New Business Owner? Avoid These Common Startup Mistakes

The startup life can be exciting and for many the learning curve is huge. In the midst of growth and opportunity, many entrepreneurs make costly legal mistakes which can be easily avoided with the proper preparation. Here are some of the most common legal missteps made by businesses in the startup phase:

Not Drafting a Clear Founder Agreement

A crystal-clear agreement between co-founders before you start making a profit (or losses, as the case may be) will prevent financial misunderstandings about who gets what and when. Decide early on how profits will be distributed and losses made up to avoid much bigger conflict down the road. Use the “Agreement Process” (part of our LIFT Foundation System) to determine how you handle the hard issues, right up front, before you make big investments.

 Starting as a Sole Proprietorship

Sole proprietorships are easy to set up but expose you to personal risk and potentially higher taxes. Consider an LLC or S-Corporation to protect your personal assets and possibly even reduce your tax burden.

Ignoring Securities Laws When Issuing Stock

They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same adage applies to startups. If you want to issue stock to those who’ve helped you along the way, heed all state and federal securities laws. Contact us before you issue any stock, so we can get you set up right.

Not Having Enough Employment Documentation

Every startup should have a set of comprehensive employment (or independent contractor) agreements in its arsenal. Avoid the high cost of resolving employee conflicts in court by making sure your policies and agreements are absolutely clear, and that you’ve properly categorized team members as either employees, or independent contractors. If you aren’t sure, contact us.

Neglecting IP Protections

Your intellectual property is an asset, and should be protected from day one. That means trademarks registered, and copyrights filed. If you aren’t sure what needs protecting, contact us to get an audit scheduled.

Failing to Develop a Tax Strategy

If you’re not making a lot of money, why worry about taxes, right? Think again. Work with a tax advisor to develop a tax strategy, and don’t wait until tax season to do so! We meet with our clients’ and their tax advisor at least annually in the Fall to begin identifying the tax opportunities that must be planned for well before year end.

Negligent Naming

Before you register your name or your domain, make sure there aren’t any trademarks or similarly named companies already using your name.

Not Having Clear User Agreements

Don’t launch your website without getting terms of use agreement and privacy policy in place and on your site. We can help with that too.

Perhaps the biggest legal mistake a startup can make is not having good legal counsel. Don’t wait until it’s too late to hire an attorney to help you avoid sticky situations. Having a trustworthy and experienced attorney in your ring from day one will help you start-up with the solid foundation you need for success.

Startups can be risky ventures, but with sound planning, you can beat the odds. If you want to avoid the costly legal mistakes many startups make, begin by sitting down with a Business Lawyer. As your Business Lawyer, we can establish a sound legal, insurance, financial, and tax system for your business so you can focus on running your growing startup.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today at 832.408.0505 to schedule.

Small Business Financing at the End of the Brick and Mortar Era

As more banks close local branches and eschew brick and mortar growth, small businesses face uncertain times. With fewer branches in which to form trusted financial relationships, business owners often must rely on online banking for everyday needs.

This poses a problem for small business owners who previously benefited from personal relationships with bankers when seeking financing. Although a computer algorithm might not recognize the potential of a small business from an online loan application, personal bankers often can, making local banking branches an important source of funds for small businesses.

So, what can small businesses do to secure vital financing in a world where brick and mortar branches are closing their doors? Where can they turn for personalized financing? Can online banking be trusted?

Entrusting a banking app with the financial livelihood of your business might make small business owners uneasy, especially when facing rejection from online loan applications that only take into consideration hard numbers like credit scores and revenues.

You can offset this disadvantage by working with a skilled advisor—such as a Business Lawyer—who can help you plan for the future and secure financing for growth on your own terms. A Business Lawyer can do two things: help you prepare to secure financing from a bank and help keep you in excellent financial shape allowing you to rely less on financing and more on growth.

A Business Lawyer knows what big banks want to see in an applicant and can help you represent your business as an  attractive candidate for financing. By coordinating your business formation, tax strategy, insurance policies, and financial operations, a Business Lawyer can ensure your business is a sound investment for any financier.

But securing a small business loan is just the start. To focus on growth, you’ll want to put financial systems in place that minimize your reliance on financing while maximizing the performance of the funding you do obtain.

