Podcast Episode #172: Paleo Attorney Kristen Roberts of Trestle Law

Diane Sanfilippo Podcast Episodes 1 Comment

1.  What’s new for you from Diane & Liz [4:16] 2.  Our Guest, Kristen from Trestle Law [10:56] 3. How Kristen got her business started [14:55] 4. When Kristen’s services are needed [20:42] 5. Prepare as if your business will succeed [34:48] 6. Budget for professional services [40:17] 7. Know your competition[48:46] 8. A final word from Kristen [55:51] [smart_track_player url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/balancedbites/BB_Podcast_172_final_edit.mp3″ color=”00aeef” title=”#172: Paleo Attorney Kristen Roberts of Trestle Law ” artist=”Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe ” ]


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Liz Wolfe: Hey friends! Welcome to Balanced Bites podcast number 172. And a Happy New Year to you!

Diane Sanfilippo: And to you. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: I’m tipping, tapping, tipping my hat. What is it?

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Tipping.

Liz Wolfe: Isn’t that a soccer thing, a hat tip? No, that’s a hat trick.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: I ruin everything. Well, anyway, happy new year episode. We’ll do some sponsors. We have some amazing sponsors that make this podcast possible. We want you to know about
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And finally, a sponsor I’m thrilled about; Dragonfly Traditions. Natural, nourishing skin care with absolutely no unnecessary chemicals. It’s natural nutrition for the skin. I’m a huge fan, folks know that, I love their serum, their night cream. Phoebe is doing some amazing stuff over there, and her stuff is fabulous, as well. All I can say is they’re stuff goes on beautifully, and it makes my skin really soft and happy. I can’t recommend Dragonfly Traditions enough. If you head over to DragonflyTraditions.com and add Balanced Bites to your shopping cart for 1 penny, Phoebe will send you 2 free lip balms and your penny back. A penny for the new year.

Diane Sanfilippo: A penny for your thoughts. And for your purchase. {laughs}

1. What’s new for you from Diane & Liz [3:36]

Liz Wolfe: And British something. {laughs} Ok, alright. So what’s new with you in this new year?

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so probably the biggest, biggest, biggest news is, this show launches January 1st, which how fun is that, but the biggest 21DSD kick off, pretty much ever because it grows every year, is January 5th. So I pretty much never start the program on January 1st, because unless January 1st falls on a Monday, it’s not going to start that day. We always start the program the first Monday of the month, I want everybody to have plenty of time to prepare and shop and get their food ready over the weekend, so that Monday is a really strong, steady start. So we kick off January 5th, and definitely come check it out at 21DSD.com or 21DaySugarDetox.com, and we should have the whole new website up by then, which is really excited. We’re going to be growing the information on the site, and just kind of creating more resources to help everyone out through the program. So that’s super exciting for me.

And then, just quickly, I just wanted to remind folks about upcoming events. A couple of Saturday’s in January, the 10th in Wayne, New Jersey at Costco, and Saturday the 17th, it’s currently still TBD at East Hanover Costco here in New Jersey, also. Just check out blog.balancedbites.com to see if those events are still happening. The Wayne one is confirmed.

And then Friday, January 23rd, I’ll be in Salt Lake City at the Barnes and Noble Sugar House at 7 p.m. to sign books and answer questions. We’ll have a little talk, and Q&A, and it’ll be super fun. So that’s kind of the update on that. What’s new with you?

Liz Wolfe: Well. You know you’ve been doing this fabulous new podcast called Build a Badass Business.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: You know that on account of you’re doing it.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing} yes.

Liz Wolfe: And, it’s been very inspiring for me. I haven’t told you a whole lot, but it’s kind of inspired me to do a kind of sweep out the cobwebs of my business, and just kind of start the New Year right with my biz. I don’t know, I think that’s important, and I’m excited about it, and I’m sure you’ve got a lot of people listening to that podcast that are also really excited about their New Year Goals for their business.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: So one of the things that I’ve done is engaged a really amazing lawyer to help me out with some issues that honestly I never thought that I would have, and my preference would really be to bury my head in the sand, but because I really want to have a good 2015 with regards to what I’m doing, which, you really taught me to think of this as a business in the first place. She’s actually a paleo lawyer. She’s a paleo person, she’s in the community, she knows exactly what’s going on in this community. I actually asked her to come on and talk to me for a little interview, kind of a new year, new business or new year, better business type of deal and just talk to us about the things that business owners need to think about, and even just bloggers. We have a ton of people that just listen to the Balanced Bites podcast that are bloggers, or thinking about starting a blog, or really passionate about helping people. And no matter where you fit in on that spectrum, I think this conversation is relevant to you. Would you agree?

Diane Sanfilippo: I would. I’m really excited, actually, to hear it, because I know that this interview is going to be pretty eye opening for me, too. I’ve definitely had my share of legal issues with just folks who are trying to use my book titles or program names and all of that, and really pass off work as their own but branded as mine. I know there’s an app out there that’s totally a rip off from my 21-Day Sugar Detox program. If I had an app, y’all would know.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Please. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: You would have said something? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m working on so many things, and an app has been on the list and sort of in development for a long time, but I don’t have one. If you see one, it’s false. So stuff like that. It’s really stressful, and I know I’ve gone through some trademarking with Practical Paleo and Balanced Bites and the 21-Day Sugar Detox. But it’s definitely tricky, and stressful, and hard to keep track of, so I’m interested to hear what she’s got to say. I know a lot of people who are listening to Balanced Bites here are also coming over to the Build a Badass Business podcast. I’ve got a thing with B’s and alliteration, I’m sorry.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I just could not escape these names. But as it turns out; of course, I’m talking about the 21-Day Sugar Detox in the new year, but I think so many of our listeners, like you said, are entrepreneurs. When I did an interview with J. J. Virgin, people just came out of the woodwork to comment on things because they were just excited to hear about that stuff. So I’m excited for our listeners to get a taste of this. Of course, our podcast will always be more health and nutrition focused, but we do want to kind of mix in the stuff, we want to make sure we share with our listeners that’s kind of the best of everything that we’ve got going on. I’m excited for people to learn this stuff. It should be pretty cool.

Liz Wolfe: Yes, it’s going to be awesome. And lest you think this does not apply to you, I just want people to understand, you don’t have to be Dianne Sanfilippo, author of the Paleo Bible, to need this kind of representation

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Not TM.

Liz Wolfe: Not TM, by the way. I don’t think you can trademark that. But, really, even if you are a blogger, and you’re just trying to help friends and family, or you’re talking about your experience, that’s how I started.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: I literally started out with a blog I thought only my parents would read. It was called Jerselizabeth.

