Elizabeth Weinstein is the Founder and Lead Attorney at EPW Small Business Law PC. She works with international clients who start their own businesses (often online). She helps entrepreneurs, artists, coaches, consultants, and online publishers get the legal stuff out of their way so they can get back to helping their clients and changing the world. Elizabeth practices law from her home office and actively encourages a remote working culture among her own staff.
Her tips for working remote:
- Look for reliable wifi when traveling.
- Be realistic about what you can accomplish while on the road.
- Seek advice from professionals when it comes to contracts, trademarks, privacy policies and copyright issues before problems arise.
Podcast production by Podcast Monster
Graphic design by Alfred Boland
Lisette: Great, and we’re live. So welcome everybody to this remote interview. My name is Lisette, and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Today on the line, something different than what I normally have. I have Elizabeth Weinstein from San Jose. And Elizabeth, you run EPW Small Business Law. So I’m very excited about this. We’re going to dive into it. I found online that you work with international clients who start their own businesses often online. So that’s one thing. And your company, your law firm actively encourages a remote working culture. Those are the things that I found online. So I definitely want to dive into that with you. But let’s start with the first question, which is what does your virtual office look like. What do you need to get your work done?
Elizabeth: I personally work from home most of the time. And my office actually, right now, is in my bedroom, which isn’t exactly what I would optimally want. But that’s just how it is set up right now. I have two monitors. That for me is I would go insane if I didn’t have two monitors for doing most of my work. So I have an iMac, and then I have another, super cheap, $100 monitor that I got to [inaudible – 01:19] other things on. A lot of my work is I’m drafting contracts and things like that where I need to have a lot of things open at one time. And I know a lot of people in other kinds of businesses need that too. They have to have a lot of documents open at one time. I’m drafting something over here, and I need to have a whole bunch of other windows open over here as references. So for me, that’s a big issue. And then I’ll have a whole bunch of things [inaudible – 01:48] in front of me, other reference materials, notes from clients. I’m also a very analog person too. I have a notebook here [laughs] in front of me. So to-do lists that are analog. I’m a big combination person. So we keep… And that’s a big thing that’s kind of interesting where [inaudible – 02:11] and we’ll talk more about this while we do a ton of the businesses run online. We have all these apps that we use. Personally, I actually do keep [inaudible – 02:22] my notes and to-do lists on pieces of paper. But then I scan things and load them up so everyone else can see it. So I have a big combination of things because I like things to be touch and physical. It really works for me to take notes [inaudible – 02:38].
I also do have a laptop, which is what I’m doing this on. And I use that when I’m working in Starbucks or I’m traveling or whatever, just a little MacBook that’s super lightweight, because a lot of times, I will be working from a waiting room while my kid is doing something. Or I’ll be traveling on a road trip and checking the email, something that I can’t respond to on my phone. So I need to have a nice, easy-to-use, lightweight laptop. That’s what I use.
Lisette: Okay. Sounds like a good setup [inaudible – 02:19] have multiple monitors. And I also have the notebook which I showed you and a whole set of markers. I like the combination of the analog and digital world. I think it’s important [inaudible – 03:30] when we go online. That doesn’t all have to be online. There is a happy medium for everybody.
Let’s dive into EPW Small Business Law. I’m really interested in this because there are a lot of legal issues, I’m assuming, related to remote working, starting your own business, hiring people in other countries. I’m not exactly sure what we’ll run into. But let’s start with the description of what do you do and why did you start this business, this law firm.
Elizabeth: Yeah. EPW Small Business Law, first, it’s easier to think about it from the productive what do we not do. I don’t do any litigation. So that kind of helps to understand a little bit about what we not do. And I don’t have a physical office. I don’t have to appear in court. So that makes it possible for me to do my work remotely. So what I do for my clients is I form companies. I draft contracts. I do trademark work. I give people advice about copyright, help them negotiate licenses, help them [I love a – 04:40] negotiation work. So in a lot of ways, a lot of the stuff I do helps them not have litigation happen someway, some faraway place in the future. And that’s one of the things I enjoy doing. [inaudible – 04:55] this, obviously, I’m a lawyer, and I’ve been a lawyer for a long time. The reason I particularly decided to do this firm was because I had so many small-business owner friends and colleagues, and they kept asking me for this particular advice. And I was like, “Well, I don’t really, necessarily want to do this. I’m doing other things.” And at a certain point, you have to stop ignoring that [laughs]. And [inaudible – 05:23] wanted to figure out a way to package this to fit the life that I wanted because I didn’t want to just charge by hour. I didn’t want to do litigation. I wanted to be able to work remote. And I had to figure out how to make a law firm that could do that.
