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Building A Strong Company Foundation with Lauren Cohen
We’re delving into a little bit more of the business. You read the past episode with Aaron Young and him talking a little bit about the business world and what to do. We have on a great guest who we’ll talk a little bit more about things like that. Before we get started, I want to invite you all to go over and take the Promote, Profit, Publish Quiz. You can find that at www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com. Go over there and find out where your platform skills are in connection to what success looks like when you’re doing this right. I know we all read books that are two or three years old. This is a constantly evolving industry and I invite you to go over and take that quiz and see where your skills are in connection to where you need to be now, not three years ago or the paradigm of three years ago.
Our guest is a client and a friend. She has been one of those people in my life who has so much knowledge and know so much about what’s going on in the world. Her name is Lauren Cohen and Lauren is a graduate of York University and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada. She’s a global entrepreneur and a number one bestselling author. She’s also a licensed attorney in both the US and Canada. She has a lot of information to keep you out of legal trouble. She’s an expert concierge in immigration and a business advisor boasting a stellar track record of success. Lauren has firsthand knowledge of the visa process and has herself immigrated from Canada and has become a US citizen.
In 2008, Lauren started e-Council Inc., which is an internationally acclaimed company focused on providing strategic full service solutions for businesses seeking capital and foreigners seeking access to the US market with a special focus on business visas, professional business plans and the EB-5 immigrant investor program as well as a lot of other immigrant investment matters. What we’re going to talk about is her organization called ScaleUP Enterprises LLC, which was established in 2018. She has the ScaleUPCheckUP and it’s her newest initiative for online growth. We’re going to talk about that. Welcome, Lauren.
Thank you for having me.
You’re welcome. Tell us a little bit about what ScaleUPCheckUP is and why you started this, why you think it’s important.
Helping companies come in globally into the US and figuring out how to strategize and help them get structured and working with companies, raising capital all over the country and for that matter globally, I kept seeing this pervasive need among entrepreneurs and business owners as we’ve talked about. Aaron Young is a big proponent of this, which is why we are collaborating as well. Business owners, even the ones that are coming in and getting visas or domestic business owners, they need a lot of money, attention and time for coaching and sales and marketing. All this fun, exciting stuff to drive revenues, but they’re going to get stopped in the process if they don’t build a strong foundation. According to statistics, four to five businesses fail, especially startups.Coaches, experts, service providers, and consultants are only as good as their last client. Click To Tweet
Part of the reason for that is that they don’t build a strong foundation. It’s like building your dream home on a sinkhole and then suddenly the whole home collapses. I saw this need. I’m in a coaching program, spending tons of money with other colleagues. They don’t even have corporate entities in place. They don’t have any agreements. Even if they have a corporate entity in place, which I work with Aaron and Laughlin to set up in various states, that’s it. They think, “I set up my corporate entity. I’m done,” and they’re not done. There are seven areas that I covered that if overlooked could lead to disaster in a business. That’s why I created ScaleUPCheckUP. It’s an online assessment tool that looks under the hood of business in these seven areas and we have a three-step process that analyzes the business, assesses their gaps and provides a diagnosis, service providers and service experts to be able to satisfy and fill the needs that we identify.
I have set up my processes and here I was. I cross my fingers, I hope to die. Stick a thousand needles in my eye, I’m going to owe taxes. My accountant called me and I don’t. It’s because those things were set up in advance the way they were supposed to be to take advantage of things that Lauren teaches. It is important. You already covered why this is essential for coaches, authors and speakers. Why is this important for them legally? The business planning, which I mentioned, saved me not having to give all my money to Uncle Sam.
The core of my immigration business was writing business plans and helping businesses get structured. I’ve been writing business plans for many years for all types of different reasons, from raising capital to getting in the country, to expanding your business, to building a franchise. I even have a franchise quiz. I’m the legal expert in various groups for example. Even on our calls with some of our colleagues, we keep hearing about these coaches, authors, experts, service providers and consultants that are giving their clients all this guidance, but they don’t have their own house in order. The challenge also is that they’re only as good as their last client, which is true of lawyers and accountants as well.
I am now building a Coaching Kickstarter. I’ve actually built it and we’re about to start developing it online. The Coaching Kickstarter not only covers your agreements and making sure that your structure is set up properly because you’re exposing yourself. You’re guiding businesses. You’re ripe for a lawsuit. As soon as you open your mouth, no matter what type of guidance you’re giving, you’re not protected. You’re exposing your family, your home, everything to a potential lawsuit. We know that America’s litigious. Beyond that, these coaches, authors, speakers and experts, at least 75% including you have amazing courses that you’ve developed of protocols, courses, programs, systems and deliverables. Those courses need to be copyrighted, licensed and packaged so that you can sell them over and over.
