Author Factor: Notable Nonfiction Books

The Top 10 Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make (w/ Martin Parsons, Esq.)

August 10, 2023 Mike Capuzzi Season 5 Episode 189
The Top 10 Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make (w/ Martin Parsons, Esq.)
Author Factor: Notable Nonfiction Books
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Author Factor: Notable Nonfiction Books
The Top 10 Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make (w/ Martin Parsons, Esq.)
Aug 10, 2023 Season 5 Episode 189
Mike Capuzzi

On episode #189 of The Author Factor Podcast I am having a conversation with business attorney and author, Martin Parsons .

Martin is a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran who is now a small business lawyer in Illinois where he helps entrepreneurs proactively protect their businesses.

He recently published the short book, The Top 10 Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make In Their Small Businesses.

By setting up the right business structure, using well-written agreements, and protecting personal assets, entrepreneurs can safeguard their businesses and increase their chances of success. Investing time and effort into understanding the legal aspects of running a business is essential, and Martin's book offers practical guidance for both new and experienced entrepreneurs.

Learn more about Martin by visiting LegalAdvocacyHeadquarters.com

For more details about our short, helpful book publishing program, visit BiteSizedBooks.com.

Show Notes Transcript

On episode #189 of The Author Factor Podcast I am having a conversation with business attorney and author, Martin Parsons .

Martin is a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran who is now a small business lawyer in Illinois where he helps entrepreneurs proactively protect their businesses.

He recently published the short book, The Top 10 Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make In Their Small Businesses.

By setting up the right business structure, using well-written agreements, and protecting personal assets, entrepreneurs can safeguard their businesses and increase their chances of success. Investing time and effort into understanding the legal aspects of running a business is essential, and Martin's book offers practical guidance for both new and experienced entrepreneurs.

Learn more about Martin by visiting LegalAdvocacyHeadquarters.com

For more details about our short, helpful book publishing program, visit BiteSizedBooks.com.

Mike Capuzzi:

Welcome to another profitable episode of The Author Factor Podcast. I'm Mike Capuzzi, and I want to thank you for joining us. My guest today is Martin Parsons. Martin is a Marine Corps and army national guard veteran who is now a small business lawyer in Illinois, where he helps entrepreneurs proactively protect their businesses. He recently published a short book. The top 10 legal mistakes entrepreneurs make in their small businesses. Martin. Welcome to the Author Factor podcast. Thanks, Mike. It's great to be here. I appreciate the fact that you were able to accommodate me. I know we had scheduled earlier this year, and I had to change up. I just want to let everyone know, Martin, the reason you're on the podcast is because I am a book customer of yours. I saw somebody I really believe it was somebody on social media, you know, showed your book. I thought that title was very intriguing. And I bought a copy. I bought the Kindle version on Amazon. And unbeknownst to me, you knew who I was. You wrote a shook. You wrote a short helpful book. Didn't you? I did. Yep. And hopefully, it was helpful to you. It was I, again, I we were just talking about, like, the format of the book, the fact that it was short, but just, you know, who doesn't want to know what the top 10 big mistakes are. Right? As business owners and you know, things are always changing. There are always things that we should be thinking about. Maybe we don't think about it and, I just found it very, very engaging. So congratulations. Yeah. Thanks, Mike. Thanks. So and just so just a little bit of context, we are recording this in in the early summer of 2023. How long ago did you publish the book, Martin?

Martin Parsons:

I published it in

Mike Capuzzi:

January 2022. Okay. So Alright. Pretty good. Very good. Alright. Well, listen, let's jump in. And before we talk about the book and helping our listeners with some tips, I'd love for you to kind of expand upon not only what you're doing today, but I think, you know, your military service, you’re in the marine corps, you're in the national guard, the, the guard for a long time. Can you share kind of where you were And where you are today and how you serve your clients today?