Lisette: Is it pretty unusual for law firms?
Elizabeth: It is. And it’s becoming more common now. But even in 2012 when I started this particular practice, it was very uncommon. Even now, I have lawyers who will email me and be like, “How do you do this?” It’s a little more common now, but then it was very bizarre. When other lawyers saw this, they were surprised that someone could package things flatfeet or package things [inaudible – 06:10] I do things. I do things [inaudible] flatfeet or an [inaudible – 06:14] annual retainer. And there are other law firms who were doing that now, even big, giant law firms who have Fortune 50 clients who are doing this kind of stuff. It’s a little bit more secret. They don’t advertise that. But that is [inaudible – 06:28] charging their clients [inaudible], which is amazing to think about because the clients love that. It’s almost kind of like insurance in a way. It’s much easier to budget it [crosstalk – 06:43] random hourly rates.
Lisette: [inaudible – 06:46] by the hour feels old-fashioned in a way. It’s almost like you want to charge for value that you get. So whether it takes an hour, whether it takes 10 hours, maybe the value is $500.
Elizabeth: Yeah. One thing I really dislike about hourly billing is there is disincentive to talk to your lawyer. You want to have a relationship. You want to be able to prevent problems. So if you are having a problem [inaudible – 07:15] problem, I want them to come to me when it’s this tiny, little problem [inaudible – 07:19] say, “Hey, there’s this issue going on with this client or my business partner [inaudible – 07:25] whatever,” because I can solve it now just like a little thing. If you wait till it’s a huge problem, it’s going to be this huge extravaganza, and that’s when litigation happens. That’s when it becomes a huge problem. And I think that with the hourly billing, people are going to be afraid, “I’m going to get charged for 15 minutes for my lawyer to answer this little, tiny email.” So there’s this disincentive [crosstalk – 07:52]. So it’s a real archaic way to get counseling from your lawyer. So I just didn’t like doing business that way. So that was one of the big things. I had to kind of figure out how to create a business model that worked for me. And I also just wanted to be able to work from home and have the kind of lifestyle I wanted.
Lisette: Why did you want to work from home? What was the driver for that?
Elizabeth: One of the big reasons is that I have a kid and wanted to homeschool. So I was creating the job that I wanted to have, so trying to find the job wasn’t going to work. So I had to create a business where I could have that job [inaudible – 08:41].
Lisette: Okay. And do you find…? I’m not sure. I think I may have gotten this from your assistant who emailed me. But it says you work with international clients who start their own businesses often online. So are you seeing that more and more, online businesses being started?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I have a lot of clients who are starting businesses. They could be consulting businesses, selling products, importing products from other countries. They are selling information products like ebooks or courses. Or they’re taking a business that used to just be in person or a storefront, and then they’re taking up as an online business. They’re almost launching a second business in a lot of ways [inaudible – 09:32] is a second business [inaudible] separately. And [inaudible] international [inaudible – 09:39] physically looking another country. But they’re actually forming their business here in the United States because all their clients are here in the United States. Maybe they are U.S. citizen or not, but they just find their clients are here. [inaudible – 09:55] issues [inaudible – 09:56] when you’re doing online business is it creates this weird problem legally because it’s like where is your business located. It’s nowhere [laughs]. So the law doesn’t know what to do with you. And the law is really [unsettled – 10:13] with that. Especially, some of my clients who are real nomads, they don’t actually live anywhere. And [inaudible – 10:22] figure out, well, you kind of have to live somewhere. We have to write down something. So we have to figure out what we’re going to pick to be your place that you live, which [inaudible – 10:32] kind of odd things. So it creates this strange problem to solve.
Lisette: So I assume that the law will eventually catch up to this. Maybe it’s just that the world is moving too fast. Is that an okay assumption?
