Recently this office has been bombarded with questions from harried business owners. They range in topic and severity. “Can I finance the sale of my store?” “Should I agree to this business proposal?” “What's the best way to protect myself from a lawsuit if any employee gets injured?” These are all excellent questions to ask a lawyer, but they shouldn't be the starting point for your discussion.
To effectively assist my business clients, a seasoned attorney needs essential information to get started. Before you schedule your initial consultation to address your business needs, consider these five factors and let your attorney into your world. The more we know, the more we can do to help you.
1. What kind of business are you?
Are you a small business with one employee? Do you run a goods or service based operation? The nature of your business is very important because it determines what areas of the law that may be applicable to you. Without knowing what exactly it is you do, I will have a much more difficult time getting the results you want, and that won't be entirely my fault. Attorneys and clients have to establish a rapport, a real relationship, in order to be effective. The more comfortable you get with me and the more I find out about you, your business, and your goals, the better.
2. Who manages your business finances?
This is an important one. I've had business owners contact me in hopes that I'd negotiate or draft an agreement to buy or sell a business without telling me anything about their organizational structure. If you're not the CFO, accountant, attorney-in-fact, or any kind of agent with the ability to act with authority, you should get me in touch that person and allow us to discuss the terms of your agreement. More often than not, the business owner is the person I should be talking to, but not always. To prevent problems later, I always ask. There's nothing worse than executing an agreement and finding out that the person who signed it had no authority to do so. That's what lawsuits are made of. Not good.
3. What Do You Want to Happen?
Sometimes people come to me seeking general advice or counsel on the direction of their business, which is fine. These dialogues are often very productive; however, if you don't have a goal in mind, we have nowhere to start. The decision to expand, re-brand, franchise, or sell your business is your decision, not your lawyer's. Remember that we work for you. You're the captain of the ship, and we go where you send. So please take the time to fully develop your goals and the future direction of your business. Whatever your desired outcome is, share it with your lawyer, and we'll discuss your options to making it happen.
For more information about what we can do for your business, call 713-574-8626.