Diane Sanfilippo: I did too! What the heck?

Liz Wolfe: Seriously!

Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t know why people think I started with Practical Paleo {laughs}.

Liz Wolfe: But people just think that this type of thing doesn’t matter, and for a long time, I thought it didn’t matter, and truth be told, it came back to bite me in the buns.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: And that’s just not what I want for anybody in the new year. This is a great time to have a paleo real food focused blog, or business, or whatever. And if you’re putting a lot of energy into helping people, even just one or two people that read your blog right now, you have an opportunity to get that energy back in the form of a good sustainable business. Even if you don’t think this applies to you, you just don’t know. When you put yourself on the internet, it gets ripped off {laughs}.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, for sure.

Liz Wolfe: It doesn’t matter who you are.

Diane Sanfilippo: And you might be able to share this with a friend, if you hear something that they’ve been talking about.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: the only other thing I almost forgot to mention, because now that I’m thinking about it, since we’re talking about businessy stuff, my talk at PaleoFx this year is going to be on business and marketing and how to turn what you’ve got in your head as this passion or idea, some steps that you need to follow to turn that into a business, and things you need to think about. Hopefully it will be a full 40 minutes, not 20, because we all know I could talk for a week about that stuff. So 40 minutes {laughs} is pretty much the shortest time span I think I can squeeze it into. Hopefully I’ll have40 minutes on that, so if you’re thinking about coming to Austin at the end of April, you can wish me a happy birthday and come to my talk, and that will be super fun!

Liz Wolfe: It’s your birthday?

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} every year.

Liz Wolfe: That’s amazing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ugh, it sucks. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Alright, so. I know, it just keeps happening, over and over again. It’s terrible. Alright, so that’s what we want to give you guys for this lovely New Years’ day, January 1st, we’re going to talk a little bit about getting your business going in the New Year, what you should thinking about. I’m really excited to welcome Kristen from Trestle Law to the show. And we’ll just queue up the interview. Enjoy.

2. Our Guest, Kristen from Trestle Law [10:56]

Liz Wolfe: Ok, so today we’re going to talk with my personal savior, and I’m serious about that, Kristen Roberts of Trestle Law. This is something a little bit different, but this is something that I’m so, so excited about, because we need to get this out there. We have way too many paleo/real food people that are starting their businesses on the internet. And you may think you’re not starting a business, but you might just be, so we’re going to talk about lots of things that are relevant to paleo bloggers, paleo wanna be bloggers, paleo business owners, real foodies, etc.

So, Kristen is the founder and managing attorney of Trestle Law, APC. She’s my attorney, I can say that, right?

Kristen Roberts: You can say that. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Ok.

Kristen Roberts: Because you’re the client, you can say that.

Liz Wolfe: Ok, good. If I need to delete anything, then you just let me know, I’ll take it out. {laughs} So a Trestle is a structural support, and that’s her firm’s namesake. And what Kristen focuses on is providing support to her clients. And where this all started is after beginning her career as a litigator, Kristen turned her focus to helping paleo, primal, ecologically responsible, health sustainable business develop, protect, and police their intellectual property. She prosecutes trademark applications at the United States Patent and Trademark office, and she litigates trademark and copy right infringement matters, both in the Central and Southern districts of California. As you guys know, I live in Missouri, so she can help you no matter where you are, most likely. And she also litigates before the USPTO trademark trial and appeal board. I hope I said that right.

Kristen Roberts: You did! That’s fantastic.

Liz Wolfe: Ok good.

Kristen Roberts: You’re so good at this!

Liz Wolfe: I’m trying, I’m learning. So, there might be some folks right now who are listening to this podcast, and they’re like, oh this has nothing to do with me. Please trust me that it does, because literally up until 2 months ago, as a person who is out there in the paleo community doing things, I didn’t think this applied to me. So, no matter who you are, this applies to you. Please listen.

In addition to her intellectual property practice, Kristen also provides general counselor representation to various businesses throughout California and employment and business law, very well rounded person. Kristen lives in San Diego California with her husband, Nick, and their boxer Ziggy. I have to ask you, is it Ziggy from the comic strip or Ziggy Marley or, what is it?

Kristen Roberts: I actually love that you ask that question, because last April, we put down our 14-year-old boxer Marley.

Liz Wolfe: Awww.

Kristen Roberts: So, it was a really hard loss for us, and we were thinking, ok maybe we’re just done with dogs.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: But of course, me, being the softie that I am, when I started looking at boxer rescues, and there’s one in Los Angeles, and I reached out to them, and then I got cold feet, and they reached out to me, and they said, we have this dog that would be perfect for you guys, here’s a picture, and it was Ziggy. And he was just this wiggle butt, super cute dog named Oliver at the time. And then when we met him, I was thinking about it, I was like, Marley, Marley, and then I was like, Ziggy Marley. Aww! So I told Nick, we should name him Ziggy! So it was a sort of a tribute to our late boxer, and we’re boxer lovers. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Well I love it. Boxers are amazing dogs.

Kristen Roberts: And they’re also awful. {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. We were talking off the air, like, our dogs are awful. But they’re amazing.

Kristen Roberts: They are.

Liz Wolfe: Terrible dogs, but the best dogs ever.

Kristen Roberts: I was telling you that he dug a hole through our mattress after a bender of eating some cacao nibs, and having to take him to the hospital and getting him pumped full of charcoal.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh.

Kristen Roberts: So he definitely keeps me on my toes {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Poor baby. So I guess we’ve done the mullet transition now. We did a little bit of the business in the front, so now we’re onto …

Kristen Roberts: The mullet transition!

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: {laughing}

3. How Kristen got her business started [14:55]

Liz Wolfe: I just made that up, by the way. A little bit of the party in the back. So, I just want to hear your story. Let people know how you got into the whole paleo legal biz, because you’re not just a lawyer that happens to work with paleo people. You are a paleo people.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah. You know, part of it happened while I was working for my first firm. And you don’t realize when you get out of law school that you’re going to be sitting at a desk for 12-13 hours a day. I started getting something that I like to refer to as flat ass syndrome.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that.

Liz Wolfe: You can.

Kristen Roberts: But I’m going to say it. So I just started putting on weight, and it wasn’t good weight, either. I was still exercising, and you know doing all the things I was “supposed” to be doing. I was also doing a lot of things that weren’t healthy. I was a smoker for 10 years, and I was smoking more and more.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. So that was bad. I would literally drive home from the gym and light up a cigarette. It was just disgusting.

Liz Wolfe: Been there, my friend.

