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Dr. Lydie Louis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and the New York Law Journal for her work to protect small businesses and small investors. She presented a TEDx Talk in London on the original purpose of corporations was to do public good, what went wrong? Dr. Lydie has B.A. from Columbia University, M.B.A. from New York University, J.D. from Fordham University and a Ph.D. from University of Barcelona.
Corporate executives hire Dr. Lydie to train employees to be more legally mindful in their employment transactions. The United Nations hire Dr. Lydie to instruct small-to-medium size enterprises across the globe on the laws that impact their businesses. Dr. Lydie has spoken at business, law and tax conferences from Amsterdam to Bogota to Cape Town to Los Angeles to Paris to New York to Barcelona to Miami to Warsaw to Costa Rica to Germany.
Dr. Lydie is CEO of In Pursuit Media. She is Founder of Business Design Studio and the Co-Founder of the Business Empowerment Network. Dr. Lydie designs legal structures and financial systems for entrepreneurs who are frustrated and disappointed that their business has not been as profitable and successful as they expected. By teaching entrepreneurs how to use the leverage of law, taxes, insurance and estate planning entrepreneurs can be10 times more profitable and successful so that, they can build wealth and create a legacy to pass on to their families.
Conversation with Dr. Lydie Louis, Ph.D. Esq.
Tell me, what does a Business Legacy Architect do?
Dr. Lydie Louis: The first person to call me a Business Legacy Architect was a business owner in Guadalajara, Mexico who realized that I really do listen to business owners. I hear their disappointment. Their frustration with their business that comes from not achieving the level of success that they really believed would happen. Then they meet me, and I design the best structure and system for each of my clients to reach their goals while protecting their assets and their profits. A business legacy architect is just like a regular architect that designs buildings and houses. The difference is that I design a structure to create wealth and a legacy for their family. Everything I design is based on what the business owner wants to accomplish, so it reflects who they are and their lifetime goals.
I am proud to say that I’m a business legacy architect, because once you build it, I ask everyone, what are you going to do with it? Our time on this planet is limited. Some live a little longer than others, but it’s still a limited number. What about our loved ones, our kids, our spouses, our siblings, our grandchildren? Could they benefit from the business that you’ve built? The answer is absolutely! Think of every wealthy family from the Rockefeller’s and the Vanderbilt’s — they passed on the wealth they created. Small business owners need to recognize that we can do the same. We can pass on the wealth that we build with our businesses to our loved ones. Nearly everyone would like to leave a legacy, but many business people struggle with the legal and financial requirements involved.
What is one of the biggest myths that people believe about creating wealth?
Dr. Lydie Louis: One of one of the big myths that business owners believe is that they are going to be successful if they have lots of customers or clients. They think that if people are walking in the door or visiting their website that they are going to be success and wealthy.
That isn’t true. The truth of it is that customers come into your store, look around. They shake things a little bit, they might ask you a question or two, and then they walk out the door. People going to your website might look around your website. They think, “Oh, that’s interesting.” But, in the end, they go on to another website. It’s not the traffic flow that creates wealth in your business. It’s not the marketing that creates wealth. Yes, you need it, but it is not the singular thing that you need to focus on. People want value. So, “Myth Number One” is that just having foot traffic and website traffic will make you successful.
What is the second myth?
Dr. Lydie Louis: Another big myth that business owners believe is that they don’t need to hire a business lawyer. I have been a business lawyer for almost 20 years, and I know of many businesses that have failed. The statistic the Small Business Administration (SBA) puts out year after year states that approximately 80-85% of businesses fail in their first five years. When they examine, the reason why people fail in business it’s not because people don’t work hard or have talent, but because they didn’t understand the laws that impact business. They didn’t understand the role that taxes really play in their business. They didn’t understand the role that insurance plays in their business. It’s those hard, tough, the “non-sexy” decisions that had to be made that make the difference between success and failure. They couldn’t make those decisions because they were not prepared to make them. They thought all they needed to do was marketing. They thought they didn’t need to hire a business lawyer because they weren’t in litigation or they could not afford one. But business, by its very definition, is a legal structure. It is something that business owners need to be aware of, including all the laws that go around the business to make it successful or to make it fail.
