First, I would like to say I am not an attorney, but I did run my own consignment shop for five years. What a life-changing experience it is to run a small business. Lucky for me, one of the first things I did was hire an attorney. With so much to learn as a small business owner, the last thing I ever thought about or ever had heard of is this thing called a minutes book. What is that? Why did I need that? Is there a meeting that happens with that? Also, what is an EIN number? Oh, not to mention should I have my attorney look over my lease? When a new consignor would come in, they were required to sign a contract. Does my lawyer look over the one I already have, or do I need a new one? Can one person really handle all this unknown on their own? The answer possibly but not very well! With an attorney, you will have someone who is getting paid to help lead you to make informed decisions. They don’t always tell you what you want to hear, but they are paid to give you options so you can be aware of the decisions that you could make and hopefully repercussions of making the wrong decisions. I often hear that lawyers aren’t paid to tell you what you should do, but more the problems with what you could do.
Attorneys are paid to tell you the potential consequences of whatever decision you want to make. That’s why you must have thorough conversations with your attorney. Most of us don’t know the law well or we’d be lawyers ourselves. Learning from their advice so we can make informed decisions is what we can get from the attorneys. Take your time and ask all the questions you have. You should never feel like you are asking the wrong questions or too many questions for that matter. They are paid to be in your corner.
Hiring a business attorney is different than hiring any other attorney. Most of the time when you hire an attorney, you hire the attorney to do a specific job for you. Whether you like them or hate them, you are paying them for some sort of service. The goal of a criminal attorney is to make the criminal process of being arrested easier to deal with and get the individual something better than they could have gotten on their own. The goal of the family law attorney is to make the divorce process or custody process less painful. The goal of an estate probate attorney is to make the estate process easier. When it comes to a business attorney, you are looking to develop a longstanding relationship with this individual. You want to make sure you have chemistry with them and that they understand not just your business, but you personally and what you value most about being a small business owner.
So assuming you find a lawyer, then these are just a couple of things you should consider, as I was mentioning earlier when you are starting a business:
- Is my entity filed with the Department of State?
- Do I have an operating agreement or shareholder agreement?
- Do I have a Minute book? Your corporate minute book proves that your business is valid and properly structured. It also provides a record of all current and past shareholders and the consideration that was given for their shares. Yes, you should have a meeting at least once a month.
- Do I need a corporate seal?
- What are the benefits and hurdles of having a partner?
- What sort of tax issues could come up?
- What happens if someone sues us?
- Do we have enough insurance?
- What’s an EIN number and what does it do? (hint, Employer Identification Number is also known as a Federal Tax Identification number)
- Do I have a lease that should be reviewed?
- For that matter, am I going to use any other contracts that I should have reviewed?
- What happens if a customer doesn’t pay?
- What happens if we don’t make enough money to pay our bills?
- Do I need a certified public accountant?
- What do I need to know when I want to hire an employee?
- Should I buy real estate?
- Should I buy company property using my personal accounts?
- How can I sell my business?
- Who do I call when something goes wrong?
- Do I need an employee handbook or policy guide?
In my closing thoughts, I feel having an attorney assist me with my business was money that was spent was well worth it. I would highly recommend hiring one if this is a dream or an opportunity you are fortunate to have come true or if you have been in business for years and just never felt like you needed an attorney.
Rick Law offers a free legal review audit of your business. Whether by telephone or zoom, the lawyers at Rick Law will review your business documents and your business plan and offer suggestions on ways to improve your business. To book a free audit or inquire about Rick Law’s monthly maintenance business plans, click the link below and set up a free appointment with our managing partner, Charles Rick, Esquire. You will be happy you did!