Kristen Roberts: It makes me cringe just even saying it. So I was like, oh man I just feel so tired. And my sister, Mary, she is actually a Crossfit coach up in Los Angeles, and she was just getting into this. This was back in 2010, and she told me about this 30-day program that was just sort of getting off the ground. It cleans you out, it’s like a 30-day detox thing. You should try it, you should try it. I was like, I am not, I cannot live without bread. I’m sorry, no. I’m not doing that.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: {laughing} So she kept asking me and asking me. At the time, my husband and I were just dating. He said, let’s try it. So we both tried it, and we did it for 60 days instead of 30, and he wound up losing 60 pounds, close to it, and I think I lost around 15. Then I started crossfitting, at the behest of my sister again, thanks Mary for all your help.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: And she sort of got me into this world, and it changed my life. I mean, eating well, and working out, and focusing on my health made me an overall better attorney, too. I was just, you know, I had better focus, I wasn’t falling asleep at my desk, I wasn’t crashing in the middle of the day. So I started devouring information that I could find about this stuff, and I started finding recipes online from certain bloggers. It just sort of spiraled from there, and my managing partners and the partners at my firm were all making fun of me, like, oh Kristen’s super healthy, look at you all healthy! I quit smoking because of that. It just was crazy, it went from there.

I started working with some Crossfit box owners who needed some help, so I would bring them into the firm as clients, and I’m like, wow these people have real legal issues. A lot of people get into this business not to make money, but because they really believe in it. They really believe in the tenants of paleo, and functional movement, and things like that. They don’t really start out as business owners, they usually start out as athletes or people that are practicing it. They wind up running into business issues that they don’t necessarily know how to deal with.

So I’m thinking to myself, wow I can really help these people. And I do it, so I get it, I understand what they’re going through, I understand what’s behind it. I’m not supporting it just because it’s the next thing, I really believe this is the way everyone should be living their life. Not to preach, but I’m going to. Preach!

Liz Wolfe: Preach! That’s what we’re here for. That’s what we’re doing.

Kristen Roberts: {laughs} Right. So I was wrapping up my tenure with my first law firm, very grateful for them, they taught me a lot about running a business, running a law practice, and I just didn’t know what was next. I wound up helping a friend of mine who runs a very successful paleo blog, and she was so grateful, she was like, you should do something with this. And I said, yeah I started this blog called lawfully paleo, and it gives information about the legal goings on in the paleo community. And she was like, screw that, you should be actually helping these people. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: So that’s what I did. I started my law practice. I thought this would be just sort of a side practice area for me, because you know I’m a trademark attorney. I can do trademarks in all 50 states, prosecute them, at least. And the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is an administrative body through the United States Patent and Trademark office, so there’s no hearings or anything like that, it’s all just drafting work. So that kind of work I can do. Other things like actual business help and things like that, I am confined to the state of California, but it really opened up my practice in the sense of the trademark work.

So, I really started developing my branding practice. Because a lot of people don’t know what else is out there. They’re like, well I really love this name, and I really want to protect it. And I’m like, here are the reasons why that’s going to be difficult, and they never thought about it, and they already put in thousands of dollars in building up and developing this brand. That’s kind of how I got started. It’s been really fun, and I really want to continue helping these business owners. Maybe the word paleo goes away, maybe it doesn’t. But I think ultimately the focus on real healthy whole foods and functional movement. It’s just sort of taking it back to the basics, and I think that’s really the most important thing about this industry.

4. When Kristen’s services are needed [20:42]

Liz Wolfe: Totally agree. Ok, so I’m just going to give people a little bit of a personal anecdote here. I found you because of these very issues that you work on in your professional life; I needed some trademark help. I don’t know how much detail I want to give, I probably don’t want to give a whole lot, but I never in my entire life, number one, probably really conceptualized my business as a business until somebody tried to take it from me a little bit.

So a lot of us, and I think maybe this is a women in business thing, I don’t know, because most of the bloggers and people that I interact with are women in this paleo real food industry, what have you. But basically, I just never expected to be caught up in any kind of legal issues. And the thing is, it freaking happens, and it happens a lot. And the other thing that happens is people steal your stuff. If you’re on the internet, it’s like peeing in a pool. You can’t get it back. And if you put out there something of value.

Kristen Roberts: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Seriously! It really, really is. And I’m in some blogger networking groups, and here’s what happens. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first blog you’ve ever put up on the internet, and you never thing you’ll make any money from it because you’re just doing it for fun, whatever. If you put something on the internet, and I don’t want to scare people, but somebody’s probably going to steal it and try to make money off of it. So if you’re out there, and you’re putting a ton of work into a blog or into spreading the word about real food, if that is what you’re doing, whether or not you intend to turn it into a business, I really think you need to be thinking about these things. Because it can very easily turn into a business in the blink of an eye. It really did for me.

So, some of the stuff I want to talk to you is just like the top things that you, I don’t know that you’ve seen. I know you gave me a top three and we’ll go through that, but I just want to kind of hear about, maybe your response to what I just said. What have you seen going on, and how important is it for people to start thinking about this stuff, even if they’re at the very beginning of their journey.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, I really love that you talked about a couple of things that really sort of struck a nerve with me, or hit home with me, and one of them is that it’s a women in business thing. I think women in business is a great way of starting that out, because in the legal world, it feels very hard for women. It’s still an old boys club, you’re still; I don’t want to say being held back, but people underestimate you a lot.

Part of the reason I wanted to work with a lot of these paleo companies was because a lot of them are women. Like you said, you’re starting this business not thinking of it as a business. You’re like, I love to do this, this is what I am about, and I want to be able to share that with people. It’s almost like riding a bike; you’re riding it up this hill, and then all of a sudden you’re going downhill, and your business is taking off and it’s all of a sudden a business.

Liz Wolfe: Yep.

Kristen Roberts: And I would say that what I see a lot happening is people not treating it like a business, or not thinking it is a business, and thinking to yourself, well I can just deal with those things later. And I don’t know if this is what you did, but it sounded like you were kind of hinting at it. But you never thought this was going to happen.

Liz Wolfe: Correct.

Kristen Roberts: And so it just sort of never occurred to you to reach out to an attorney.

Liz Wolfe: Correct.

Kristen Roberts: But then when you were facing an issue is when you decided to address it, and often times, my biggest piece of advice is it’s a lot less expensive, and a lot less scary to deal with it before it becomes an issue. Because a lot of people, let’s face it, attorneys, we don’t have the best reputations. We’re seen as really expensive.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. Yes!

Kristen Roberts: Really unaffordable.

