Often, business owners only look for legal counsel in times of distress. For small business owners, this could be both a costly mistake and one that can end a business. Whether you’re a startup or established small business, hiring a business attorney in times of crisis is generally more expensive than retaining one sooner to prevent legal problems before they arise.
To avoid higher costs for your small business, working with an attorney before legal issues surface can help you gain control of responsibilities like navigating government laws, interacting with third parties and the public, and establishing rights and expectations of the founders upfront. For example, hiring court appearance professionals to negotiate and draft an agreement between business partners can prevent disputes as the business grows, which can help the business avoid litigation that costs thousands of dollars to resolve.
A lawyer can advise on the types of business entities available to help entrepreneurs take advantage of federal and state benefits and ensure that they have the right structure for growth and development. Legal counsel can guide small business owners into forming the entity that gives them the best ability to raise the capital they need to effectively manage their business. If this process is not followed, as the business grows, the legal fees to change the business structure and update records to meet its growth and development plans will be substantially higher.
Seeking legal advice from the beginning can help entrepreneurs make better business decisions, especially in regards to risks, funding, strategic partnerships, and logistics. For example, a good business lawyer can help entrepreneurs understand the risks and benefits of engaging in certain activities, and help guide them through legal and administrative processes.
He/she can also help entrepreneurs understand the types of funding sources available and advise them on development of a strategy to put the business on track to acquire the funding. Also, business lawyers usually meet with many other businesses and have a large network of referrals, which may be useful in forming strategic partnerships.
The right strategic partner can increase the sales of a business dramatically; they not only help increase sales, but also help a business grow and develop its systems, processes, and procedures which may open up opportunities to take the business to the next level.
A good business lawyer will also help new companies minimize risks of which small business owners are not aware. For example, they can help prevent complaints by local, state, or federal governments, and reduce the likelihood of the small business being subject to costly investigations.
Finally, a lawyer can review contracts with partners and/or vendors to make sure the terms are fair. Fair agreements consider every party’s concerns and issues and are usually complied with more readily by all; unfair agreements, conversely, are less likely to be complied with and generate conflict and litigation. This drives up the costs of running a business and threatens business operations.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you decide to hire a lawyer, retain one who understands your business. Someone with experience in technology may not be the best choice if you plan to open a retail store, for example. A lawyer who has experience with businesses like yours will be able to advise you on available options, as well as on your industry’s general best practices.
Are you a small business owner without legal representation, or are you starting a business? CPLS, P.A. founder Tee Persad has over 20 years experience practicing law in Central Florida. He specializes in business growth and litigation, and has worked with small, medium, and large businesses. Contact him today at 407-647-7887.