successhospitalityHappy New Year to all. I can’t believe another year has come and gone already. For myself, as the new year turns I’m taking a moment to reflect back on how well I achieved the goals I set for myself last year and to create new ones. Hence, it’s been a good time to dust off the old business plan to reflect on progress made or the lack thereof. In other words, I’m holding myself accountable for doing what I told myself I was going to do. So far, my persistence and diligence is bearing fruit for those new goals I’ve taken on. I’m also looking to scrap those goals that aren’t working.

I know some of you are contemplating taking the plunge this year to establish your own winery or wine based business. If so, this is a great time to lay your foundation towards developing a successful winery or wine and hospitality based business by creating your business plan.

Creating a business plan forces you to focus on identifying your goals and objectives as well as how to set plans on how to reach them. In other words, where do you see your business 1 year from now, 3 years from now, or even 5 years from now? Who are your customers? What specific products will you offer? Have you identified your competition? What are your start up costs and sources of funds? What is your mission? Who is your target market? How will you manage the local, state, and federal regulations governing the business of alcohol? Exactly how will your business take shape in 2016?

These are just a few questions to think about when starting your own winery, wine or hospitality based business. As the beginning of the year unfolds, use this time to build your business plan and set achievable goals. Your business plan will keep you on the right track in 2016 and the years to follow.

Does Alternative Lending For Your Pennsylvania Wine Or Hospitalty Business Sound Enticing?

We can all probably agree that building your new winery or hospitality business takes hard work, dedication, perseverance and boatload of money. Whereas the baby boomer generation typically relied on traditional forms of financing such as bank loans, savings accounts, small business administration loans and daddy, today’s millennial entrepreneurs are turning to non-traditional forms of financing and lending sources. seed$images

Millennial hospitality and wine business entrepreneurs who have struggled to find access to capital are relying now on more organic ways to fund their wine and hospitality businesses. One such way is by pursuing alternative crowd-funding financing. Crowd-funding, also known as peer-to peer lending, is a popular and growing alternative method of raising money.

Unlike an angel investment in which one person typically takes a larger stake in a small business, crowd-funding attracts a crowd of people, each of who take a small stake in a business by contributing towards an online funding target. Its main benefit is the creation of a strong network of support for your business. Your investors often become your evangelists for your brand.

On such crowd funding source is Kickstarter ( Typically there is no cost to launch a crowd-funding campaign. If you business is successful in its funding, Kickstarter takes a small fee plus payment processing. If your campaign fails, there are no fees.

Crowd-funding can provide a fantastic opportunity but it should not be taken lightly. You may wish to contact your lawyer or CPA for professional assistance. For more help and information on this alternative financing source, you should also consult the Small Business Administration’s (www.SBA.GOV) online course on Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.

Now go out there and “show me the money.”

A Best Business Practice For Your Pennsylvania Hospitality Business

One of the most difficult factors to comply with when forming a Limited Liability Corporations (LLC) is to remember that you and your business are not the same. This is especially significant for LLC’s that have a single member or handful of members.best_practice2.6022437_std

As the LLC owner, you are distinguishable now as the Agent of the LLC. Thus, when signing contracts and other business documents, you should do so on behalf of the LLC and not as an individual. This can sometimes be difficult to remember if you have grown out of your role as Sole Proprietor or Partnership, and have transitioned into a LLC.

In order to maintain the maximum protection of personal liability that your LLC provides, you will want to maintain this important legal distinction. Failure to do so may put you into a position where a judge may determine that you are personally liable for the debts of your restaurant, winery, or wine based based hospitality business. Adherence to this best practice will help to shield the members of the LLC.

Forming the habit of maintaining best business practices will ensure the success your hospitality business.

Eight Ways To Ensure That Your Pennsylvania Winery Or Hospitality Business Remains In Order

Forming a separate business entity for your new or existing winery, restaurant, corporate_compliance300_0catering, or wine based hospitality business is a critical step. Your corporation is responsible for the debts and liabilities of your wine or hospitality business shielding your personal assets separate from those of your business. But once the business formation process is complete, your job isn’t finished. You must ensure that your Corporation or LLC entity remains in compliance so that your “corporate veil” is not pierced, making you personally liable for the debts of your wine or hospitality business.

