This Baltimore Small Business lawyer, has what some would call a fatal attraction to those iconic, fudge-covered cookies – the Berger Cookie. If there is a box of cookies around, watch out, because I may devour them all. If you have been watching or reading the news, you may have heard that the factory was recently shut down. Depending on the source, it was closed because of:
- Illness of the owner
- Baltimore City Health Code license lapse
- FDA license lapse
- FDA code violations
Of course, whatever the reason; it is a tragedy for all of Baltimore, and especially this Baltimore Small Business lawyer. But it demonstrates an important lesson as these sorts of things often occur when a managing owner falls ill. What lessons can a Baltimore Small Business lawyer take away from these tragedies?
Small Business owner: know your licenses
As a small business owner, you (and your subordinate workers) are responsible for knowing and understanding the licenses that are involved in your business. As a Small Business Lawyer, I am familiar with a number of different licensing and regulatory schemes for the areas of business my clients in a wide variety of areas; from trucking to day-care facilities, hair salons to architects. To be completely honest no lawyer knows all the laws. But any Baltimore Small Business lawyer should know how to find, interpret, understand, and apply the laws and regulations to your situation. You own the business and the regulatory authority (Health Department, Department of Education, etc) assumes you know the laws.
Plan for problems
As part of knowing the laws, you should have an annual checkup with your Baltimore Small Business lawyer (just like a dentist, doctor, or accountant). At that checkup you will be asked to review such issues as employees, licensing, and growth plans. Part of being licensed for anything is knowing when your license expires and how to renew it. Be ahead of the curve so that when life throws you a curveball you can be prepared.
Know your agency
You need to know who you are responsible to as a Small Business. For example, Berger Cookies are sold out of state and across state lines. They are also manufactured in a food production facility. Therefore they must be licensed by both the local governing authority (Baltimore City Health Department) and the feds (FDA). If they have a storefront or a restaurant, other licensing issues may arise. These licenses must be current and active in order to continue to produce product. If they lapse, the application process may need to be repeated. Most governing agencies strive to work with licensees and want to keep people working and in business, but knowing where to go and what law to examine when you have an issue is important.
Have a backup
Having a plan is good, but making sure that your Small Business has a backup is paramount. If you have a business partner, it is easier, but if you’re by yourself be certain that someone (wife, neighbor, mother or father) knows about what is going on in your business and can easily locate important business documents in an emergency (such as falling ill and having a Health Code license expire).
Once an agency comes into your business, you are often subjected to additional scrutiny. For example, I recently represented an Assisted living facility (ALF) in front of DHMH for an altercation that occurred at the ALF. The problem wasn’t the altercation, but the issues and regulatory violations that arose once the agency came in to investigate the altercation. Ultimately the case was resolved with a positive outcome for the client, but the client had to understand that once an agency is involved, in most regulatory cases, they have the right to review EVERYTHING.
Baltimore Small Business lawyer: The Bottom Line
It’s very simple: Know your regulations: Have a plan; and Call us if you need help. And good recovery and well wishes for those Berger Cookie folks! This ENlawyer can’t wait until they’re back on shelves.