In April, we held our first-ever free Thrive NOW™ Virtual Summit benefiting small businesses and entrepreneurs. Our panel of trusted experts offered practical support for business leaders who are struggling to survive and thrive during and after the COVID-19 global health crisis. We are humbled and grateful for the more than 325 people who attended our summit.
We got the idea for this full-day summit exactly a month prior, after witnessing many businesses being forced to close their doors or shift their operations in a new socially distanced world. We had so many conversations with our friends, coworkers, colleagues, and clients about the unprecedented economic uncertainty. We asked ourselves and each other: “How can we help our community and let everyone know that we are in this together?”
And that’s when the idea for the Thrive NOW™ virtual summit came together. We assembled a roster of experts from our network of business development, marketing, human resources, business coaching, and legal friends and colleagues, including attorney Brian Ripley who joined me for session 2.
- Emotional health: How to Overcome Your Fears and Rewire Your Thinking for Success with business coach Michele Molitor
- Getting found online: Getting Your Business Found Online and Attracting New Customers with Tom Petty, digital marketing consultant
- Working remotely: How to Lead a Virtual Team for the First Time Successfully with Tara Powers, founder, and CEO of Powers Resource Center
- Business model: Creating New Streams of Revenue – What to Consider and How to Do It, featuring Elaine Betts, CEO of Go Far Consulting.
Meet Brian Ripley
Brian is an Oakland, California, based business and real estate attorney, who’s represented every type of business from small startups to Fortune 100 enterprises in a variety of industries including restaurants, retail, professional services (including Smart Simple Marketing!), health care, nonprofits and more.
He’s been practicing law for 37 years, and for the first two decades of his career, he represented insurance companies. (Side note: about halfway through our session, Brian explains the lengths that insurance companies go to to avoid paying claims.) For the last 17 years, he’s been on the other side of the legal debate and has used his inside knowledge of insurance operations to help businesses survive disruptions like the dot-com bubble burst, the Great Recession, and now, COVID-19.
Today, Brian works exclusively with small businesses, representing more than 400 small business owners.
The Legal Importance of Communication
As businesses navigate their way through the next few months, Brian reminds us of the importance of communication and documenting our interactions with clients, employees, vendors, and others connected to our small business.
“You are creating a legal record … every conversation you are having, the emails that you are sending, the text exchanges that you may be having, all of those could be and will be evidence if you find yourself in a lawsuit down the road,” he said.
Take the initiative to talk to your financial and legal advisors, and then talk to your suppliers. Remember that there are human beings on the other side of the conversation. They’re struggling too! Also, and this is a very important point that Brian makes, some contracts require parties to notify each other when something happens to them that might make it difficult to meet the obligations of a contract. By not communicating with the other party of a contract, you could be violating the terms. Check with your legal advisor for support with your specific business needs.
Key Learnings from Brian Ripley’s Session
In addition to the importance of communication and documentation, Brian explains the current details of the Payroll Protection Program. He helps us understand what constitutes payroll costs, how benefits expenses figure into those costs, and how the loan forgiveness program works.
Brian also answers the following questions:
- What can a business do if it can’t fulfill contractual obligations because of COVID-19?
- What might a business do if it can’t pay rent on its commercial lease?
- What is force majeure, and how does it apply to SMBs?
- What is business interruption insurance, and how can you find out if you have it?
- What are some of the provisions and limitations of the Payroll Protection Program and CARES Act?
- How do SBA loan forgiveness programs work, and what are some limitations?
- What are the documentation requirements for spending the PPP and SBA loans?
- Can you apply for multiple PPP loans?
- What should you do if you’re a personal guarantor on a legal obligation, such as a loan? How can you minimize your exposure?
I could have talked another hour with Brian about the small business legal considerations from COVID-19! I want to thank him for sharing his wisdom and especially for sharing his own stories of struggling through economic hardships as a business owner.
Click here to register to listen to Brian’s and our other experts’ sessions from Thrive NOW™ Virtual Summit. It’s free!
Connect With Brian Ripley
Brian Ripley is the CEO and founder of the Law Office of Brian A. Ripley, an Oakland-based legal firm that represents small businesses and real estate.
About the Thrive NOW™ Virtual Summit
The Thrive NOW™ Virtual Small Business Summit was the result of conversations Wil and I have been having with our network since the COVID-19 global health crisis threatened to shutter so many small businesses. Some experts say 25% or more of small businesses may not survive 2020. We can’t let that happen.
Disclaimer: The information and statements provided by Brian Ripley during the Thrive NOW™ Virtual Summit are for informational purposes only and are not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between participants of the Summit and Mr. Ripley or his firm. Nor is Craig Hart Consulting, LLC dba Smart Simple Marketing liable for any action you choose to take as a result of the information or statements shared. You should not rely or act upon this information and these statements without first seeking qualified professional counsel on your specific matter. Your consumption of this content constitutes your agreement to these terms.