I often get asked if a lawyer is needed when you are starting up a business or are in the early years of a business. As a lawyer myself you’d probably expect me to say yes, and here’s the bill (go on admit it, you were thinking just that!).
The answer is that it depends on you feel about risk. Generally risk is the potential of losing something of value weighed against the potential to gain something of value. Value can be financial but it can also be emotional wellbeing or your health.
Your risk reaction
To give you an idea of your risk reaction think about how you would feel if:
- You discover that your business has been doing something that it shouldn’t; like breaching a photographer’s copyright because you used their photos on your website without their permission (you did mean to check if the photos were able to be used but you got distracted by one of the many other tasks your business needs you for and just forgot)
- You realise that your business didn’t do something that it should have done; like not filing its annual return by the due date.
Now if these examples make you feel a little nervous and you are starting to worry then you are probably risk averse.
If these examples don’t bother you and you’re thinking how likely is it that I’d actually get fined for a late return or not be able to work things out with the photographer then you are probably a risk taker.
Neither type of personality is good or bad. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. Risk takers can seize the moment and leap on a business opportunity, forgetting to put strong foundations in place. Risk averse people are good planners but don’t know when to stop planning and start implementing. As a business owner it’s important that you learn to be a calculated risk taker who can create a plan and implement it.
To be a calculated risk taker you need to educate yourself in many areas of business including the law. My tip to you is to find a law firm or two who publish regular newsletters or write articles, or hold seminars, on business law (also called corporate law) in your country. You don’t need to know everything but it’s a good idea to begin building your knowledge base because law is part of your business whether you like it or not.
In this article, I take you through specific areas of your business where I think it’s smart to consult a lawyer (even though you think you don’t need one!)
My risk reaction
I’m generally risk averse although I am travelling through SE Asia for the next 3 months so there is a hint of a risk taker there. Because I’m mainly risk averse you will see a disclaimer like this at the bottom of some of my posts. My disclaimer is written in legal language but you can use informal language so long as you know what you are doing!
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Disclaimer: This article is an educational resource designed to make you aware of some of the legal needs of your business. The information provided should be treated as a guide only and should not take the place of hiring a lawyer. Reading this article does not create a lawyer-client relationship between us. If you have a specific legal issue you need help with, you need to hire a lawyer.