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Finding business inspiration in a unique pirate’s tale

No glass ceiling could contain Ching Shih, a female pirate in the 1800s who routinely laughed in the face of fear.

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Ching Shih pirate's tale

Ching Shih pirate's tale

Fearlessness in the business world

Many professionals today have what it takes to make it in the business world, but it takes something special and unique to knock your industry off of its feet and then redefine it. It all comes down to fearlessness – being fearless means something different to every professional, and to every industry, but it can be agreed upon that it’s about setting aside your reservations, your fears, and your doubts, and moving forward in spite of them. It’s about using them as fuel for your progression. Without fearlessness, modern industries would not be what they are today, all thanks to those who went above and beyond expectations, limitations, and even what’s considered acceptable.

While you could name many relatively modern professionals who are great examples, perhaps we should look back a little more than that, like the 1800s. Ching Shih is an infamous Cantonese pirate who sailed and terrorized the China Sea. The world superpowers at that time – Portugal, the Qing dynasty, and Britain – could not defeat Ching Shih. While you’ve probably heard many pirate stories, this one is slightly different because Ching Shih was a woman.

A woman leader in a woman-free industry

Ching Shih was captured by pirates and eventually married a deadly and well-known pirate who had a long family history of piracy. About seven years after her kidnapping, Ching Shih eventually became the leader of her husband’s ship, crew, and notorious and terrifying reputation. But she was not dwarfed by her husband’s reputation; she made her own.

She often attacked coastal cities and even collected taxes from them in exchange for protection from other pirate attacks. In essence, she was a formidable business woman, taking no prisoners and knowing exactly how to increase her earnings. In 1810, the Chinese government offered all pirates the chance at amnesty. She took the offer, retired, and then went on to open a gambling house.

No glass ceiling could contain her

We don’t recommend you breaking the law, terrorizing others, or killing and plundering, but there is something everyone can learn from Ching Shih. She was absolutely fearless. She saw the opportunity in every experience, from being kidnapped and then eventually taking over to knowing when to retire once amnesty was offered. She was a strong leader in a male-dominated industry.

No glass ceiling could contain her. She may have had to work harder to get where she ended up, but she didn’t let anything hold her back – she ultimately dominated, and so many years later, she has yet to be surpassed. It all goes back to her refusing to let fear take hold of her.

Take a page from Ching Shih’s book as you move forward and try to advance in your professional life. Have clear goals in mind, experiment with different methods, and know when to sell, retire, or move onto something else. Know your limits and then leave them behind as you continue to move forward to professional success, and never let a glass ceiling or fear hold you back.

Business Entrepreneur

Small businesses angry at depletion of COVID-19 relief funds without warning

(ENTREPRENEUR) Small businesses are in shock when they find out COVID-19 relief funds are no longer available, with an email update from the SBA.

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Small businesses are no longer offered EDIL loans from the SBA.

In May, the Small Business Administration (SBA) sent out an update to borrowers of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for COVID-19 relief. The EIDL program is now out of funds, according to an email sent to borrowers.

The loan program formally closed back in December 2021, but there was a period when small businesses who had already received funding could request additional money. That period is now officially over, and the $345 billion that was allotted for COVID-19 relief is gone.

The impact of EIDL

Many owners and entrepreneurs are outraged and frustrated with the lack of transparency from the SBA. There was no warning that the funds were almost depleted and many businesses were relying on that loan money to keep their businesses afloat as the economy rebounds. However, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman praised the program,

“The SBA has delivered historic economic relief to millions of America’s small businesses through the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program…”

According to an SBA press release, over $390 billion in aid was distributed to nearly 4 million businesses.

Small businesses still need help

In May, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), told health ministers that COVID-19 and its effects are not over. Here in the United States, life seems to be getting back to normal, if you discount the horrific inflation and gas prices, which are further impacting the recovery of small businesses.

Congress has been wrangling with legislation (H.R. 3807) that would offer more funding for those that were hit hard due to covid. Getting the House and Senate to agree on this legislation is expected to be difficult. So, no guarantees that more help is coming.

The SBA recommends that businesses who need more resources contact their local SBA office. Virtual appointments can be made for those who wish to avoid contact.

