Growth is a top priority for small business owners, according to the most recent American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor report. Increased numbers of entrepreneurs report making capital investments into their business or hiring additional employees.
Growth is good – and it gets even better if you can avoid the ‘growing pains’ of expensive legal problems. The cost of an attorney can be high, so many Westchester business owners try to handle what they can on their own. Sometimes this is a prudent decision, but sometimes it can do more harm than good. Knowing when it’s time to hire a lawyer is an essential entrepreneurial skill: a skill your SCORE small business mentor can help you develop.
Protect Your Business As You Grow
Rieva Lesonsky, writing for SCORE, reported that the top reasons a small business owner would consult with an attorney were regulation compliance, debt collection, lawsuits, incorporation, trademark or patent issues and theft or fraud.
“The key to staying out of legal trouble is to think ahead at every stage of your business,” she writes. “From naming your company and designing a logo to negotiating a lease for your new business and hiring your first employee, entrepreneurship is ripe with legal traps that can trip up the uninformed.”
You Need a Lawyer, You Have A Budget: How Does That Work?
One way to save money on your legal expenses is to do much of the preliminary work yourself and then pay to have an attorney review what you’ve done and perform final steps, such as filing. There are many online legal sites that offer resources, articles, templates, legal forms and other tools to help you tackle simple legal matters.
Templates are particularly valuable tools, but only if you make sure to carefully read through the instructions that accompany each template. Contract templates are available for most common business situations, such as an agreement to sell goods or an employee agreement. You need to use written contracts in your business – without them, you have absolutely no way to protect yourself or your business! A good best practice is to create draft versions of the types of contracts you’re most likely to use, and then hire an attorney to review and improve them.
SCORE Westchester: Here to Help Small Business Owners!
Not sure what types of contracts you need? Confused about whether or not you need a lawyer to help you as you grow your small business? SCORE Westchester is here to help. Make an appointment. Our experienced, objective small business mentors will listen to your situation and provide you with the tools and resources you need to make the right decision. All services are free and confidential!