My mentor Brendon Burchard told me “never let your small business make you small minded.” Think of yourself as the CEO. Every great CEO surrounds him/herself with really bright people.You need some smart attorneys in your corner.
You probably don’t think you need a business attorney. But when you find out you need one, it’s usually too late. Even if you think you don’t need an attorney right now, it’s important to have relationships with one. You never know when you will need one.
Smart business attorneys can prevent problems from happening. Even though it will cost you money to hire one, the money you spend could be much lower than the money it would cost you to deal with a major problem. You need an attorney that is in your corner. You need someone that can protect you from doing things the wrong way.
Go out and network and establish relationships with a few different types of attorneys:
A business transactional attorney (contracts and business deals)
An employment law attorney (ask them about employee handbooks)
An intellectual property attorney (patents/copyrights/trademarks)
Litigation attorney (just tell them about your biz)
Here are 8 things you need to know when working with attorneys
1. If you work with clients, suppliers, vendors an attorney can create a contract that protects you. It’s better to be safe than sorry. The devil is in the details… CYA big time here. I can’t tell you how many clients of mine have gotten screwed because they didn’t have their clients sign a really good contract.
2. Hire a business attorney who specializes in the area you need. There is only so far a general attorney can take you before s/he has to refer you out to a specialist. For example, if you need an attorney to draft contracts that you can use with your clients, don’t hire a family law attorney.
3. If you hire an attorney that is a solopreneur and not part of a big firm, you will most likely pay a lower hourly rate. While that may great, it’s important for you to know that your attorney might not have access to the resources that a larger firm does – other attorneys, more support staff, etc.
4. Hire an attorney through a referral. Get references and call them. Also check linked in.
5. Hire a business attorney that believes in you and your business. They need to buy into your vision and support you as you grow. Make sure they are an advocate for you, and work with you. For example, if they say “you can’t do that,” maybe they should brainstorm with you to see “how you can do that.”
6. Be very clear what’s on the clock and what’s off the clock. Most attorneys work hourly. Their time is money. If you ask them to do something, make sure you know upfront how much it’s going to cost you. The last thing you want is a financial surprise. Make sure you understand how they bill for when you send them emails.
7. If you have created a product or service, you may need to file a trademark with the US patent office. You definitely should consider working with an intellectual property attorney. After all, why not protect something that you have worked so hard to create?
8. Who is going to do the work? The attorney you are hiring? Their junior associate attorney? The paralegal? Sometimes attorneys will hand off some of the grunt work to a junior associate or paralegal. That might save you some money, but make sure that your attorney will thoroughly review the work and be actively involved with your stuff.
Go out and meet with one attorney next week. Just one. You never know when you will need one in your corner.
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