Liz Wolfe: Yes, yes! {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: Really difficult to talk to, because we just know better than you, and that’s something that I think, as a women I can relate to. Because I was talked down to a lot. I was treated like I didn’t matter, that I didn’t have a place at the table. I wanted, in creating my practice, I wanted to create a place for my clients to come and feel like they could talk to me, and feel like they could reach out to me, and not be afraid of tackling issues before they become issues. So damage control is not the way I want my clients approaching their problems. I would rather it be pointed, directed, plans to tackle potential issues that might arise some day, rather than saying, well let’s just wait until it’s a problem and you can pay me $20,000 to fix this problem. You know?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: So, that’s one element, and the other thing is, being a fixed fee attorney has really helped. Because clients are like, I don’t want to write you a blank check.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: You’re going to bill me hundreds of dollars an hour, and then you’re going to send me this bill, and my eyes are going to fall out of my head, and I’m going to be like, I don’t want to work with you. You know? {laughs} So that was sort of another reason why I liked the fixed fee model, because it allows me to sort of set project by project. And also we can do benchmarks. Clients like that, and I think I have my engineer husband to thank for that, because they’re very project based. It’s like, this is the project at hand, these are the steps that we have to take to get there, and with the trademark stuff it’s very easy to do that. So that’s kind of how I approached starting my practice, and how I wanted to approach working with clients.

Liz Wolfe: There are two things. First of all, the whole women in business topic absolutely intrigues me.

Kristen Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: And I think my, I don’t want to generalize, but I think maybe a tendency for some women, and I’m sure some men as well, is to just kind of give without asking for anything in return. And the same goes for my work. I was really pouring my heart and soul into my work for a very long time, before I even thought about earning anything from it.

Kristen Roberts: Oh, yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Which is crazy, because I was providing what was essentially a service for free, just because I like to help people. And whatever the fear was about turning it into a business, looking like I’m only doing something for money, you’ve got to put that aside. Because if you’re doing something with that much passion, you do deserve to have some kind of return for it, and Diane loves to talk about that stuff.

Kristen Roberts: Absolutely.

Liz Wolfe: She talks about that a lot. But the other thing, I was, first of all, this was my thought process kind of in phases over the last 4 or 5 years. This isn’t a business, this is just for fun. This could be a business. Should this be a business?

Kristen Roberts: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Should I call a lawyer for some help with my business? No that’s way too expensive. I’ll wait until something happens. It probably will never happen. Oh jeeze, my business is expanding, I’m going to hide my head in the sand and pretend something is never going to happen. And then, boom, something happens, and you need to call somebody to clean it up. So you’re so right as far as expense goes, it is so much more cost effective to just at least talk to a lawyer about these things before it gets to that point where, oh crap, I need a lawyer.

Kristen Roberts: Absolutely, and you know, that was kind of one of my, I know we talked about my top three things, but you’re sort of just really leading into all of my really crucial things that business owners should pay attention to.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: And this is not necessarily just paleo business owners. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs. I think that entrepreneurs pour themselves into their business, and they just, they don’t think about what it takes monetarily to run a business. Because you cannot do everything yourself.

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Kristen Roberts: You will eventually need help. And I approached my business the same way. I’m a business owner; I run a law practice, and it’s just me. I do the work, I connect with my clients, I get the clients, I do the work, I give them the product. It’s a challenge to do the marketing and all of that stuff, and I know it, because I’m in the trenches with everybody. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: But I think one of the biggest pieces of advice is, start vetting those professionals early on. Because I offer a no charge 30-minute consultation to anybody that calls me. And I can tell you, I’ve had hundreds of calls from people that are not even running a business yet, but are just thinking about starting one. And they call me. And I’m happy to talk to them. Because chances are, if they have the drive to go through with their business, it’s going to turn into something, and they’re going to come back to me, and we’re going to work together, which is great. But it’s never too early to start talking to the professions that you’re considering using, because I think one of the key elements in a successful professional relationship is trust.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Kristen Roberts: And if you don’t trust your lawyer, and you don’t like your lawyer, and you’re looking for somebody at the last minute because you got a nasty-gram from an attorney saying we’re going to sue you.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Kristen Roberts: You're going, shoot, what do I do now? And then you’re just settling for somebody.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: Because you're frantically calling someone saying, ok, who do you know, who do you know? And you’re asking people, and they’re like, well use my brother, or use my dad, or use my… and it doesn’t feel like you’re actually actively participating in the process, it feels like you’re just sort of deflecting. And I had to do this, because I have an accountant, I have a financial planner, and I have an attorney that I use. {laughs} There are things that I don’t do, you know? I am not an attorney that will tell you, oh yeah, you should invest in this; because that’s not my area. Or this sort of tax break is great for you. And I get a lot of questions like that, and I’m like, ask your accountant. I have no idea what you are talking about. I am an employment, business, and trademark attorney. Those are my areas, and even then, sometimes it takes research. I wish I was an encyclopedia. But I’m human, I’m just not.

I would recommend calling people and start vetting them early, because that sets you up for success. And then when an issue arises, it becomes so much less expensive, because the attorney, or the accountant, or the financial planner is already familiar with you and already familiar with what’s been going on with you. So, you're not paying them to get up to speed.

Liz Wolfe: You’re on the radar. Here’s my experience, before I found you. And by the way, I found you through other paleo people who have had amazing experiences with you.

Kristen Roberts: Well that’s good to hear! {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Yes. You come very highly recommended, and that of course helped establish trust from the very beginning. But what also helped establish trust is that you did that consultation with me that was totally no cost, and there was no sell. There was no, oh I’m on the phone with her and now I’m going to feel like I have to do this. Whatever. So that was amazing, and I trusted you from the very beginning.

My experience prior to that was basically a lawyer at my parent’s church who I reached out to, who is a really wonderful person but who didn’t understand what I was doing. Didn’t understand my business, and so I just felt like, I’m not sure you get what I need at this point. And I think probably the estimated fees probably reflected that. {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: Yep.

Liz Wolfe: So, really, having somebody that you trust that will talk to you, that will jump on a podcast with you to talk about this stuff.

Kristen Roberts: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: For free, and then really give you, like you were talking about earlier, a very clear and easy to understand fee schedule and options is huge. There’s just no reason not to do this. And like I said, I’m here today talking to you because of a personal experience that I’m going through that necessitated that I called you, and I wished that I had called you years ago. So, it’s so important, and I can’t stress it enough. And it’s not just if somebody’s going to come after you; it’s also if you Google your name, and you realize that there are two pages of Google search results of people that have stolen your stuff.

