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Expert: Top 4 tips to ready your small business for 2017
According to a recent Rocket Lawyer Small Business Index, nearly half of SMB's consulted with attorneys in the past year. That is an increase of the number who did so in 2015, and yet it still leaves half of businesses who aren't checking in with lawyers. That could leave a business unprotected. Here are 4 tips to ensure your small business is ready for 2017.
Don't Wait Incorporate
"Our legal system can offer enormous protections to entrepreneurs. The genius is in limited liability that shields our personal assets from business failure, enabling us to dust ourselves off and try again. Incorporation is the first step. It also can offer tax advantages, depending on the individual situation. Whether you're forming an LLC, S-Corp or NPO, building a sound corporate foundation is the first thing an entrepreneur should do. Before launching your enterprise, you should ask a lawyer: "Is incorporation right for me?" And then go from there," said Charley Moore, Founder & CEO, Rocket Lawyer.
Get it in Writing
"Whether it's a new employee or a repeat client, never assume anything is binding unless it's in a contract," said Moore. "Year-over-year Rocket Lawyer's small business index finds the biggest legal issues SMB face are contract negotiations (24%) and failing to collect payments (18%), both of which could be helped by getting agreements in writing. Contracts provide both parties with their obligations, rights, and responsibilities and while they don't guarantee the other party will make good on the agreement it does guarantee that a court will look kindly on you if they don't."
Refresh or Create Your Business Will
"When creating an estate plan know you're your business model (Sole Proprietor, Partnership, LLC or S-Corp) as there are different legalities and tax implications for each. If you are in a partnership then you should create a Buy-Sell Agreement commonly referred to as a "business Will." This document details what happens should one party leave the business either by through active means (alive) or circumstance (death). If you already have a Buy-Sell Agreement or an estate plan in it is always good practice to review it annually especially if you have a change in life circumstances such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, disability among other reasons," said Moore. "This will ensure your interests in the business are secure and that your designated successor will be able to legally retain control of their portion of the company."
Keep Good Counsel
"Year after year small businesses say complying with government regulations is their top concern, and this year there are sure to be many changes as a new administration takes office. So, it's good to consult with a business attorney more than once a year rather than wait until a big issue arises. It's better to pay a little up front than a lot down the road, especially when dealing with federal regulations," said Moore.
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