Elizabeth: The law is really slow. And the thing is the law in the United States – and this is true in a lot of countries – is very, very fragmented. Federal law is the law of the United States. It’s made in Washington D.C. And then each state has its own law. So California and Maine and every single state has its own law. And so a lot of times, you have to actually look at… And then some cities have their own laws that may apply to you. So San Francisco has a law. New York City has a law about certain things. Or it’s not a law. It’s an ordinance or something of that nature, called something different. So each one of those different jurisdictions may or may not apply to you, and they all move at different speeds. And actually, the smaller the jurisdiction, sometimes will move a little bit faster, depending upon how modern that particular place is. San Francisco [typically moves – 11:52] pretty fast. New York [typically moves] pretty fast. Really small towns usually don’t move fast unless there’s one person. One person in a small town can do a whole lot. And then states that are very progressive tend to move very fast on things. But other states that aren’t will move very slowly. And the federal government takes a long time typically to do anything. [crosstalk – 12:21] process.
Lisette: And this whole digital nomad movement, people must be just moving in between the law here, I’m assuming, because you don’t have a physical location yet you are doing work. My clients are all over the world. And the fact that I’m located in the Netherlands is completely random, and I hope nobody from the Dutch [inaudible – 12:42] government [inaudible] because when I first applied for my visa, I had to say that I had clients here, and I did. It was honest. But then after a while, the clients started spreading to all over the world. And now it’s everywhere. And the fact that I’m here is simply by choice. I choose to be here.
Elizabeth: Right. And it creates this weird problem. You’re sort of doing business in all these different places, but are you actually? Let’s say you’re doing consulting work over the phone. Did you really do it? [inaudible – 13:24] consulting client in Nevada. Did you actually do consulting in Nevada? You didn’t go there. So then you have to look at Nevada’s statutes and cases. Some states would say, “Yes, you did.” Some states would say, “No, you didn’t.” I actually don’t know Nevada’s rules off the top of my head. And it’s one of those things. It is not clear. It is not like there is one rule that [inaudible – 13:47] does it. And they also change all the time because every time a case comes out, it’ll interpret something differently. So a lot of times, we’re just doing risk management. Say, okay, how much risk are you willing to take? Where do we want to draw the line? We’ll make our best guess of how we want to do things. And also look at what’s the likelihood you’re going to come back to United States. Where do you think you would want to go if you did? And so we’ll think about that too because I have some clients who are like, “Yeah, I’m going to eventually come back. And when I come back, I’m going to go here, most likely.” Versus clients who are not planning to ever come back and will make different decisions based upon that. I think one of the difficult things is that there’s very little clarity to the whole [inaudible – 14:42] times where I can say, “Yes, this is exactly what we usually do,” or “No, this is exactly what you shouldn’t do.” Most of the times, we’re kind of making our best guess as opposed to yes/no answer.
Lisette: Super interesting. I know this is going to be a big question. We can approach it from any angle. But what are the very basics that people should know before starting a business that’s going to be doing a lot of work online? What are the things that people have to think about when they come to you or that you advise people to think about?
Elizabeth: If you’re going to be doing work online, I mean it depends on the kind of things that you’re going to be doing, i.e. if you’re going to be selling services versus selling products and what kind of price points you’re going to have. And if your people are going to be actually purchasing directly from your website versus if they’re going to be just making the first introductions off your website and then you’re going to be selling to them somewhere else. So they’re going to be purchasing directly off your website. You want to make sure that they agree to some kind of terms and conditions when they’re making the sale. So if you look on Amazon or Zappos’s website or something, you’ll see when you buy from Amazon, it says that by purchasing this or by putting this in your cart, you agree with these terms and conditions. You want to make sure that you have some terms like your return policy or whatever it is. You’re actually having them agree to that. Otherwise, if it’s just like down your foot or somewhere, they’re not really agreeing to those terms because they’re not aware of them [inaudible – 16:16] but no one is looking at it. You want to make sure that somewhere by where they put in their cart or hit the agreement button. And if they’re buying services that are relatively high price point, you can think about actually having them sign the contract that is even an online contract. They can use Adobe Sign or RightSignature, one of these online signatures. Those are just as binding in almost every major jurisdiction, having a digital signature. So those are a great way to have people sign real contract. And I think if you’re having a contract that’s relatively high price point, it makes sense to do.
