COVID-19: The Black Swan Risk to Business

Stock Photo of Black Swan

{3 minutes to read} I was anticipating increased M&A activity in Q3 since the Covid-19 lockdown began, but as spring turned to summer and we remained On-Pause, I realized that more industries than I originally thought would be significantly, if not permanently, disrupted as a result of the pandemic.

The way businesses confront new and different problems is undergoing a revolution due to the “black swan” event A/K/A the Coronavirus.

So, what should management/companies be thinking about as they recalibrate their assessment of profit and risk?

Continue reading
Posted in General, Mergers & Acquisitions | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Be an Effective Communicator, it’s Okay to Be Silent

Young woman with her eyes closed

{3 minutes to read}  When the COVID-19 lockdown began, I very quickly noticed the surge, and felt bombarded by, too many choices for online entertainment. Suddenly countless guided meditations, yoga classes, friends having Zoom cocktail hours, and virtual dance parties were available simply by clicking a link. But, in order to process entering into a “new normal,” my instinct sent me to a quieter, more introspective place.

For all things communication-related, I reflect on the words of my guru, Debra Forman, a certified executive coach and the founder of Pinstripe Coaching who, in her video blog entitled After It Rains, video 43: It’s OK to be Silent, reminds us:

“When you feel comfortable with your own silence, you will act as if you speak volumes.”

Continue reading
Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Communication is a Key Component for Success

{3 minutes to read} An attorney’s communication style is a key component for success in getting and keeping clients, and persuading others.

Here’s some good advice I’ve received along the way that I’d like to share with you.

According to my guru, Debra Forman, a certified executive coach and the founder of Pinstripe Coaching, in her video blog entitled “After It Rains, Episode 36: You’re Not a Puppet”:

Continue reading
Posted in Entrepreneurship | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Age of Uncertainty

Close-up of business card with heart on it held be a person in a suit seen partially in the background

{4 minutes to read}  How can we regain some control in The Age of Uncertainty?

  1. Increase kindness through our words, actions, and by the omission of certain actions.

As my clients began adjusting to working from home, I made sure to tell them that my job is to lighten their loads and solve their problems to the best of my ability. This goal has always been (and continues to be) true, but The Age of Uncertainty provides a good opportunity to verbalize it.

I wanted my clients to know I was ready, willing, and able to assist them. Having worked from home for nearly 10 years, I didn’t have much of an adjustment when self-quarantining began. As my workflow slowed down, I educated myself about the CARES Act and I’m keeping up with new clarifying regulations, so I can help my clients, friends, and colleagues.

I chose not to send an email about a non-urgent matter to an administrative assistant over the weekend who was neither accustomed to working from home, nor over the weekend. By not adding to her workload in that moment, I hoped to ease her adjustment, rather than simply eliminate a task from my own in-box. I’m making efforts to be considerate by omission on weekdays too, by emailing clients questions rather than calling them. I’m also taking more initiative on behalf of certain clients to avoid overwhelming them with mundane decisions. 

  1. Recognize that we are all in this together.

Although isolation doesn’t make accepting this pearl of wisdom any easier, now is not the time to take everything so personally. Every resource, from PPE to ventilators, as well as your colleague’s last nerve, is under excessive stress these days, so lighten up. Pause before you react, and try to put yourself in the shoes of your “nemesis of the moment.”

TRANSPARENCY – that’s a buzz word worth repeating, or at least putting to good use in The Age of Uncertainty! Managers struggling to effectively communicate with their team, now’s your chance to shine! It’s the perfect time to learn to communicate with your staff transparently and without defensiveness.

I’ve had clients and colleagues call me to discuss the challenges of working remotely. My best advice to them is to stop using passive-aggressive tactics, learn to ask directly for what your business wants/needs, and to establish weekly ZOOM check-in meetings to ensure accountability towards achieving the short- and long-term goals of your enterprise.

  1. It’s time to learn PATIENCE. 

It’s a virtue that starts with ourselves. Increased stress can result in absent-mindedness, such as losing important papers, keys, and the like. It also decreases productivity. In The Age of Uncertainty, first and foremost, we must be patient with ourselves for these foibles and mishaps. Secondly, we must appreciate that everyone’s stress levels are elevated at this time. So what should we do?

  • Allow yourself to sleep in a little later (shorter commute and all).
  • Focus on what you’re grateful for, because you can’t be grateful and worried at the same time.
  • Remember that any genuine act of kindness for another will alleviate your own stress even if momentarily.

So we’re back to basics…kindness, to ourselves and others, is definitely the new BLACK!

Aimee B. Davis

Aimee B. Davis
Aimee B. Davis Law P.C.