Securing financial backing for small businesses is harder than ever, but with sound planning, you can beat the odds. If you want to put systems in place to boost your financial fortitude, begin by sitting down with a Business Lawyer. As your Business Lawyer, we can establish a sound legal, insurance, financial, and tax system for your business so you can focus on growth and reach your full potential.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today at 832.408.0505 to schedule.

How to Increase Well-Being While Running a Successful Business That Seems to Require All Your Time and Energy

Think business is all work and no play? It’s that mindset that will hold you back from reaching your potential. Your happiness matters. The problem is, the pressure of running a business can make it seem that prioritizing self care and your overall well-being is next to impossible, or even irresponsible. But, in fact, the opposite is true.

If you don’t prioritize self-care, your business will never succeed to the level you want. It’s a tricky balance that you will only be able to master if you see through the belief patterns that are holding you back.

Here’s something to look at that can have a big impact on your achievement of true success, going forward.

Let Your Discomfort Guide You, Appropriately

Quite often, traditional success is driven by fear of failure, a need to prove something, or a mind that tells you that when you [insert your favorite achievement oriented goal], then you will be able to be happy.
Unfortunately, what most often happens with success driven from this place, is you’ll hit the goal, but still not be happy.

Or you’ll be happy for a few minutes, and then it’s on to the next goal. Always chasing, never satisfied.

Typically, that’s happening because your relationship to discomfort is out of whack.

You are trying to solve for your discomfort with achievement, when really what your discomfort is asking for is self-care.

And, if you don’t listen to the request properly because you were never taught what self-care looks like, or because you don’t know how to listen to the part of you that’s uncomfortable, you will keep feeding the discomfort the wrong kind of nourishment.

Recognize What Your Mind is Telling You

In order to get into right relationship with your discomfort, you first need to notice that your mind is driving all of this.

It is using discomfort to speak to you.

But only because it’s the only way it knows to get your attention. Like a small child that keeps trying to get your attention, until it needs to use the most atrocious negative behaviors to do so, your mind will keep trying to tell you what it wants.

And, it’s way of doing so will get louder and louder, and uglier and uglier, until one day, it may make you very sick, just so you finally hear it.

Ideally, you can see it far before that point (like right now) and make the life changes it’s asking for, not by achieving more, but by caring for yourself more.

Embrace Discomfort

Entrepreneurs make tough decisions every day. They also have tough conversations. Whether it’s discussing an employee’s performance or a recent hiccup in operations, approach uncomfortable situations with a well-thought out plan, specific suggestions for improvement, and confidence.

Along those same lines, put preventative measures in place—like drafting better legal contracts—to mitigate uncomfortable situations.

Set Boundaries

Driven entrepreneurs often hire like-minded people who are passionate about work and motivated to do whatever it takes to succeed. They work hard and get results! But it’s just as important to set healthy boundaries, especially with a team of dedicated professionals. It’s vital that you model excellent self care by taking good care of yourself and encouraging your team to do the same.  Work hard and don’t lose sight of the importance of your own mental health and well-being.

Take Care of Yourself

As a business owner, your bandwidth is not unlimited. Running a business is a mentally draining endeavor. When you suffer, your business suffers.

Put systems in place to ensure legal and financial issues are taken care of before they stress you out. This can include proper tax planning and auditing your insurance policies to ensure your business is well protected. Minimizing problems can free up your mental energy so you can actually enjoy the excitement and freedom of entrepreneurship.

Train with the Experts

Looking after your mental health and well-being is no easy task. Seek out the help of experts in  developing excellent techniques for relaxation and reducing anxiety, such as meditation and mindfulness training.

Don’t let self care take a back seat while building a successful business.  If you’re ready to expand the value of your business by implementing systems that ensure your mental health is at the top of the list, start by sitting down with a Business Lawyer. As your Business Lawyer, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including how to preserve your well-being as an entrepreneur. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today at 832.408.0505 to schedule.

Mentorship Matters: How to Learn From Leadership

Mentoring can play a significant role in the success of any entrepreneur. Mentoring takes vision, dedication, and respect, all vital attributes for a mentor to attain in order to contribute positively to the growth of a mentee.  Let’s look at a few things you can do to mentor up and coming entrepreneurs and how these traits can help both parties climb to the top.

