We've entered the home stretch of 2013 and the holidays are in full swing. The next few weeks will be hectic for everyone, but particularly for small business owners as it is easy to get overwhelmed this time of year. It's time to take a moment to stop and make sure your business is "legally fit" for 2014.
Previously, I've written about how professional advisors are an ace in the hole for small businesses. Many of you have responded by inquiring how to choose and work with the right attorney for your small business.
I get these emails, summarizing one side of an argument, asking me to guess or comment on fairness. For example, in an email I just received, the one asking me has worked for 18 months "with significant intellectual contribution."
Whether you're just starting out or you've been up and running for a while, now's the time to consider having a go-to lawyer for your business. When you actually need an attorney in live-time, you'll lose valuable time sharing your books, ideas, questions, and issues.
Although every startup is unique, there are certain common avoidable mistakes that can lead to legal complications that jeopardize the long-term success of the business. I'm not suggesting that every startup needs a lawyer, but you should definitely pay attention, and not be afraid to consult legal counsel if any of these raise qualms for you.
After you form a limited liability company, the first thing you should do is draft an operating agreement. And if you've already formed a limited liability company or you've already formed any kind of entity, you want to draft the equivalent of an operating agreement, as an internal document among co-owners.
Perhaps the most common type of discrimination claim that employers face is disparate treatment. Disparate impact and disparate treatment are two legal theories of discrimination, and it's critically important that you protect yourself and your business from these kinds of actions.
Negotiations are an area where small businesses often call for help from an attorney, but the decision to let an attorney handle negotiations can be tricky. So how do you know whether to let your attorney negotiate on your behalf or just be a sounding board to provide you with guidance?
Employees are often trusted with confidential and sensitive material while under your employment. But what happens when they are no longer working for the company, or have left for a competitor, taking all that valuable information with them?
It might be tempting to seal a deal with a handshake. After all, verbal formalities just slow things down—and as a small business owner, you've got countless other things to do to run your business. However, having the proper contracts in place will give you and your business solid legal protection should the need arise.