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Pro Tip: Budgeting for legal services

Have you heard the old adage, "You've got to spend money to make money"?  Starting a new business is a costly endeavor.  Many of those costs are incurred upfront, even before you start generating revenue.

One line item you should certainly budget for at the outset is legal services. In fact, when you recruit a small business attorney early on in the process of launching your endeavor, she or he can help you anticipate what sorts of legal services you may require when you're getting your business off the ground.

Involving an attorney in your business's growth from day 1 is critical for quickly and efficiently resolving issues before they can become big problems.  An attorney can also proactively protect your intellectual property rights and other assets from the inception of your entrepreneurial endeavor.

An attorney who is well-suited for you business is one who is able to work within your legal budget, regardless of how much money you allocate.  At a minimum, an attorney should be able to help you prioritize the legal services that are absolutely necessary and set aside for later the less urgent matters.

What legal services might you want to consider prioritizing?  Here are five key issues for any small business, in no particular order:

  1. Reviewing major contracts that you will sign before your business even opens, such as commercial leases, vendor and supplier agreements, agreements with distributors or wholesalers, and any other agreements for big ticket items.
  2. Analyzing the intellectual property that forms the core of your business and providing strategies to protect your rights in that IP.
  3. Drafting operating agreements, by-laws, and other "organizational" documents.  (Please resist the urge to purchase cheap, mad-libs-style agreements online.  More on that in another post.)
  4. Discussing insurance considerations and limiting your personal liability.
  5. Establishing a robust contracting platform to streamline legal work for future transactions and save you money in the long term.

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