Legalities, no matter where your business operates, are a minefield to navigate. One moment you think you’re fine and the next someone is threatening to sue, and you’re left wondering just how thoroughly your T’s were crossed, and I’s dotted.
The reasons for engaging legal professionals aren’t always clear to SMBs. Many will have started small, having no previous need for contracts and advice on compliance, trademarks, and other legal areas. But as a business moves from a simple solo operation to an organization with suppliers, employees and a range of customers and clients, getting professional legal help, in particular cases, is essential to ensure your business grows profitably, with full compliance, and with no risk of being sued.
Here’s the good news: with the rise of online legal services such as LegalZoom LawDepot, and Rocket Lawyer, getting legal help is no longer as expensive and complicated as it once was
While you don’t need to have an attorney or legal professional on retainer at all times, there are a few critical tasks that no business should take on alone.
1. Company Set-Up
When a business expands or first establishes, it is essential to determine whether to set up as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC). Most business leaders aren’t going to be experts in which route to take. By working with a lawyer or legal services provider, you can determine which business set-up is more applicable to your operation. They can guide you on the benefits and downsides and help you decide which route is going to be best; then they can prepare the necessary paperwork.
Contracts apply to the agreements you have with your suppliers, landlord/s, and employees, as well as those that are set between your business and your clients or customers. Failing to have an expert eye reviewing contracts could open your organization up to being taken advantage of by someone else, or could land you in hot water if you’re failing to meet contractual obligations as a business or employer. A legal professional can help to prepare the standard contracts necessary for your customers, clients, and suppliers, as well as helping you respond to contracts that other people will want you to sign.
3. Employee Issues
Occasionally employee issues occur and many businesses will not know how to deal with them. A business attorney or legal pro can help to navigate murky waters and make sure that the different laws, codes, and regulations are met, as well as guiding you on how best to deal with any ongoing issues. Getting in hot water because of employee issues is not only a risk to your bottom line with court fees, but it can also impact your ability to hire good talent in the future and can tarnish your business reputation.
4. Real Estate
Leases on commercial space are often highly complex, and in all cases, they are designed to benefit the landlord. Whether it’s the first time renting commercial property or the 10th, it is critical to get a legal eye over the agreement to ensure your business isn’t being set up to be the loser in these agreements. A legal professional can help to review the documents, understand your needs, and draft up a “tenant’s addendum” that lists the provisions that benefit you.
One of the keys to running a successful company is knowing your expertise and sticking to them. And unless your business is directly in line with the legal field, we’re guessing that your strengths lie elsewhere. That’s it’s important that you leave these tasks to the pros. To see what’s out there to help you navigate the legal sphere, check out the CUE Marketplace for a range of legal software and document services for small to medium businesses.