What is another myth that business owners believe?
Dr. Lydie Louis: The third myth that business owners believe is that they don’t need insurance. Often, business owners don’t understand the role of insurance. People commonly associate business insurance with health insurance. Insurance includes health insurance, but we also need to think of insurance in a broader perspective.
What happens if you can’t work? What happens to your business if you get sick? Business people need to be sure they are protected because if a business owner’s health is compromised, their business is compromised because they’re not working. If your business can’t get new clients and customers, then revenue decreases drastically.
I can’t begin to tell you how many business owners don’t have business insurance. Business insurance would business owners the money they need to weather those types of events. Insurance plays such a huge role in the success of your business and no one ever talks about it. Large corporations have lots and lots of insurance. It is worth every penny you pay for insurance. Why? Because of the way the math works— for every $1 of insurance you pay, you are getting at least 10 times that money in coverage and protection. Those are great odds. I would go to any casino with those odds. The risk factor of business loss can be drastically decreased by having the right insurance policy in place.
What should people be doing with their money so they can leave a legacy?
To leave a legacy, business owners should be investing. Investing in Wall Street is not the right way. I have been a Wall Street advisor and Wall Street financial regulator for many years. I can tell you this, unless you have a really good investment advisor, investing in Wall Street is not a good way to create wealth and leave a legacy.
It’s hard to predict the market—look at what is happening now—the market is way down. Now, I’ve been telling people since the fall there was going to be a correction in the market, and it would be a deep one. The statistics are that since 1956 we’ve had a market correction, we might call it a crash, every six to seven years. And, each time it takes about nine years once you’ve lost that money in the market to recover and to get you back to where you were. That’s not growth. That’s just recovery.
So, let’s look at the math—every six to seven years is a market correction, then it takes you nine years to recover. So, that means while you’re in the process of recovering, there’s another correction. And we wonder why we don’t all retire wealthy, because we have IRAs in place? For those of us that work full-time positions and have the option of a 401(k) or 403(b), we’re contributing consistently for 15-20-30 years. Well then, why aren’t we all retiring as millionaires when we retire? Because every employer qualified retirement plan has stocks that trade on Wall Street as the underlying asset class. This means our money riding the Wall Street roller coaster; money is growing a little, then it’s being lost then it’s being recovered, and it’s growing a little bit and then it’s being lost and so on and so on. The best thing to do is stay out of the market. But, what should you do if you’re out of the market and you want to grow your wealth? Well, there are a lot of insurance products, that give you the upside of the market and none of the downside during a market crash.
Why is that ? Insurance companies use a different section of the Internal Revenue Code, one section they use does not permit any loss in your account. Another section guarantees that money received from an insurance policy will never be taxed. Contrast that with, investors are always taxed on capital gains, that is the money that you make in the market and it could range anywhere from 35 to 40%, depending on the type of investment. Why lose almost 40% of your growth on taxes? So, we have to rethink about how we invest, because part of a being a business owner, in addition to running a business is having investments that are never at risk. There’s only one industry that guarantees your money will always be there. That’s the insurance industry. And that is what the wealthy use all the time again, and again. They have multiple investment policies with insurance companies while most business owners don’t even have one investment policy with an insurance company.
The key for small business owners is to know that real wealth in terms of how you grow it and transfer it to your loved one means that the money’s got to be growing securely year after year and not in the market where it is constantly “at risk.” The money has got to be able to grow without every six or seven years going through a market correction. So, you’ve got to put it in a safe, conservative vehicle that maintains and grows throughout any market situation. That’s how you build it. And that’s how you pass it on to the next generation.
Can you tell me more about these three powerful strategies and give some examples for each one?