Envision a Positive Future

Everyone has to start somewhere. Today’s server could be tomorrow’s CEO. This familiar narrative is just as applicable to today’s CEO. To encourage the next generation of business leaders, it helps to know how to achieve your own career goals. Mentees benefit when people with experience encourage them to keep their eyes on the prize, and mentors benefit by reaffirming the principle that envisioning a positive future—and working toward that future—is the key to success.

Seek Experiential Learning

Envisioning a more successful future isn’t enough to bring that vision into reality, which is why job shadowing is so important. Experiencing that future in the present is the very best way to plan for it. And this is precisely what mentees need: to experience the future career they want now.

Some may have a change of heart after job shadowing a mentor, but it’s all part of working toward a future in real time that is right for them. Mentors can learn from this experience, too. By dedicating your time to giving mentees positive experiences, you’ll learn a great deal about the experience needed to achieve your own goals.

Successful business leaders seek out opportunities to learn and advance in their careers. Even if you are quite far down the path in your own career, consider using mentorship as a way to consciously get in touch with your own ambitions and take positive steps toward attaining them. Find those who have experienced the success you desire. Take some classes to refresh or sharpen your skills. No matter where you are in your career, gaining experience should always be a top priority.

Lead with Respect

Helping mentees envision and experience successful futures can help them decide where they want their career to go and how to get there. As a mentor, consider taking it one step further and treat your mentees like the future business leaders they are. Having someone in your chosen career field encourage you and believe in your future is indispensable in achieving your goals.

Having respect for young businessmen and women—and ourselves—is instrumental in professional advancement. When you have respect for others, you tend to give yourself more respect, and for a good cause, too. This is not just sound business advice, but this is a life lesson! A business leader who dedicates time to mentoring those early in their careers makes a positive impact on their industry. That, in turn, makes them a more valuable member of the business community, a necessary component to career advancement.

The key to achieving your career goals is always to keep growing and striving. But part of that process is knowing how to protect your interests to safeguard your future. If you are ready to take that step toward protecting the future you are working so hard for, begin by sitting down with us.

As your Business Attorney we are here to help you face the many challenges of owning and growing a business. We are experienced in helping entrepreneurs put protective measures in place to ensure their time can be spent on growth and giving back to the business community instead of putting out fires and fixing problems. If you want to safeguard your future, we can help you implement a robust legal, insurance, financial and tax system that protect your interests while you help others—and yourself—envision and work toward a more positive future.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

The Foolproof Training Method to Expand Your Business

One of the most critical components to building a company, as opposed to a solo practice, or even a business where you are managing everyone and everything, is to learn to step into your full leadership.

A primary key to that leadership is your ability to train your team so that you can confidently delegate key tasks and responsibilities that will free you up and allow your business to grow.

As a business owner, management is not the highest and best use of your time, energy, and talents. Carefully selecting support staff and then training them using a business model that emphasized leadership over management is an effective place to begin.

Most business owners train their team members using a project management style of training. Specific tasks are given, followed by specific instructions on how to do those tasks. The next logical step is for the owner to then monitor whether the tasks were done to the proper specifications.

This is not leadership. It’s project management. Using this model, the people you’ve hired will be disempowered, and you will get stuck in the role of babysitter, rather than leader.

Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple put it well when he said, “When you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.”

Unless you want to be your company’s project manager, micro-managing details and always feeling stuck in the weeds, there’s an alternative methodology for training your team members that will establish your leadership and get the results you want, right from the start.

Outcome, Resources, Deadlines, and Check-Ins

When you are bringing on a new team member, instead of giving them specific tasks and specific ways to perform those tasks, and then holding them accountable to those tasks, give them outcomes, resources, deadlines, and check-ins.

Here’s how that looks:

First, identify the specific outcome the company needs.

For example, we need to publish a weekly article to our website and then send it out as a newsletter to our clients. Or, we need to send out a monthly newsletter to our clients each month. Or, we need to use this tracking software to ensure that everyone who calls our office gets a response weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

Second, give the team member the specific company resources available to meet this outcome.

In our case, using the weekly article as an example, I would let the team member know where I’ve found or curated articles in the past. Or let the team member know to ask me for the article each week. I would then give the team member a login to our website and the service we use to send out the newsletter. I would also provide a document with standards for posting the weekly article and sending out the newsletter.