Kristen Roberts: Oh yeah. And it becomes overwhelming.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: You start looking at all of it, and it happens almost overnight. One day, you’re just putting out this little blog, and the next day, your face is on people’s website, and you’re like, I never said that they could use my face.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: I never said that; but you’re also like, well I guess its good press? All press is good press? So it’s really hard to figure out whether or not these things are ok, what you can do to stop it, what you can do to maybe profit from it, how you can approach it, whether these should actually be negotiated deals. That kind of stuff is high level stuff, and if you’re just in your own mind thinking this through, and I do this a lot where I was telling you earlier when we were off the air, that I think in circles. I’m like, and then I have this, and then I’m going to do that, and then I’m back to where I had originally started, which is why everybody that’s a business owner needs help.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: I have a business development group that I bounce things off of that I have high level discussions with. And having an attorney be there with you is helpful. Or having somebody there with you, it doesn’t need to be an attorney, but for those types of legal issues it’s helpful. Which is why I really like to make it a collaborative process, rather than do this, do that this is how it is. I mean, you know your business best. You know how you want to be seen in the industry, and in the community, and by consumers.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: so I’m not going to tell you what the best option is for you. I’m going to give you your options and what the ramifications of those options are, and then you make the choice.

Liz Wolfe: And the cool thing about that is, your giving me those options based on an understanding of what I actually do.

Kristen Roberts: {laughs} Yeah, that’s helpful.

5. Prepare as if your business will succeed [34:48]

Liz Wolfe: Which is like, huge! It is so helpful I can’t even tell you. Ok, so let’s jump into this then, because I basically asked you for your top pieces of advice for business owners or paleo bloggers, or whatever. Anybody listening to this podcast who has ever thought about writing a blog, or putting themselves out there, or starting a business, or even thought, hey I could do that. Let’s start with number one, which I loved it. Prepare as if your business will succeed. Which is not something I did.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, you know a lot of business owners that I know really approach their business as if they don’t need something. Well, I don’t need that, I don’t need that, I don’t need that. I always get, I don’t want to call it an excuse, I get the explanation, that it’s because they’re not there. Oh, I don’t need a business entity, I’m not there yet. My business isn’t big enough yet for that. I don’t really need that. That would be the one example I would give, setting up an LLC or a corporation or some kind of formal entity structure. But really, by the time you need it, and I know we already sort of covered this but I can’t reiterate it enough, by the time you actually need it, chances are your business is pretty far along.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: I mean, by the time you need a business structure, your business is already a business. You’ve already made a substantial amount of money. Or you’re already entering into agreements that can subject you to liability. And from an attorney’s standpoint; and your accountant is going to have a different take on a business structure, because they’re looking at it from a financial standpoint, doesn’t make sense financially for you. But there’s also a different piece to that. There’s a legal side of it. Because a business entity provides you with protection. So if you, for instance, own a house, and your business enters into an agreement and you don’t have a structure, you’re just a sole proprietor, your house can become something that’s on the line for something your business does wrong. So having that entity limits your liability to just the business ,as opposed to unlimited liability, which comes with sole proprietorship.

It’s a big thing, I think, personally. So that’s what I did, I approached my business as though it would succeed. I thought to myself, and I know a lot of lawyers that started law practices, and they’re like, I’m not making enough money for it to matter that I have a business entity. And for lawyers it’s a little different, because we’re always going to be personally liable. I mean, it’s us personally doing the work. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: It’s not like I can say, it was my business that did it, not me. So some lawyers think that way and say, you know I don’t really need a business structure. I just said, you know what, might as well. Who knows? It will work out. It will be fine. Usually the cost is pretty minimal, and also the cost to dissolve it isn’t that much if it’s just you in the business. So if it doesn’t work out, no big deal, you just submit a few forms, pay a small fee, and then the business is gone. And I would say kind of in that same vein, if you're going to start a partnership, definitely get something written. I have seen tons, countless businesses that are run by partnerships just completely implode.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: And if you don’t have some kind of agreement written down, preferably by an attorney; it’s not about starting it, because it’s very easy to start a business. It’s really hard to take on apart when there’s more than one person involved. So, having an agreement that specifies an exit strategy is, I think, crucial. So, if you don’t have one and you are running a business with a partnership, just get one. Now. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. So, obviously tip number one, prepare as if your business will succeed. But I want also to say, and I feel like you were talking about this as well. This is a mindset as much as it is a business strategy, so this is like, I’m putting my stuff out there on the internet to help people. Put it out there. You don’t even have to know how much you want to make, or what you want to do, or where you want to take it, or what the perfect final name for all of your whatever are going to be, or whatever. You don’t have to know everything. But you do have to say, I’m putting this out there with a purpose, and whether or not you ever end up making an exorbitant amount of money from it, which most of us don’t, let’s be honest, but there is money to be made, of course, in helping people. But put it out there with the mindset that your business will succeed in helping people as much as financially.

So this is for everybody. You know what I mean? This is not just, I have to make this a financial success. This is like, preparing to not just help people, but also do it in a way that’s sustainable for you and that’s where the business strategy comes in. Because you cannot just give of yourself everyday for the rest of your life, and not get anything back for it to recharge your ability to do it.

Kristen Roberts: Absolutely. And I think that also plays into the actual success of your business. Because I feel like it’s really hard for something to work if you’re not confidant that it will. If you’re not thinking to yourself, I can do this. If you’re going, oh, well it’s not going to work out it’s not going to, I might as well not do that, it’s not like I’ll ever be able to do this. Then you probably won’t, you know?

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Kristen Roberts: So I think of it as not just a business strategy, but also actual key to success of your overall business.

6. Budget for professional services [40:17]

Liz Wolfe: Totally agree. Alright, so, I might have already accidentally covered a little bit of number 2.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: So what’s tip number two?

Kristen Roberts: Tip number two, and we definitely talked about this, but I am going to say it again because it can never hurt, budget for professional services as early on as possible.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: And I think that a lot of people when starting a business, at least entrepreneurs that I know, and also myself. I sat down with my husband, and I wrote out a business plan, because I’m type A and I’m kind of a psycho. But that’s ok.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: {laughs} But I wrote out just a generalized business plan of what it was that I wanted to do and where I wanted to be within a certain number of months. And in that business plan, I put down specific amounts for things. Websites; those can be expensive. Especially if you’re doing them well, and they’re fully optimized. You know, you can spend a few thousand dollars on a website. And marketing budgets. Photographs for yourself, because let’s face it, we don’t all wake up looking like Liz Wolfe.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my god {laughing} Ok, you win, I was not ready for that cheese.

Kristen Roberts: {laughs} were you ready for that?

