, in fact, as it is represented. In the business environment, authentic leadership is a fundamental requirement for generating peak performance. Some companies can make money, even in the absence of authentic leadership, but they can't come close to realizing their full potential without it. The characteristics of an authentic organization are: a guiding vision, a value-driven organization, a powerful focus for delivering work, and respecting people by expecting their best.

Lessons in Authentic Leadership
Vision, organizational thinking, and the ability to deftly act on strategic intent are the critical elements needed to sustain a competitive advantage in today's marketplace. Assumptions, operating principles and worldviews are strikingly dissimilar across the several generations in today's workforce. Leadership, going forward, is not as much about telling as it is about hearing; not as much about knowing as it is about facilitating dialogue and inquiry; not as much about being in charge as it is about enabling the necessary capabilities and outcomes. This paper explores how authentic listening serves as an indispensable tool for leaders at all levels.

Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion: A Leader's Road Map to Renewal
How does a leader quell the everyday, inner conflicts caused by the heavy responsibility, the need for constant self-control and the inevitable crises - and still remain an effective leader? Not easily. These authors have excellent suggestions for calming and resolving that turmoil and for going beyond to remain an effective, highly resonant leader.

Becoming An Authentic Leader
Authentic leaders genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership. They are more interested in empowering the people they lead to make a difference than they are in power or prestige. They are as guided by qualities of the heart, by passion and compassion, as they are by qualities of the mind. The paper examines some characteristics of authentic leaders.

Rethinking Leadership Thinking: Choosing a More Authentic Path
Today, for the first time, leaders may find that authentic leadership and inspired teams are prerequisites to organizational survival. A rapidly changing world demands speed, flexibility, and responsiveness. Past systems of command and control, strict hierarchical structures, and dictated actions are inadequate to the task. To become a more effective leader of an inspired team, you have to unlearn many past practices, create a compelling value proposition for change and build a process that helps to anticipate and deal with resistance.

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FAQ on Starting a Solo Business

While there are hundreds of questions running through the mind of a solo entrepreneur at any given time, this this article from workingsolo.com does a good job of addressing these:

1. How can I tell if I've got what it takes to be a solo entrepreneur?
2. What are the most important things to do before a would-be entrepreneur he or she quits a day job?
3. What are the biggest challenges to starting a business?
4. How do you determine what kind of business is best for you?
5. What are the biggest mistakes new business owners make?
6. How much start-up capital does a typical small business need?
7. Are there any financial or tax advantages to starting a small business?
8. What are the best ways for a small business to obtain start-up capital?
9. What's the best way for someone to price their product or service?
10. What are the most important things entrepreneurs need to do to turn their small business into a success?

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