And then thinking about as far as do you need to be a corporation or an LLC, all this kind of stuff, it really depends on where you are and where your clients are and how much money you’re making. So it’s very case-by-case basis. You’ll see all these articles online that’ll say you have to be a corporation or LLC or whatever. It really depends. There are some people who have a very small business that doesn’t make a huge amount of money. Or they’re in a jurisdiction, they’re in a country where forming a corporation is a horribly big deal, and it doesn’t make sense to do. Here in the United States and a lot of states, it’s a relatively simple process, and it can make a lot of sense to do. So it just depends on the situation. So it really is a case-by-case basis.
Lisette: Right. It’s good that people think through these things before they get into it because if you just go get started without any sort of advice, really, the advice is call Elizabeth before [crosstalk – 18:31] and think through some of these things. It’s good to be educated. I have to say when I first moved to Netherlands, I didn’t know what I was getting into. And I was really lucky that I had the sense to contact an expat lawyer to walk me through the process because yes, you can navigate the stuff yourself, but it sure is easier when somebody knows the ropes that can give you the right things to think about. It saves a [crosstalk – 18:53].
Elizabeth: Yeah. And I think especially in that kind of a case. I’ve had clients who are in various European countries. And that is a case where having a lawyer local, in your jurisdiction, in Netherlands, in Sweden, France, whatever it is – I’m thinking of clients for specific countries – you need someone local to you there who knows how that works because it is very different than United States, and it’s complicated. And you want to make sure you don’t mess up your visa because that would be very bad. And you need to make sure that you’re not going to mess up tax situations. There are a lot of details. So you wouldn’t want to accidentally do something that’s going to sabotage what you have going on.
Lisette: Yeah, it turns out that governments take borders very seriously and countries take things very seriously. So you can’t just roll in and do what you want.
Elizabeth: Just because it’s online doesn’t mean you’re not doing business, doesn’t mean not working. And the same thing with United States especially now. If you are from another country and you’re here in the United States and you have an online business, you need to really think about. Talk to your immigration attorney here in the United States about you’re here just on a tourist visa, but you’re still running your online business. You need to talk to your lawyer, your immigration attorney about that. I’m not an immigration attorney. I just [inaudible – 20:21] because it is a whole, entire issue, and you want to make sure it’s being addressed.
Lisette: I want to talk a little bit about your company in particular and how you guys work internally because I heard that you have people… you actively encourage remote working culture, so I assume you have people all over the United States, maybe all over the world. How is it that you guys work together? How big is that? How many people are working with you?
Elizabeth: Right now we have three people, including myself. Erika and Katie actually travel. Both of them right now are in Colorado. I’m trying to think. I’m like where are they right now. We actually have a Google Calendar that says where everyone is going to be in a particular time. And you have to put in there where are you going to be. So [inaudible – 21:21] time zones because each person typically will be working in different parts of the world. So we have many times where the three of us are in different continents. And Katie had spent maybe a whole year in South America. And she’s actually going back to South America again. Erika spends a couple of months every year in France and has traveled to India. So it’s very typical where we’re doing our weekly business calls by video from three different continents. And my rule is pretty much you can get the work done and you can figure out how to get high-speed Internet access. It doesn’t really matter where you’re physically located. It’s just a matter of being able to get the work done.
Lisette: So what’s hard for you guys then? What’s pretty challenging for the way that you’re working?
Elizabeth: I think the challenge that can be for everyone is if you get somewhere and then the Internet doesn’t work. We’ve all had that. And I’ve had that. I don’t travel right now internationally, but I’ve traveled domestically and still had this problem. In October, I went on a road trip, and the hotel said, “We have Wi-Fi.” And I went there, and it was one satellite connection for the entire hotel. I couldn’t even get my email to download. And I planned that I was going to be able to work an hour or two every day. So I had to use my phone to send. And I could only use my phone on… And I had to drive down some crazy road to use my phone [inaudible – 23:10]. We’ve all had that where you’re promised the Airbnb or you’re promised something is going to work and then it doesn’t. So I think that’s probably one of the biggest challenges. And I think remembering that when you’re doing travel, especially international travel or a big road trip drive or whatever it is, you have to factor in that after you’ve traveled for 14 hours on a flight or whatever it is, you’re probably not going to be able to work right then.
Lisette: You’re not going to be real fresh.
