For many small business owners, using a lawyer is akin to calling a fireman or plumber: one does it only when there's a problem. Especially for new businesses, needs such as marketing, sales, staffing and just getting the business off the ground can easily take priority over legal issues, particularly ones that don't seem to be of immediate concern. But smart business planning also includes preventing problems and making sure the business is protected against potential trouble.
Corporate Governance: While most corporations will use an attorney to help with the process of incorporation, new businesses sometimes neglect the ongoing legal requirements to maintain their corporation status. Annual shareholder, director, and partner meetings need to be held, and recording of minutes and election of officers must conform to state requirements. As a small business planning lawyer, I help businesses meet their legal requirements.
Employment Agreements: For many companies, especially technology companies, their employees' knowledge is an important asset. Too often, though, companies fail to protect these assets through employment contracts, such as non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. Inevitably, some employees will leave the company, and it's important to protect your business against the loss of trade secrets.
Exit Strategies: Entrepreneurs sometimes are so focused on starting a new business that they don't consider what happens if one of the principals leaves the business. When a partner or major shareholder decides to suddenly exit, it can potentially threaten the ability of the business to continue operating. Closely held corporations need to have buy-sell agreements or buy-back agreements to ensure that partners or major shareholders can sell their interest without legal entanglements or placing an undue financial burden on the company.
What about the cost of dealing with all these issues? Good lawyers are not cheap, but then again neither is any other consultant critical to your business. A brief consultation with a lawyer can often help to identify a business's legal needs. An investment in a lawyer's time, like a fire-code inspection or medical checkup, can help prevent major problems down the road. Contact my business law firm today to talk about how to protect your business.