One question I get asked a lot here is: Do I need to hire a lawyer for my small business? It seems like a luxury that big corporations have to sit on their board, and fight off lawsuits. What good is a lawyer when you’re working out of your bedroom? Well, the truth is, every startup should consult a lawyer. In fact, the earlier the better. Not only will they provide sound business advice, they’ll protect you from any mistakes. There are plenty of legal issues your business needs to know about. In the early days, hiring a lawyer is all about tightening the ship. But, a good lawyer does much more than that. Here’s why you need one.
- Setting up the business structure
If you’re making money, no matter how small, you need to register with the tax man. It’s up to you to register your business, and set everything up professionally. Now, there are one or two different options here. You can set up as a sole trader (great for freelancers). You can set up as a partnership, or you can fully register as a limited company. A lawyer (alongside a good accountant), will help you choose the right one. Most importantly, they’ll explain your obligations and make sure everything operates within the law.
- Protecting your intellectual property
As a small business, your most valuable asset is your ideas. Every startup relies on potential. A small, simple idea could turn your company into the next Google. However, if someone steals that idea (maliciously or accidentally), your company is dead in the water. A lawyer will help you set up the correct intellectual property protection. That includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks. This is not something to leave to chance, and this process is complicated. Let a lawyer shine some light on things for you.
- Drawing up contracts
If you’ve ever sold a product or offered your services to a client, you’ve established a contract. Now, if that contract isn’t explicitly signed or agreed to, then you’re open to all sorts of legal problems. Things get even more complicated if you’re hiring staff or signing contracts with suppliers. You just never know what loopholes you’re leaving open. The experts at Meek Law Firm told us some horror stories about contracts. Don’t sign anything without a lawyer checking it first, and have them write up your contracts every time.
No business anticipates legal action, but it’s a big part of business. Especially as you grow larger. Lawsuits can rear their ugly head at any time in business, and it can cripple your company. The time and cost involved is enormous. However, with a good lawyer on speed dial, you can bat away litigation, and tackle it quickly and efficiently.
The final point is often overlooked by businesses. But, a good lawyer is the perfect addition to your board. They have seen it all when it comes to business law! They have an experienced and reasoned opinion. They are generally logical and intelligent people. They’ll help you navigate the stormy waters of business.
Trust me, it’s never too early to hire a lawyer. Strengthen the foundations from day one.