Laying the Foundation for Your Business: Tips to Minimize Risk
By: Talin Haroutunian, Esq.
Business Counsel Group, P.C. · www.businesscounselgroup.com
August 26, 2015
No business wants exposure to unnecessary risk. Below are a few tips to help achieve that goal.
- Build a Circle of Trusted Advisors. As a business owner, you’re making decisions, big and small. You want your decisions to be deliberate and thought out. For that, you’ll need reliable and trustworthy professional advisors (a lawyer and an accountant) you can call if and when you have questions and need counsel. Good advisors will not only guide you in the right direction, but will steer you clear from any missteps, saving you both money and strife.
- Put it in writing. Drafting of Contracts can be costly. And it’s true: many deals happen without written agreements in place. But that’s (really) risky business. Although things start smoothly, inevitably you’ll hit a bump (or wall) on the road. A simple misunderstanding or un-discussed term turns an otherwise harmonious business relationship upside down; or worse yet, what you deem is a clear document outlining the agreed terms turns into an obscure and convoluted instrument open all sorts of interpretations. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this, not once, but a 1000 times. The best fix is a clear and concise agreement signed by all, laying out the understanding between the parties. So, regardless of the context, or whether you’re dealing with a best friend, a family member, or a complete stranger, get a good agreement in place. Contracts are preventative measures, they benefit all parties involved, and in the end, you’ll thank yourself for having done it right.
- Register Your Intellectual Property. Register your trademarks, copyright your designs, patent your ideas. Not just in the US, but in all your markets. And if budget is an issue, then build a plan and at the very least, make sure you’re immediately covered in your largest markets. There’s no point building a brand if it’s not protected, and these types of assets are critical to your success. If you don’t take this simple step, you may one day find that your brand is severely and irreversibly compromised.
- Don’t Ignore Your Back Office. In order to operate successfully and be around for the long-run, you need proper infrastructure in place. You need a handle on everyone you hire—employees, independent contractors, and interns. Labor laws, especially in CA and NY, are strict, and one wrong move may cost you $1000s. To stay compliant, you want proper offer letters, notices, employment policies and agreements, and tracking mechanisms in place. If you’re busy managing the bigger picture, then hire someone who can help you stay the course. One way or the other, you have to make sure you’re covered.
- Take a Moment and Reflect. You’ve got momentum, excitement and gumption. Before you take the next step, take a moment to reflect and ask yourself: have you put all the proper foundational pieces in place? Have you done your due diligence? Are you properly set up? Do you have agreements in place? Have you safeguarded your intellectual property? These questions will help minimize unwanted surprises, and mitigate your risk.
The above isn’t an exhaustive list, but it covers some fundamental matters that you need to address. The question is whether you’ll address them now before any fires arise. Reactionary moves cost more money, time, effort and energy. Be proactive.
Business Counsel Group is ready to assist in all your corporate, employment, and intellectual property needs. You may reach Talin via email at Talin.Haroutunian@businesscounselgroup.com.
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