EAST NIGHT CELEBRATION
Certify Your Business as Woman-Owned
By Women’s Business Council – Southwest
There are two types of real estate lawyers.
Real estate attorneys specialize in the particulars of real estate law. Their job is to preside over proceedings in any way a client requires. An attorney brings experience that takes a level of risk out of real estate transactions and can aid all parties in understanding the associated legalities.
Working with an attorney who knows Texas real estate law makes buying or selling your real estate less overwhelming. In every transaction, having an attorney guarantees that all legal requirements are met. This includes wording on deeds or contracts and any specific regulations regarding rentals that need to be included on leases.
As a seller, hiring an attorney frees you from having to juggle paperwork while trying to clear out your home and show it to prospective buyers. For buyers, obtaining the services of an attorney can make it easier to understand local rules and regulations and recognize any potential problems. Business owners or investors looking to purchase new property may benefit even more from the services of a real estate attorney. Running a business and preparing for a move or expansion is hard enough without trying to understand everything about real estate law.
By: Roberto A. Ramirez with Law Office of Roberto A. Ramirez, PLLC
Starting and running a small business often involves a staggering number of legal contracts. Below are a list of essential contracts for small businesses.
1. Business Contracts – You need more than a handshake. Make sure it’s a done deal with a professional Business Contract. When it’s in
writing, it’s easier to prevent miscommunication because the details of your agreement are clearly outlined.
2. Service Contracts – Service contracts outline exactly what you will provide as a business. Service contracts are agreements for
specific acts, such as painting your house or tuning your car, and are distinguishable from contracts for goods.
3. Independent Contractor Agreement- Independent Contractor Agreements are a way of clearly outlining the scope of the work, payment schedules
and deadline expectations of a freelance arrangement. Make sure you have signed agreements with every
consultant or short-term employee you use.
4. Release of Liability – As an operator of a business, use this form to release your company from liability for any injuries or damages
sustained by a participant in an activity either owned or sponsored by your business.
5. Equipment Lease – Use this contract if you will be leasing equipment or plan to lease out your own equipment. You’ll want to
complete your equipment lease agreement before the equipment changes hands. That way, if either party has
any questions or concerns, you can refer to your lease agreement to resolve things.
6. Non Disclosure Agreement – Nondisclosure agreements are fairly common in many business settings, as they offer one of the most surefire
ways to protect trade secrets and other confidential information meant to be kept under wraps. Ask potential
employees or current employees to sign this so your proprietary information doesn’t leave your business.
7. Provisional Patent Application- Protect your product or invention in advance of a full patent filing. A provisional filing allows you to use the
“Patent Pending” notice and establish an official patent filing date.
8. Noncompete Agreement- Noncompete Agreements are intended to help you protect your business. They restrict your employees, business
associates or clients from directly competing against your company.
9. Employment Agreement- This agreement between an employer and employee specifies the rights and obligations of each party. The
employee’s compensation, job duties, expense reimbursement, benefits, and confidentiality obligations may be
described in detail.
10. Employee Handbook- Employee Handbooks are an important part of your hiring package. They include necessary legal statements,
outline employment expectations, relate your business vision, and define benefit packages.
Sitotaw Degefaw, EGBI’s recent graduate of the Emerging Enterprises Training Progam, wanted to open a butcher shop similar to his family’s shop in Gonder, Ethiopia. His desire was for a place where his customers could get fresh, high quality beef and also a place of community for people from East Africa that now live in the Austin area. In October, Sitotaw made his dreams come true with the opening of Salam’s International Mart & Café at 10009 North Lamar Blvd, Austin Texas 78753 (less than a mile north of Rundberg Ln).
Salam’s offers grass fed beef perfect for people who are looking for a healthier option or who delight in a raw meat cuisine. According to the American Grass Fed Beef Organization, this meat is lower in total fat than grainfed animals, lower in calories and contains extra Omega-3s, which may reduce cancer risks.
Along with his butcher shop, Salam’s has a dine-in area where visitors can enjoy traditional Ethiopian food such as Injera, Kurt, Tibs, Kitfo and Ethiopian coffee. Visitors who can’t stay to eat can pick up their favorite Ethiopian spices to prepare their own meals at home.
Sitotaw graduated from EGBI’s program in June, which propelled him forward to meet his business goals. “Taking the classes helped open my mind. I knew having enough money wasn’t enough to open a business. Studying at EGBI gave me the info to move in the right direction.” Sitotaw described how Joni Foster, EGBI’s Program Director, helped him face his many hurdles in their one-on-one coaching sessions. “She connected me to the supplier that slaughters the specialty meat according to my countries custom.” The advice Sitotaw shares with other entrepreneurs is to save money, as financing a business can be a big challenge when starting a business.
