Contractors vs. Employees: Getting It Wrong Will Cost You

Contractors vs. Employees: Getting It Wrong Will Cost You

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know the differences between contractors and employees. This decision is so important when hiring someone to join your small business so Josh Andrews of Gatehouse Law came to Forge to teach us more on this subject!




  • They are independent workers, they dictate when and how they work
  • Contractors often use their own equipment
  • Typically this is a worker that could run a small business performing the work they do for you for multiple companies




Here’s the IRS Test you may need look over:


  • Behavioral control
    • This is what you tell the contractor about how, when, where or with whom to work
    • It’s also how exactly you train the worker
  • Financial control
    • Reimbursement policy
    • Work investment
    • Are worker’s services available to others who need it?
    • How is the worker paid?
    • Can the worker make a profit or loss on the work?
  • Type of Relationship
    • What does your written agreement say about the intended relationship between you and the worker
    • Does the employee receive benefits from you as the employer?
    • The permanence of the worker in the business
    • Is the worker’s services a key aspect of the company’s regular business?



Who is a contractor?

  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Designers
  • Other businesses
  • Sales staff (sometimes!)



As the employer, you have a lot more control over employees rather than contractors.



When making this decision, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do you need?
  • What do you want?
  • How does it look?



We have to understand both options to make the right decision for your specific business! We’ve just hit the highlights for you but if you want to view the full Lunch & Learn, check it out here! Check Forge’s Facebook calendar for future educational events.


Your Big Idea: Forge Pitch Night!

Your Big Idea: Forge Pitch Night!

Thank you to everyone who joined us at Forge for our first ever pitch night! We love hearing about the exciting businesses that are growing out of the Magic City! Your Big Idea was a huge success and we are excited to start planning the next one. If you weren’t able to join us, here’s a recap of the event!




Our 3 Panelists: Buddy Palmer, Lakey Boyd and Jacqueline Jones


First, happy hour of course! Drinks and snacks provided by our sponsor, ServisFirst Bank! Then we heard 4 minute pitches from 4 different presenters. We allowed for a quick Q&A with the crowd and our 3 panelists gave feedback on each presentation.


Donnie Garvich with Two Ravens


The Two Ravens team is based out of Forge! They are a technical innovation firm that provides R&D and Product Development services. Two Ravens works with partners to solve their most complex problems. By combining decades of technical experience with an empathetic, research-based approach, they aim to improve lives by creating not just great products, but engaging experiences.



Kala Northrup with Match Chocolate


Match Chocolate is a small batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker right here in Birmingham! They take cocoa beans and thoughtfully craft chocolate with a sense of place, highlighting the natural flavors of different parts of the world. With just cocoa beans and cane sugar Kala makes single origin chocolate bars, truffles and pastry provisions. The name Match Chocolate comes from the pairings created that showcase the differences found within just two ingredients ethically sourced, separated by geography and matched in flavor.



Erin Holtz with Refueled


Refueled is an all inclusive fitness app partnering with the best health and wellness businesses to provide members with their very own customizable fitness, health, and wellness plans. The Refueled technology offers packages to relax, to recover, and to refresh because we feel as though it is important to refuel your body in each of these ways. You can choose the fitness package that best fits your needs. Each week you will pick your classes that will fit into your schedule. Then simply walk in the studio, check in or purchase your service!



Stanley Stevenson of Stevenson Design


Stevenson Design works to improve home and business environments through thorough, thoughtful design. With a Bachelors degree in Interior Design, Stanley began working as a draftsman and 3D modeler. He moved into space planning and logistics management. With a decade of experience in managing people and processes, Stanley is available to help small businesses with anything from interior design to web design and digital strategy.



Thank you to ServisFirst Bank for sponsoring the first Your Big Idea event! We loved hosting and meeting new professionals in Birmingham. We’re already looking forward to the next event with another group of entrepreneurs!

The Journey of Urban Cookhouse and Farm Bowl + Juice Co.

The Journey of Urban Cookhouse and Farm Bowl + Juice Co.

For our fourth Business Breakthrough Session, we had the pleasure of learning from Andrea Snyder, Founder of Urban Cookhouse and Farm Bowl + Juice Co. Urban Cookhouse is known for their fresh, locally sourced food and amazing customer service. Farm Bowl + Juice Co. is their newest creation with juice, smoothies and açaí bowls. Andrea mentioned that they are currently working on their third concept but she couldn’t give any hints at this time as to what it will be!



The foundation of their restaurants is about relationships. They focus heavily on the relationships with their farmers, employees and customers. Obviously buying local means that their food tastes better but they are able to have a huge economic impact to keep these farms in business. Their main egg farmer started with 9 chickens when Andrea first hired him and now he has over 9,000 chickens total!


Another huge component of their foundation is their commitment to developing great employees. They now have a total of 175 employees with the combination of Urban Cookhouse and Farm Bowl. Andrea said they focus on hiring right because one bad employee can cost them a lot of time and money in the long run. They want to train and teach their employees well and incentivize them through franchising opportunities and bonuses. Offer your employees a growth track!



Andrea talked about something she calls “drive by reviews.” They want to continually encourage employees in the moment- as soon as she sees them doing something good. And from time to time, she also has to be direct when someone needs improvement. Encouragement goes a long way!


Andrea provided a great analogy for us. If you think of each day having a total of 150% of available time, most business owners will spend the first 50% on the tyranny of the daily urgent tasks. Then the next 50% is spent on gathering and analyzing metrics of the business while the third 50% would be developing your employees.


But Andrea totally flip flops this structure. The first 50% must be spent on developing and pouring into your employees. She believes this is what has created a great culture for Urban Cookhouse so she will continue to prioritize their employees with Farm Bowl as well.