Martin Parsons:

Yeah. Sure. So I came to the law late in life, after you after that military career, I started to go to college in law school right after I got out of the marines, and, back in the eighties. And I got sidetracked with life and a lot of things. And then I joined the National Guard and wind up with a full-time national guard job. And, and through the through that time, plugged away, and finished my undergraduate degree, And finally, after about 19 years, and I completed the course rework, actually, why I was in a deployment to Iraq. came back and graduated. and then a couple years later, after I retired from the military, I got bored. I didn't really have a plan. and so I decided to go to law school. something that I had always wanted to do.

Mike Capuzzi:

Wow. So if you don't mind sharing, you're on the spot here. How old were you when you got your law degree?

Martin Parsons:

I started when I was forty-eight. I had a very fun 50th birthday party with all my law school classmates. And then I graduated, at 51. So it's never too late. that's one of the stories. That's one of the reasons I like to tell that story is because, I mean, it's not too late. I've and I tell people, I'll talk to someone. I was like, that's too I couldn't go to law school. Well, they're even older people than me who've gone to law school. So Well, congratulations.


Mike Capuzzi:

I mean, it's definitely inspirational, Mark. And I remember when you and I first met a couple months ago, we had our first kind of introductory call, I remember you telling me that. And I was like, that's pretty cool. That's I mean, you had a, you know, really 2 distinct phases of your professional life, if you will.

Martin Parsons:

Yeah. It has been very distinct and different in many ways. So today,

Mike Capuzzi:

you are a lawyer in Illinois. Can you share a little bit about that and typically, you know, what your what, you know, your clients and how you serve them?

Martin Parsons:

Yeah. So, I focus our practice almost exclusively on helping small business owners and nonprofits get set up properly. As you mentioned in the intro, proactively protecting their business. We really like to do the thing, help them on the front end, to keep them out of trouble, even though the fears that talking to lawyers is expensive, but it can be a lot more expensive if you wait until you have a problem, that needs, fixed. So we try to provide resources and accessible ways to get help before they really need it, but that's almost all we do is help small businesses and nonprofits. So we're really focused on niche in in doing that.

Mike Capuzzi:

Okay. So you're in the service for years. You then became an attorney, and now you're an author. Yeah. So that's another phase of your professional life. Why did you decide, you know, to even write this first book? Like, what was, you know, what was the thinking behind that?

Martin Parsons:

So before I went out on my own, I opened my practice last August, so it hasn't been quite a year. I was working at SIU School of Law as a clinic faculty per professor, teaching a clinic in VA disability claims appeals. So we helped advocate for veterans to get their disability. And in that context, taught young, aspiring attorneys, hopefully, a few things about how to be an attorney. It was a clinic, So I did that for about 5 years. So in this area, I was known as the veterans guy, If I went I went to court, I my all my clients were veterans. If any other attorneys, anybody had questions, you know, I've got a veteran who needs help, they knew that they could send him to the clinic or call Martin. He's the veteran's guy. So when I decided to go out of my own, actually my wife and I, we both worked at the university and left about the same time, I didn't want to keep doing that work. the clinic was going to continue to be there, so I didn't want to compete with them. and I just was ready for something else. we really wanted a more possibly location independent practice and looking at things that we could do and, you know, who we wanted to spend our time with and decided that small business owners were going to be our clients. So I needed to rebrand myself as the veterans guy, to be the small business guy. And as I was reading and researching, I stumbled on your books and, bought all of them your all of your, you know, anything that I could get that you put out, I have, and just studied them read them front and back and decided that that was going to be a great way to rebrand myself to show them that I know something other than the veterans stuff.

Mike Capuzzi:

Well, hopefully, it's worked out. Well, we're going to get into that here in a second. But, again, I think what's interesting, Martin. And this is not the first time this has happened where I did not know any of that. You know, when I re I reached out to you because, again, I just thought it was an interesting book. Then when I bought it, I'm like, wait, this looks like a shock, you know, and I'm like, that's why I ripped out to you. So, again, Congratulations. It's no small feat. Even if it's a short book, it's still you've done something that so many people have never done. And, you know, I always get encouraged by folks that, you know, take the time energy because I'm sure even though you didn't mention it, I'm sure your number one goal was to be proactive in helping. This is all about helping people. Right? Your prospects, your clients, and short books are great ways to do that. So we want people to buy your book because a lot of them, not all of them have their own businesses. So I'd love for you, Martin, to share, you know, just one or two tips that you know, you cover in your book, you know, don't go too deep. But, you know, if you and I were having a, you know, having lunch or having a beer somewhere and I just said, hey. What what's the number one mistake if I'm thinking about going into business, what's the number one thing I should worry about, or the or the number 1 and number 2 things? What would you say to me?

