1662 – Do’s and Don’ts With Hiring An Attorney with Motiva Business Law’s Danya Shakfeh

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Attorney & Founder  of Motiva Business Law, Danya Shakfeh.

Danya specializes in helping entrepreneurs stay out of court and focus on their businesses. She does this by ensuring they have proper legal documentation and contracts. Danya explained that many business owners end up in court because they didn't take simple steps to protect themselves from legal disputes.

She emphasized the importance of having a proper operating agreement and contracts to avoid costly litigation. Danya also pointed out that legal exposure is not just a risk for larger or brick-and-mortar companies. Still, she can also affect smaller businesses, especially in industries like startups and intellectual property.

Danya also shared insights on trends in the intersection between small businesses and law. She mentioned that while she offers online resources and a YouTube channel, she has also been organizing in-person events to cater to people tired of virtual meetings after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danya emphasized the importance of proper due diligence when buying a business. She advised potential buyers to involve an attorney early in the process. She also highlighted the significance of obtaining consent from third parties involved in the business transfer, such as landlords or franchisors.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Common legal topics that business owners should be aware of
  • Guidance on hiring an attorney
  • Mergers and acquisitions in business
  • Startups and legal compliance
  • Importance of proper contracts and legal documentation
  • Legal exposure for small businesses
  • Danya's events on how to buy a business
  • Due diligence when buying a business

About Danya Shakfeh:

Danya Shakfeh is a dedicated attorney specializing in helping entrepreneurs navigate the legal complexities of their businesses, allowing them to focus on what they do best. With over a decade of experience in business law, Danya has become an expert in her field, consistently delivering top-notch services to her clients.

Danya's primary focus is on contract review and drafting. She excels at identifying potential legal pitfalls within contracts, ensuring her clients' interests are protected and their business transactions run smoothly. Her meticulous attention to detail has kept numerous entrepreneurs out of legal trouble, allowing them to confidently conduct their business operations.

One of Danya's notable achievements is being recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers for nine consecutive years. This prestigious accolade is awarded to less than 2.5% of lawyers, underscoring her exceptional legal skills and dedication to her clients' success.

What sets Danya apart is her commitment to understanding her clients on a deeper level. She doesn't just ask the routine legal questions; she delves into her clients' biggest fears and dreams. By gaining insight into their aspirations and concerns, she leverages her legal expertise to protect their interests and help them realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

Danya is more than just a business lawyer; she's a trusted legal and business advisor. Her approach encompasses fear-crushing and dream realization, ensuring her clients receive comprehensive support and guidance throughout their entrepreneurial journey. With Danya by their side, entrepreneurs can confidently navigate the legal landscape, knowing they have a dedicated advocate committed to their success.

About Motiva Business Law:

Motiva Business Law is a versatile legal firm that employs various strategies to engage potential clients. They create valuable legal resources like “lead magnets,” videos, publications, and systematic approaches to attract potential clients effectively.

Motiva specializes in various legal areas, including contract law, employment-related matters, civil and business litigation, and business law. They have expertise in reviewing and drafting contracts across diverse industries such as technology, food, healthcare, and construction.

Their legal services include litigating complaints, counter-claims, motions to dismiss, motions to strike, answers, replies, requests to admit, interrogatories, discovery requests, contracts, and demand letters.

Motiva Business Law is committed to educating the community. They conduct public seminars tailored for new and established businesses, focusing on important topics such as business entity types in Illinois, general contract principles, and employment regulations. This commitment to education underscores their dedication to serving their clients and the local business community.

Tweetable Moments:

12:43 – “For some business owners, it's not too much money, but for your average person, it could be someone's life savings.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Motiva Business Law website at

Check out Motiva Business Law on LinkedIn at

Check out Motiva Business Law on Instagram at

Check out Motiva Business Law on Facebook at

Check out Motiva Business Law on YouTube at

Check out Danya Shakfeh on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Danya Shakfeh. Danya, you are the you're an attorney and you are the founder of Motiva Business Law. You're found on the web at Motiva. Danya, thank you so much for joining us.

Danya (00:01:12) - Thank you for having me.

Josh (00:01:13) - I love. Well, one thing I was reading, you help entrepreneurs stay out of court so they can focus on their businesses.

Josh (00:01:21) - Tell us more. I love that. So you got my attention. Tell us more about the work that you do and the impact you have in the world.

