23/2/2017 0 Comments
Too often these days entrepreneurs go into business with the wrong idea about how an attorney can help them and when to call them. It’s understandable why they make the mistake, you don’t call a plumber unless you have a pipe problem, nor do you call a fireman unless there is a fire. However, one shouldn’t think about their business attorney in such a fashion.
This is especially true for new business owners. Sure, it’s easy for all the other things you need to do to get a successful enterprise off the ground to seem like they are a much larger priority, but in reality, you need your attorney right from the get go. The key is that you need to plan ahead to avoid possible legal entanglements that may arise once your business has some real value going for it. This is why experienced business owners always seek the advice of an attorney before there is an issue, rather than after one. Let’s run down just a few of the key areas of business planning in which an attorney can help a new business owner succeed:
Though it’s not the first thing on a young business owner’s mind, the intangible assets of the business are vulnerable to theft and need to be protected before someone has reason to want to steal thm, i.e. when the business is just getting setup. This includes the logo, name, brand, distinctive products, services, etc. All of these can and should be protected by appropriate copyright laws. What’s more, proprietary systems and software, chips, and hull designs (just to name a few) should also be trademarked. What’s more, if you have a process, you may want to patent it – something an attorney can help you determine and apply for if you decide it’s something your business needs. With the right protection, you can ensure you keep your competitive advantage.
If your business is or intends to be a corporation, there is more to the game than just applying for and securing corporation status. To keep the liability protection the corporation provides, your business must follow strict guidelines. For example, there need to be regular meetings for shareholders, directors, and partners with elections, minutes, and more. If your business does not follow these guidelines (and they do change as new laws are passed), you may find you lose your status as a corporation and the protection that provides. Hiring an experienced business attorney who understand corporate governance and changing laws and can help you stay a step ahead of any issues that could possibly disqualify your corporate status is the best option.
In many cases, one of the largest assets a company has is the knowledge of its employees. In such a situation, it would be fool hardy to proceed without the proper employee agreements in place, including non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. Just think of what may arise if a relationship with an employ sours and such agreements are not in place. Clearly the risk is too large to take. Consulting a business attorney right now, or before you hire any employees can help protect you against this. Your business attorney can help build employee contracts that include these and other important protections for your business.
One of the biggest things that business owners fail to plan for when they are just starting out is their exit strategy. However, this is a big mistake. What if you are in a partnership or corporation when a principal or major shareholder leaves the company? What happens then? If you don’t know, this is an essential area to prepare for when everyone is getting along and there are no issues on the horizon. This is definitely one you don’t want to wait on or you risk legal entanglements as well as unnecessary financial burdens.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
Beyond what I covered here, an experienced business attorney may have many other areas they can help you out with depending on your industry and specific nature of your business. Yoel Molina has spent years serving as small business attorney to countless small and medium sized businesses in Florida. If you own a business or are in the process of setting one up, the Law Offices of Yoel Molina are here to serve you as your business attorney team. Don’t hesitate, but call our offices today!