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When to Seek Legal Advice for Your Business Plan

When do you need legal advice for your small business? Big companies have legal departments. Medium-sized companies have lawyers on retainer. If you’re a sole proprietor, you may never have to deal with lawyers at all. But there are times when it’s important to seek legal advice before going into business for yourself. These include (but are not limited to, as lawyers would say):

  • If you have signed a nondisclosure agreement with a previous employer. This agreement may limit your ability to do certain kinds of work.

  • If you have signed a noncompetition agreement with a previous employer. This agreement may prevent you from offering certain kinds of products and services or working with certain clients.

  • If your new business venture involves intellectual capital — that is, any kind of creative work that needs to be protected by copyright or patent.

  • If your business needs to establish a legal entity.

  • If your new business requires the use of contracts.

  • If your new venture offers products or services that may be the target of a lawsuit.

  • If your business will regularly engage the services of subcontractors or other people working for you.

  • If your business sells products or services that require multiple state permits.

The good news is that many lawyers are self-employed and can be hired to perform specific discrete services, such as preparing a stock contract or reviewing a nondisclosure agreement. Getting legal advice before you open the door of your new business can save you lots of trouble later.

Also be sure to check in with an insurance agent to make sure you have the necessary liability insurance. A liability policy is especially important if you see clients at your workplace. If your work involves expensive equipment, you may also want to check to make sure it is covered in case of loss.

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