Danya (00:01:28) - Sure. So I used to actually do more court related activities and, you know, some litigation. But I found that once business owners are in court, it's it's so draining and expensive and sometimes actually often had those business owners taken some simple steps to get certain things in order when they started their business, they would have not ended up in court. So things like, you know, having a proper beginning, a group or excuse me, like a proper operating agreement for their LLCs or proper contracts in place. Um, it would have saved them a lot of headache. So. So I decided to transition my practice to more transactional practice because thought I could bring more value to my clients to keep them out of court. So mean, for example, drafting a, you know, a semi complicated contract might cost like 4 or 5 or maybe $6,000 depending on, you know, the nature of the contract and the business.

Danya (00:02:29) - But if you're in court, you could easily spend 20, 30, 40 or more. You know, it's just endless. And and of course, that's not including the headache and the stress and the potential loss of the actual business, because sometimes it will because these lawsuits will actually drive their business into the ground. And so for that reason, so hence my slogan to keep people out of the court.

Josh (00:02:55) - So I'm going to ask you a silly question here, but isn't, you know, legal exposure really just a a risk for larger companies or for brick and mortar companies?

Danya (00:03:07) - No, absolutely not. It could even happen with smaller businesses for sure. I mean, it's really not the size of the business, but who they interact with. Um, and sometimes the industry that they're in and often the disputes relate more to or excuse me, like between the actual business owner. So that could be something like a simple startup. Also intellectual property. It's not a tangible good, but it has value. So you could have a startup or a smaller business where someone trademarked a brand and they started to build on it.

Danya (00:03:42) - And then when the owner of that trademark is not clear, that also creates some liability for the owners and disputes. So yeah.

Josh (00:03:51) - So share just a bit about your practice. So you practice law obviously in Illinois where you're based here outside of Chicago and then as well, you're originally or you have connections to Florida, so you're also licensed here. But I know that you've got resources and you provide guidance and so forth nationally. Can you maybe talk about the scope of your work?

Danya (00:04:12) - Right. So I focus on I think my favorite area of practice is mergers and acquisitions, helping business owners by businesses in particular. You know, they're often very motivated. They usually have some funding already and they kind of have an eye on growth from the beginning. So I really like that practice area. Also corporate startup and what I really like about startups for certain kinds of entrepreneurs in particular is they usually have a unique vision and they want to see that come to light. And so I help them create their operating agreements, their corporate documents and their contracts and actually even give guidance also on the business side as well.

Danya (00:04:53) - So part of my conversations with those types of clients is to make sure that they're profitable, that their business is or is sustainable and and that it adds value to their clients and also franchises, which, you know, along the same lines, particularly the franchisees review those documents for them to make sure that they're in a safe place when they enter in these contracts.

Josh (00:05:20) - So, yeah, sir, certainly I think something that applies to nearly every business owner, you know, would be or let me ask you this question, rather than presupposing anything, you know, what would be, you know, maybe some some legal topics that cover probably 90 plus percent of companies. Of course, I'm I'm thinking of like entity type stuff or if you're going to have any kind of employee or contractor relationship, those are two immediately that come to mind. Are there any that is like, listen, this is a do not pass go kind of thing. You're going to bump up against this and you know. It's probably wise that you're working with someone who understands the law when it comes to these things.

Danya (00:06:04) - Um, yeah. So in addition to employment and the internal stuff, I would say legal compliance, um, particularly on the industry. So if a certain license is required to run the business, a lot of business owners don't realize that they have to get certain, you know, licenses. Taxes also is a big issue, especially when it comes to when people buy businesses. They don't realize that that when the assets transfer from the seller to a buyer, the tax liability can actually attach to the assets that are being transferred. So there are certain, you know, hoops that you want to jump through to make sure that when you buy a business, you're not incurring those tax liabilities. Um, so those are probably two of the other main areas that see and also just like not just really from a business perspective also when they a lot of my clients are too quick. You know the sales process are too quick to sign contracts and they start investing money and time into a relationship that has where the terms are not completely fleshed out.

Danya (00:07:08) - And so they start, you know, um, you know, fighting about certain things. But they've already started the relationship even though they didn't sign the contract. So it's really hard to like negotiate that contract when they're or excuse me, like when everyone's already invested. So I think those are the some of the issues that they see as well.