Elizabeth: Exactly. And you might think, “Oh, I’m not going to do a full day’s work,” right after that second. So be realistic about what you could do because we can all be overly optimistic ourselves about what intents we can put in of a day’s work, but sometimes that’s not being real, so that could be a challenge.
Lisette: Okay. Yeah, definitely. You think, “Oh, I’m just sitting on the plane. It’s not like I’m doing anything so strenuous.” But still, after I fly somewhere, I’m totally cracked out. I’m not doing my best work after a long flight, especially with jetlag and these things, yeah, indeed.
What kind of communication tools do you guys use?
Elizabeth: We have a lot of things that we use. I think right now, one of the biggest things is we use Slack. We found that we were [inaudible – 24:40] email. And we use Google Docs and all Google apps for email and what have you. We just had way too many email threads. So we started using Slack. And we were aware of Slack for a long time. We were like, “I don’t understand what that is,” for a long time. But then finally started using it. And now it’s just completely changed how our internal communications work. So that’s been wonderful. And we hardly ever use email anymore internally.
The other thing that we just started using relatively recently is Airtable. That’s been great. We have one that maintains our client database. And I actually just started one couple of weeks ago where I’m using it now to track actually both the opportunities and all my client projects. It’s really the workflow of everything coming in. So it’s actually really nice because then everybody can see the workflow of everything, both all the opportunities and the actual projects that we’re working on. One of the interesting things that I found was a lot of the Salesforce and all those kinds of things out there track opportunities and projects separately. You can’t see them all together. But I always found that didn’t work because I actually needed to be able to see them all in a line and be able to see, okay, if we take this opportunity, I need to be able to see how much work that’s going to be because one of the things that happen is I’ll send out contracts to people or quotes to people. All seven of these people say yes to these quotes, and we already have ten projects. It’s like oh my gosh, we’re going to have a lot of work to do. So it needs to be on the line. So one of the neat things about Airtable is you’re kind of creating your own customized program because everything out there didn’t work for us. So it’s been really neat to be able to create our own applications.
Lisette: I have a colleague who’s completely addicted to Airtable. I think he’s connected his whole life in different tables.
Elizabeth: It’s really neat. It’s like my new thing now.
Lisette: Yeah. If you’re a spreadsheet junkie out there, do not start with Airtable. We will not see you again.
Elizabeth: It’s more a relational database. For me, this thing is like oh, this is so amazing, everything color-coded. If you’re one of those people…
Lisette: Then dive in. We’re nearing the end of the time, but I have a couple of questions I’ve just got to ask. So you’re working from home, and I’d love to ask about your productivity tips. Is there a typical day? How do you keep from getting lonely working at home? And how do you stay motivated?
Elizabeth: Is there a typical day? I think Monday through Friday isn’t… Isn’t like each day is typical, but I do have like a Monday routine, a Tuesday routine, a Wednesday routine. That is more like my day’s work. What I typically do is the night before, I sit down and I write down three or four, depending upon the day, my highest priority things for that day. So if I have an appointment or an interview like this, whatever, it goes as one of those three things. And then I pick a project or something like that for a client or whatever it is to write down things on there. I find it’s really important because otherwise, I’ll look at my to-do list, and I just have no direction and nothing ends up happening. So I can sit down and be like, “Okay, here are my three things or here are my four things,” depending upon how much personal life stuff I have on that day. And then I’m much more focused for that day. So that’s one of my big routine things. And I typically also do kind of the same things for my personal life. I’ll pick one, two, or three personal to-dos to do. It could be going to Target or whatever it is, errands to run, that kind of stuff. Then I go through those things. So some days I have client calls, some days I don’t. Some days I focus on client work. Some days I focus on marketing work. Each day I have a different thing that I focus on.
