A pandemic has thrown everyone around the world off-guard. Many small and micro-businesses in the medical supply industry here in the U.S. in particular are functioning in a fight or flight mode. For those that have efficient procedures and legal policies in place this could be a profitable time for them. If not, they could find themselves being crushed as they attempt to fulfill orders that come flying in at an unbelievable pace without legal contracts or procedures that will allow their business to run smoothly under pressure.
When Small Business Unexpectedly Gets Hit With Huge Demands
It’s the dream of most small businesses to grow and to be able to handle more business and if they provide a product, bigger and bigger orders over time. However, when huge orders come in without warning, and need to be filled immediately, it can be daunting and disastrous.
Fear, Frenzy And Finger-Pointing
Within days of the coronavirus being reported in the U.S., we all began hearing about shortages of medical masks. Shortly, I started getting calls from the owners of small medical mask businesses asking for my help in solving urgent medical supply transactions. I’m not talking one or two, I’m talking several businesses that were not prepared to be fulfilling the kinds of orders they have been getting nor the pace at which they are coming. It has been a real insight into how fear can propel one into making unfavorable decisions instead of being able to take the right action at the right time.
Most of the issues I’m hearing about would not have even come up if the owners had started their business with the help and advice of an attorney. Now they are in the midst of finger-pointing and arguing without back-up. The “he said, she said” argument does not hold water, nor does it hold up in court.
Unprecedented Times Call For Greater Sanity
In addition to being overwhelmed with orders they cannot track, many of the businesspeople who are calling me are sleep deprived due to working around the clock. Small businesses don’t have large staffs for fulfilling orders. These small business owners are in an unprecedented situation in which they are not exercising any balance in their lives. Add that kind of stress on top of the stress caused by a pandemic, and you have people who are not making sound decisions, people who are digging themselves deeper into holes with each passing day.
I have been asked to help one businessperson get out of a partnership agreement they entered without knowing what they were doing. I’ve been asked to resolve disputes in which a buyer states a specific order was due on a specific day while the seller has no record of the order and large sums of money had been exchanged. Attorneys are not being asked to review contracts because businesspeople think lawyers delay things. They might delay things slightly, but the delay might keep you from losing your business or getting into litigation over something that could easily be avoided.
When You Ask For Legal Help Too Late
Unfortunately, I am not able to help many of the people who’ve gotten themselves into legal tangles during these frenzied times. Those I am able to help are willing to look at their behavior and take responsibility for wasting time and making bad decisions. They are willing to change their mindset and trade their out-of-balance schedule for something more balanced. These are the businesspeople I expect to see still thriving after we have all made it through this historic time.