Third, give the team member a deadline.

Let your new team member know specifically when he or she is expected to have this outcome completely handled without any input from you. Then, let your team member begin, with you working in parallel, also completing the task yourself as a transition period, and set a  deadline date for the team member to take it over completely.

Finally, schedule periodic check-ins between the time that the outcome is given and the deadline date.

This allows the team member to communicate challenges  and identify any missing information.

This method allows your new team member to get in there and just start figuring it out, and make some mistakes (which is a key part of learning) while also having the support necessary to fill in any gaps in the training or resources.

Still not clear? Imagine you are trying to teach someone to tie their shoes. You could explain it for hours and hours. You could even show them how to do it. But until they get their hands on the laces,play around with them and make mistakes, they won’t ask for help – and they won’t learn to tie their shoes.

Make a shift today from the project management style of training and into the leadership style of training and watch your business expand. As your Business Attorney, we can help you to make decisions around your hiring process and ensure you are bringing A-level people to your team, to allowing this effective leadership style to be effortless.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Brand or Bust? Why Branding Is Essential to the Longevity of Your Business

A strong, identifiable brand is an invaluable asset to any company. Many businesses can reap major rewards by building a brand image that accurately reflects the strength of the company. And in today’s business world, branding is necessary for businesses looking for longevity and growth.

So, what do small businesses need to know about branding in the business world? Branding might seem like just another marketing buzzword, but it is a simple, yet powerful tool. A brand is essentially an image that communicates important messages about the value of your company to the public. A logo can provide an easily recognizable image of your brand, but that logo—and everything you put it on—needs to send a consistent message. Consistency is the key to effective branding for longevity because it creates memories through repetition, and those memories can have a positive impact on the loyalty of your customer base.

Your brand should accurately reflect your business and the traits that set you apart. You need first to identify your message and develop a strategic plan for communicating it. Your logo is just a start. Develop your company’s “voice” and ensure it is used consistently in all written communications. This includes your website, any promotional materials, email marketing campaigns, ads, and social media posts. Just like your logo, all communications with prospective clients should be consistent across all channels. Consider taglines, tunes, and avatars. Your brand can communicate anything you want. But, by default, it can also communicate things you don’t want. A well planned brand strategy will ensure you are sending the right message across the right channels. A consistent and effective brand creates loyal followers, and those followers can help your business withstand the test of trends and time.

If you have a consistent message and express it effectively through a diverse marketing strategy, you’re off to a good start to building lasting brand equity. A strong brand image can add value to your business, your products, or services.

Brand equity has immense value, especially to your competitors. Thus, no brand strategy is worth the effort unless you take steps to protect it. Components of your brand—such as your logo and brand voice—need protection. As a piece of intellectual property, your brand is an asset that, if compromised, can negatively affect your business’s future.

To keep your brand is protected, you need to start by ensuring your brand does not violate any other company’s intellectual property protections. Run a trademark search and check state registration databases. Building a brand is an investment of both time and money, so you don’t want to have to start over and risk confusing or losing your followers. Part of this step is making sure your brand is clearly distinct from that of your competitors. The likelihood of confusion is the legal standard by which your brand will be held, so make sure your brand is clearly original.

Next, file for a copyright of your brand image. It’s easy and affordable to file a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, but specificity is the key here. A copyright prohibits copying a piece of writing, a software code, a design, or similar assets. Certain companies should consider patents too, so always consult with a lawyer for guidance on protecting your brand.

When it comes to branding, it is wise to protect the valuable image your business has created. Work with a lawyer to ensure your brand and all your intellectual property is protected. If you want to protect the brand you build, begin by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you protect your brand and all your intellectual property. We can also help you put valuable legal and financial protections in place to ensure your company is protected, so you can focus on growth, potential, and all the reasons why you love doing business.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

What to do When Your Business is Out of Bounds and Work Starts to Take Over Your Personal Life

In the digital era when you can be reached 24/7 through smartphones and social media, it can be more difficult to set firm boundaries that support your wellbeing and the productivity of your business. When you find yourself frustrated, resentful, or feeling obligated to respond to tweets, FB messages and emails at all hours of the day and night because you “have to”, it’s time to reassess and redefine your business boundaries.