We are in a position right now in the United States that the tax rate has to increase. It’s just a matter of math. The government cannot continue to operate the way that it has with the tax rates being so low. We are at the lowest tax rate in American history. When I talk about that it scares a lot of people. But that’s okay. Knowledge is power. If you know it’s going to increase, then what should we do in terms of designing your business to take advantage of these strategies for wealth creation, protection and preservation when that tax rate increases?
Number one, owning a small business in America, is one of the best thing that you could do with regard to potential tax increases. Why is that? Well, the tax code was really written for business owners, and people often don’t understand that. There is so much you can deduct as a business owner. Here’s a little piece of trivia—all the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, didn’t work for other people. They were not employees. They were all small business owners. Some larger than others, but still small business owners. They began the first draft of the bankruptcy code. They began the first draft of what we call our federal tax code.
Why is that? Well as business owners, they wanted to keep as much as they could, which is the exact situation that everyone wants, right? The tax code is really written in a way that benefits small business owners. The number of things you can deduct, or receive credit for doing, to decrease your tax liability, so that you can pay the minimum amount of tax possible is actually allowed in the tax code. As an employee, you don’t have that tax advantage. As a business owner, not using these strategies in your business, is decreasing your profits. If you were to use them, you would increase your retained earnings, which mans you would have more profit.
There are certain things that you could do to receive tax credits, meaning things that you do in your business that the tax code loves. They love it when you hire employees. Think about that, you can create a job for someone else. Not only will you be helping another individual; you’re going to get a tax credit for that. You can give health insurance to your employees, and you get a credit or deduction depending on the number of employees and revenue that you earn. There are many incentives built into the tax codes and this becomes a key factor in terms of building your business and creating more profit.
The other strategy I already discussed is insurance, having a business owner’s policy not only covers you when there’s a disruption in your business, it also covers you when someone decides to sue you because they think you did something wrong. Life insurance is also a very important strategy in terms of the liquidity it can provide the business. Life insurance creates an immediate estate. It is very unique. The moment your life insurance policy is active. The face of amount of $500K to $2 million is available for business owners to use as collateral, borrow against or leave as a legacy to their family if they should pass away unexpectedly. And, as we discussed earlier, money received from an insurance policy is not taxable. Amazing. Wall Street loves to buy life insurance policies so does the rich. They have multiple policies.
The third thing that I would say in terms of making the business more successful is learning the ability to use a trust, as in the legal concept of a trust. Wills and trusts are totally different things. They do similar things, but they’re different in terms of the mechanics of they work. The will is where you leave things of values that do not have “title” of ownership. For example, use a will if you, “want Ms. Tami to receive your recording equipment because she’s such a great partner. This fabulous microphone will be perfect for her.” Your trust is where you put assets of quantifiable value. Anything with a title, your house, your business, your car, investments, trademarks, copyrights, patents.”
Why is that? Because a will goes through a process called probate. That’s a judge sitting in a local court who decides, “I know the will says Ms. Tami should get the microphone but the microphones is a first edition antique from the early 1900s does anyone disagree in the family? And now people are fighting. Any time members of a family disagree about a will, all of the disputes are handled in front of one judge and nothing is transferred until the judge resolves all the issues. We don’t want our families to experience the heart ache and delay of going through. A trust resolves all of that because it never goes to court. It’s a private contract that lays out everything, who is going to get what, but more importantly, the assets are protected and easily transferable I accordance with the wishes of the person who established the trust.
When I look at the growth and success charts of a small business, it’s not only the customers or clients coming through the door or traffic to on the website. Nor is it how much money your making. It’s how much you’re retaining. How much do you get to keep? What are the benefits that the tax law can give to you? What are the leverages of the law to protect what you are building? When we talk about creating a legacy and path to wealth, assets are placed in a trust. It’s almost like a force field, if you will, nothing penetrates it, not even the law as long as it was done properly. The only time the law will break apart a trust is for fraudulent transfer, which means that you intentionally put something in there that you knew should not have been in there that is, am asset was either pledged or promised to someone else. Or, you knew the court was going to issue an order against you, when you quickly put the trust together. That’s not what we do. As small businesses, we’re trying to be successful. So that we live well, and our loved ones live well. The trust becomes a protective shield within which to put all your valuable assets with title.
