If you’ve asked yourself lately if you need a lawyer, you probably already do.
Every small business owner will need the counsel of a lawyer at some point over the life of their business whether it be to review contracts, discuss employment questions, or in the unfortunate event that a lawsuit arises from a dispute. At Lonzo Law, we advocate for being proactive in your legal needs to prevent unnecessary stress and confusion when a situation arises that demands the attention of a lawyer. Below we share the major milestones of owning a small business that you should be prepared to work with a legal partner.
1. Formation or Starting a Business
While the act of registering your business may seem like a do-it-yourself process online, working with a legal professional (and an accounting professional) during the formation of your business will be a benefit to you long term. A lawyer can discuss with you the type of legal structures that are available for your business, and which one makes the most sense for your business now and in the future. The process to change your legal structure once your business is operating is not only frustrating and time consuming, it also can cost your business a lot of money. Having a lawyer support you through this process can help you think through several scenarios for now and the future.
2. Providing Services or Products to the Public
You’ve officially launched and registered your business and now it’s time to start offering your services or products to the public. While you may think making money is the most important thing at this point, it’s crucial to take time to ensure you have adequate vendor agreements, contracts, waivers, and other terms or policies in place. It’s best to prepare and proactively protect yourself for the worst rather than be scrambling to fix a problem reactively when something goes wrong and you are facing possible litigation.
3. Leasing or Purchasing Your First Office Space or Building
When leasing or purchasing a property for your business, it is essential to have a realtor familiar with commercial real estate to help guide you through the process. However, including a lawyer in the process is often overlooked. A real estate broker is not able to provide legal advice when it comes to negotiating contracts. Commercial property contracts are not standardized like residential property contracts, so you want someone well versed in the nuances of these contracts to ensure they meet your needs, represent the deal you think you are getting, and protect your assets.
4. Hiring Employees or Contractors
Whether you started as a solopreneur or needed staff from day one, most small businesses need to hire employees or contractors at some point. Finding a legal partner to review your employee offers or contractor agreements will ensure all parties are protected. A lawyer can also help you to understand the state and federal employment standards and regulations while also ensuring you are utilizing the abilities offered to you as an employer.
5. Sunsetting or Expanding Your Small Business
When you decide it’s time for a change in your small business, you should consult with your counsel. Whether you are looking to sell, bring on additional partners, or purchase another business, a lawyer is vital to navigating this process. No matter what direction you are heading, these situations will be full of emotions and questions and having a trusted partner who can advocate on your behalf and provide a neutral sounding board will make the process less stressful and could result in greater benefits to you and your business.
When it comes down to it, small business owners need a legal partner they can trust to protect their business now and in the future. Our fractional in-house counsel model provides a cost-effective way for small business owners to be proactive, not reactive, in their legal needs. Contact us for more information.