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Business Entrepreneur

Regularly update your succession plan – it isn’t for setting and forgetting!

(ENTREPRENEUR) You may think that once you have a succession plan in place, you’re set for life, however, it’s recommended to continually update them!

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business succession plan

We’ve written before about how the everlasting success of the business will need to outlive you, and this is best conjured up in a succession plan. This is especially true for small business owners and entrepreneurs that have built an empire for themselves but aren’t sure what the future will hold beyond their passing. This is the exact reason that succession plans shouldn’t be set and forgotten, but instead consistently updated.

What are some of the obvious reasons that you may need to update your succession plan?

  1. Health Issues
  2. Marriage or Remarriage
  3. Changes in health in executors or guardians
  4. Changes in the law
  5. Changes in Residence

Now, for the not-so-obvious reason: It should be updated when any personal circumstances changes, which most likely happen often. This is why a will is like your home, an investment that needs to be properly maintained, and if it is, it will last a very long time.

Examples include changes in economic or parental status, as well as designations or fiduciaries. Elders could be aging, siblings may be having their own life changes, as well as if any dependents are born with or develop special needs.

“Every state has different laws regarding the administration of a will,” he said.?“For instance, states vary regarding the required residence of an executor, inheritance tax laws, and whether a child can be disinherited by omission.”

The recommended procedure is to review wills and powers of attorney at least every five years.

Lastly, when should a will update to a trust?

  1. When you have some significant assets (more than $500,000) in your own name.
  2. If you have special needs beneficiaries.
  3. If you have properties in multiple jurisdictions (multiple states or even counties).
  4. If you have beneficiaries you want to control distributions to (e.g., distribute at ages 25/30/35).
  5. If you have kids from a previous relationship you want taken care of.
  6. If you may want asset protection (special trust needed).
  7. If you are a big dog (over $22M if married), to save taxes.

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Business Entrepreneur

Should your severance agreements include confidentiality clauses?

(ENTREPRENEUR) Confidentiality clauses and NDAs have long been tied to severance agreements – but is that notion becoming outdated?

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severance agreement

Severance agreements and their ilk have long included confidentiality clauses, often comprising an exhaustive list of actions former employees may not take should they desire to keep the benefits listed in the agreement. Carey & Associates P.C.’s Mark Carey breaks down the knowledge you’ll need to successfully incorporate a severance agreement – including a stern warning about the future of confidentiality clauses.

There is a long list of things you’ll need when curating a severance agreement, but we’ll start with Carey’s honey-do-nots.

Carey’s primary recommendation is avoiding a non-compete clause where, previously, there wasn’t one.

“As employment lawyers, we see this tactic used every day, but you do not,” he says.

This is because most employment lawyers will advise that a non-compete agreement is largely unenforceable, which sets a poor precedent for an otherwise airtight document.

Carey even recommends against reviewing prior non-compete clauses for the same reason.

He also eschews what he calls the “21 days to sign – or else” philosophy, and he advises that employers should loop themselves into the non-disparagement clause so that employees cannot be blacklisted – something he refers to as “a very real phenomenon.”

What a severance agreement should include is a non-admission provision, a payment provision, a release of all claims to cover any feasible scenarios regarding employee disclosure, a challenge to agreement, a “no other amounts are due” section to release the employer from future responsibility, and a mandate to return any company property. This is a truckload of information, so you’ll want an employment lawyer to help you through the process.

But what Carey warns against is the future of confidentiality agreements, or NDAs. While these provisions have long accounted for employee silence in the face of abusive or corrupt employers, Carey posits that, one day, “confidentiality provisions in employee severance agreements will be banned as a matter of statute and public policy.”

This assertion comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the uncovering of the manner in which powerful people were using NDAs to buy silence from the people who suffered under their direction. Carey points out that it’s a non-partisan issue; corruption isn’t aligned with one specific political party, and the option to come forward with allegations of misconduct is a courtesy that should be afforded to all.

Whether or not confidentiality agreements are ethical is a moot point, and Carey does recommend continuing to use them when necessary – but, sooner or later, one can safely assume that the landscape of severance agreements will change, arguably for the better.

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