Martin Parsons:

probably the thing that a lot of small business owners neglect or they don't want to do is just getting set up properly with the right business structure. in order to protect yourself. And that's a question that varies depending on the individual business owner on what's right for them, but finding out what that is, and getting that set up. I often push people towards an LLC, but, again, we won't necessarily go into the end of that today but getting set up properly. And then when they do, making sure that those formalities are maintained And then agreements seem to be something that many small businesses owners neglect having well written. Well, first of all, having any written agreements, let alone then well written And I would strongly recommend attorney reviewed if not drafted, agreements for with your employees, with vendors, with customers, agreements. Agreements. and then probably the other thing that I do, I push a lot on, is an employee handbook. If you have employees, even if you have one employee, it's the rules for how they're supposed to behave, and the culture so that if you have an employee that eventually isn't doing what they're supposed to do, how did they know what the rules were? you can't play the game if you don't know the rules. where you can’t give them a demerit or, call it a ball or a strike if they don't know what the strike zone is.

Mike Capuzzi:

You know, I remember I incorporated my first company in 1998. And being, you know, I have an engineering degree. So I have an engineering brain. It's not something that's ever changed even though I haven't done engineering in 30 years. But I remember being very methodical. much like you were researching how to do books and all that. I remember doing that years ago. Wanted to make sure I was, you know, had an accountant. Did everything rights because there's you know, there's just so many opportunities to screw something up that maybe it doesn't bite you today, but it could bite you in the future. I think having, you know, that's why I think your book is such a great little book. I mean, foundationally, your 10 mistakes that you share formed the foundation of really kind of CYA covering your butt as a business owner, which in this day and age, in my opinion, is, you know, not only that it's critical and then a necessity. There are just too many opportunities to, you know, have something, you know, just go wrong.

Martin Parsons:

Yep. Yeah. We live in a very litigious society, for sure.

Mike Capuzzi:

One question just about your first tip where it's setting up the business properly. So you're talking, you know, S Corp LLC, LLC, whatever it might be, whatever the structure is, like you said, dependent on your client. Yeah. in case somebody's listening, Martin, and has yet to do that. I mean, they just really started their business. They're kind of, you know, sole, you know, sole proprietor. or just kind of, you know, is it that big of a deal to sort of step into doing the right thing when you're already midstream or you know, we've been in business even a couple of years just kind of working down and dirty.

Martin Parsons:

No. It's really not. I mean, it's not It's not that tough. most so registering your business, it's all state specific, so I can't give specific advice except for Illinois and Missouri. license, but it's a state specific thing. And in most states, you can do it online. and it's not the cost is not that much to do it. And, like, I typically, for most businesses, I recommend an LLC just because it's, it just Simple to set up doesn't require a lot of ongoing maintenance. When you set up your first business back in that time period, LLCs weren't quite as popular as they are now, if even available. They were. I did it. I did an s Corp for the first time. And because that's what mostly what they talked about because of the tax advantages of that. And with an LLC, you can make an s Corp election, but that's I think it's probably the one of the best ways to separate your business and personal stuff, because as a sole proprietor, you're not protected. or as a partner, if you have partners, your personal stuff isn't protected. and an LLC is really the first level that someone can do that. I mean, it's just not that if you're if you're in business, spend the time, go to the secretary of state's website, and Google around, figure out how to do it, and, again, do it or invest the money in a in an attorney locally to help navigate it. But -- And I guess we should clarify this. you are in Missouri and Illinois as a lawyer, yet your book is applicable to any business owner anywhere in the Yeah. It would be. It's I tried to keep it in some ways general. I mean, some of the forms that are in there are Illinois specific, but, generally, the information in there would help anyone wherever they're at.

