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Navigating The Legal Landscape: A Small Business Owner's Guide To Success

Contributed by Idea Collective Member:

Picture of Pat Miller

Pat Miller

Founder of the Idea Collective Small Business Incubator

As a small business owner, juggling various responsibilities is part of the game.

However, neglecting the importance of having a lawyer by your side can lead to unnecessary risks and challenges down the road. In this post, we’ll explore why establishing a relationship with a lawyer is crucial for your business and debunk the misconception that legal assistance is always expensive.

The Value of Having a Lawyer

Running a small business without legal guidance can leave you feeling scared and alone. While it might not necessarily mean you’re in immediate trouble, lacking a legal frame of reference can result in overlooking crucial details and potential pitfalls. To shed light on the significance of having an attorney, I spoke with Carolyn Jahnke, the founding attorney of Athena Legal Solutions, to share her insights.

Affordability of Legal Assistance

Contrary to common belief, seeking legal advice doesn’t always come with a hefty price tag, especially for small business owners. Proactive legal measures can cost as little as a hundred dollars. It’s essential to view legal consultations as an investment in protecting your business rather than an unnecessary expense.

Common Scenarios Requiring Legal Assistance

Carolyn highlighted two scenarios where entrepreneurs often miss the opportunity to consult a lawyer. The first involves accountants providing financial advice but lacking expertise in legal matters, potentially leading to costly mistakes. The second scenario relates to the reluctance of entrepreneurs to seek legal guidance, either out of fear or the misconception that lawyers are expensive. Many attorneys offer free consultations so routine questions or proactive legal measures don’t necessarily incur significant costs.

The Pitfalls of DIY Legal Services

While DIY legal services may seem like a cost-effective solution, Carolyn warned against the pitfalls of using generic templates. These forms, designed for mass use, may not adequately address the unique aspects of your business, exposing you to potential liabilities. Customizing legal documents with the guidance of a professional ensures they meet your specific needs.

Legal Protection for Women Entrepreneurs

Athena Legal Solutions specializes in assisting women entrepreneurs, recognizing their generosity and helping them establish legally sound contracts. Carolyn emphasized the importance of setting boundaries and having legal protection in place, allowing entrepreneurs to be generous while maintaining control over their terms.

Having an attorney on your side doesn’t just provide legal expertise but also serves as a buffer in conflicts. Carolyn discussed her role as the “bad guy,” taking on the responsibility of handling legal matters while allowing business owners to focus on building positive relationships.

When to Call a Lawyer

Carolyn suggests reaching out to a lawyer when introducing new products or services, when you’re considering hiring independent contractors or expanding your team, and when bringing on partners or investors. Legal advice in these situations ensures informed decision-making, mitigating potential risks.

In the complex landscape of small business ownership, having a lawyer by your side is not a luxury—it’s a necessity. By dispelling myths about legal expenses and highlighting the value of proactive legal measures, we hope to empower small business owners to make informed decisions and safeguard their ventures.

Contributed by

Pat Miller

Founder Of The Idea Collective Small Business Incubator

Pat spent two decades in broadcasting management and hosting. After leaving the radio industry, he spent time consulting small businesses and realized the support system for entrepreneurs was broken. Where could you find help for improving small businesses and building real connections with other like-minded people. In June of 2020, the Idea Collective Small Business Incubator was born.