Starting your own business is an exciting venture. It can provide the freedom, lifestyle and personal satisfaction that many Australians dream of. Exciting as it may be, there are many processes and issues that can come with owning and running a business, particularly in its initial stages. Engaging in professional legal advice from a business lawyer can relieve these stresses, and ensure you are set up for success into the future. Here are some areas that you may not have considered that will benefit from legal advice when starting your own business.
The benefits of considering your business’s legal needs
Business disputes can arise in several forms, whether with customers, employees or between business partners. Engaging a commercial lawyer in the early stages of your business’s growth can prevent these types of disputes from occurring, through ensuring appropriate structures and documentation are in place from the beginning. The guidance of a legal team can not only help with preventing disputes, but also represent your best interests if they do arise.
A business lawyer can help you understand your legal obligations and rights, and make you aware of business opportunities. Understanding the complicated fine print of agreements or deals will positively affect your bottom line over time. It is also common for the business owner to wear many hats; however, entrusting professionals with legal concerns will create efficiencies and decrease administration time, so you can stay focussed on day-to-day operations.
Protecting you and your business
There are myriad legal risks in business, including everything from liability to copyright. A business lawyer can take the necessary steps to ensure your physical property is protected and, more importantly in some cases, that intangible assets such as your intellectual property are protected.
What a business lawyer can help you with
Business Structures and Planning
Deciding how to structure your business is an essential yet often overlooked task. In Australia, there are four main ways to structure your business, each with their own nuances and levels of complexity:
- Sole trader structure
- Partnership structure
- Company structure
- Trust structure
Business can also be set up as franchises, co-operatives or joint ventures. The structure of your business will inform your level of control; tax and regulatory obligations; liability; and health and safety requirements.
For example, if your business is structured so that you are the director of your company, the company shareholders are technically the owners of your business. In this situation, however, if your obligations are breached, you as the company director will face serious legal penalties.
In this instance, the wrong business structure can also make your legally liable for the wrongdoings of shareholders and employees.
A commercial lawyer can advise which structure is most appropriate for your business, prepare your business to be legally compliant and ensure the arrangement is in your best interests.
Beyond the technicalities of setting up your business structure for success, our team of business lawyers can also help you to develop a business plan – which is instrumental in achieving growth, along with your short-term and long-term business objectives.
Here at Le Brun & Associates, we can also refer you to a wide range of business services, including loan brokers, accountants, advisers and insurers – all of which may be crucial to your new business’s success.
Documents, Contracts and Agreements
With starting a business comes paperwork. Strong and legally-sound contracts might be the first item in mind when it comes to paperwork. These documents are essential to safeguarding your business interests, and a business lawyer can provide expertise when it comes to writing customised contracts for your business. A business lawyer can also review contracts from third parties.
Depending on your business needs, you may require several agreements – such as employee, contractor and partnership agreements. Ensuring these are legally sound is essential to your business’s success.
For example, if you are at the point of hiring your first employee, there are a number of things to consider to ensure both you and the employee are legally protected. These items can vary between industries, such as the basics of salary, leave entitlements and probation periods. A commercial lawyer can ensure your obligations are being met from a business perspective, and assist with the inclusion of more complex issues, like intellectual property ownership, confidentiality and non-compete clauses.
There are several risk-minimisation activities (some of which have already been covered in this blog post) that a business lawyer can assist with.
One important area to consider minimising risk is the legal protection of your intellectual property (IP), one of your business’s most valuable assets. IP encompasses trademarks, patents, design and copyright – but can also cover business operations and confidential information. A commercial lawyer can assist with identifying and registering your IP in Australia and abroad, and mitigate improper use by employees, contractors and competitors.
Other entities infringing your IP can devalue your business and erode market-share, so it is vital that legal safeguards are in place. A Business lawyer can protection your assets, and ensure you are not infringing on the IP of others.
When setting up a business for the first time, it is important to get it right. At Le Brun & Associates, we provide tailored advice designed to ensure that your business is iron-clad, and set up to appropriately protect your interests
Le Brun & Associates’ dedicated team of Business & Employment lawyers will take the time to understand your business strategy and goals, and work with you to legally get your business set up and running soundly. We provide sound and knowledgeable advice with the highest level of service to ensure that you get the best possible outcome. Contact us today for your FREE 30-minute consultation.