Mike Capuzzi:

Even then you're using it as a lead generation. I mean, I shouldn't assume that, but I'm going to kind of assume it. It's a lead generation book, you're trying to find clients through it. But even if someone cannot be a client, you could either refer, you know, there's some opportunity, but the book is still appropriate. Yeah. I think so. Yeah. Yeah. So let's talk about the book. You know, you put it together. How long did it take you to put together just to write and publish?

Martin Parsons:

I was in a really tight time frame. Probably totally. Total 2 months. I had committed to help a nonprofit. called dog tag bakery. It's a veteran nonprofit. I'll give him a plug, that, trains disabled veterans to be entrepreneurs, in the context of a bakery, and they were starting a virtual cohort. They needed a lawyer. I committed to them through friends I was asked to do that. I had been noodling this idea around about a book, and my wife said, well, you need to finish it. so that you can give it to this this class. And so that really, it gave me a hard deadline, which is would when if I ever talked to people about when I talked to them about writing a book, having a deadline really helped me get it done, and as well as my wife's giving me the space to get it done in the time because it took a lot of time in those 2 months, my nights weekends, were consumed with it because I was, on a pretty tight tie end because I chose to do it all myself. It took a lot more time than it would have been if I had handed that project over to you, for example, Mike, Oh, you got it done, though. So, you know, you get it. That's the important part.

Mike Capuzzi:

So you get it done. Tell me how what ways Are you what, you know, what are you doing, Martin, or what's your number one way to get the book out there? Is it handing it out when you're speaking and everything? Just, you know, or is it online? Like, what are you? What are you doing that? Yeah. So I took that first way that I used it. I because it was part of this. I was a virtual cohort So there were 12 students in this class. It was all virtual, but I sent them all copies of the book. And then,

Martin Parsons:

I base my talk around the 10 chapters. And, and it's the model that I have used now later, So I have a survey, a Google survey that I send all the attendees, asking them for their interest in each of the 10 chapters. to gauge, you know, what should I talk about? Everybody gets a book. In that case, I sent it to them. and then I just talk through those chapters, giving them opportunities for questions at the end, and then be I have gathered their emails to follow-up later And then I, so I took that model, and I've used that at, I'm a member of 3 local chambers of Commerce. So I've offered that same 60-to-90-minute course. over a lunchtime hour to local chamber members. We have a couple of small business incubators that I'm involved in. I've done the same thing there. and a kind of a cool, high school, CEO program which is pretty exciting to work with young, very young entrepreneurs in that setting. But that's one of the big ways that I do that is in that in that setting. And then I everywhere I go, I've got, in my bag, I've got a copy or 2, and I go to something that may not be about my book, but if there are entrepreneurs there and we're talking about things, almost every time, through the course of discussions, there's an opportunity to talk about the book. I've gone to discussions about how to market your business and they're talking and it's, you know, here's a good way. Write a book. And I take it out of my bag, and then I pass them out. And So,


Mike Capuzzi:

for your local meetings, I have I'm interested in knowing this, your chambers of commerce, when you'd the first strategy described, Do you find a lot of other members or book authors and kind of leveraging?

Martin Parsons:

No. there or not. I'm in fact the one of these incubators that I'm a part of, I and I would have many of those business owners tell me, gosh, I'd love to write a book too. So they got enough of those requests that I put together a short class an hour class about how I did it, including many references to your resources. And interestingly, they were all small business owners, but out of the 1st class had 13 attendees, the 2nd phase had 9. None of them were interested in writing a book to promote their business. they all wanted to do other things. write novels or biographies and devotionals. none of it was to promote the bill, which then I had to readjust the whole way I was teaching the class or talking about the class. Yeah. It's you know, it requires a marketing oriented.

Mike Capuzzi:

mind. You've got to be, you know, because most businesses don't even think about it. Right? It's not a typical thing. That's why I was asking. I asked that sort of loaded but, you definitely have to be more of a marketing,

Martin Parsons:

oriented business owner, even if they, you know, obtain it Yep. And even though I've talked to several people directly, like, you know, your business would be perfect for having a small book. And it's not that tough. And Here's some ideas, and, they haven't, and they probably won't, in the end of it.

