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Plan Out Your Partnership

The days of handshake deals and keeping true to your “word” no longer exist in the business world. In the modern business environment, it is important that you see a promise or a contract in writing. Whether it is in a text, email or a drafted agreement, any written format can help to support your position, if and when someone goes against their word. This can be particularly true when two business partners have different ideas on how to manage their business.

This article will discuss a few reasons why two or more partners should place their relationship into a written agreement to clarify their business arrangement.

Who does what?

Have you assumed that your partner is going to take care of the tax matters of the company? Or that they will be the one to pay the bills or collect payments from customers? What if your partner assumed you were going to take care of these issues? Understanding the role that each partner plays in a company is key. Failure for partners to play into their roles can hold your business back, cost the business money, and put you at a competitive disadvantage. Instead, define your role early, even before the business is created. Partner’s roles should play to their strengths to create a cohesive, well-oiled business.

Be on the same page – know where you want to take your business.

Have you and your business partner discussed where you expect the company to be in 1, 5, or 10 years? Is your partner close to retirement and you believe (but are not sure) that the business will be handed off or sold to you? The best way to avoid surprise is to prepare for the unexpected. In a limited liability company or a corporation, a buy-sell agreement will force all the partners of a business to discuss where to take the business in the future, how to deal with a partner’s death, divorce or other surprising life event, and what to do in the event of a partner quitting.

Prevent disagreement during tough times.

The most difficult time to stick to your business plan is when the economy is poor, or your business slows down. Either scenario can cause tensions to rise. This is the point in time where a successful business will swim, and an unsuccessful business will sink. Furthermore, this may be the point in your business where one partner wants to double down, and the other wants to cash out. So which option do you choose if the partners cannot agree how to move forward?

This is a potential problem that can be wholly avoided by discussing these issues prior to the start of the business or early in the business’s life. A knowledgeable business attorney can give partners options regarding the exit of a business such as a right of first refusal or a buy-sell agreement which will establish a fair amount at which a partner can sell his shares.


So, what are some of the measures that can be done to avoid problems that may arise in your business?

First, over-communicate. Make sure you and your business partner are always in sync. Over time you will start to gravitate towards similar decisions or at least identify where your partner stands. Second, write out your business plan and your partnership agreement. Identify some areas of concern and address them early. Oftentimes it is difficult to make an informed decision when you are caught up in the heat of the moment. Last, set up exit options early. There is an infinite number of unexpected events that may change the course of your business overnight; be prepared.


 The information in this article is provided for educational purposes and to give you an idea and general understanding of the law, this information is not to be construed as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney before making a decision about how to form a legal entity or set up a new business. Many ideas and situations are unique so an attorney should look into your specific circumstances to see what options are best suited for you.

Should I Hire A Business Planning Attorney?

This is a common question many start-up business owners come across. Modern start-up businesses have a “lean” mentality and want to run efficiently and cut costs when possible. Many times cost-cutting measures remove expenses from legal work. It is understandable why a business would choose to budget its limited capital resources for another area of concern, such as marketing, building the company’s product or service, or employee incentives. All of these alternatives provide an immediate and tangible benefit, but budgeting for an attorney does not always create an immediate or even visible result. In the end, it is always worth hiring an attorney to make sure the business is formed and planned out properly.

Below you will find four important reasons for hiring an attorney at the beginning or early stages of your business.

Fund Raising

Do you want to start a company and use your own money, or would you rather use the money of investors?

 When getting your business off the ground, one of the most important decisions you need to make is how do you want to raise money. If you choose to use your own capital, you will always have more risk. If you spend all your capital and have no other money coming in, you are stuck. However, with more risk, there is more reward. If you risk it all, you get to reap all the reward and collect all the profits.

Alternatively, if you choose to use an investor’s money and you lose it, the investor will not be satisfied, but investors know of the potential risks associated with their investments. While an investor may not be pleased with the loss of their money, you still have the option of moving forward and seeking alternative investors or changing the course of the business altogether. The main benefit of seeking out investors is the opportunity to bring a product or service to life without risking your life savings.

These are just a couple of the considerations you should have in mind when you start your business. A knowledgeable business attorney will know how to form a company, keeping in mind fundraising at all stages of your company’s life.

Limited Liability

The most common and in many cases the most important reason to form a business under a legal entity rather than as a general partnership or sole proprietorship is to limit your liability. Almost every legal entity nowadays has some sort of built-in legal protection and limited form of liability. However, to maintain that limited liability most companies need to adhere to certain principles to maintain separation between themselves and the legal entity. For most corporations, this would entail filing your franchise tax board taxes on time, filing statements of information yearly (or bi-annually depending on the type of entity), and regularly holding meetings with the board of directors, shareholders and sometimes the company’s officers. The frequency of meetings for directors, officers and shareholders are dependent on what is written into the company’s bylaws.

While limited liability companies do not formally require the holding of annual or quarterly meetings, these meetings requirements are determined by the operating agreement of the company. Where the corporation’s bylaws determine the “rules” of the corporation, the operating agreement will determine the limited liability company’s “rules.”

Focus on your Business

While most entity formations can be straightforward, there are some complexities that can make the formation of a new business time-consuming. The benefit of hiring a business attorney from the start is the knowledge they possess. A knowledgeable attorney can help you to secure business licenses, make sure your company name or alternative names are available, secure a fictitious business name for the business, retrieve an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service, or look for potential trademark and copyright issues.

Creating new companies regularly creates a degree of knowledge that allows an attorney to understand what is required for new companies and what issues to be on the lookout for. Another benefit is the speed and accuracy with which an attorney can set up your new entity. Experience possesses generous rewards in these circumstances.

Proper Documentation

Depending on the type of business that you are setting up, you will be selling some sort of service or product. An attorney can help you to prepare all your documentation, whether it is contracts, service agreements, or employment agreements. No matter what type of business you set up, you will use some sort of legal documentation daily. Proper documentation can act to protect your business against others similar to the way that forming a legal business entity will protect an individual from being personally responsible for a company’s faults.

The importance of using an attorney to draft and review your contracts is to make sure the exposure of the business is limited in scope. An attorney will be able to advocate for strong indemnification for your business, specify limitations to the company’s liability, and set specific guidelines to limit liability against customers.

These are just some of the many potential reasons to bring an attorney in to plan your business early. Not all attorneys are expensive and many are willing to work within your budgets or to set up payment plans for you. Even if you do not have the resources to hire an attorney full time, it may be worthwhile to consult with an attorney to inform you of potential hazards your business may run into.


The information in this article is provided for educational purposes and to give you an idea and general understanding of the law, this information is not to be construed as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney before making a decision about how to form a legal entity or set up a new business. Many ideas and situations are unique so an attorney should look into your specific circumstances to see what options are best suited for you.