The first step is to get clear about the difference between “have to” and “want to”, considering the possibility that a lot of the time you are spending responding to emails, tweets and Facebook messages during “off” hours are happening because you are choosing to do so, not because you have to do so. So, first and foremost, get clear on your motivations.

Are you responding to clients after hours because you are avoiding something in your personal life? Or, are you addicted to the high of being needed? Or maybe you just like it and it’s not something you have to do at all, but you really do want to be that available.

Next, if you really do want to create more boundaries between your work life and your personal life, it can be as simple as making the choice.

Decide to limit the hours when you respond to emails, calls, messages, and social media posts. Being connected via smartphone all day doesn’t mean you have to maintain a consistent level of responsiveness.

Set up regular business hours in which you will respond to messages, and stick to it. Enforce those hours by including them in business contracts, too. Communication is the key. When you communicate your boundaries to clients and team members, you’ll find that people are happy to respect your boundaries.

Along those lines, don’t make yourself fully available all day long. Don’t use your personal cell phone for business, and always keep your business lines and accounts separate from your personal ones. Take responsibility for when people can contact you, and send business calls to voicemail after hours. Better yet, get an assistant who can handle your phones and accounts so you can focus on running your business, not responding to messages.

And, lastly, make sure you respect the value of your time. Giving away services, indulging prospects in long consultations, and handing out free and discounted services to personal contacts all discount your value. Not only can this leave you feeling unappreciated at the end of the day, but it also sets up the expectation that you are overly generous with your time.

Time is money, as any business owner will tell you, so make sure you are being compensated fairly for your time. Again, skillfully crafted contracts can help you communicate enforce this particular boundary.

If you are unclear about the value of your time, and how to create boundaries around your time, ask us about our Money Map Life and Income planning process so we can help you with this. Protecting your time and value as an entrepreneur is important. Setting clear boundaries and knowing when to enforce them can help you keep your sanity while running a business. But to do this, you need to have measures in place to ensure those who do business with you have clear and reasonable expectations. If you want to take that step toward setting clear business boundaries, start by sitting down with us.

As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face everyday as a leader in business, including when and how to set boundaries. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemkaers, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule today!

Steps You Can Take Now to Create a Succession Plan

Many small businesses are family owned. While family owned businesses enjoy the benefit of familial solidarity, their strength is often threatened when it’s time for leadership to be passed down. Succession plans help ensure the transition from owner to owner is an easy one, but many small and family-owned businesses do not have such a plan in place.

You may think that succession planning doesn’t reap immediate benefits, and as a result overlook it as a critical component of your current business success. However, what we’ve repeatedly found is that succession planning now strengthens your business, supports it to grow now and allows for the longevity and legacy you desire.

And, the best part of succession planning is that it can allow you to chart the vision for your future, as the business owner, so that you can begin to experience the freedom you may have desired when you first started your business.

Growth

Employees brought in from outside the company (and the family) might become disappointed with the opportunities—or lack thereof—for growth. A family-owned business that cannot attract talent to take the reins and keep the company viable throughout a leadership transition is risking a lot and can keep your company from the growth you desire.

Small-business owners need to clarify each employee’s role, including its limitations. Being upfront about the room for growth from the beginning can help employees make the most of their positions and allow them also to be clear about what they want out of the role and how they want their talents to be used. Small business owners should be flexible when attracting top talent. If they are not able to provide them room for growth, they should be sure the position is worthwhile in other ways if advancement is not a possibility.

Reluctant Leadership

When a business owner starts from the ground up and sacrifices years of time and money to grow his or her business, it can be hard to let it go. Some business leaders are reluctant to retire because they have a psychological investment in the company. This can create significant barriers to succession planning before it’s too late.

Begin by creating a phased transition plan. A phased transition plan can help you to retain some involvement while incoming leaders learn the ropes. This works to break down the barriers in passing the baton. Easing out of and into new roles creates a more successful transition as the incoming leader takes time to get to know and understand how the current leader sees the future of the company.

If you are ready to create a succession plan, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including when and how to hand off leadership roles. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers. We, at GP Schoemakers, PLLC, offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule your private and confidential session and find out your business LIFT status.