917-617-2243
122 Ashland Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
www.aimeebdavis.com
aimee@aimeebdavis.com

Posted in Entrepreneurship, General | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Biggest Obstacle is Fear

Never Let Your Fear Decide your Future sign

{4 minutes to read} In October 2019, my life changed in several significant ways. Among other things, my stepmother was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. This was devastating news to me, my family and many others because she is full of love, light, and grace. She faced her cancer diagnosis with her signature strength, dignity and bravery.

I reacted to her diagnosis with a renewed sense of gratitude for my life and my own good health. I also recognized the imminent need to overcome my fear, resistance to change and resistance to facing death. I previously wrote about my resistance to change in Embracing the Change of Season. As autumn turned to winter, I aligned myself with a newfound appreciation of seasonal changes, and the energetic shifts associated with each passing season.

As 2020 drew nigh, I summoned all my inner strength in pursuit of confronting my fears, so I could move through them in a constructive, compassionate and supportive manner. People tend to get blocked when “living in the past.” My wise yoga teacher instructed the class to be careful of people and objects that we cling to. To move forward with grace, I’m learning to respect and integrate darkness and sadness as part of life.

Embracing Fear is the Biggest Obstacle

In order to conquer my fears, I’ve learned to face the unknown head on, and to appreciate and be grateful for countless unwanted changes. Although the unknown is very frightening to me, I freely acknowledge that new and different opportunities blossom out of change. In my experience, surrendering to the unknown most often shifts energy into all kinds of unanticipated, yet positive directions.

I accept that change cannot be avoided. Mother Nature is going to do her thing whether I like it or not, and there is little I can do to control, alter or manipulate the changes I’m facing during this difficult time. What I can do, and choose to do, is avoid extra suffering — and I do this by leaning into all the changes. I’m less inclined to live in a state of anticipatory fear. I’m too busy moving forward.

In the more mundane professional realm, often the worst that can happen is failure when we try new things. But, failure is a social construct, merely a perception, an attitude or an outlook. Successful people often consider failed attempts as nothing more significant than a lesson learned. There is less stigma and value judgement associated with the “cycle of failure” to a serial entrepreneur.

We can manage “fear of failure” by designating it as just another experience along life’s journey. This diminishes the power of fear, enabling us to move past setbacks more quickly and efficiently. Understanding this is a useful tool to harness when stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.

When we take life in a different direction (shifting our time and attention), and when we are aligned with and open to the energy of the present season, we allow new doors to open, and inevitably create new opportunities for growth and development.

As Nike says — Just do it!

Aimee B. Davis Law P.C. is committed to advising its clients and resolving issues relating to the legal and business matters that are important to them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (917) 617-2243 or email aimee@aimeebdavis.com.

Aimee B. Davis

Aimee B. Davis
Aimee B. Davis Law P.C.
122 Ashland Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
www.aimeebdavis.com
aimee@aimeebdavis.com

Posted in Entrepreneurship, General | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Questions About the Confidentiality of Customer Lists

Cyber security, Data protection, information safety and encryption. internet technology and business concept.  Virtual screen with padlock icons.

{3 minutes to read} In order to maintain my license and remain an attorney in good standing in the State of New York, I’m required to attend 24 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) every two years. After 25 years practicing law, it’s become increasingly challenging (and this past year, a scramble) to find interesting and reasonably priced classes for me to certify to this requirement.

Continue reading
Posted in Contracts, General, New Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does an Attorney Actually Do When She Conducts “Due Diligence?”

Due Diligence overlaid on a desk with business persons working.

{3 minutes to read}  I believe conducting proper due diligence adds value to any M&A transaction. But picture yourself a young, sleep-deprived associate, staring at a conference room table full of documents to review. Do you know why you’re reading them? Do you know what you are looking for?

Continue reading
Posted in Contracts, Mergers & Acquisitions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Detours and Deviations From a Normal Closing

Overhead image of a table with hands shaking across it

{3 minutes to read}  In my July 2019 blog, I discussed some unusual aspects about my year-end deal. I was happy to report that despite the oddities, I successfully protected my client’s interests by including a solid indemnity provision from the seller.

As discussed, it was necessary for me to significantly rewrite that purchase agreement. In addition to adding an appropriate indemnity covenant of seller, the parties had agreed to treat the accounts receivable (A/R) and cash on hand as if this was an asset sale (it was a stock sale), and these assets were being retained by seller. This highly unusual structure needed to be reflected in the draft purchase agreement.  

The challenge was that my client was unable to provide me with an estimated amount that she would deliver to seller at closing. I was hopeful that as year-end approached and A/R was collected, it would become easier for her to estimate this amount. Given the nature of this business and the close relationship between the parties, they both seemed to understand why an estimate could not be made, and seller trusted buyer to make the payment as and when the A/R was actually collected on a post-closing basis. When my redraft was sent to seller, it contained no clear commitment as to the amount and when (in relation to the closing date) the money owed to seller would be paid. Aside from a few inconsequential tweaks, all of my revisions were acceptable to seller’s counsel. 