We want to thank everyone who attended, volunteered, donated, and sponsored our 7th Annual Celebrating Success fundraiser. Each year this event honors the achievements of our clients and their contributions to the local economy.
We were joined by our amazing mistress of ceremonies, comedian, and former rocket scientist, Shayla Rivera, Austin Community College Board of Trustees & Celebrating Success Committee Chair, Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Ph.D., and Consul for Political and Economic Affairs, Jorge Salcido Zugast. We heard inspirational video testimonials from our clients with ATX Co-op Taxi and Barbon’s Barbershop. Christina Paz, owner of Siller Preferred Services, led the audience through her entrepreneurial journey and relationships created along the way through EGBI’s support.
Celebrating Success luncheon also included a business expo, where EGBI clients had an opportunity to showcase and sell their products and services. We were so excited to bring this opportunity to our clients. We have been nurturing our family-owned businesses through education and resources. This was a great way to continue our support by connecting them with a number of community leaders, business consultants, professionals and other entrepreneurs.
We also had the opportunity to honor our volunteer of the year, Fernando Labastida. As a staff of three, EGBI relies on volunteers as expert instructors, support, and more. We wanted to acknowledge all of our volunteers’ efforts and assistance throughout the year.
We want to once again thank our sponsors for all your support in helping us connect individuals to the resources and education they need to make them successful business owners. We are proud to announce that more than half of our sponsors were EGBI alumni.
We appreciate the continued support of sponsors, donors, community partners, and volunteers in our efforts to create, grow and sustain successful grassroots businesses, contributing to Austin’s economy and the prosperity of their families.
Austin Community College, BB&T Bank, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Digi.City, El Paso Oncology and Internal Medicine*, Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Ph.D., PeopleFund, The Critical Update*
Austin STEM Academy*, Balam Construction*, BCO Consulting Group*, Chago’s Caribbean Cuisine*, First Citizens Bank, Law Office of Mario Flores, Method Hair Salon*, Peacock Salon*, Ranger Dash Productions*, Red Carpet Productions*, Round Top Bank, Siller Preferred Services*, SouthStar Bank, Tamale Addiction*, The Law Office of Ana Estrada*, Victory Framing*
Las Mangonadas opened it’s doors in December of 2016 to serve customers a variety of their forty homemade flavors of ice cream, cakes and pastries made daily, fruit cups, and other tasty snacks. Claudia Sanchez, the co-owner of Las Mangonadas, learned about the business from her uncle, Alfredo Sanchez, who was already an entrepreneur. Claudia gained experience through a similar business she helped her uncle with in Illinois until she decided to move back to Austin. Both created the Austin business to provide the assortment of sweet to salty munchies that also include corn cups, smoothies, Doritos locos, and so much more. In business for less than a year, they have already started to see growth in sales.
Claudia first became connected with Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) when she attended Curso Empresarial, EGBI’s series of workshops taught in Spanish by local subject matter experts who have years of experience dealing with start-up businesses. “The workshops helped with the general vision of business and learning from the experience of other attendees and instructors. I was motivated that running a business was not going to be easy, but with tenacity it was going to be possible.” Claudia continues, ” I continue to receive assistance from EGBI anytime I contact them. They are always ready to help with resources, their knowledge, and encouragement. ”
Tamale Addiction is famous for being fresh, organic, local, and delicious! Since it first set up at a farmer’s market in 2010, these tamales have managed to collect a following of Tamale Addicts and in the process increasing their production from 80 tamales their first week to now 9000 tamales on a Monday through Friday work week. Their flavors have spread fast through markets and coffee shops around Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, and major events as ACL Music Festival, Old Settlers Music Festival, Food and Wine Festival, Formula 1 at COTA, etc. Recently these savory meals have made it into local retail stores. Now their product can be found in Wheatsville Co-op, Royal Blue Grocery, People’s Pharmacy, Fresh Plus, and Thom’s Market. You may even be lucky enough to spot a Tamale Addiction food truck in an office campus near you!
Owner Adrian Paredes and his wife Mariana’s experience in the food industry started in 2009. After a failed venture with Mexican desserts, a new opportunity randomly aroused when a farmer’s market director asked them if they could make and sell tamales (they didn’t know how, but they said “yes”). Over the next days, Adrian and Mariana called every family member they knew to collect recipes, tips, and tricks about making tamales. They worked all week to prepare 80 tamales for their first market. Those tamales were sold out within an hour. The couple rose to the task before them: going organic and local and create vegan and vegetarian options for their customers. They had found the magic! This is when Tamale Addiction was born.