Reducing Risk: 3 Business Agreements That Will Decrease Your Liability Risk

Those new to the business world often lack the first-hand experience of initiating and building healthy business relationships. But protecting these vital relationships with carefully crafted business agreements—such as those for co-owners, suppliers, and clients—is essential to growing a new business without the risk of being taken advantage of or of burning valuable bridges. To decrease the risk of liability in your business relationships, here are three of the most common agreements that every business owner should have customized and ready to go.

Owner Agreements

No matter how your business is structured, you need comprehensive owner agreements if you have co-owners, founders, shareholders or partners. Mistakes get expensive if you don’t have solid agreements between the owners when something goes wrong. Agreements should outline the terms and conditions applicable if one owner wants to go his or her separate way. Putting everything in writing will allow you to focus your energy on growing your business instead of on arguing about who said what, when and who was going to do what on which time frame.

Worker Agreements

Team member agreements protect both parties – you and them. These include agreements for independent contractors (think web developers and graphic designers) to clarify the terms and conditions of the work, and who owns the work they are creating as well as employees. Hiring with complete agreements – in writing – will ensure you are both on the same page regarding employment status, performance expectations, and job requirements. Although you should have agreements for both employees and independent contractors, make sure you clearly distinguish who is in what role. You could face tax and other penalties if you improperly classify a worker.

Customer and Vendor/Supplier Agreements

Your customers make your business possible, especially when you’re just starting out. Every sale is essentially a contract between your business and your customer, so make sure you are putting the proper legal protections in place. Terms of service and privacy policies will do some of this work for you, but make sure you consult with a lawyer to determine the specific clauses you need in your client/customer agreements to provide the most protection for the relationship long-term.

Your vendors and suppliers make your customer base possible. They help you meet demand and are instrumental to your business’s viability. Your vendor and supplier agreements should provide both parties with legal protections and make sure your needs are met by the relationship. Vendor and supplier relationships can make or break a new business’s success, so make sure you fortify them with clear, detailed agreements.

If you want to protect your business interests and limit your liabilities, start by sitting down with a Business Lawyer. We are experienced in helping entrepreneurs achieve success through careful financial and legal planning. As your Business Lawyer, we can establish a sound legal, insurance, financial and tax system for your business so you can focus on increasing revenue and enjoy the benefits entrepreneurship.

GP Schoemakers, PLLC offers a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Why Startups Need Lawyers, Not Legal Templates

When growth and funding are top priorities, it is wise to not let legal soundness fall to the wayside. Not surprisingly, 1 in 10 startups fails due to overlooked legal issues. Without a lawyer looking out for your best interests, it’s easy to miss common legal mishaps that pose a threat to any startup.

Mistake #1: Many startups rely on legal templates easily downloadable online to “cover their bases” and save money. What seems like a wise choice from an economic perspective can lead to significant liability if you don’t know what you are doing. Tax forms and incorporation documents might be free to download, but most entrepreneurs don’t have the legal know-how to be sure the forms are being utilized properly. Minor errors or oversights in those free legal templates can spell disaster down the road in the form of lawsuits or worse.

Solution: Enlist the expertise of an expert, like a Business Lawyer, to act as your trusted legal counsel. Adding this expert to your startup team will do so much more than simply handling legal documents such as terms of agreements, employee contracts, owner and vendor contracts. For a brand new startup it might seem overwhelming to invest in the cost of ongoing legal counsel, but the cost is nothing compared to the cost of losing your business altogether due to simple legal mistakes.

Startups need legal protections from the many risks all businesses face. When your focus is on growth and development, be sure to put developing an ongoing relationship with a trusted legal advisor at the top of the priority list. Online templates are no substitute for personalized legal counsel from a trusted business lawyer who will anticipate issues before they become problems and provide tailored guidance as your startup grows.

If you want to protect your business interests, limit your liabilities, and ensure your business is poised for growth, start by sitting down with us, as your Creative Business Lawyer®. We are experienced in helping new and established entrepreneurs achieve success through careful financial and legal planning. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can establish a sound legal, insurance, financial, and tax system for your business so you can focus on increasing revenue and enjoy the benefits entrepreneurship.

GP Schoemakers, PLLC offers a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.