If not, you’re selling something and as soon as you sell it, it’s only as good as you are or the person that buys it. If there’s no protection in there, you’re again exposing yourself and all of your materials to be copied. If you haven’t done anything to protect them, then why not? I have seen ongoing, especially among coaches that are like, “I’m a coach.” I’m not saying this as your audience necessarily, but there are some within our audience that is. “I’m the coach of this. I’m a coach in that,” especially energy healers. It’s amazing that you have this skill and let your intuitive and all of this, but you still have to protect yourself even though it’s not fun. Why not protect yourself and create residual income and a course program that’s covered, safe and protected?
You’re spending all this money on building your course materials, but if you don’t protect them, you’re out there. It doesn’t make sense. That’s why it’s important for the groups that you are particularly working with that need this coverage and analysis to look under the hood and say, “Am I safe? What do I have that could be a potentially huge opportunity?” Licensing is a big opportunity to make money and people are overlooking it because if they don’t create a licensing program and licensing agreement, they’re not able to sell much other than their course. There are trademarks, copyrights and there’s licensing and there are all of these different components that coordinate to make a full scope of services that you can sell and have many Juliets selling your stuff all over the country, which is exactly how you want it. It’s taking the affiliate program and putting it on steroids.
I’m going to mention something because it happened on the last call I was on. It happened to me when I was at an event. You think that you have this stuff in your head and you think, “I can’t copyright it. I can’t set up a holding company for my intellectual property,” because that is what it is. Everybody knows this. The truth is you need to have all that because everybody doesn’t know it. My client is a gut health specialist. She’s actually a medical professional, which you and I both know many of the people out there in the coaching world may or may not have the qualifications to be teaching what they’re teaching. That’s exactly what she said to me when I brought up the copywriting conversation. “Doesn’t everybody know this?” “No, everybody does not know this. You want to keep those people who may not be qualified in the coaching sphere the way a registered nurse is from stealing your IP.” Can you speak to that a little?
I’m even going to augment it one step further. Who cares if everybody knows it? Let’s go back to McDonald’s. McDonald’s actually wasn’t the first franchise. Singer Sewing Machines was. I wrote a book about striking the perfect match between foreign investors and franchise. I’ve worked with tons of franchises. It’s a great area. McDonald’s was the first franchise that everybody knows of. It’s the first hugely successful franchise. Burger King came along and McDonald’s was all worried because they were like, “We created this and this and now Burger King is here.” What are they going to do? Instead, it augmented McDonald’s success because now there’s competition. They may have had a formula and Burger King may have copied the formula to some degree, but the beauty is that Burger King created its own brand separate and apart from McDonald’s.
Why am I using this as an example? A lot of people know how to do quizzes. You know how to create quizzes. You’ve created a system built around the quizzes to help drive traffic to the business owner that’s creating a quiz, which is why you have a following. That system that you’ve created, it’s your intellectual property. No matter how many people are providing a similar system, it’s not identical. If you don’t copyright that material, then all of the people that are using it could potentially share it with anybody they want. Copywriting is not hard. It’s not that expensive. You need to copyright individual modules. What that means is I’m working with a client now. She has a full package that she’s selling as a package, but she’s also selling individual modules.
We need to get a copyright for each of the modules because otherwise they’re not protected if they’re sold individually. Don’t think just because you’re business coaching on how to grow your business or your teaching, how to market or whatever it is. Don’t think that because you’re similar to the nine other people that are in your immediate group that you don’t have something that is copyrightable and protected and can be protected. If you don’t protect it, it’s like anything. It’s like in Jerry Maguire, “Help me help you.” If you don’t protect it, why is somebody going to respect it? You haven’t taken action. You and I are definitely go-getters, Juliet, but there are a lot of people that are like, “Nobody’s going to steal it,” which is exactly what prompted me to do this in the first place.
People that don’t have insurance, “Nobody’s going to sue me. I don’t need insurance.” They don’t have a company. I have one client now that’s been in business for 25 years. They don’t have a shareholder’s agreement and there are two shareholders and now, they’re having a dispute. There is no agreement. Don’t doubt. Don’t think that any question is stupid. Ask the question to your coach and then your coach can ask the question of somebody like myself who has the legal and operational background to provide the guidance. Whatever you do, please don’t take something online and copy and paste it, download it or use some random internet resource to get it done. Work with somebody that you trust, a single person that you can trust to have your back.
