Whether you’ve been in business 10 days or 10 years, staying on top of potential legal issues is key to successfully keeping your small business going. If you need to take hours, days or even weeks to handle legal issues you could have prevented in the first place, you could lose money and customers. Plus, the need to drop everything and find an attorney to handle an emergency can be very stressful.
Check out the following resources – each offers tips and links to information you need to stay on top of potential legal issues as well as finding the right attorney for your specific business needs.
Know the basics.
Finding out the legalities involved with your business and industry is better done sooner than later, especially to set up a business structure, handle personal liability issues, know industry regulations or hire employees. Start with “Important Legal Tips for Starting a Small Business” on the Staples website. The list is a good one for startups, but also can act as a reminder for established businesses on staying on top of basic legal issues before they become major. Learn the legal requirements for small businesses through the Small Business Administration’s free 30 minute course. If you don’t have time to watch the video, you can download the SBA Legal Requirements Checklist.
Deal with vulnerabilities.
Avoiding legal problems in the first place starts with knowing where you are most vulnerable. Check out “7 Tips for Avoiding Small-Business Legal Potholes” by Intuit Quickbooks. This article offers 7 great tips related to staying out of legal trouble when it comes to employees, contracts and intellectual property.
Don’t wait until you’re desperate to find an attorney. Set aside time now to find a law firm to have on call when you run into legal challenges. Before you hire a firm, check out these “10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Small-Business Attorney” in Entrepreneur. You can also click here to read our blog post about questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line with a law firm.
In “5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses and Startups,” Entrepreneur writer Eyal Lifshitz recommends hiring specialists. Besides a corporate attorney to help you set up the structure of your business, you might also need a patent or trademark attorney for your logo/company name or product. Perhaps you need a law firm that specializes in employee issues.
For a list of corporate law attorneys, see our referral list for law firms in Washington state.