Use these legal ideas to supercharge and transform your creative business

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As a lawyer, I have worked closely with hundreds of innovative companies. This includes working with single-person side hustles as well as established companies with dozens of employees. During that time, I’ve seen patterns.

I’ve seen that companies succeed by understanding the legal framework in which their business exists.

The principles below can apply to any business, but they have extra power when applied to creative companies. A creative business simply means a business whose primary asset is the original work that it produces.

The four things are as follows: brand, organization, relationships, and creations. …


An idea floated down thorough the centuries helps us avoid interpersonal conflict today

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Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

It’s easy to assume the worst.

It seems built into human nature. Our successful ancestors evolved to spot and respond to threats. Our brain biases us to detect and respond to threats. This impulse may even be heightened in the social context that most of us live in daily.

If someone doesn’t treat us well, we might assume that they don’t like us. If we don’t get a response to our email, we conclude that someone thinks we’re not important or that they want to evade us.

We are quick to presume that if somebody does something that negatively impacts…


Your money will burn, whether you like it or not.

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Welcome to the world of business. Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Building a business means traveling a hard road. Growth happens, but along the way, challenges arise. You spend money on things and get little return. Mistakes, disappointments, and wrong turns make the whole process messy.

The key to all of this is to understand how to respond in a way that helps you.

Learning isn’t free

Whether you attend a formal business school or learn by growing your business, knowledge is not free. At some point, one must pay the price. If you go to business school, you make clear tuition payments. If you run a business, you also make tuition payments, but…


It’s not the idea that’s the valuable thing here.

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Photo by Joanjo Pavon on Unsplash

Too many creative people get obsessed with “protecting their ideas” and go off track. Instead of doing things that create real value, they take umbrage at the thought that someone else might be doing the same thing that they do.

Ideas have little value

A few months ago, I learned of some brouhaha among Medium writers who complained that people copied their ideas. These writers had written an article, and then someone else came along and wrote a piece similar to theirs.

Some of these writers were apoplectic. The word “thief” and “charlatan” came up a few times. …


The new law that’s breaking California’s creative class.

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Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

I make the same joke almost every time. The joke is never hilarious. But still, I tell it.

“I’ve become an AB 5 information dispenser,” I tell the callers on the other end.

As a lawyer for creative businesses, I have had perhaps hundreds of calls about California’s new law — AB 5, aka the “gig worker law” — and I can tell you that many creatives have found themselves in a tricky position. The law has made it difficult for them to earn a living.

The California State Legislature passed California AB 5 late last year. It came into…


Key steps to take if you want to grow into a business

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Thanks to @grakozy for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/oMpAz-DN-9I

Wanda does amazing illustration work for her clients. She mostly delivers on time, and she earns a decent living.

However, she has recently come up against a wall that many freelancers encounter: she has run out of time. And because she bills her clients by the hour, that limits the amount of money that she can make.

On top of that, she spends a good portion of her day attending to administrative tasks like sending out invoices, negotiating proposals, and paying bills. She knows she must do these things, but she also knows that they don’t earn money.

Wanda has…


Consider this if you think the world is falling apart

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Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash

“If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters.” -Epictetus

Something that I worry about that many of you will feel is nuts: parents driving their kids to school while bumping NPR or similar news stations. Nothing wrong with these noble journalistic institutions per se. I object to both parent and child being bombarded with a litany of hand-selected horrors from around the world.

These experiences leave one feeling anxious and powerless about things over which they have little influence. …


Dropping a few tabs while reading powers up journaling and writing

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Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash

In my life, I keep careful watch over two things: pens and book tabs. Every other object around me functions as set-dressing, mostly.

Book tabs are those little sticky pieces of colored paper that readers affix to the pages of a tome to mark a critical piece of information. They come in a variety of sizes and colors. Some book tabs measure an inch, and some come in at half a centimeter. Either way, they have their uses.

If I recall correctly, my romance with book tabs began at some point during law school. If you’ve ever seen a law…


It’s more than nothing and might even reveal the truth

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Thanks to Kea Mowat for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/fM2aOezzEoQ

Silence has kept arising.

Like most people, I had never given the concept of silence much thought. It didn’t seem to merit much thought. What was silence other than the absence of sound?

More than that, it seems.

Over the past few days, the notion of silence appeared in my reading or meditation, so I wanted to share some notes. Tell me what you think about it.

A week or so ago, Maria Popova sent her Brainpickings.org newsletter, which included an article she wrote about Kahlil Gibran and silence. She quotes Gibran:

You talk when you cease to be at…


I have to take care that our yard work doesn’t turn deadly like it almost did

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Working on the back path, staying careful. Photo by author.

Most of my neighbors probably would have hired a gardening service to do this job, but I liked it because it gave me a chance to get outside into the sun. I also didn’t have an opportunity to go to the gym, so the work helps.

Our house sits on a high, vertical hillside that forms our backyard. The hill shoots down to the street below, maybe 60 or 70 feet. We have a concrete path that zigzags down it. It’s narrow, so I am prone to vertigo when I am on it. …

Jon Tobin

Author, Technologist, Lawyer. 📖 Co-founder Counsel for Creators. http://counselforcreators.com

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