Due to rapid growth, Adrian Peredes sought out training and consulting services from the Economic Growth Business Incubator to develop a business plan and financial projections. “I am so grateful for the training, support and networking EGBI has given my business. The business has been such a great adventure for my wife and I.” – Adrian Paredes.
The Consulate General of Mexico in Austin announced the launch of the Consular Assistance Special Campaign for Mexican Nationals in Central Texas, a new effort sponsored by the Mexican Government to promote “know your rights” seminars, US citizenship workshops, financial education clinics, and individual consultations with immigration attorneys, among other services.
This initiative is the result of extraordinary resources allocated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico to its consular network in the United States. In Austin, funds will be used in a capacity building effort to better protect the rights and interests of Mexican nationals within the Consulate’s jurisdiction.
The main activities and programs that are part of the campaign are:
All services offered will be free of charge to participants. This program was made possible in the collaboration of several organizations and attorneys throughout Central Texas. Economic Growth Business Incubator was proud to be one of the organizations along with American Gateways, Asociación de Restauranteros Mexicanos de Texas, Casa Marianella, Catholic Charities of Central Texas, De Mott, McChesney, Curtright and Armendáriz, LLP (DMCA), Education Austin, Equal Justice Center, Foundation Communities, Hispanic Alliance, Lincoln – Goldfinch Law, Migrant Clinician Network, Mis Cuentas, RAICES Texas, The Law Office of Yohana Saucedo, P.C., The Lyttle Law Firm, and Volunteer Legal Services.
Last year Rand Fishkin, a Seattle software executive, started an exciting Twitter thread when he let loose a provocative comment regarding sales tactics:
“Best way to sell something—don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, & trust of those who might buy.”
As you’d expect, the comments that flowed in ranged from total agreement to disagreement bordering on denouncement.
In many ways, everyone is right and wrong: Sales and salespeople get a bad rap, some of it deserved, in large part because the worst examples (i.e., pushy, sometimes sleazy tactics) stick out in our minds and override those occasions when salespeople were actually quite helpful.
We have our brains to blame for the contempt, says Clifford Nass, a Stanford communications professor and co-author of The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships, said in a New York Timespiece on the topic.
By Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director
Too often, small business owners and startups are so focused on becoming known and marketing themselves to the wider public that they forget about the importance of good customer service. Either they fail to take into account customer satisfaction or they begin to take their earliest customers for granted. However, don’t let the pursuit of fast growth blind you to the need for good customer service.
First and most importantly, good customer service is the foundation of building a trusted brand with an engaged and loyal customer base. Especially in the digital era, the power of word-of-mouth marketing cannot be underestimated. If customers aren’t happy with the service they have received, they won’t just tell their friends – they will also let everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram know about it as well.
But look what happens when you keep a close focus on customer service: you can convert regular customers into super-customers of your business. Marketers often refer to these super-customers as “brand ambassadors” or “evangelists.” And it’s exactly these ambassadors and evangelists who can really help your startup grow and take it to the next level. After all, it is much cheaper to retain a customer or gain a referral than it is to find a new customer.
The most obvious way existing customers can help to jump-start your growth is by bringing repeat business. You no longer have to worry about churning through customers and finding new ones. And, it is often the case that customers will trust you to take on bigger and bigger projects as they gain confidence with you. For example, a loyal customer who comes into your restaurant on a regular basis might decide to hire you for a big catering project that can help take your new restaurant in a new growth direction.
You also won’t have to worry about spending a bigger and bigger piece of your overall budget on marketing. Your customers will do your marketing for you. They will make word-of-mouth referrals for you and let everyone know what a quality product or service you deliver each time. Best of all, these are authentic reviews. Nobody is paying them to say something nice about you, and that’s something that readers or viewers will immediately recognize. Authentic customer testimonials can be very powerful indeed.
That’s why a satisfied customer is good, but a delighted customer is best. There are many ways to “surprise and delight” your customers with good customer service. If you’re paying attention on social media, for example, you can sometimes pre-empt any problems a customer might be having. It’s best to get ahead of a concern on Twitter than to let a few bad tweets get out there!
And, you can choose to surprise and delight customers around special times of the year – such as with a special year-end holiday gift. Even a small gesture – like giving away a complimentary dessert “on the house” to help celebrate a special anniversary – can create a very loyal customer.
So you can see why quality customer service is really the key to sustaining and growing your business. Every interaction with a customer can become an opportunity to deepen the relationship and ensure that your customers are as happy with you now as when they first started using your product or service.
In short, quick and rapid growth is not just about piling up new customers as fast as you can – it’s also about making sure that your existing customers are still enthusiastic about what you offer. Great customer service is the key to growing your business.