Liz Wolfe: I was not.

Kristen Roberts: You could spread that cheese with a knife.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} You’re the one who was totally ready to go on video chat, and I was like, oh, you can’t see me can you?

Kristen Roberts: Oh my gosh, I’m like fixing my hair, and I’m like, does it look ok? And you’re like, why do you look so good? {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: I should have told you, I don’t do video chats {laughs}.

Kristen Roberts: Oh, oops. So, things like headshots for your website. Things like that; those cost money.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: And I think a lot of entrepreneurs think to budget for that stuff, but they don’t think to budget for professionals, because again, they’re approaching it as, well I’ll pay for it when I need it. And I think it’s better to factor that into your budget, because if you are going to take a leap into business ownership, and leave your job, you should recognize that you’re going to need a reserve for that, so you’re not thinking to yourself, well I’ll just go with the cheapest option. Because honestly, and I will tell you this, the cheapest option, you do pay for what you get.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: I mean, you really do with lawyers, and accountants, and all professionals it really is. And I try to keep my prices as low as possible, but it is a lot of work. You are giving hard earned work product to your clients. So there is a market level that you should consider when going into your business. So I would recommend consider tacking on an additional $2-3000 in your budget for those services. And I’m not talking about just for one person. For your attorney to do your corporate set up. For your accountant to do your taxes. And you may wind up not needing that because your business does so well in the first year that you can pay those funds out from somewhere else, but having those funds doesn’t hurt, either.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: So I would just recommend that, I know it sounds like an ungodly sum, but think about how much you’ll spend for a good website. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that somebody will spend $3-4000 on a website, but won’t spend $1500 to get their business entity set up.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. Because you can spend $3-4000 on a website that can all be taken away from you if you don’t do your due diligence with the other stuff.

Kristen Roberts: Or try to be taken away, and then you're fighting to get it back, and that costs way more money than it does to just protect it from the beginning.

Liz Wolfe: And in the beginning, I would have been absolutely horrified by somebody saying save $3-4000 for this type of thing.

Kristen Roberts: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: But it happens; it’s very slow, and then it happens quickly. So here’s the thing; if you’re at the very beginning of whatever your journey is. From the beginning, when your used to living on whatever it is you’re living on already, when you start to bring in, say, some affiliate commissions. You speak positively about a product you really believe in and those people just happen to give you 10% of sales that you refer to them. That $22 check, or that $22 PayPal transfer; put it away like you never saw it. And over time, you can start building that up, maybe adding to it from your own pool of nickels and dimes as you can.

But here’s the thing; it will happen. If you start earning a little, more than likely that’s going to become more. So you want to just start preparing from that for the beginning. You don’t have to have $4000 right this minute, but you do want to plan to put that stuff away. Especially in that sweet spot where, we say people need to be doing this from the beginning, but there is that kind of sweet spot where you’re bringing in a little bit, but maybe not so much where you end up with a target on your back just yet. So that’s that sweet spot where you can start filing that money away for when you’re going to need it for setting up your business and contacting Kristen for a free consultation and talking about what you might need in the future. So don’t freak out at the numbers, because it’s a lot more realistic than it may seem to a lot of people.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah and from my own experience, I did sort of the what not to do approach when it came to things like my website. I started out {laughing} I started out with a very small budget and my husband, god love him, the engineer that he is, he said, I’m just going to do your website. And I said ok. {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Ok.

Kristen Roberts: I said sure, of course. And he’s so smart and can do anything. And I just love him. So I said, yeah let’s do it. And it wasn’t what I wanted to do, so then I hired somebody. And I said, I have a really small budget. Here’s $500, but I want this really functioning, amazing website. And he looked at me like I was on crack.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Kristen Roberts: He was like, no. So, I got basically the bones of my website. And then I was really upset that I didn’t have everything that I wanted. He was like, Kristen, this costs, you know, so I found another person to help me optimize it, and that was $700. And then before you know it, I spent like $2000.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: When I could have just spent the $2000 on the website to get exactly what I wanted from the beginning. So that’s how I approached it, and it was sort of a what not to do. I would have rather had maybe saved a little bit more, and pushed back the launch of the website. It sort of limped along for a while. And it’s still not done, to be honest. I still haven’t; it just sort of dangles out there now. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} it’s dangling.

Kristen Roberts: It’s dangling.

Liz Wolfe: What’s that thing in your throat that dangles, the uvula?

Kristen Roberts: The uvula!

Liz Wolfe: It’s like the uvula of websites, just kind of dangling there.

Kristen Roberts: Yes, it is. It’s the uvula of websites. It really is. I mean, it captures enough. It shows my services. But the other thing you mentioned that I want to point out again is that a lot of these professionals, they do offer no charge consultations.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: So it’s a really good idea to start getting to know your professionals that you want to work with early on, because trusting them is really important, knowing them is really important, and you can save a lot of money by them knowing you.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: Like you said, it reflected in the price because they didn’t get your industry, they didn’t get what it is that you were trying to do. I work with a lot of internet based business, it’s easy for me to sort of wrap my head around it. I know what affiliate sales are {laughs}.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, exactly.

Kristen Roberts: Things like that. So, I know what a scraper site is, and things like that, where maybe some of the saltier dog attorneys, or people that don’t necessarily work in this industry while they may be business owners or business attorneys, they may not necessarily do this kind of work. So you definitely want to find somebody who is in the vein of what it is that you do.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. Oh. I could not agree more. And the same goes for, I think you were saying this, for other professionals.

Kristen Roberts: Oh yeah.

Liz Wolfe: I think there are accountants that don’t necessarily understand what it is to be an independent business owner doing business on the internet, you know?

Kristen Roberts: Yep.

Liz Wolfe: So it does really help. Especially if you have a buddy, like my accountant is one that I found through my photographer who is a business owner, all her own, and so her accountants kind of understood. They were savvy to what was going on, and that’s really, really helpful. So totally, totally 100% with you.

7. Know your competition[48:46]

Liz Wolfe: Alright, so, tip number 3, and I think we’re expanding a little bit with this one. But this is where I think people really, the rubber meets the road with what we’ve talked about before, of course. But this is the stuff that people think about when they think about needing legal representation. So your third one was know your competition; know what else is out there.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, and I think as a branding and trademark attorney and it’s sort of my bread and butter and what it is that I do, and I love this area of the law, while I do those other things that I talked about, the trademark stuff and the branding stuff sort of holds a special place in my heart, because it’s really fun for me, and I also feel like, especially for my online clients that are running online businesses, it provides them the most tangible help. Because they’re really getting to see the results of what it is I’m doing for them.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: You know, you get a business entity and I’m like, here’s your LLC formation!

