Small Business Celebration
No matter what size your business, at some point you’ll need to start creating documents, policies, and contracts. In the past, this step has generally required the assistance of a lawyer or legal firm to ensure you don’t make any costly mistakes.
The trouble is, these legal consultations can be costly as well. For many small businesses, spending $250 or more simply to have a document reviewed is not an acceptable option. Many choose to go it alone rather than spend the money.
Legalshield was started to fill that gap, offering unlimited legal consultation for a low monthly fee. LegalZoom and Rocketlawyer allow entrepreneurs to create contracts from pre-created forms, without needing a lawyer’s help at all.
But even that is changing.
As most of the legal advice and contracts people need are fairly common tasks, they are perfect for automation.
Recently, I wanted to create a will, and while there were plenty of forms and kits online to download, I saw Ailira, a Facebook Messenger app that would generate a will for me simply by talking to it. After answering only a few simple questions, I had my will, and all I needed to do was print it out and have it notarized.
I had found other bots that had been created with the same mindset. For example, the “DoNotPay” app was created to automatically appeal parking tickets in certain popular jurisdictions around the world. With only some minor input, a robot will go through all the annoying steps to get your parking ticket removed.
With that in mind, here are some other AI tools to automate even the most daunting Legal tasks.
The most common thing that startups need legal advice for has to do with contracts, whether it is creating or reviewing them.
RobotLawyerLisa drafts NDAs and property documents based on your input. HirePeter acts as your Virtual Lawyer to draft and securely sign documents via email. And Donna.legal reviews contracts for you — to make sure that there are no “gotchas.”
Want to know what the results of a trial will be? Should you sue someone for patent infringement? Relying on another company for your business to go forward? Case Crunch can predict the outcome for you so you can make better decisions.
For entrepreneurs looking to file a patent, you can do almost all of it with AI.
Patentfield helps you to search for prior art, to ensure that what you’re working on is unique. Startup Specif.io offers a patent generator that helps to write the first draft of your patent — complete with figures. Follow that up with TurboPatent’s RoboReview to analyze the patent draft to make sure it has a good chance of being accepted, complete with similar patent citation.
A surprising number of technology entrepreneurs in North America have visas, with nearly500kH1-B visas issued annually toward the 7 milliontech jobs available in the U.S. alone. For those who need help navigating the process,Visabot and Destin.ai have entered the ring to help individuals and businesses get all the paperwork in order. This way, you can have as little downtime as possible and get back to the hustle.
But what happens if you have something more complex?
If you need a real person to represent you, or just want to talk to someone, there are answers for that too. UpCounsel and LawScout have created platforms to put lawyers into the gig economy so you only pay when you need them. Others like Lawtrades and Legalshield offer subscription models, giving you a low fee to ensure you’re always covered.
In the end, nothing can replace a real person,however, the robots are certainly giving it a go.
Editor’s Note:Although the officialSmall Business Weekhas been postponed, we at Inc. feel it’s always appropriate to recognize the teams and companies that serve the needs of their communities and help keep Main Street humming–and not just for one week!
Sweet Spot makes and sells derrière-cloaking skirts in funky colors and patterns for female bikers and runners to wear over shorts and tights.But despite owninga 12-year-old Australian shepherd, founder Stephanie Lynnhad never heard of WellHaven, a $50 million company operating 41 veterinary hospitals that employ 450 people in five states.
WellHaven founderJohn Bork was similarly unfamiliar with his neighbor.”I had seen Sweet Spot but I never used it,” Bork says. “I didn’t really know what it was.”
From the awarding of government loans to the designation of “essential” status, coronavirus frequently has set Main Street businesses at odds with larger companies. But in places like Vancouver, where a very active chamber of commerce is an enthusiastic yenta for its members, large and middle-market companies have formed surprising partnerships with mom-and-pops to fight the pandemic.
For example, when Chandelier Bakery was unable to obtain flour to fulfill all requests for bread donations for frontline workers, United Grain Corporation, among the Pacific Northwest’s largest grain exporters, supplied the wheat. Ryonet, a $50 million supplier of equipment to screen-printing businesses, not only stepped up to manufacture masks and face shields itself but has also contracted with two of its small local customers, Brainless Tees and Opake Screen Printing, to decorate them.
And in Lynn’s case,the larger companyhelped completely turn her business around. Sweet Spot does between $350,000 and $600,000 in annual revenue, much of itat sporting events. On March 12, Lynn was selling at a pickleball tournament in College Station, Texas, while thecountrywas rapidly shutting down.
“I got on the plane in Austin, and by the time I changed planes in Phoenix enough events had canceled to take $50,000 off my plate,” she says.
The next day, she was sitting with her landlord, in tears because she would not be able to make rent. The following Monday she laid off her entire staff of six.
Bork, meanwhile, had approached the chamber for help. Government and industry leaders had begun asking veterinarians to donate their PPE to health-care workers who attend tohumans. Bork wanted to find a local business that could replace his surgical-grade masks and caps with something that would protect animals during procedures. The chamber quickly reached out to Sweet Spot.
The next morning, four days after Sweet Spot’s closure, Bork and his chief medical officer, Bob Lester, were at Lynn’s doorstep with a model surgical mask and cap. Lynn called in one of her seamstresses and over the next two days created prototypes from the fabric used for her skirts.
With check in hand for just over $10,000 to cover 500 masks and 500 caps,Lynn brought back her whole staff. “She would text me when she had 60 or 100 made,” Bork says. “I would walk over and fill up my backpack, bring them back to the office, box them up, and off they would go.” Sweet Spot filled the entire order in just under three weeks.
Bork ordered another 500 masks and caps, which he distributed to other veterinary hospitals in Vancouver and neighboring Portland, Oregon. With each donation, he included Lynn’s contact information.A few of those practices placed their own orders. Word spread, and other groups–Vancouver public schools, an organization of home inspectors–reached out.
With skirt orders down 90 percent, Lynn launched Facewear Fashions to go after the consumer PPE market. Those masks, with names like Pinch Me Pink Floral and Doilies for Your Face, retail for $14. (Businesses, which receive volume discounts, still account for 50 percentof mask sales.) Lynn plans to cross-promote her product lines. Buy a skirt, get a free mask made from the same material. “I match mine all the time,” she says.
The collaboration with WellHaven continues. Bork made an offer to match any donations of masks to worthy causes by other Vancouver businesses. When the Vancouver Farmers Market reopens, Sweet Spot will have a place in WellHaven’s booth.
“Had WellHaven not come about, I don’t know where I would be,” Lynn says. “They saved me completely.”
Want to keep up to date with all the latest news and events?