As a small business, you surely prefer doing many things by yourself or in-house, as you're probably looking for ways to cut down on various costs. While this can pay off in certain instances like bookkeeping, there are some areas you are simply not well-versed in, where you need a professional's help. One such area is the legal aspect of your business.
If you're wondering whether hiring a lawyer for your small business is worth it, the answer will always be yes. Seeing as how they can help your business thrive in so many ways, it's important to find a law firm that is able to deal with a variety of matters. Therefore, it's also essential that you know what to look for when hiring an attorney. For instance, make sure they have plenty of experience, that they are well-connected, and that you can actually afford them.
With all of that in mind, here is how a good lawyer can help your small business be successful.Incorporating your business
Choosing a business structure
If your business is still in its conception stage, an experienced attorney will help you determine whether incorporation is something that you will actually benefit from. If you come to an agreement that incorporation is the right way to go, they will also help you conduct a name search, draft and file all the relevant documents, develop bylaws, and ensure you don't overlook anything important that might become a problem later.
Advising you on corporate governance
What is more, contacting a lawyer before you set up your company means they can be of great use when it comes to choosing the best business structure. How you structure your business will impact your taxes and liability, so helpful advice on whether you should opt for a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC should be more than welcome. They will know the pros and cons of each type and making the right decision early on can help set you up for long-term success.
Implementing policies and procedures
A business lawyer will also advise you on corporate governance. If your company is a corporation, there are legal requirements that must be met. Corporate attorneys can go over your current structure and see whether it can be made more effective so that you maintain your status and avoid various fines. For instance, you need to regularly meet with your partners and shareholders and have records of these meetings.
Helping with the hiring process
Other than business governance policies, there are other policies as well that lawyers can help you implement. For example, you need privacy policies that will protect your patients', clients', or customers' information. Your lawyer will also make sure all insurance policies are in place. Then, attorneys can also help with drafting employee handbooks and procedures in case of workplace disagreements and other issues.
Drafting and going over contracts
While on the topic of employees, it's important to keep in mind that employment is full of potential legal issues. For example, hours, wages, overtime, confidentiality, and discrimination are just some of the topics where attorneys can help. What is more, if you're considering hiring someone from another country, you need an experienced immigration lawyer who will ensure you are complying with all the local immigration laws. On the other hand, it's not unusual for disgruntled former workers to try and sue you for something you may or may not have done, which is another area where business lawyers can be of great assistance.
Protecting your intellectual property
In addition to drafting and revising employee contracts, which often include non-disclosure agreements, business lawyers also help when it comes to creating and going over all sorts of other contracts. Whether you are starting to work with a new vendor, have a new distributor, or are considering adding a partner to your company, reliable attorneys have the necessary skills to deal with all of these binding documents. The same goes for new clients; by deciding on the terms upfront, many potential disagreements can be avoided.
Guiding you through an expansion
A lawyer is also there to protect your business by helping you set up copyrights, trademarks, and patents. An expert in this field will tell you which ideas you need to protect and help you with the entire process. Seeing as how the patent application process is quite rigorous, you'll appreciate all the help you can get. This way, former workers and other businesses cannot steal your innovations.
Dealing with complaints and lawsuits
If everything goes to plan and potentially even better, you will probably be considering expansion. Well, an excellent business lawyer by your side can only make this endeavor easier. They can review your profits and losses, and help you find additional funding by referring you to venture capitalists and angel investors. Of course, they can also assess the risks and legal issues you might be facing with this undertaking.
Planning an exit strategy
It's a harsh truth but it has to be said – there is a possibility that your business will be sued for a variety of reasons. From disgruntled workers to unsatisfied customers all the way to fierce rivals, this is something that simply comes with the job. However, by having an experienced lawyer who can assess the lawsuits, you might be able to avoid going to court and reach a settlement. On the other hand, they might also realize that the suit is ungrounded or opt for a counterclaim.
Finally, regardless of your reasoning, you might choose to move on from your company. For example, if you don't see a future for your business, your lawyer can help you go over all the options. You might file for bankruptcy or look for someone else who'd want to acquire it. Maybe the business is doing fine but you don't want to run it anymore and want to transfer it to a family member. On the other hand, maybe you've grown your company so much that you now want to sell it and get a lot of money for it. All of this is something an experienced attorney can handle.
There are plenty of reasons why you should hire a lawyer for your small business, as you can see from the examples above. Just do a lot of research before you trust someone with your precious company.