WorldExecutivesDigest.com | Why a Startup Business Needs a Lawyer | Starting a business is a costly affair and it will likely take you years before you see any real profit coming from your venture. That means you, as a business owner, are probably cutting all the corners you possibly can.
With not many employees and a small budget, you might be wondering if your startup actually needs a lawyer. However, the numbers of situations in which professional legal advice can mean the difference between success and the downfall of your startup are numerous. Having a lawyer is indispensable regardless of your business size, and here are a few reasons why.
Deciding on a business model
Even before setting up and registering your business, asking for professional legal advice might prove to be a smart decision. Many businesses start out as a solo project. In this case, matters are simple enough for the owner to handle them by themselves, with the right resources. However, when we’re talking about multiple owners or multiple investors, things get a bit more complicated and it’s better to ask a lawyer about the best business model for your case, as well as have them handle the legal paperwork. In addition, it is of crucial importance that all the founders of the business are on the same page and know exactly the extent of their power concerning the startup. This is another thing where it is wise to leverage a lawyer’s assistance.
Protecting your IP
Starting a business will also mean creating a brand which you naturally want to protect from plagiarism, fraud or any other kind of IP theft. A lawyer can help you with filing for copyright, patent or trademark when it’s necessary and make sure your intellectual property is safe. However, even when you are adequately protected, issues may occur. IP theft is common these days and the disputes around it can be exhausting for business owners. A lawyer will know how to react in these cases and resolve the issue effectively.
The next issue in which your startup will need a lawyer is employee rights. From the hiring process all the way to dismissing employees, there are a lot of legal pitfalls you want to steer clear of. First of all, the hiring process must be free of discrimination and you have to respect your employees’ privacy at the same time. You also have to be transparent, or you might face a legal dispute with a dissatisfied candidate. The necessity for a lawyer is even clearer in case you want to dismiss an employee. Talk to a professional before you do this to make sure that the process is according to the laws and you will not have to deal with a lawsuit later on.
Avoiding advertising issues
The next business aspect which seems innocuous but can bring trouble to you is advertising. You have probably heard of several instances of lawsuits because of false advertisement. Even when that was not the aim of the company, a misleading ad can make customers angry, and this can lead to costly settlements that might wreak financial havoc on your startup. This is why it’s essential that you get all your ads approved by a lawyer before they are run. It’s cheaper to pay for legal counsel than to deal with a lawsuit.
Last but not least, you should expect to face some commercial disputes down the line as a startup owner. These are common – one party might not deliver on their promise, causing the other problems. If something like this occurs, you need a reliable solicitor on your side to solve this issue effectively, regardless of which side of the dispute you find yourself on
As you can see, having a lawyer on retainer will not only make sure that you are doing everything by the book, steering clear of potential issues down the line, but it will also protect you in case trouble does find you. Spending on a good lawyer now will actually save you a lot of money in the future. So, it is quite clear that this is not where an ambitious startup should cut corners.
Mike is an Australian business consulting specialist. He’s working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several sites.