Mike Capuzzi:

Are you one and done? Do you have any other books in the future?

Martin Parsons:

Yeah. I'm fine. because we do small businesses and nonprofits, I've been working on one, more specifically for and the and the nonprofit side has really been growing, recently for some reason. And a lot of the information that I'm giving them is information that could be in a book or something that could help them and save them a little money up front. So

Mike Capuzzi:

that's what I'm working on now. Very good. Is there any mistake you made with the first book, Martin, that you're not going to make in the second and you would want to warn listeners about? Well, part of it was doing it all myself.

Martin Parsons:

I mean, I wondered whether that's a mistake or not, but it just took a lot of time. I mean, it takes a lot of time to learn how to do all those things. There are a lot of great resources to figure it out, but it does take time. so, I mean, it wasn't I don't know if it's a mistake. Just I might think about if I was starting all over. the other was I originally, I initially published to Ingram Spark, and then and got some copies that way and then did more research. And now I'm almost exclusively on Amazon. I haven't ordered any additional copies on Ingram because they're, at the time, every time you made a change, you had to pay to have that change. I think they just recently changed that because Amazon doesn't have that charge. So to compete, they needed to. but their costs still per book were, more expensive than Amazon that it just wasn't really worth it. And There are for what I'm doing, just being on one platform is fine. Right. Yep. there could be a whole discussion on distribution to other land avenues that I'm not utilizing.

Mike Capuzzi:

But I would just have probably left Ingram Spark alone and went straight with Amazon. -- most people. As a matter of fact, my new book that we were talking about in the Magic of Free Books, my new old book. I actually did publish it on both, and there is a very if you're going to go if you want maximum distribution online, there's even a sequence of how you do it because I haven't gotten that right in the past, but we did it right this time. But, you know, Amazon's the £800 gorilla. certain people don't want to buy on Amazon. So, you know, we send out books. You mentioned you got a book directly from my office at one point. So, Hey, listen, before we get ready to wrap up here, Mark, because you and I can talk for a while, I would like to end with this question. I'd love to hear, you know, what it has meant so far for you to be a book author. You know, what does it meant to you? You mentioned, you know, one of the ideas or one of the reasons why was that rebranding obviously, you're helping people, but for Martin Parsons, what does it mean to be a book author? Oh, it's definitely open doors,


Martin Parsons:

for, speaking and being in different places just this past weekend, through a client that I have, I was asked to speak to a group of 160 hairdressers who were there for their CLE, and she included an hour about legal stuff. And that's how she introduced me is, oh, you know, you need to listen to this guy because he's got a book. in addition to Martin Parsons, my name is Martin Parsons was also a famous hairdresser, but that's, another story. and then I'm speaking again next Monday for this. she has another conference somewhere else, but the bit that book is a big part of that reason. It's open doors and that's, and I have a handful of clients who specifically came to me and told me they've come to work with me because I have a book. So those that credibility and those reasons, are real really important to what I do and help differentiate me. I think as a lawyer, how do I make myself different from the other lawyers who are practicing? And there aren't any lawyers in my area who focus as exclusively on small businesses as I do, but many of them do small business stuff. So Again, it sets me out as the expert in that field.

Mike Capuzzi:

Congratulations on that. And I look forward to hearing about the second book when that's done. first things first, how can our listeners learn more about you? If they want to grab a copy of the book, what's the best way to get it? All that good stuff.

Martin Parsons:

Yeah. So, it's on Amazon. So you can grab a copy there on Kindle and a softcover. you they about me and my practice, legal advocacy headquarters dot com. And I also have a resource that I want to share with your listeners, a small business, legal assessment so that they can see kind of where they're at. It lines up somewhat with our with the chapters in the book, and they can get that at legal advocacy headquarters.com/author factor.

Mike Capuzzi:

We'll have all those in the show notes, Martin. I do appreciate it. I'm thankful that we got the opportunity to reconnect and get this interview done in your first book. And when the next one's done, let me know. We'll have another conversation. Definitely. Thanks, Mike. Alright, Martin. Take care.