Lisette: Okay. It’s really handy. I’ve heard in some of the business podcasts I listen to that people often give themselves a CEO day where you’re just focused on the overall strategy of the business. If you open your own company, you have to do everything, the marketing, the business development, everything on your own. So you have to allocate a little bit of time every week for each of those buckets.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Monday is a big CEO, admin kind of day. That’s when I have my meeting with Erika, my manager. So that’s a day. And I also do weekly report. That’s where I look at all the numbers for the business and look at our productivity and all these kind of things and doing analysis of the business. And that doesn’t take very long because I have such a process going on. It only takes me like 10 minutes to do. And I think it’s really important to look at your numbers every day, every week so you know exactly what’s going on. I actually do that in my personal life too, so I know exactly what’s happening in the business, even if it’s not good. I want to know exactly what the good news is, the bad news is, whatever, because then you can actually do something about it before anything actually bad happens. And I also look at the workflow too. And the workflow also looks at did I send out quotes to prospects who haven’t gotten back to me because then I can look at it and be like, “Hey, [inaudible – 31:07] weeks ago.” And a lot of times, people are just procrastinating. So it keeps the sales process moving forward as well as the client where I send something saying, “Hey, you need to give me this information so I can finish your work,” because they’re also procrastinating too, so I can get their work done.
And then on Friday, I have this 11 a.m. appointment with myself to work on strategic projects. So these are long-term projects or marketing projects, things that don’t exactly have a deadline. And they tend to be things that weren’t getting done where I was the bottleneck. So this has been really, really helpful to set aside time on my calendar where I am going to be working on something that’s for the long-term growth of the business. Even if I just spend that 30 minutes or hour working on it, it makes a gigantic difference if I’m doing it every single week.
Lisette: Yeah, it’s amazing what we can get done in a small amount of time. I’ve been working on a book, and some days I only have 30 minutes to work on the book. But I take the 30 minutes. And over a week, those 30 minutes add up if you’re doing something.
There are three questions. One is really easy but one is really hard, and it seems to come up with freelancers and people who have online businesses a lot. And I know there’s not just one answer, but what do you do when clients don’t pay? I know this is country-specific, but every freelancer, myself included, and business owners in general, you’re going to run into clients who just don’t pay. Besides just calling Elizabeth for advice, where else would you start for people when this situation arises? I’m sure you’ve heard it before?
Elizabeth: Part of it is if a client isn’t paying, it is a place to make you aware of there is something that went wrong with that process. And yes, you need to deal with this particular client that didn’t pay. But it’s also a lesson to make you aware of something probably went wrong way far a long time ago. Occasionally, there’s just a client who [inaudible – 33:30] on their side or whatever. But usually, something else went wrong. It may be something fundamentally that could be changed in the way you collect money, in the way your contracts are written, in your screening process with your clients. That is one of the things that I eventually look out with my clients when they’re having these problems. We first of all look at sending them demand letter and trying to actually collect the money. And typically, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll send them demand letter and try to negotiate. Probably won’t get all of it but get some of it. Depends on where they are. Depends on if they are local to them, if we have a written contract, how easy it will actually be to collect if we think they actually have any money because sometimes they don’t. That’s one of the issues too. Sometimes they disappear. Sometimes there’s no money to [inaudible – 34:31]. But we also learn a lesson of okay, what was wrong with this process such that this client thought they didn’t need to pay. And we go back and look, “Okay, did you take a deposit? Did you have a written contract? Did you have some kind of place in the contract where they had to make payments along the way according to deliverables?” With consultants, for example, they have to make progress payments according to certain milestones, for example, so that their last payment is only the last 10 percent. If they flake, that’s not good. But [crosstalk – 35:12].
Lisette: But you’re not losing 100 percent.
Elizabeth: Yeah, you’re only losing [inaudible – 35:14] percent. You can also tie the turnover of intellectual property based on making all the payments. So let’s say you’re a Web designer or graphic designer. They don’t get that website unless they pay you all the money. Some clients won’t agree to this. But you can do. It depends on the power between you and your client. But you can tie the intellectual property such that they don’t get the ownership of anything until they pay all the money, which is logical. You don’t get a car until you pay all the money. So that’s one way you can go about structuring it.
Sometimes you can get the money if someone actually has it and you have enough leverage to get it. Or you can at least get some percentage of the money. But sometimes you end up using it as a life lesson to go back and fix your process so it doesn’t happen again.
Lisette: Yeah [laughs], I’ve had a few life lessons where you think I’m going to just have an extra cognac tonight and then I’m going to forget about it and just leave it in my past. Sometimes you just have to leave it in the past.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And sometimes you go back and realize, “I kind of knew I shouldn’t have taken that client.” And sometimes it was the client where you had a bad feeling in your gut. You kind of knew it wasn’t a good fit but you took them anyway because you needed the money or whatever it was. So sometimes it is a screening issue with the clients that you take and you knew it. So that’s part of it too. Some clients aren’t actually worth it, and it’s hard to get to that point. That’s something that you get just by being in business for a long time.