Here are eight ways to ensure that your Pennsylvania winery or hospitality business remains in compliance.

1.) Do not co-mingle your personal and business finances.

2.) Maintain your regular and annual corporate minutes and resolutions.

3.) Be sure to file your annual reporting requirements with the Secretary of State.

4.) Record any changes and amendments to your Articles of Incorporation and file
those timely with State and Federal Regulatory bodies, i.e Municipal Reporting and Zoning Requirements, Liquor Control Boards and the Federal TTB as applicable.

5.) If you operate out of state, make sure your business is legal out of state in the event you need to qualify as a “Foreign Corporation of LLC” within the state that you are doing business.

6.) Take time out of your busy schedule to address your administrative legal requirements.

7.) Maintain your corporate tax filings just as you would with your individual taxes.

8 ) Contact your Accountant or Legal Counsel should you run into any compliance issues.

Is Your Winery, Wine Or Hospitality Business On Trickster, Fraudster, Scammer, Gangster Alert?

Just how alert are you from the tricksters, fraudsters, scammers, and gangsters that are out to drain your winery, wine or hospitality business profits? These predators prey on the fact that while you’re out planting grapes, stocking the tasting room, meeting with new vendors, or maybe seeking counsel with me, you’ll be to busy to notice that your winery or hospitality business has been targeted by yet another treacherous scam.

Perhaps its an invoice for a product you didn’t order. Or maybe you’re being hounded by a debt collector seeking a past due collection on an internet service you didn’t buy. Could it be you’re being gouged for some ink you didn’t receive?

Either way, now is as good of time as any to learn how to protect your business from these predators. Take a moment now to watch this video and learn what you can do to protect your business from fraud.

Now, tricksters, fraudsters, scammers,and gangsters beware!

Did Your Pennsylvania Winery Or Hospitality Business Have A Year Of He Said, She Said “Talk To The Hand”?

Have you suffered adverse consequences in your Pennsylvania restaurant, winery ortalktothehand-50773 hospitality business this year by being far too trusting? Did you rely on mutual trust by conducting your business strictly on the basis of a handshake? Perhaps you found yourself in the middle of an ugly verbal confrontations of “he said, she said “ telling the other party to ‘talk to the hand”?

If so, now might be the time to formalize your Pennsylvania restarurant, winery or hospitality business infrastructure by putting your future agreements in writing. Why? Because parties often forget the terms of their oral agreements. While oral agreements often exist, they can be difficult to prove and to enforce. A written contract will help you guard against confusion, misunderstandings and the forgetful mind as you go about your day to day business operations.

Whether you make agreements with your local suppliers for daily produce deliveries or your favorite caterer to reserve banquet room or tasting room space, a written contract is a sound business practice. Routinely, hospitality businesses often find it objectionable to draft contracts for every single business transaction. Oftentimes the cost of retaining a lawyer might appear to out way the benefits derived from memorializing mutual promises. In these instances you may want to alternatively consider having your attorney prepare form agreements that can be used multiple times and can prove to be cost effective. In the event of a dispute, having your written agreement for purchases, catering, or meeting space can be very beneficial.

The written agreement doesn’t have to be a complex document full of legal mumbo jumbo. It should be in plain english and contain certain essential provisions. Thus when promises between the two parties are not kept and contract obligations go un-fulfilled, you will be on stronger legal ground to pursue economic remedies for your losses.

For example, lets imagine that the local tour bus company in your area contracts with 40 of its customers to participate in a tasting at your winery or dinner at your restaurant. When the tour group arrives they find your establishment is unable to accommodate the prior reservation. Perhaps the tour bus company oversold the event. Your understanding was that you agreed to twenty customers not forty. The tour bus company because of the confusion and misunderstanding may now find itself in breach of its contract with its patrons. The tour bus company then pursues litigation against your establishment for failure to provide food and/or alcohol services to their customers. Do you see where this is headed? Hence the best way to avoid these circumstances is to get your agreements in writing.

If and when a disagreement arises, you won’t have the need to shout “talk to the hand”. Instead you can produce your written contract of what he said, she said that was intended to safeguard against any subsequent misunderstandings.

Your interests are now protected.

