Small Business Saturday is for Everyone
If you have heard of Small Business Saturday, you might perceive it as something for only businesses who sell products or have a storefront, or just about holiday shopping, or just for businesses who accept certain credit cards. For me it is really a reminder of how important small businesses are to our communities – regardless of if you offer products or professional services, or if you have a brick and mortar business, or an online presence. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over half of Americans own or work for a small business, and small businesses are responsible for approximately two-thirds of new jobs annually.
I work with business owner clients as well as SCORE Mentees of all sizes and while the challenges may differ in scope, there are a lot of similarities. How do you, as a business owner, provide the best services or products in the most cost-effective way to prevent or minimize legal risks? It starts with business formation. I see far too many businesses who either don’t formalize their business structure, or who take only the minimal steps. There is more to the decision than just deciding on whether to be a limited liability corporation (LLC), a corporation, or a partnership. The details of how your form your business, including the associated documents and how you structure your business are critical, and should not be left to a do it yourself solution or a form found on the internet.
Another often overlooked component of business formation is business succession, which is planning for what happens to your business beyond you. This should include planning for the potential sale of your business, including a buy-sell agreement with a business partner. The best time to create a buy-sell agreement is up front when you are forming the business, instead of waiting for a potential disagreement down the road and then trying to decide on the terms. Business succession planning also means including your business as part of your estate planning. Your business is an asset and should be considered when creating and revising your estate planning documents such as your Will or Trust.
Once your business is up and running, there should be written contracts in place for all transactions – with customers, clients, vendors, and any other person or business where there is an exchange of money or services. A well-written contract can save time, money, and headaches later. It is usually far less expensive to prevent a problem than to resolve it later, and that includes contract drafting, review, and negotiation.
If you do have a disagreement with a customer, client, employee, or other party to a contract, it may be possible to resolve without court intervention. Mediation and alternative dispute resolution can be an option for parties to come to an agreement.
One of the other things I enjoy about working with business owners is they frequently give back to their communities. This can be through supporting other local businesses, chambers of commerce, schools, sports teams, charities, foundations, and so on. The new business owner with a smaller marketing budget may be able to give his or her time to volunteer for organizations.
This November also happens to be my five-year business anniversary. I’ll be celebrating Small Business Saturday this November 30th, and all year long. If I can help you with your business legal needs, I look forward to speaking with you and supporting your goals. Feel free to schedule an appointment or contact me for further information.