Lisette: Yeah, you get that spider sense. And then you learn to listen to it because [crosstalk – 37:07].
Elizabeth: And we all have it over and over again.
Lisette: For sure. Part of being alive. Very last question, which is an easy one, which is if people want to get in touch with you, what is the best way to do that? What are the avenues that work best for you?
Elizabeth: Sure. My website that you can go to is elizabethpw.com. And they don’t have to remember how to spell my name or anything. They can also find me on Twitter @elizabethpw. Those are the best ways to [inaudible – 37:45]. Or they can send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisette: Okay, that’s pretty consistent across [crosstalk – 37:55]. And on your website, I actually sent page to a friend of mine because it was a perfect description of what you were looking for. Who should contact you? Who should not contact you? I thought that was a brilliant page for really describing the people that should… You don’t do litigation, for example. So if you’re looking for litigation, you don’t call Elizabeth. But if you are looking for contracts and trademarks and copyrights and negotiation, then you do want people to call you. So I just wanted to acknowledge that page was really brilliant. I think it’s clearly outlined.
Elizabeth: Thank you. I think that’s important for everyone to always remember. It’s very good to spell out who is a good fit for you and who isn’t because [inaudible – 38:39]. There are certain people who are not… I think I say in my pages if you want a lawyer who wears a fancy suit and if you want a lawyer who’s one of these attack-dog lawyers, I am not that type of a lawyer. So I’m not the right person for you. There are lawyers who are totally like that, and you should go hire one of them. So it’s important to disclose that because it just wastes people’s time if you try to be something that you’re not.
Lisette: Right. And good to remember that. I’ve had some offers from banks here that wanted me to come in and do consulting services. And I say I don’t do that. I do this work, the workshop. That’s what I do. I don’t do consulting services. So I’ve been very clear about also… Even though they offer so much money it made my eyes pop out. It was like, “Oh my God! Are you sure you [inaudible – 39:26]?” [inaudible] a lot of money. I’ve been very clear on [inaudible] I think that’s really good advice for freelancers and people who run businesses. [inaudible – 39:36] very focused [inaudible] client. Thank you so much for all the time that you took today. I could go on and on. I mean there are so many legal topics related to remote work and international teams. I’m sure we could definitely go on and on about that.
Any last parting advice for people? You’ve given a lot of advice already, but any last parting advice besides call Elizabeth for all your [crosstalk – 39:57]?
Elizabeth: My biggest piece of advice to people, especially if you’re working with people [inaudible – 40:03] providing services, is really just to have a written agreement and not just because of you think you’re going to sue them or whatever but just because it makes misunderstandings much less likely. If you have a written agreement, then you actually will remember what you agreed to, and they’ll remember what you agreed to because it’s written down. And that’s true in your personal life and that’s true in your business life too.
Lisette: Do email count as a contract? Does that depend on the location?
Elizabeth: The issue is that an email may or may not be really mutual because it’s like I wrote the email. And did you agree to that exact email that I wrote? That can be the issue. So it depends on what you email back. Did you email back, “Yes, I’ve reached that exact thing.” Or did you email back some other things? So it depends on the context. So it could be better to have something that you can make just a quick, little… It doesn’t have to be written by your lawyer necessarily. Obviously, if you have a lawyer write it up, it can have much of a legal language into it. It has all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. But if you have something drafted and you can [inaudible – 41:16] electronic signatures, then you know this is the thing we actually agreed to. [inaudible – 41:23] emails can be hard. It will be like, “What was that agreement?” You never had one email that was like both sides said yes to. That’s why the emails can be a problem.
Lisette: And also finding that email again.
Elizabeth: Yeah. You go back into the Google thread, and it’s like [inaudible – 41:38].
Lisette: [inaudible] from three years ago.
Lisette: Indeed. Great advice, people. Let me know if people come to you from Collaboration Superpowers. And if you go to Elizabeth, make sure you tell her that we sent you. It’s always fun to just see where things cross in the world and where things come from. So thanks so much today, Elizabeth, for your time. And until next time, everybody, be powerful.Podcast