Josh (00:07:25) - Yeah. Um, as a small business owner, I know sometimes it can be pretty challenging or, you know, when it comes to hiring a legal professional hiring attorney to, to help with this. Are there any maybe any guidance that you'd recommend of like maybe either things to look for or things maybe that might be red flags and like, yeah, that's if you're hearing this, this and this, I'd probably steer you in a different direction or keep shopping sort of any guidance on hiring an attorney.

Danya (00:07:55) - That's a great question, obviously. Um, you know, talking to people who already have experience with their own lawyers is a great way to start. But if you're not sure where to go from there, um, an attorney that has too many practice areas is something that I kind of warn people about.

Danya (00:08:12) - You don't want because if it's one attorney doing too many things, you kind of wonder how deep they've gone into each practice area. So that's one thing that I'd look for to, you know, see if they have like a YouTube channel or if they offer any free resources, you know, guides, templates, checklists, those sorts of things you can get like you can get a feel for the kinds of offerings that they have. Um, and also check out Google reviews. See, of course, perhaps those are not always so accurate, but, you know, like it gives some insight. Um, so those are probably some of the same ways. And then of course, just talk to the lawyer and honestly like it's fine if you pay for the consultation too. I know sometimes people like to talk to multiple lawyers. The reality is if you want to sit, I'm like with an attorney and really pick their brain, it's worth to pay a couple hundred bucks to really speak in more detail because like some of those free consultations are really cursory.

Danya (00:09:04) - And sometimes the free consultations are not even with an attorney. So if you're really serious about hiring a high caliber caliber lawyer, I would, you know, make that investment as well. Yeah.

Josh (00:09:15) - Does that make sense? I mean, again, you're talking about a couple a few hundred dollars per conversation and that's going to give you a much better flavor for. So it helps you make a much better decision on. That's a good tip. I hadn't heard that before. Um, what are there any trends that you have seen over maybe the past few years when it comes to that intersection between SMBs and law? Are there any things that are becoming a bigger issue or things that you think are, you know, again, maybe a bigger concern that business leaders and owners should be aware of that seems to be becoming more of a thing.

Danya (00:09:55) - Um, I'm not sure of I can't think of any trends per se that are that have increased in the past few years. Um, but I will say in general, um.

Danya (00:10:08) - Just some small business owners. Really should take the time to understand the legal intricacies of their business goals. So I have a lot of people, for example. I would say, okay, here's one like Dropshipping and like online businesses like Dropshipping was really big a few years ago and people would go on like websites like Walmart or Amazon. But now, you know, these big retailers are no longer or like they want their resellers to have their own inventory. Um, and so like Dropshipping is not really something that you can really do anymore. Uh, so I have still, you know, people coming to me, you know, with this vision of being able to have this type of business model and it wouldn't really work out anymore. And so they're too quick to hire providers that offer those services without actually reading the terms of like Amazon or Walmart or, you know, what have you. So think generally speaking, whenever you have like a business idea, you know, I'm like, run it by an attorney to make sure that whoever the small business owner is, is dealing with it's kosher, you know, and and in line with the policies and laws of both third parties.

Josh (00:11:26) - As if when we're recording this. Danya, I see that you, you you put on events frequently. One of them is how to buy a business. And by the way, is are these events, are they in person or do you also provide this content online?

Danya (00:11:43) - Both, actually. So I actually you know, I try to do Zoom, but like lately, I think people have really been appreciating the in-person events. Think especially after Covid, right? People are kind of sick. They're kind of over Zoom. So I am offering a free monthly courses that are in person for people who want to come in, but have also done a ton online and also have a pretty fast YouTube channel where I talk about, you know, like the issues that, you know, small business owners deal with.

Josh (00:12:12) - Yeah. And so one that as you have coming up, how to buy a business. Is it, you know, someone who's never been through that process? What are some of the big you know like you're thinking about your presentation.

Josh (00:12:27) - You know, I don't know if there's kind of kind of main topics or results to that, but anything that stands out, you're like, Oh, yeah, listen, if there's one thing you don't forget when it comes to buying a business, it would be, you know, this and this. Anything come to mind?