How can readers get your free gift, the “Copy That” Copyright Primer?
For small business owners, I’ve designed a primer that I call, “Copy That!” There is a cool story behind the name. I work with a lot of first responders and I love it when first responders say, “copy that!” to confirm that message was receive, understood and action is being taken. I luv it!
Most of us understand the concept of copyright. It’s not a difficult concept, but it’s a kind of, as most law is, kind of a tricky. Copy right, that is the right to copy the works of another is a delicate concept. The reason is because it’s not as straightforward as we may think because it depends on the situation. The basic concept is any “original thing” that you create is yours at the moment you create it, if you placed it in a tangible permanent form, that is write it down don’t; simply say it. That is fine until someone tries to use it or copy it or take it from you without your permission. Then how do you protect your “original thing?”
What have you done to set up a structure beyond the creating the “original thing” to protect what is yours? We don’t often think about that. We are very creative people. Americans in particular are very creative—think of all the songs, plays, movies, music, speeches, engineering marvels that have been created by very creative people, we don’t think about the concept that someone would try to take, steal and profit from “original thing” that they did not create. Then what do you do? How do you get back your stuff?
What I do as a business lawyer, is help people protect their “original thing” and enforce their right to use it exclusively. I’ve seen it happen so often, sometimes there are good people that infringe on copyrights accidentally. Other times there are bad people that knowingly take and use for their own financial gain what was created by someone else. Sometimes, they’re people that want to expedite what they’re doing. It’s working for you, and they want to flip it just a little bit to make it work for them. Wow, that’s still taking what you spent a lot of time to create and using it without your permission.
I’ve created a copyright primer called “Copy That!” to help give more understanding about copyright actually works. Yes, it is true that the moment you create something original you own it, it’s yours, but protecting it does not begin at that point. There’s further steps to take. You have to go through those necessary steps before you have the right to “enforce” your “original thing” and comes within the protection of U.S. copyright law.
I tell this to all my clients: “The easiest way, in terms of enforcing your copyright, is to actually file it with the U.S. Copyright Office!” It is expensive the registration is about $50. Don’t pay a lawyer to copyright your “original thing!” Go to the U.S. Copyright Office an upload you “original thing” via PDF. I put together free gift, “The Copy That! A Copyright Primer.” It’s designed to walk business owners through the steps from “original thing” creation to full protection of your U.S. copyright law. You can get the primer by sending me an email at: email@example.com.
I look forward to sharing it with business owners that are interested in protecting their ideas, their formulas, their songs, speeches, program et cetera. It’s not a difficult process. You just need to know the steps to take to do it correctly and effectively.
I know it’s a lot of information and many business owners will likely have questions some questions that they would like answered. The really cool things is that I was recently commissioned by a major business book publisher to write a book about these topics. The working title is “101 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask a Business Lawyer.” I want to be really be supportive to the small business community. Therefore, I would like to provide business owners the opportunity to send me questions that they want answered about their particular situation. They can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their questions. They can send in as many questions as they want.
I also want to provide business owners with a discount code for when they are ready to purchase a copy of the book that chock full of really helpful advice. And let not forgot that the cost of the book is deductible as a business expense for their business. Another wonderful aspect of the tax code! If business owners want to preorder a copy of the book, I simply don’t know how many copies the publisher will run. They can send an email to email@example.com.
Tamara "Ask Tami" Patzer
Tamara "Ask Tami" Patzer is a Best Selling Author, host of Women Innovators Radio, Business Innovators Radio, and Executive Producer of the Daily Success® Media Network. She is an Independent Publisher of the Best-Selling Women Innovators: Leaders, Makers, and Givers - Women Who Make A Daily Difference Book Series. Tamara is also a contributor to Small Business Trendsetters, Business Innovators Magazine, Thrive Global and Medium covering Influencers, Innovators, and Trendsetters in Business, Health, Finance, and Personal Development. She is the creator of Beyond the Best Seller Marketing Systems for authors.