If you are:
- A seasoned business owner;
- A new business owner; or
- Thinking about starting your own business, but haven’t yet taken the plunge,
this article is for you.
Here are 10 reasons why you should speak with a New Hampshire business lawyer:
1. Pre-formation: Talking to a business lawyer before you form your business should save you money. Too often, I meet with people who did not have help when they formed their businesses. Don’t wait for things to hit the fan to ask a business lawyer for help. Better to avoid the known pitfalls by setting up the proper documents and including the right legal buzzwords at the beginning of your business’ life.
2. Entity Choice: Decide what kind of entity you are going to form. LLC? Corporation? Talk with your business lawyer to help you weigh the pros and cons of this choice.
3. Team: Build your team. Your business lawyer should become a member of your team to help you understand and make legal decisions just like you should have an accountant to help you understand and make tax decisions. Ideally, you want a business lawyer who has good relationships with local accountants. Your business lawyer and accountant should be a team that you can rely on to answer your questions as your business grows.
4. Risk Management: Your business is an investment. Invest in it by getting your documents reviewed regularly by a business lawyer. Let your business lawyer help you avoid risk by looping them in when issues arise or your plans change. A little time upfront with your business lawyer should save you money and frustration in the end.
5. Commercial Loan Review: Whether you’re getting ready to open your doors, getting ready to expand, or going through a rough patch, almost every business takes out commercial loans at some point during the business’ lifespan. Before you pull the trigger, send your loan documents to your business lawyer for review. Your business lawyer can help you understand the legalese in these documents, and help you push back in areas where you may not be willing to give.
6. Expanding Your Business: Congratulations! You’re doing so well that you’ve decided to take the next step in growing your business. Maybe you plan to buy a competitor’s facility to expand your base of operation. Maybe you want to bring in new investors. Talk to your business lawyer when you decide to take this next step, so they can help you structure the deal in the most favorable terms for you as possible. Your business lawyer can help you learn about the business you want to buy (due diligence), negotiate the purchase price, figure out the timing, check title on any associated real estate, and help you get the deal done on your timeline and budget.
7. Be Careful of “Form” Documents: Downloadable form documents are not always New Hampshire specific. Even if a form document says it is for New Hampshire, it’s always a good idea to have a New Hampshire business lawyer review these to make sure you’re covered, and the document is appropriately tailored to your business’ needs. The law is constantly changing – you want to talk to someone who is up to speed on those changes.
8. Documents For Your Day-to-Day: What documents do you need to run your business? A business lawyer can help you draft documents that you may need for your specific type of business. For example, a yoga studio may want liability releases from its clients; a restaurant may need a liquor license; a cleaning service may want a service contract. Your business lawyer can help you draft these documents and assist you with the licensing process so that you can have peace of mind and focus on running the business.
9. Hiring: It is a good idea to have your business lawyer regularly review your workforce to discuss hours, wages, benefits, overtime, and various filings you may need to make. The New Hampshire Department of Labor fines businesses that do not follow the law. Don’t be a number in that statistic!
10. Transitioning Your Business: The siren song of the golf course has finally won, and you’ve decided to take the next step towards retirement. You may want to turn over the reins to your kids, you may want to sell, or you may want to have a transitionary period while you’re still involved in a part-time capacity and the new ownership gets to learn from you about everything you’ve built. Your business lawyer can help you make sure that you’re not missing securities issues, help you transfer your business’ assets, and give you input on how best to negotiate an employment contract if you’re transitioning from owner to employee. Your business lawyer will help you navigate all of these steps.
Caroline Leonard is a New Hampshire business lawyer with Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, P.C., a full service law firm located at 214 N. Main Street, Concord, NH. Caroline’s practice covers the A to Z’s of a business’ life: formation; commercial loan review; real estate acquisition or leasing; professional licensing; expansion; commercial real estate; business sale; and, succession planning. You can reach her at 603.545.3662. Her full bio may be found here.