That’s what’s super important. Coaches need coaches. My coach has a coach. Your coach has a coach. You have a coach. I have a coach. It’s cyclical. At some point, those coaches need guidance as well. Not everybody wants to deal with this not fun and sexy stuff. The truth is that if you create a licensing program that you can sell, resell, package, repackage and repurpose in various ways, there’s beauty in that. Suddenly, the not so sexy broccoli as I call it becomes very sexy, potentially very lucrative ice cream. That’s what this is all about. It’s transitioning that negative stuff attached to the foundation into the fun stuff attached to numbers and adding zeros to your balance sheet and the value of your business and your revenues.If you don't copyright a material, all of the people that are using it could potentially share it with anybody they want. Click To Tweet
This went off the rails a little bit to where I was going, but I want to give you some scenarios because I know what your answers are going to be already. A lot of people out in the book world have been led to believe that if they mail their manuscript to them, it is copyrighted. True or false.
Everything that you write is copyrighted, but it’s common law copyright. It’s a little confusing and you have to go to law school to understand this and even those who go to law school don’t necessarily understand. As soon as you write an email to me, there’s a copyright, an inherent copyright. Anything that comes out of your brain and goes onto paper, that’s copyrighted. That level of protection will not hold up in court, generally. The level of protection that’s needed is that one step further. When your trademark is pending, you can put TM, but until your trademark is approved, you don’t formally have a trademark, but you’re allowed to use trademark pending. It’s the same for copyright. If you don’t actually take the physical action of filing that with the copyrights, there’s the state copyright and federal copyright. If you don’t take that action, then all you have is that common law level of protection, which generally, does not hold up in court. You want to take that additional step to protect your work or your work is not protected.
I’m going to take this a step further. It’s the other myth I see out there all the time. If I put copyright 2019 Winsome Media Group at the bottom of my action guide, it’s copyrighted.
It’s exactly the same thing. On our quizzes, we put copyright at the bottom and they are copyrighted. Each quiz should be copyrighted with the copyright department and it should be filed because again, it’s only as good as the opportunity that it presents within itself. What that means is if somebody is not challenging you or trying to steal it, you’re good. As soon as somebody tries to steal it or challenge you, you need to again take that extra level. It’s the same C with a circle that you’re going to get once you file, but once you file, you have that designation.
That wasn’t something we planned on talking about, but it was a great door opener to that because there are so many myths in the book world about how this is done. Let’s say that I don’t go out and set up my business as an S corp, a C corp or an LLC or whatever it is out there and I keep it a sole proprietorship. I don’t do any of this the right way and somebody doesn’t like what I do. What happens then when they sue me? Can you give us the bleakest, darkest picture?
No matter what entity you have other than a sole proprietorship, that entity is a separate and distinct entity for legal purposes from you as a person. There are certain steps you have to take, certain levels of protections that are afforded. You can’t commit fraud because they’ll do what’s called piercing the corporate veil. As soon as you set up that entity that’s a separate and distinct entity from you, that creates a level of protection for you as a person and you as let’s say a parent, a family or whatever it is. If you don’t have that, they’re going to go after you personally for whatever it is that you’ve done wrong and you’re personally liable for everything. Why not add that level of protection? It’s silly not to, but just setting up the company isn’t enough. We have to make sure that you keep your corporate records up-to-date. You do the annual filings and you create the right legal and other agreements and that you have the right protections in place. You can’t set it up as a sham to protect you from personal liability. There actually has to be a real business and you have to be running it as a business, not a hobby.
The best example I’m going to give you that is if the IRS comes in and looks at your business and they look at you. If you haven’t done all of those things that Lauren talked about, they’re going to bust you and say, “That’s nothing more than a paper doll of you.” You have to do all those things you were talking about in order to keep it legally a not you.
I work with a lot of people in California and in California, there are a couple of different elements involved in keeping your company up-to-date. One of them is a franchise tax. It’s not for a franchise, it’s just called a franchise tax. There’s a franchise tax applicable in Delaware as well. In Delaware, they don’t have annual filing fees. They have a franchise tax requirement, so you have to pay a franchise tax each year, which covers you off to update your annual report. In California, the franchise tax is in addition to your filing fee. I’ve had people say, “It’s not worth the $800 a year to pay to keep my LLC in place.” I was like, “Really?” I now have a client that’s come to me who didn’t do that. They are a very significant client and they are now being sued. They are now being sued personally because they didn’t bother to file their annual report properly because they didn’t think anything would happen. It happens, especially with smaller companies, but don’t take the risk. You’re exposing yourself, your family and all of your assets. Why bother? We’re working hard to build our businesses. Let’s take them seriously.
