If you’re heading a tech startup or any kind of new business, even if you’re doing almost everything else on your own, there are probably two areas of professional help you’re going to need, even in the very early stages.
Those professionals you need to hire from the very beginning are a lawyer and an accountant, according to a majority of seasoned business owners.
Regarding the hiring of an attorney, this is one of the most important hires you’ll make for your new business, and if you make the right decision, the lawyer or firm you select might be with you for many years as your business grows and evolves.
The following are some key bits of information to keep in mind for startups hiring a business attorney.
Why Might You Need a Business Lawyer?
You might be thinking your startup is in its earliest stages, and you really don’t have a need for a business attorney, but it’s that kind of thinking that can get new businesses in trouble. By the time you realize you need a lawyer to help you handle a situation, it may be too late.
Startups tend to need lawyers to help them with issues related to the government first and foremost. This can include everything from taxes to copyrights and patents. You’re also going to need a business attorney who can guide you through relationships with other companies, as well as your vendors, employees, and contractors.
It’s also important to have legal guidance when it comes to forming a business entity, raising capital and more.
The earliest years of your business may be the ones where professional legal advice is most important.
Choosing A Lawyer Who Knows Your Industry
Whether you’re a tech startup or your business is part of another industry, when you select a business attorney, it’s beneficial that they have some basic knowledge of what you do. That doesn’t mean that they have to be experts in the specifics of your business, but if they have least a broad, general understanding, it’s better for you as the client.
It’s difficult to have a strong relationship with an attorney if they have no idea about the general aspects of your business and industry.
How Do They Charge?
When you’re a startup, budget and costs are one of the most important considerations when hiring anyone, and this includes a business attorney.
To begin, with a business attorney you’re probably not going to be able to find a firm that works on a contingency basis because these situations are reserved for litigation, settlements, and cases that go to trial.
You may find a law firm that will handle disputes you may have on a contingency basis, but in terms of the basics of setting up and managing your business, this won’t likely be a fee structure option.
What you will find are lawyers who either work on a retainer, or more commonly by the hour. What’s important to note is that when a lawyer is charging you by the hour, they’re not obligated to maintain that rate, and they might raise it at any time. Make sure you consider this and ask questions about whether or not that will happen to you before hiring a lawyer.
Having an excellent business lawyer on your team can be one of the most critical components of a successful startup, and it’s something to handle in the very early days of your business.