Danya (00:12:43) - Yeah, The first the biggest thing is the number of people who call my office and say, hey, I want to buy a business. And they and closing is tomorrow. And I'm like, can you review the contract? I'm like, Whoa, whoa. You skipped so many steps. Like, did you do due diligence and do it with due diligence? Hold on. And you know, many of these people, they're not necessarily mean for for a lot of people, they're not it's not a small chunk of cheese that they're spending on these businesses. We're still talking about 80, $90,000, which for some, you know, business owners is not too much money. But for like your average person, it's like, you know, it could be someone's life savings.

Danya (00:13:20) - And so I think that, um, so yeah, I mean, first and foremost, have an attorney come in earlier so at least, you know, to do it properly. Um, the second thing I would say is to make sure that if there are any third parties that are involved in the business, that they are also signing on to the transfer of the business, for example, like a landlord or if there's a franchise involved. You know, unfortunately I see that too often where people just like things, they have a right to just transfer everything to somebody else when in reality they can't. The buyer ends up not having the full value of the business because the these third parties are like, Wait a minute, we didn't consent to this new owner of the business. So those are probably the two biggest issues that run into Yeah.

Josh (00:14:04) - In addition, we were kind of talking about, you know, the workshops, what are the resources or for someone that's soliciting or a conversation and you know, they're interested in maybe learning more or, you know, again, kind of tapping into resources that you've made available.

Josh (00:14:18) - Anything come to mind that that would be worth taking a look at?

Danya (00:14:22) - Yeah. So on my website again, there's my YouTube channel. Typically if someone were to just send me an email, I do offer guides. I have the ultimate guide to buying a business. It's a it just breaks down the steps of buying the business and it includes a due diligence checklist. Um, I also offer like a or like a business plan cheat sheet. It's not a legal, you know, document, but it's just like kind of the backbones of creating a business plan only like think 33% of business owners have a written business plan. And if you have a written business plan, you actually increase your chances of having a successful business because you put those goals in place, you kind of understand your profit margins. You know, like I said or like before, I really like to set up my clients for actual business success, not just like, here's a legal template and then send them on their way. So, um, I also have like a guide on starting businesses and these are all often on my blog or if you just like do a search, you know, like it come up.

Danya (00:15:18) - But if anybody wants those resources, they can also send me an email to my office and we'll be happy to just pass those out. Um, and then of course, once anyone books a consultation, I have like a drip campaign where just, you know, give free resources and tips, you know, as a getting up to the consultation itself.

Josh (00:15:38) - So it's going over some of your content. And one of the videos you have that I'm actually quite curious about. Yeah. And again, I don't expect you to remember what you said in the video, but the title of it is How to Assess Risk in Business and maybe high level pieces of advice or recommendations you'd make. If again, we want to look at, well, where might we find risk or what is that level of risk? You know, either within our business or might be maybe a business that we're looking to acquire.

Danya (00:16:06) - Right. So that's a great question. So when parties are negotiating, it's a really good opportunity for one or the other party to kind of feel out the other side and their trust level.

Danya (00:16:20) - So, for example, if one party says, you know, we don't need to put this in writing, this deal is like just a handshake. That's obviously a red flag. You know, someone doesn't want a paper trail. Also, if a document excuse me, if a contract is presented to you, you want to look at the covenants and the warranties. And these are like contract terms for basically the promises and the representations that the counterparty is giving you. And if there And so if so, it's really important to like review those because it would give you as a business owner, an opportunity to see what kind of rights you may be waiving. And you want to know why you would be waiving those rights or if a party refuses to explain, you know, like the condition or the status of certain, you know, assets, for example, you know, in writing, then that's also a risk. So just go over like how a negotiation can show the risk in a business like the actual process of negotiating.

Josh (00:17:26) - Yeah. Danya Shakfeh, again, attorney and founder of of excuse me, Motiva Business. Your website was Motiva That's Motiva., of course, to our podcast listener. Got that all linked up in your episode. Just click on show notes and we find a direct link right there. Um, and again, Danya was someone who goes to your website. What would you recommend they click on? What should they do next?

Danya (00:17:54) - Um, well, they can schedule a consultation. Most people just call us. So our number (630) 517-5529. Um, and then we also have a contact form as well that someone can just shoot us so that we can call them back if they prefer to go that route.

Josh (00:18:11) - Yeah. Excellent. Well, Danya, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate our conversation for having me.

Danya (00:18:17) - Yeah, of course. Thank you for the opportunity.

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