I agree with that $800 thing. I used to be incorporated in California and everything’s expensive and too highly-regulated. I’m not an attorney. I’ll preface that, but don’t incorporate in California. What is the key benefit of working with a trusted advisor? How does your system in particular help with that?
Thank you. It’s a little different. I am a lawyer, but that’s the means to an end for me. What that means is that I come into a business and I provide a service as a trusted advisor to help coordinate all of these moving parts for them, almost like an outsourced COO with that legal background. The beauty of that is that these seven areas and I’ll mention them. It’s business planning, legal and compliance and insurance and licensing, financial and accounting, branding and marketing, mission, vision, exit and operations and systems. Those seven areas are super critical to your foundation. I’m not a branding expert. I’m not going to tell you what you need to do with your branding, but I’m going to tell you that your brand needs work.
One of my brand ambassadors would come in and provide the services that the client needs. I’m not going to say you need general liability insurance. I’m not an insurance broker or an insurance agent. I’m going to bring in one of my brand ambassadors to provide that service for you, depending on what state you’re in. What I’m going to do is manage those people so that you don’t have to and you can focus on building your business. I’m going to make sure that what we identify as the gaps are actually being filled in an efficient way based on our implementation schedule and budget. It’s super important. It’s like an insurance policy that you are bringing in by working with a trusted advisor like me to make sure that these seven areas are handled properly and don’t fall under the radar. As soon as they go under the radar and you’re not paying attention to them, that’s when a disaster could strike.
How do we get a look under the hood, metaphorically, to make sure that all of that is working together?There is no workaround to building a strong foundation. Click To Tweet
We start with a quiz. I’ve built many quizzes. The first quiz, which is the one that Juliet custom-built for me is the best quiz to start the process of looking under the hood. This quiz can be found at ScaleUPCheckUPQuiz.online.
Let’s talk about that because it’s beneficial for lawyers, accountants and people. When you came to me, you already had a quiz.
I had an assessment. My baby is this assessment that I built, but the assessment takes about seven minutes and people were a little hesitant because it’s digging a little deeper. My process is like this, assessment, diagnosis and delivery. In my assessment phase, it’s my signature system. In my assessment phase, I have about six quizzes right now. The fun one which I’ll share is the Show Me The Money Quiz, which everybody loves. It’s at ShowMeTheMoneyQuiz.com. The quizzes are all free and they’re targeted to different target markets, different audiences. For example, the Franchise Quiz is targeted to a company that’s interested in potentially franchising or an existing franchise. Those are free.
They can lead to my assessment, which is paid. It’s a small fee of $47. That assessment is a little bit of a deeper dive. It’s less generic than the quiz. It allows me to provide my guidance at a little deeper level. We do a strategy session and that then leads to the diagnosis component of my system, which is where I created this success plan that analyzes the business in these seven areas. The delivery of it is all of the ambassadors including myself that are overseeing and delivering the actual services that are needed to fill the gaps we identify in the success plan. I had an assessment, but it wasn’t working the way that I wanted it to work. We built quizzes to make it a little more fun and sexy.
I’ll even say too, Lauren’s initial assessment is very good. It answers the questions she needs to help, but it was a little invasive and people have to get to know you a little bit first before actually taking that step. What else can you tell us that is important about this business planning? That they absolutely have to do that they’re not going to hear from any place else but Lauren Cohen?
There is no work around building a strong foundation. If you don’t build a strong foundation, you’re going to hit a wall and the zeroes that you’re adding are going to be zeroes on the front and not the back. What that means is you’re going to end up going into the negative because eventually you’re going to hit this wall and you’re not able to scale. You’re not going to be able to sustain any real scaling because you don’t have that foundation in place. It’s those seven areas that need to be looked at and considered. You can’t do one without the other. Just because you have all your legal stuff in place, if you don’t have insurance, you’re still leaving yourself exposed. The beauty of working with this is it’s the only single stop, one-stop resource that looks under that hood. I love Jerry Maguire because I named the quiz after their Show Me The Money.
There are many sayings in there and one of them is, “Help me help you.” People are often saying to me, “Can you tell me this and this and this?” I’ll say, “I can only lead a horse to water. I can only guide you. At the end of the day, as the business owner, you have to be the one to take action.” We can only make suggestions and recommendations and then we take the client by the hand, which is what I’m good at. It’s holding their hand and patiently, sometimes not so patiently, helping them to go through. The truth is that I don’t sleep at night because I want my clients to sleep at night and it worries me when they are not looking after the very basic foundational elements that are easy. I see on Facebook all the time, people are saying, “Go to this and get those legal documents. Go to this and get the insurance.” You can’t do that. You can’t do piecemeal.