How To Build Your Winery, Wine Or Hospitality Business While Avoiding Legal Pitfalls

Nothing can replace the feeling of euphoria that comes with selling that first of bottle of wine made from grapes you crushed yourself or perhaps serving that first entree inlegalpitfalls the restaurant you worked for months to open. Yes, dreams of owning your own winery, restaurant, or hospitality business can be realized even in today’s tough economy. Why? Because a new wealth economy will come by the growth of small businesses. Much of this growth engine will be fueled by new businesses, many of which will be in the wine and hospitality industry.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was Apple or Comcast for that matter. Succeeding at your dream of building your own restaurant or hospitality business starts by planting the seeds of good leadership and sound business infrastructure. As an owner in control of your business, you quickly come to know that everyday decisions aren’t made on guts alone. They are founded on sound decision making in order to avoid financial and legal pitfalls.

Here are a few good tips you’ll want to consider to when building your winery, wine or hospitality business that will help you avoid these pitfalls:

Prepare Your Business Plan For Your Winery Or Hospitality Business:
Rather than planning as you go, execute. Create a Business Plan that details your
business strategy to determine where your business is headed in the future. Identify
measurable goals and business tactics that will guide you.

Establish Early On The Ownership Structure Of Your Winery Or Hospitality Business:
Choose the business structure that is right for your business. Whether you’re a
Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, or Corporation, choosing the right
business structure that’s a fit for your business is key. In doing so, seek legal counsel
when necessary to assist you in making the right business choices.

Read Your Contracts:
Do not sign agreements you do not read. You may be presented with contract
agreements from your suppliers, vendors and speciality suppliers for products that
make your business unique. Consult with legal counsel to read your contracts and
advise you of the risks associated with various contractual provisions.

Maintain Good Record-Keeping:
Good record-keeping shows the quality of your company to future investors. Due
diligence is necessary to maintain good corporate formalities. Maintain policies
outlining your internal practices on check signing, accounts payable and financial

Seek Legal Guidance When Franchising:
Many aspiring restauranteurs often look to buy a franchise when breaking into the
food and wine business. Franchising is not a guarantee of financial success. While
instant branding comes with franchising, there are also numerous costs associated
with franchising that you may not have contemplated. The U.S. Small Business
provides guidance on answering common questions about franchising.
Before entering a franchise relationship, you will need to consider what opportunities
best suit your needs and interests.

Is there a winery, wine or hospitality business in your future? If so, join the new wealth economy, get your business on and watch your step!

Does Your Pennsylvania Wine, Winery, Restaurant Or Hospitality Business Have A Winning Name?

Does your Pennsylvania wine, winery, restaurant or hospitality business have a winning name? In my earlier post, Can A Rose By Any Other Name Still Be A Rose we consideredintellectual_property_250x251 some of the challenges associated with naming your new winery, wine, restaurant or hospitality business. By now, many of you newer entrepreneurs have surely discovered that naming your business indeed requires significant thought, imagination, and creativity.

But once you’ve come up with that one memorable business name that perfectly reflects your brand, you should now give consideration to taking those steps necessary to protect your business identity. Register your new business name as a trademark.

A trademark is a distinctive word, slogan, phrase, logo, graphic, symbol or other mechanism used to identify the product source and to distinguish your product from everyone else. If you’re starting out as a new winery, restaurant, or hospitality based business, having the exclusive right to use your selected name without interference and confusion by use of others can be greatly beneficial.

A good example is Black Boxed Wine. Its a wine that is sold in a square black box. Its very hard not to miss the identity and source of that wine and its brand. Its a product that is well distinguished from other wine brands. Just like Black Boxed Wines, if you’re the first to use and register your trademarked name you can prevent other businesses from using the same or similar marks.

How can you can achieve comprehensive protection of your brand’s identity? You can accomplish this by registering your mark under state, county and federal trademark laws.

To do so, you’ll need to conduct a full search to ensure no one else is utilizing the name or mark you have in mind. You can conduct your search by checking with both your Secretary of State’s trademark registers and the Federal trademark register at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These are ways you can determine if the name you have selected is available for your business.

You may also consider the use of a professional trademark search service. While the latter can be quite expensive, such services have a high degree of reliability. A well conducted search will help you to avoid the possibility of paying damages to a first user in a trademark infringement suit who has challenged your use of their name.

