Three Questions for Business Owners

Smart Business

Kenneth Cookson is a director with Kegler, Brown, Hill + Ritter. He joined the firm in 2004, and today, he maintains a diverse practice, from business, banking and real estate matters to bankruptcy and state and local taxation, among other areas. He regularly offers guidance to clients regarding some of the most important decisions facing their businesses, including formation and structuring strategies and state and local tax disputes.

Q. What should business owners watch out for in 2011?

Some observers have noted that there is plenty of cash on the sidelines looking for investments and, therefore, mergers and acquisitions are picking up. Besides M+A work, areas that show growth include going green, health care, financial industry regulatory reform, corporate finance including loan workouts and foreclosures, and attracting federal stimulus money.

Q. What are some advisory services a law firm can provide for a business?

Going into, during and now coming out of the current recession, business clients are increasingly studying whether they can make more money by doing less. Businesses are learning that they can use their professionals to help them understand their core businesses and where the profits and expenses are. Businesses ask their lawyers to help construct an analysis of each item of income and expense, each product line, each service rendered, the deployment of employees, and so on. That analysis can establish sometimes shocking results, including demonstrating that sacred products or lines of business, in fact, produce no profits for the business and instead consume disproportionately high amounts of capital for inventory, employee costs and accounts receivable collectability issues.

Q. Are there any particular challenges business owners face today?

The economy has fully realized three separate generations of workers all together in the workplace. The needs of aging boomers are different than those in Generation X and Y. Managing a boomer is entirely at odds with the needs of younger workers with more flexible working hours and conditions, regular evaluations and promotions, and a balance of the work-life relationship. Some believe the recession will be over when employees leave their present positions for new jobs. The current employers need the help and guidance of experienced law firms giving advice on attracting and retaining employees.