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: And they’re like, ok great.

Liz Wolfe: Happy dance.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, I’m like doing a little dance in my office. But when I get to say, this person is transferring this domain to you, you are now going to be the owner of this website, because they were infringing on your website. Or, we’re going to stop them from filing this trademark, and they’ve agreed to it, and here’s the release. My clients get really excited about that stuff, and I feel like I can hold their hands through the computer screen and we can dance around in a little circle together.

Liz Wolfe: Yay!

Kristen Roberts: Because it is really satisfying, and it’s super fun. So, knowing your competition; I don’t mean, start ripping off other people. That’s not what I’m talking about. Knowing the business and the brand that you’re trying to build, knowing what other people are doing in terms of, are they doing something similar to you? Because when you start out building your business, you get this great lightning strike idea for your business name, and you do a Google search, right? I mean, that’s the first thing people do is they go to Google, and they start searching the name, and they’re like, ok, I don’t see anybody doing that. That’s great, that’s perfect. And then they go to Go Daddy, and they find the website, and it’s not taken. And you’re like, yes! I’m so excited!

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} I bought so many websites in my life, by the way.

Kristen Roberts: Oh me too.

Liz Wolfe: My Go Daddy {laughing}

Kristen Roberts: I’m still doing it.

Liz Wolfe: Me too.

Kristen Roberts: It becomes like an addiction.

Liz Wolfe: It does.

Kristen Roberts: Where I’m like, is this free? And I look for it, and I’m like, it is, I’m taking it! And then I buy it, and I never use it.

Liz Wolfe: Oh me too.

Kristen Roberts: Which you know, squatting is not awesome, but I think we’re all guilty of it.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: So that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s available though, because there are other ways to figure out if these are being used as trademarks. One of them is through the United States Patent and Trademark office. But the analysis gets deeper than that, because it’s whether or not two companies are likely to be confused with each other.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: And it’s all about protecting the consumer, right? Consumers see a brand and they associate in their mind that brand with that company and that service or product. The United States Patent and Trademark office, they don’t really care necessarily whether the two names are the same, but whether or not those two same names are likely to be confused with one another based on what it is those businesses do. So, that’s just a little tiny trademark lesson. But it can become very complex, the analysis, because the likelihood of confusion analysis is like an 11-point test, and can become very in depth, and heady, and most business owners aren’t thinking, ok are we in the same channels of trade? Are we overlapping products? Are our consumers very sophisticated, things like that. They’re just thinking, the name is available, the website is available, I’m going to use it. And then all of a sudden, 5 years down the road, you’re getting a letter from someone saying, we’ve been using this before you, please cease and desist.

Liz Wolfe: Yes ma’am.

Kristen Roberts: And you’re like, what the hell? I thought I was doing everything right. So it’s helpful to have somebody that understands trademark law, because not a lot of business attorneys do this kind of work. It’s helpful to have an attorney come on and say, let’s do a quick search, a couple hundred dollars, let’s perform a search to figure out whether this name has a good likelihood of success if you ever were to pursue trademark prosecution down the road. That doesn’t mean you need to do it now, but you can. But at least know whether or not you're going to walk into a whole heap of trouble when you start out your business, and that’s not the way you want to start things. Especially when you’re likely hiring people to design your logo, and you’re hiring somebody to help you with the brand, and you spend all this money to promote that, when you could have spent a couple hundred dollars to see if you were going to wind up screwing yourself from the get go. If it was going to be a nonstarter.

Liz Wolfe: Absolutely. And for what it’s worth, we think about those flashy things first. We think oh I need a logo, I need this and that. The thing is, there are a million free sites on the internet that you can put together something acceptable that will work as a logo for the first year. You don’t want to skimp on finding out whether you should even be putting yourself out there with that identifier in the first place, you know.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, and you know, I’m not going to just say this because I’m probably going to get a ton of calls about this stuff. But, it’s ok, because I am about helping business owners, I’m not about gouging them.

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Kristen Roberts: So I’ve had clients come to me, and if we get a rapport going, and I like you, and we get along, and it’s clear we’re going to work together, I’ve been known to run a USPTO search for somebody, just to see if the identical name is already taken and what it is that they’re doing, and it’s just peace of mind. I haven’t charged for that stuff, because it doesn’t take very long, and I can at least say, this isn’t a full search.

Liz Wolfe: Right, it’s a basic search.

Kristen Roberts: This isn’t something, it’s a basic run search that you can do yourself, or I’ll direct them to the website.

Liz Wolfe: So I want everybody to understand that this is not an attorney offering free advice in an official attorney-client relationship. This is you just saying, you have been known to help give people an idea of the road they might want to take with you should you have a relationship.

Kristen Roberts: Correct.

Liz Wolfe: Does that make sense?

Kristen Roberts: Yes, that’s exactly right.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. Because I understand, we want to be careful. It’s kind of like Diane and I, at the beginning of every episode of the Balanced Bites podcast, we are not medical professionals. {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: Exactly. I am not your lawyer.

Liz Wolfe: We’re not in a relationship. Yes.

Kristen Roberts: I am not your lawyer until you hire me, and then I am all yours. And that’s what I really like to do with my fee agreements, I want to make sure that everything is encompassed. You’ll get scopes; what is covered, what isn’t covered. Because I think that’s really important. It colors the relationship, and helps define what it is that I’m specifically going to be doing for you.

8. A final word from Kristen [55:51]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, completely. So, alright. What have we missed so far. What do you want people to know, whether they’re at the beginning of their journey with this or whether they’re kind of already established. What do you wish Liz knew before she called you desperate. {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: {laughs} I just wish that people knew that it’s not as scary as you think to work with a lawyer.

Liz Wolfe: Right. It’s not.

Kristen Roberts: Especially if they’re somebody that you feel like you can trust. Because a lot of attorneys now, especially younger attorneys like myself and my office mate, and people that I know in this industry, are really striving to provide quality service. I was in the service industry for a long time, I was a server at a restaurant. I actually loved my job, and for me, that’s what being a lawyer is about. It is a service based industry, and it is about providing a service to somebody else. I feel like as long as you work with an attorney that keeps their eye on that aspect of things, you’re going to be just fine. We’re not, you know, money hoarders. I’m not sitting in a bathtub of money.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: Tossing it up in the air.

Liz Wolfe: Ewww. Don’t do that ever.

Kristen Roberts: Which is really gross. Or don’t put dollar bills in your mouth either. {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Which we talked about off the air.

