With unemployment rates rising and jobs becoming more scarce, more people may consider opening their own small business. Your skill as a tradesman or your ability to sell a product may be your answer to finding a job. However, going into business for yourself is much more than hanging a shingle on the door and putting an “Open” sign in the window. Depending on the type of small business, there may be local, state or federal regulations, codes or ordinances that you must obey to avoid fines. Furthermore, if you anticipate using your own assets to fund this small business you want to protect yourself as much as legally possible. In addition, if you intend to hire employees you need to understand your responsibilities as an employer.
Because you want your small business to be a success and you want to avoid problems in opening your small business, hiring an attorney is a good decision. Attorneys assist in the opening, operation and sale of small businesses by providing several services such as:
1. Advising what is the best type of business structure for your small business needs – – corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.
2. Drafting forms necessary to comply with all regulations and filing them with federal, state and local agencies.
3. Attorneys assist individuals find and purchase existing small businesses or franchises rather than opening a new small business.
4. Drafting employment contracts and agreements in addition to advising what documentation you will need from employees to satisfy government regulations for hiring and paying employees. Attorneys also draft employment policies to keep your business operating efficiently.
5. Attorneys are invaluable for helping small business owners negotiate the purchase or lease of real estate or equipment and handling the closing. They also can advise small business owners about financing and walk them through the process of obtaining loans.
It is advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney when opening a small business. However, it is just as important to retain an attorney to sell a business. Attorneys help small business owners find potential buyers, negotiate the sell and facilitate the closing of a small business. Furthermore, if a small business has partners or shareholders, and exit strategy should be prepared in the event one of them leaves the business. Having an attorney develop an exit strategy with buy-sell agreements and buy-back agreements will avoid problems in the future.