Over the last 8 years, Andrea has continued to come back to this same quote from Samuel Johnson:


“Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.”



What about customer acquisition? Andrea believes the real estate of your restaurant is the most important. You must be in the center of the customer population you want and parking is so important- that is one reason they just relocated their Homewood Urban Cookhouse spot. Plus they were able to add a drive thru!



In order to truly give their customers the best experience possible, they hire a CEO at each location. But this specific CEO stands for Customer Experience Owner. Even though this position may not be the highest paid, this person is extremely important to the success of the location. This employee does anything from holding the door open for customers to getting a high chair for a baby. Adding this position to their company has had immeasurable benefits!


Andrea has a wealth of knowledge about what it truly takes to build amazing restaurants! We are so grateful she spent time with us at Forge. If you haven’t already, go check out their restaurants! And look out for whatever restaurant they develop in the near future!

Spring Is Here: 3 Tips to Prepare for Brand Growth

Spring Is Here: 3 Tips to Prepare for Brand Growth

Jacqueline Jones is a well-loved Forge member and today we’re reposting this valuable post from her personal blog! Jacqui started her company One Degree MMM which focuses on marketing and branding for small businesses and organizations. We loved this timely post as we change our mindset entering into spring!



Finally, Spring has officially arrived.  Never mind the, still, bi-polar weather.  It’s here, so says the calendar.  Newness in any form is something we as human beings thrive off.  We love to start fresh, launch new, and get rid of the old at the beginning of… well, anything.  Spring is one of those times of newness, renewal, and restarting.


Many equate spring with gardening.  Spring is the time to sow seeds, turn over soil, and create room for new blossoms and growth.  Your branding shouldn’t be any different.  So, let’s prepare your brand for growth and new heights in 3 steps!


Pick Your Flowers


Take a moment and decide how you want your new garden to look.  Landscaping is an art.  Marketing and landscaping are very similar during a time of transition.  The goal is to take what exists and alter it in a way that makes it more attractive.  To prepare our brand for greater things, we must start with a renewed vision.  Now is the time to do some benchmarking and decide how you want your refreshed brand to evolve.  Don’t just start implementing new things with no forethought.  Let’s take a moment to create a full picture before we attempt to start painting.  If you’re a One Degree FIRE Starter, you know how important goal setting is to me.  I practically mention it in every email I send.


Prepare The Soil


You know how the new grand and fantastic brand will look.  GREAT!  What groundwork needs to be done for this transition to be successful?  Just like in gardening, you may have to take some time to research what you’re putting in the ground.  Many skip this step in their business in general.  This process is commonly referred to as “investment.”  Invest in yourself and your brand.  Take that class, hire that service provider, or buy that packaging. Set yourself up for success from the beginning of this new season.  Don’t just go plopping stuff in the ground with your fingers crossed and your eyes squinched expecting a miracle.   Do the research.  Do the work.  Do what it takes to see a clear and positive change in your brand.  Invest the time, money, and resources you have into your brand and yourself.


Commit To Watering Your Garden


One of my favorite phrases in life is “start out how you plan to hold out.”  As you prepare for these new things within your brand’s marketing efforts, commit to seeing them through.  You have to be realistic with yourself.  No one requires anything of you for your brand, but you.  Whatever you choose, be sure you can stay motivated (or employ whatever tactics necessary) throughout the entire season.  Your dreams, visions, and plans may get the seed in the ground, but your daily commitment to them are what make them grow into your beautiful garden.


It’s time to get going.  March is nearly over.  The 2nd quarter of the year is just around the corner.  Ready, set, GROW!



How to Make Your Contracts Enforceable

How to Make Your Contracts Enforceable

Josh Andrews of Gatehouse Law returned to Forge to teach his third Lunch & Learn focusing on the relationship between small business and legal. This time he focused on contracts and how we can enforce them- even if they aren’t signed!



Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a contract?


A contract is how we define business- even if we don’t realize it! It’s an agreement between two parties where the obligations are enforceable by law. Don’t forget: oral contracts are real.


4 Elements of a Contract:

  1. Offer
  2. Acceptance
  3. Meeting of the Minds
  4. Consideration


A contract does not have to be in writing. Repeat: it does not have to be in writing!


There must be competence of the parties– this means the person cannot be in a coma and they also can’t be a child. They must be legally able to enter into a contract and capable of understanding the contract.


Also there must be legal purpose- you obviously can’t enter into a contract to do an illegal thing.



Main idea: if you have an agreement with another party that lasts for more than a fleeting moment in time, you should put your terms in writing!


The things that continue after the point of sale are where your liabilities lie. Contracts are there to protect you!


Contracts can do a few things:

  • Limit the liability of your business
  • Protect your business for growth
  • Give your business the appearance of “having it together”
  • Make your business look bigger than it actually is


Make sure your payment terms are crystal clear! “If you don’t pay me, I’ll charge you interest or late fees…and chase you down for collection fees.”


Another main idea: People expect legal. Legal should protect your business for growth, not hinder your business from it.


Acceptance of a contract doesn’t necessarily require a signature! No signature, no problem. You let your customer know how they accept the contract. It may be clicking a box on a website, downloading a PDF, paying for a product, etc. Just make sure you track it! Always track the action that you told the customer is the “acceptance” for your business.


One last thing: Your customer’s numbness to online contracts is not a license to be unfair. We’ve all ‘accepted’ the iTunes terms (or something similar) without reading it all! This doesn’t give you the right to be unfair to your customers.


Gatehouse Law helps small businesses. Check them out!