You need to work with somebody who has your back and is there to oversee the process and not give you little tidbits of information. That’s why where my experience of fifteen years of writing business plans and providing these concierge quarterbacking services comes in because I saw how to look under the hood. I learned how to analyze a business. People have said to me, “You’re extremely intuitive.” I’m like, “You don’t think of lawyers as being intuitive, but I definitely see myself as a fortune teller because I can help you to look and see where the fortunes are in your business and where you might not be able to access them. You didn’t cover these little simple things that could easily be implemented,” like with the coaches. That’s why I’ve created this Coaching Kickstarter and it’s a beautiful thing. Let’s get you structured and coordinated so you can make money and use all the quizzes to help you to build your lead list and get it going. Give them all the opportunity to resell what you’re building.
I’m going to reiterate because we have gone off on the last couple of shows into this business technical building versus the platform building. I’m hoping that all of you out there can see as I tell you over and over, platform building is not instant gratification. Neither is building the business as well. Having all of these components that she’s talking about in place is not an instant gratification thing. All of it takes time to build that foundation and then you can soar and get out there and be the influencer and do the things you want to do. Without this and without that platform building, this is part of it, that getting this up and running right. Lauren, this has been great. Where can we find you?
You can find me everywhere. I’m on Facebook, you can find me, Lauren Cohen or ScaleUPCheckUP. I also have ScaleUP to Sell as a group on Facebook. It’s a great group helping businesses to get ready for ultimately a lucrative exit. On LinkedIn, it’s Lauren Cohen or again ScaleUPCheckUP. I’m very active on LinkedIn. You can finally directly, Lauren@ScaleUpCheckUp.com or you can reach us by phone at (866) 724-0085 or you can ask Juliet.
You have a free gift for us.
Please do take one of the quizzes. I’ll reiterate the one that’s probably the most fun, ShowMeTheMoneyQuiz.com. Once you do that, you will have access to my Seven Secrets of ScaleUP Success, as well, which is a free gift if you want to go directly to that as well. It’s ScaleUpCheckUp.net. I would love for you to try the quiz and then we can have a call to see how we might be able to help you to scale your business and see what opportunities are out there for you.
Lauren, thank you so much. This is very informative.
- Aaron Young – Previous episode
- Lauren Cohen
- e-Council Inc.
- Lauren Cohen – Facebook
- ScaleUPCheckUP – Facebook Page
- ScaleUP to Sell – Facebook Group
- Lauren Cohen – LinkedIn Account
- ScaleUPCheckUp – LinkedIn Account
About Lauren Cohen
A graduate of York University and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada, global entrepreneur and #1 bestselling author Lauren A. Cohen is an attorney licensed in both the U.S. and Canada. Lauren is an expert concierge immigration and business advisor boasting a stellar track record of success. Lauren has first-hand knowledge of the visa process, having herself immigrated from Canada, and later becoming an American citizen.
In 2008, Lauren started e-Council Inc., an internationally-acclaimed company focused on providing strategic full-service solutions for businesses seeking capital and foreigners seeking access to the U.S. market with a special focus on business visas, professional business plans and the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program as well as all other investment immigration matters.
Continuing in the tradition of sound strategic solutions, ScaleUP Enterprises, LLC was established in 2018 and ScaleUpCheckUp™ is Lauren’s newest initiative – an online growth assessment checkup tool for growing businesses in ScaleUP mode with the overriding mission of anticipating challenges before they happen and providing access to a collaborative network of certified professional services providers. Designed in response to the challenges faced by so many entrepreneurs that simply do not understand the critical importance of proper professional guidance, and/or are afraid that the costs of protection are too high, ScaleUpCheckUp™ is poised to revolutionize the professional services industry and the way in which collaborative professional services are delivered.
Lauren also recently established Find My Silver Lining, a non-profit whose goal is to inspire others to persevere through challenging times and focus on the bright side as they strive to lead fulfilling lives. Lauren has received numerous awards and recognitions including a 2018 award through the Florida Association of Women Lawyers as a “Leader in the Law”. Lauren was recently invited to join the expert faculty of CEO Space International, a top-tier global training organization. A regular writer and contributor to magazines, books and other media globally for several years, Lauren has been featured in multiple mediums including the Wall Street Journal, NPR, various television broadcasts. Finding Your Silver Lining in the Business Immigration Process was Lauren’s first book, which became a #1 Bestseller during its first month! The proceeds of Lauren’s book are being used to fund “Find My Silver Lining”. Lauren’s second book, which is focused on the franchise industry, is entitled “A Burning Desire to Succeed: Striking the Perfect Franchise Match” and is currently available as an e-book.
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