Once you have checked the availability of your new business name, register your name with the Secretary of State in your jurisdiction and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. By doing so, you will have established the legal presumption that you are the trademark owner of your business name. You can more likely substantiate ownership if a dispute over your mark ends up challenged in a court of law or whether other marks exists that conflict with your own. If someone infringes your mark, you can hire legal counsel to pursue and protect your interests.

Does your Pennsylvania wine, winery, restaurant or hospitality business have a winning name? If so, protect your brand. Trademark your name.

How Can Your Winery Or Hospitality Business Save Some Dough?

Unless you plan to spend a ton of money on legal fees defending your business nashville_predators_wine_tasting_2006bagainst liquor liability claims this summer this is a good time as any, to pause and take note of a few useful tips.

As the summer approaches and the volume of customers at your establishment increases, its a good time to be vigilant and put a few best practices in place that are designed to limit your winery or restaurant’s potential liability related to the sale of alcohol at your facility.

Whether you’re serving alcohol in a tasting room, restaurant, wedding, catered event, bed and breakfast or bar, its important to remember that the person who serves the liquor is on the front line to limit your establishment’s liability and help your guests from over indulging.

Let’s review some useful tips that will help your establishment limit its potential liability as a result of alcohol service:

Check ID’s for all customers
Train your staff to recognize “visibly intoxicated persons”
Ensure that your employees do not drink on the job
Do not over-pour
Do not price alcohol too low so as to encourage heavy drinking
Do not allow self service at your event
Provide non-alcoholic beverages
Do not allow pets in the tasting room or catered event.
Purchase liquor liability insurance

As you entertain and educate your customers about your wines or your brand, you can also use these valuable customer contact opportunities to encourage your guests to drink responsibly. Your customers will appreciate the fact that when they leave your establishment, they are left with a sense of having been well cared for during their outing.

At the end of the day, you’ve kept them safe…and you’ve saved yourself some dough!

Is There A Wine Or Hospitality Business Franchise In Your Future?

A couple of friends of mine have recently gone into business by purchasing a franchise-agreement-signingfranchise. One friend purchased a pizza franchise while the other purchased a computer repair franchise. Each is reaping the benefit of investing in an existing business model and brand for which the corporate name, logo, products, services, business and marketing processes are already in existence.

Perhaps you too are considering opening a wine or hospitality business by purchasing a “franchise”. Maybe you already own a successful wine or hospitality business model that you would like now to franchise. If so, franchising may be your path to business.

When purchasing a franchise, while you don’t own the business, you own the rights to do business under the existing brand of the original business owner. Alternatively, as an owner of a franchise, you have an opportunity to grow your existing brand as other franchisees pay fees and grow their businesses. Whether or not you have the chops to enter the world of franchising, you’ll need to consider the many advantages and disadvantages of the franchise relationship.

When purchasing a franchise, the original business owner is known as the “franchisor”. The buyer of the franchise is known as the “franchisee”. Typically the franchisor will furnish the franchisee the operational plans to get the business underway . The franchisor will assist the franchisee in the daily operations and support of its business. In exchange for the franchisor’s expertise, the franchisee, can expect to invest thousands of dollars for this support through franchise fees, royalties, equipment costs, training, marketing fees and other costs.

The franchisor will license its way of doing business to the franchisee by executing a complex legal contract known as a Franchise Agreement. The Franchise Agreement will identify both parties commitments, restrictions, specifications, obligations, income and fee payments, warranties, customer service requirements, and terms of the business relationship. The Franchise Agreement eliminates a lot of the guess work that comes with the daily decision making processes of the business.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that disclosure documents be given to franchisees before purchasing a franchise. Franchisors are required to provide buyers with a copy of the Uniform Franchisor Offering Circular 10 days prior to executing the Franchise Agreement. This franchise disclosure document provides prospective franchisees with basic information on the franchisor’s business, background, initial investment, fees, terms, and dispute resolution processes. The more you know about the franchisor, the better informed you’ll be to make a sound business decision.

Before entering a franchise relationship, determine what kind of franchise opportunity best suits your needs and interests. If you are concerned about the numerous risks involved in going it alone in opening your wine or hospitality business than franchising may just be the right vehicle for you.

For additional resources on how to start and grow your wine or hospitality franchise the U.S. Small Business Administration offers some useful guidance to assist you in buying a franchise.

Now, is there a wine or hospitality franchise in your future?