Paola is the founder and owner of SUGARMOON, a sugaring business with three salons, take-home sugaring and organic body care lines, and the SUGARMOON training academy. In this instalment of her Women of Influence web series, The Truth About Entrepreneurship: My Life on the Moon, she shares her experience and advice on drawing on employment law to protect herself, her employees, and her business.
By Paola Girotti
Entrepreneurial businesses can be like families, in the support the employees offer one another. Still, they work best with clear rules and boundaries that keep emotions in check and systems running smoothly.
In the my last instalment of My Life on the Moon, I explained how my business thrived when I hired an HR manager, and we established procedures and guides for our employees. This was a big step, but we needed to go further: we needed to be guided by the law, and legally protected.
I cannot stress the importance of establishing a clear legal system for your business. It may seem daunting to set up or maintain, but it is of paramount importance. I learned through repeated negative employee and landlord experiences that the success of my business and my sanity depend on these protections.
Learning the Hard Way
There are always challenging times with employees. These struggles have solidified my belief in the importance of legal protections and clear policies and procedures to protect me, my business, and my employees—as well as the clients that need us to focus on their needs and not our drama. And trust me, I have experienced drama! I have had a former staff member take $1300 in a charitable donation after the loss of her mother and open her own studio essentially a month later. I have had another employee leave to open a sugar boutique, which closed within a year.
The biggest legal issue I have faced over the year has been a human rights tribunal case. In this case, an employee accused me of firing her because she was sick. In fact, I had learned that during the time of her illness, the employee was soliciting my clients, and sugaring them or giving them personal massage at home. This was a direct violation of the non-compete and non-solicitation agreement she had signed with SUGARMOON.
My employment lawyer, Hermie Abraham, spent a long time preparing the case (and preparing me for the possible outcomes). Although SUGARMOON won the case, there was a high financial and emotional impact. This was probably one of the most offensive and informative experiences for me as a boss and a business owner.
Protect Your Business and Yourself
It taught me to rely on the law. We now have our legal counsel review and set new employment standards to help us make better choices and work within the boundaries of the law. These choices offer clear business processes that allow me to relax and trust that my business, my employees, and my clients are protected and valued.
For all entrepreneurs, I suggest the following to help keep your company running smoothly:
During her fourteen years as the owner of SUGARMOON, Paola has experienced both the triumphs and the trials of being a female entrepreneur. In her Women of Influence web series, The Truth About Entrepreneurship: My Life on the Moon, she’s sharing stories and lessons from her journey as a business founder and owner. From financing, to expanding, to balancing motherhood, Paola offers a candid view and valuable insights for aspiring and fellow entrepreneurs.