Kristen Roberts: Do not do that.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: But it’s not like I’m sitting here twisting my mustache. Well that sounds really gross, I’m sorry.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} I know, that’s awesome.

Kristen Roberts: My analogies are really gross.

Liz Wolfe: No, I can see it in my head, I mean, you’re like {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: Sitting in a bath of money twisting a mustache.

Liz Wolfe: You would have to have a monocle on if you have a mustache that’s twistable.

Kristen Roberts: {laughing} Exactly. Exactly. It can be an approachable thing. There are lawyers out there that are very expensive, but they do very specialized work, and part of the reason they’re very expensive is they do a great job. For if I were ever going to be trading stocks or doing securities work, I would want to hire the best.

Liz Wolfe: yeah.

Kristen Roberts: But there are options out there for people in this industry who are approachable and who will provide you great service, so it’s better to figure out who those people are really early on, and just don’t be afraid, just jump right in. And if you don’t like them, all you have to do is say no. Hang up the phone, and you’re done.

Liz Wolfe: Literally, just hang up the phone.

Kristen Roberts: Just be like, nope, and hang up the phone.

Liz Wolfe: Bye Felicia.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah {laughing} bye Felicia. Even if you just want to call me to talk to me to see if I might be a good fit for you, and that’s what I always tell people. That 30-minute consult is not for me to go over your specific legal issue that you're having, it’s to determine whether or not we’re going to be a good fit and whether or not the relationship is going to be successful going forward. And I think you can learn a lot about somebody in 30 minutes, I really do. So that’s really what that is about. It’s not about, here are all my documents, can you go over them for me? It’s more about, this is what my business is doing, this is where it’s headed, do you think that maybe we could work together.

Liz Wolfe: So, let me tell everybody. I should have done this before, but as you were talking, I was thinking of all the words that I think describe you, Kristen, for people to understand why I love working with you so much. You are approachable, you’re trustworthy, you come highly recommended, you're fast, you're helpful, you get what I’m doing, you’re great to talk to as a friend on the phone, we chatted for a while before we started recording, but also you’re all business when it comes to the business stuff. You are very, I don’t want to say a bull dog, but.

Kristen Roberts: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: You get done what needs to get done, no BS. And that’s really, really important and helpful, because you don’t want to feel like you're getting the run around from a professional that you need immediate results from.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, and some of these trademark issues can be time sensitive.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Kristen Roberts: Especially if you’re getting a letter, or I was telling you I call them nasty-grams.

Liz Wolfe: Yep.

Kristen Roberts: If you’re getting a nasty-gram from somebody, from an attorney or somebody claiming they have priority of rights over a trademark that they’ve been using, they can be deadline and time sensitive.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: And it’s funny that you said that, thank you, very much, first of all for all of those really kind words.

Liz Wolfe: Duh!

Kristen Roberts: And I have all of the same things to say about you, and it’s part of the reason I love working with these business owners, because I really do believe in them and it’s easy to get behind something and really fight for something that you believe in. But also, that you mentioned something about me being all business, and I was telling you earlier that if my office mate, Amanda, calls me, she was reading one of my letters over for me for grammar issues, and she goes, wow you’re so bubbly and nice in person, and people just love you, and then in letters you’re like, and you’re going to do this, and you’re going to do that.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: But I think that’s important because I think it is part of the being a female attorney and wanting to be sure that they understand that I’m nice, and I’ll work with you, and I’m definitely about settling, and coming to an agreement and taking the path of least resistance, but if I have to, I’ll go to the mats for you.

Liz Wolfe: Absolutely. And I have definitely felt that vibe from the beginning, and it’s kind of been another pillar in the trestle. I don’t know.

Kristen Roberts: {laughs} Exactly!

Liz Wolfe: Do trestles have pillars?

Kristen Roberts: That’s exactly right. They’re support, you know those lattice support structures, that’s kind of what a trestle is, plus there’s a beach here in San Diego where I live and practice called Trestles Beach, it’s a famous surf spot, so I thought of it as like a tip of the hat to being in San Diego, and also helping and providing that support to business owners that they need. And my tagline is building the bridge to your success. So I know it’s super cheesy. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Aww. Did your husband help you with that one?

Kristen Roberts: You know, he…

Liz Wolfe: Because he’s, what, an engineer, like a bridge guy?

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, he’s an engineer. {laughs} He’s a civil engineer, so even more reason. He actually came up with the name. I was like, what’s a word for support?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Kristen Roberts: And he’s like, trestle. And I’m like, perfect done. Coming up with the name was the hardest part. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: That’s the fun part, when you run all your ideas past your spouse, because every time I do that business wise, my husband, he’s a pilot, he’s like, hmm, what about flyover, what about soaring, like it’s always something, it’s just funny. Good ol’ Nick. Good ol’ Spencer.

Kristen Roberts: Good ol’ Nick. {laughs} Spencer and Nick.

Liz Wolfe: Alright, well we are at 55 minutes, which is amazing. I’m so happy you were able to do this today, and I think that we should probably make this some kind of regular thing, if you’ve got time. Because I know people have so many questions, and we’d just love to have you back again.

Kristen Roberts: Yeah, I would absolutely love to. And if anybody is interested in getting in touch with me, they can do it through my website, TrestleLaw.com. You can also email me directly, it [email protected]. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter I’m @TrestleLaw, I’m also on Instagram, I’m KNGRoberts, or TrestleLaw. I’m also on Linkedin and Google plus. Any of those social media outlets. I usually have about a 24-48 hour turnaround time. So if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and get in contact with me. If you want to call me, it’s 619-289-8939.

Liz Wolfe: Dang girl, you’re going to be getting lots of calls.

Kristen Roberts: Well, I’m happy to.

Liz Wolfe: I hope that’s your cell phone {laughs}

Kristen Roberts: {laughs} It’s my office line, but it’s connected directly to my cell phone, so yeah it is {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for coming on. Seriously folks, give this some thought, because it will become relevant to you at some point in your experience. Why not start getting all your ducks in a row right now.

Kristen Roberts: Thank you so much for having me Liz, it’s been really fun chatting with you.

Liz Wolfe: Absolutely. Alright friends, that’s it for my interview with Kristen from Trestle Law. I’m really excited to get folks started with a really rewarding business in the new year. Happy 2015. As usual, you can find Diane at http://dianesanfilippo.com, and you can join me at http://realfoodliz.com/. Join our email lists for free goodies you don’t find anywhere else on our websites. While you’re on the internet, leave us an iTunes review. We’ll see you next week.

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  1. Pingback: Podcast Episode #172: Paleo Attorney Kristen Roberts of Trestle Law | Paleo Digest

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