I Own A Small Business - Do I Need A Lawyer?
“Running a small business can be challenging, rewarding, overwhelming, stressful and exhilarating – often all at the same time! So how do you know if you need a lawyer? This can sometimes be tricky, especially given everything else you are supposed to know when running your business.
They say ‘prevention is better than cure’, and that is true here. It is better to get your business lawyer on board sooner rather than later, to help gets things right at the beginning, before you have to call later when something goes wrong.
Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Starting out? – Talk to your business lawyer and get advice on your business structure options. This can make a real difference to the way your profit is distributed and to your personal asset protection.
2. Have business partners? – Talk to your business lawyer about your exit strategy. If you get this wrong, you can find yourself with all sorts of problems should you (or one of your partners) wish to leave at some stage.
3. Policy compliance – Are you complying with all applicable laws? Better to be safe than sorry, consult with your business lawyer!
4. Entering into a contract or agreement? – Always get legal advice first. There is no substitute for preparation, and you need to know what you are signing and what your obligations are. Make sure that the document says what you think it says, and does what you want it to do.
5. Embroiled in a dispute? – A lawyer here is priceless. They will offer you objective advice and explain your options. There are often two sides to a story, and sometimes you need to be able to step back and talk to someone who can methodically go through the facts and carefully and clearly explain where to from here.
Your business lawyer should be able to work with you to move your business forward, to help when you need it, and to really understand you and your business, what you want to achieve, and why. Working together should be easy, and you should feel supported and confident in who you are working with.
What about the cost? Ask upfront. Once you know what you need your business lawyer to do, ask what the estimate of costs (or professional fees) will be. Lawyers are required to provide this information to you. Your circumstances may change along the way, and what you need may change. That’s fine. You can keep on top of the estimate of legal fees simply by asking. Your lawyer really won’t mind!”
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Tracey Mylecharane - Solicitor
Tracey Mylecharane has more than 12 years’ experience in legal practice and has developed considerable knowledge of business and commercial law issues. She has acted for small and medium businesses across several industries and has been able to assist clients with a vast range of issues from start-up structures and systems, supplier and third-party contracts, to partnership break-ups and dispute resolution (both in and out of court).