While many small businesses have a CPA or finance expert on board, fewer are likely to have an attorney. Most small business owners (SBOs), especially those in operation for less than five years, don’t account for legal representation until an unwelcome situation arises. Ideally, a SBO thinks proactively and secures legal counsel before they find themselves in crisis mode.
Darnell Self, Executive Vice President of Networking and Business Development for LegalShield, relays a story about a large company pressuring a small business to pay a substantial sum, an amount the SBO didn’t believe was owed. Fortunately for this business owner, he was able to enlist a lawyer in time to request a review of his contract. The professional advice and swift action on the attorney’s part enabled the SBO to avoid a financially devastating situation. Darnell’s tale is a cautionary one – not all attorneys are as readily available as they were in this case, underscoring the importance of having an attorney-client relationship established prior to an emergency arising.
Still uncertain if a lawyer is worth the investment? Here are five more reasons SBOs need an attorney:
- Contract and Document Review: This is critical because of the need for business owners to have a solid understanding of the contracts they are binding themselves to. It also allows for the opportunity to be professionally advised before important papers or documents are signed.
- Contractor or Supplier Disputes: Business owners aim to keep relationships functional and smooth, but when things go awry, it’s best to have representation when your company has contractor, vendor, or supplier conflicts that surface.
- Product Liability Issues: The marketplace is no stranger to rapid product recalls and issues that affect the functionality and operation of goods. Having skilled attorneys at your side can prevent unnecessary hassles and headaches as well as protect your brand.
- Employee Theft: No business owner wants to deal with internal thievery, whether intellectual property, monetary, or proprietary assets. But the reality is, employee theft happens even when the best processes are enforced. Small business attorneys can walk you through the best resolution.
- Threats of Customer Lawsuits: With the proliferation of lawsuits that continue to mount in this country alone, it’s assuring to have peace of mind, knowing you can defer to a legal professional who has you and your business’s best interest in mind.
Establishing a relationship with a trusted, competent attorney and adding them to your portfolio of business advisors is an important step in securing your business. Further, take the stress of legalese off your plate by educating yourself through the myriad legal sites available for free online. Not only will you gain a better understanding of legal issues that can impact your business investment, but you can also access forms and templates to tackle simple legal matters on your own. The cliche remains true – Knowledge is Power!