Not many are aware of this, but in the United States, 99.9% of all businesses fall under the Small Business category. That translates to about 29.6 million organizations in total!
Furthermore, these businesses have in employ 57.9 million people. That makes up about 47.8% of the entire employed population.
All these go to show how important small businesses are to the country and its economy. And as someone who owns such an organization, you’d want to keep it thriving. You want to maintain its contribution to the economy, to prosper, and more importantly, to grow.
That’s where a business attorney comes into play.
Hiring an attorney for your small business is something that actually benefits business owners from the very start, even before they launch their branded enterprise. But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t need one anymore since you’re already open.
Read on to find out just why.
An Attorney Is One of the Two Most Important Professionals Your Business Needs
The other one is a professional specializing in bookkeeping and accounting. After all, you’d need someone to do all the number crunching for you. And someone who you can trust to handle all important documents, especially those tax returns the federal, state, and local governments require of you.
As important in almost every aspect of a business is an attorney. Not a lot of people, especially start-ups and newcomers to the industry, know how big a contribution small business lawyers can make.
And just to give you an idea, these legal professionals can help you comply with all the laws. And that ranges from zoning regulations to copyrighting and trademarking. They can also guide you when it comes to formal incorporations and most importantly, liabilities and lawsuits.
Keep in mind that not all business lawyers are the same. This is especially true in terms of education, experience, and specialization. For instance, you’ll find lawyers who boast of completing online hybrid master of legal studies programs, which allow them to practice in a variety of fields.
There are also the specializations. Some focus on commercial real estate laws, while others specialize on taxes and registration. Do note, however, that many highly qualified lawyers can help you with many areas of your business.
Determining What Kind of Business You Are
Just like there are many types of lawyers, there are also many different types of businesses. Where does yours belong? This is one of the areas a lawyer can help you with.
Your business attorney has the knowledge and expertise to help you figure out whether your organization is a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. And from there, help you come up with the right business model. And of course, help you in preparing all needed paperwork.
A Business Attorney Can Prevent That Lawsuit in the First Place
Did you know that in the United States, the courts receive and process more than 100 million lawsuits every year?
Many of these are consumers suing product and/or service providers. Some are lawsuits that one company files against another. And then there are the cases filed by employees against their employers.
The threat of facing a lawsuit is real. Especially one from a disgruntled employee. In fact, small and medium-sized businesses in the country have a 12% chance of being sued.
And that risk increases depending on the location of your business. For instance, California employers have a 40% likelihood of receiving a summons!
Wherever you are in the country though, know that there’s always a risk of liabilities and lawsuits. Your organization may have a lower risk, but it’s a risk nonetheless, one that you want to avoid at all costs.
This is why you’d want to work with a business attorney from the very beginning. Or look for one right away even after you’ve already launched and established your organization. This way, you can considerably lower your risks of getting served.
It’s Far More Difficult to Deal with an Already-Filed Lawsuit
Expanding on the subject above, hiring an attorney is best done prior to facing a lawsuit. Many small businesses have committed the mistake of only hiring one after the authorities have already served them the summons.
In other words, you’d want to connect with a qualified business attorney before anything like this happens. For the simple reason that it’s way more difficult, not to mention expensive, to deal with a lawsuit that someone has already filed.
Keep in mind that once a lawsuit occurs, it’s already there. The problem already exists. It’s just a matter of how great your expenses are.
Don’t forget that lawsuits are extremely expensive. Just the average settlement alone can already cost your business up to $250,000! And that doesn’t even include the fees you have to pay the court.
The thought alone of having to scrounge up more than a quarter of a million should be enough to make you start looking for a lawyer now. But it’s not just about avoiding lawsuits.
For instance, your business lawyer can help you with the legal side of creating a safe workplace policy. Always remember that workplace safety regulations, although they have the same goal of keeping work environments healthy for everyone, still vary from state to state.
The Employment World Is Rife with Possible Lawsuits
Do you know how much the average cost of employee claims are? A whopping $160,000. What’s more, nearly a quarter of all lawsuits employees file lead to defense and settlement costs.
There are just so many ways that employees can sue their employers. There are various types of discriminatory behavior. They can arise from factors such as age, disability, compensation, harassment, national origin, race, religion, and gender among many others.
A perfect example of employment discrimination is the Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College case. There are many other cases that involved discriminatory behavior against members of the LGBT community. But in a nutshell, it shows how employers choosing not to hire a qualified applicant because of their sexual orientation is a form of discrimination.
Keep in mind, though, that charges brought about by discrimination are not just your worries. There are also the matters relating to workplace safety.
Just think of how Starbucks Canada faced a $1 million lawsuit for failure to keep its workplace safe. Employers who don’t provide worker’s compensation can also expect to face legal liabilities. And these are just some of the many other possible reasons for employers facing a lawsuit.
But these should be enough to tell you that being a business owner comes with such great risks. And one of the best ways to avoid them is through the help and guidance of a business lawyer.
It’s Easy to Miss Important Details When Reading the Fine Print
How much of the fine print do you really need? If you’re like most people, chances are, you don’t actually read it. You just skip to the part where you have to sign.
While this may have been okay before you became a business owner, now that you are, it’s totally not fine. That’s one way for you to surely get into trouble, whether with another business partner, supplier, investor, contractor, client, or employee.
As important as reading the fine print is ensuring you have it on the documents your business issue too. After all, you’d want others to comply with your organization’s standards and regulations too.
This is where another important task of a business lawyer comes into play. Aside from helping you understand what you’re signing and agreeing to, your lawyer also helps you come up with standard contracts. At the same time, they will also ensure you respond appropriately to contracts you receive.
Help with Getting Licensure and Dealing with Taxes
Your accountant isn’t the only person who will help you deal with your yearly tax returns. Before this even happens, your lawyer will first have to register for your business’ tax identification numbers. And there are several, including those from federal, state, and local governments.
Keep Your Intellectual Property Rights Safe and Secure
Of course, your need for safeguarding intellectual property rights depends on the nature of your business. If your business is involved with creative curation, such as those in the design and media, then you need a lawyer to help you protect your IP rights. At the same time, your lawyer will also help you avoid stepping on others’ IPR too.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late for Your Business: Hire the Right Attorney Now
As you can see, there are just so many risks that come with owning and operating a business. But your goal is to expand and thrive. Not to constantly worry about these risks.
So, as early as now, whether you’re just about to launch your business or have already done so, hire a business attorney. This way, you can rest assure that your organization is safe and secure from any possible legalities and liabilities.
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