Happy Father’s Day to ALL the fathers out there! If you are like me, you are still looking for gifts for that special man in your life and you haven’t even BEGUN the process. (Although I will say that Father’s Day crept up on me this year.) Nonetheless, I am writing this post to say THANK YOU specifically to my father, Ricky Lee Kendrick, Sr., for the business lessons he taught me as a child.
If you have NOT heard my story, I encourage you all to read my LinkedIn profile—both of my parents were entrepreneurs so I grew up in a household of witnessing every triumph and challenge that comes with entrepreneurship. The reason that mylaw firm ONLY practices business law is because of my parents. I committed at an early age to going to law school and practicing law to help growing entrepreneurs, like my parents, find the BEST business legal counsel in Georgia so they could stay IN business and OUT of Court.
My dad is a tile installer. The marble and tile that you have in your kitchen, foyer, bathroom, etc. is what my dad has been doing for over 35 years—longer than I have been alive! He’s extremely good at it and over the years has taught me a few business lessons, some good and some bad that I would like to share with you:
- Good business is no longer done on a handshake. Long gone are the days when someone’s word was their word and all it took was a handshake to have a legitimate deal. Now—you need agreements and contracts. And not just any old template you can find on the internet or draw up yourself. Georgia’s contract laws are every changing so its important to get competent legal counsel to draw up a contract template that is solid and you can use for customers. For example, did you know that you are not entitled to attorney’s fees unless it’s written in the contract and even then it has to be written a certain way for the Court to even consider giving you attorneys’ fees if you prevail?
- Confirm payment details of any project before starting. In the construction business, the terms of payment are often monthly. If you are working for the government, it can be even longer. Knowing and understanding what the payment terms of a project are are CRITICAL. As the saying goes, cash is king. No cash, no business. So it’s important to understand how cash will flow into a business so you can properly plan. My firm has a retainer agreement that explicitly spells out the terms of payment and you should have some portion of your agreement that does as well.
- The IRS is ruthless. Just because you think or say that someone is an independent contractor does not make them so. The Internal Revenue Service has its own idea of what is an independent contractor versus an employee and they are ruthless to make sure they get the taxes that are due them. Err on the side of caution and categorize those that work with you as employees if there is ANY doubt as to their classification. Additionally, sign up for a service that can pay the applicable taxes for you each pay period. It will save you lots of time and money in the long run—trust me. My dad was a casualty of the IRS.
- Do what you love. My dad LOVES each creation and project that completes for either a commercial client or a residential ones. The designs and complexity of his trade are astounding. He knows tile and marble like I know the law and is excited to share the information with prospective customers and clients to help them choose the right design for their home, office or building. He wakes up early (like I do) and gets the job done everything. That type of fire and passion passed on to me and that’s why I love every second of practicing business law.
- Change is Inevitable. When the housing market saw its decline starting in 2008, my father had to make some tough choices. People were no longer renovating and upgrading and purchasing houses and almost all commercial building had stopped. It was at this time my father had to adapt to this changing environment and acquire another skill and industry—-so he tried his hand at cleaning foreclosed houses (which were plentiful as you know). Luckily, the market is on the rebound and he is back to doing what he loves. My only suggestion would be to not wait until the market changes but pay attention to the changing market so you can prepare your business and skill before your business becomes in trouble.
Now those are not the ONLY lessons that my father has taught me. He also taught me hard work, persistence, organization (he as not and I saw the consequences), love and patience (which he had TOO much of at times and resulted in bad consequences) and my love for politics (which is why I am an elected official now). I hope that you have a father figure that has inspired and taught you business lessons that you use today. If so, share them with me! Everyone has a story about how they became who they are today and I would love to hear yours!
Attorney Dar’shun Kendrick is the owner of Kendrick Law Practice, LLC, a boutique business law firm in Decatur, GA focused on keeping growing Georgia business owners “IN business and OUT of Court” through a variety of customized business and legal services. She has an M.B.A. as well as serves in the Georgia House of Representatives.