But That’s Not the End of the Story

As drafted, the purchase agreement contemplated that the closing would be deemed effective simply by releasing the nominal purchase price payable to seller and the various closing documents being held in escrow by each party’s respective counsel.

When seller’s counsel realized that the fully executed purchase agreement did not include an estimated payment of the A/R and cash on hand to be paid at closing (with the balance to be delivered at a reasonable later date), he unsuccessfully tried on at least three occasions to unilaterally amend the purchase agreement by imposing additional conditions under which the closing documents could be released by me to my client, the buyer. The drama continued into the first week of 2019, but ultimately, at the direction of his client, seller’s counsel authorized me in writing to release the closing documents and deemed the transaction closed. Proving that even deals that deviate from the norm can end amicably when the parties are motivated to close.

My client was very pleased that I remained within her budget, held my ground with seller’s counsel, and maintained the integrity of the unusual transaction structure agreed to by the parties.

Aimee B. Davis Law P.C. is committed to advising its clients and resolving issues relating to the legal and business matters that are important to them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (917) 617-2243 or email aimee@aimeebdavis.com.

Aimee B. Davis

Aimee B. Davis
Aimee B. Davis Law P.C.
122 Ashland Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
www.aimeebdavis.com
aimee@aimeebdavis.com

Posted in Contracts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Not Every Deal Follows the Norm

Not Every Deal Follows the Norm by Aimee B. Davis

{3:30 minutes to read}  In March 2019, I laid out the basic steps to consider when entering into an M&A transaction. 

But Not Every Deal Follows the Norm

As mentioned in my February 2019 article, every successful attorney should be adaptable. I flexed this muscle at the end of last year representing a first-time buyer in an unusual acquisition. My client worked for the target company for 13 years. She spent the better part of last year negotiating the terms of her offer with the owner/seller. 

Because the company held a certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) that could not be transferred/sold to a purchaser of assets, this deal was structured as a stock sale. In stock sales, all of the liabilities of the target are transferred to buyer, as opposed to an asset sale, where certain liabilities can be excluded and remain solely seller’s responsibility.

Typically when representing buyers in stock deals, I recommend doing a thorough due diligence review of the target. Because my client was effectively running this business, had spent months investigating and negotiating to buy it and had a tight transaction budget, she felt comfortable she knew where all the skeletons were buried, and I wasn’t authorized to undertake the due diligence that would customarily be performed.

Battle of the Forms 

As stated in my March 2019 article, it’s common for buyer’s attorney to prepare the initial draft of the purchase agreement. In this unconventional deal, however, seller’s counsel served up an initial draft that was 4-pages, double-spaced, devoid of representations or warranties, and provided no indemnity whatsoever. 

So rather than provide a few comments, I had a lot of rewriting to do. This was challenging because even though my client was directly involved in the business, as the buyer of stock, she was entitled to receive the same protections that any third party purchaser would expect. 

I successfully produced an agreement that elicited from seller sufficient information about the target’s business, without overwhelming the parties with an overly-comprehensive agreement more appropriate for an arm’s-length transaction between unaffiliated parties. Surprisingly, all of my changes were acceptable to seller’s counsel.

Allocating Risk

In determining the nature and scope of the representations and warranties to be included, I sought to have seller provide as much information as possible about the business through the disclosure schedules. In my May 2019 article, I said that schedules to a purchase agreement disclose exceptions to the representations. They also provide information to the buyer, such as listing the target’s material contracts, and its clients/customers and employees.

Notwithstanding my efforts to keep this deal reasonably arm’s-length, I learned my client was preparing the disclosure schedules on behalf — and as an employee — of seller. This was highly unusual, but because she had been running the business, she seemed to know more about the day-to-day operations than the owner herself. It was a win that seller agreed to stand behind her representations and warranties by fully indemnifying buyer. 

Aimee B. Davis Law P.C. is committed to advising its clients and resolving issues relating to the legal and business matters that are important to them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (917) 617-2243 or email aimee@aimeebdavis.com.

Aimee B. Davis

Aimee B. Davis
Aimee B. Davis Law P.C.
122 Ashland Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
www.aimeebdavis.com
aimee@aimeebdavis.com

Posted in Contracts, Entrepreneurship, Mergers & Acquisitions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What are the Essential Elements of a Purchase and Sale Agreement?

{3:30 minutes to read}   So you want to sell your business? Last time, I presented steps to consider when entering into a Merger & Acquisition transaction. I stated it’s common for buyer’s attorney to prepare the initial draft of the definitive purchase agreement (the Definitive Agreement) and for seller’s attorney to provide comments to the draft, but this is a guideline.

Continue reading
Posted in Contracts, Mergers & Acquisitions | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment