Setting up your own business involves making some of the biggest decisions of your life. And before your new venture is up and running, there are even more day-to-day decisions to be made.
A solicitor can guide you through this tricky process, protecting your business and helping you avoid costly pitfalls.
With the legal and financial issues watertight, you can focus on what you do best - building a successful business.
One of the first, and most important, decisions you will make is the structure that best suits your business needs. The options - sole trader, partnership, limited company or limited liability partnership - involve different legal requirements, for instance, when making agreements and keeping company records. To help avoid disputes, it is important to set out the relationships between those involved in running the business. Franchising can also be an attractive option. Your solicitor can give independent advice and assistance on business structures and their legal requirements.
Many of those starting a business need to borrow money to do so. If so, the lender may want security over the business premises or other private property. A solicitor can help identify different sources of finance, explain the terms that lenders are offering, outline the risks involved and help with negotiations.
It is important to find the right premises, whether leasing a shop, renting an office or running a business from your laptop. But problems can arise, for instance, understanding the terms of a lease or finalising a property purchase. Solicitors understand the legal complexities and are familiar with local property markets.
New businesses must register with HM Revenue & Customs and are expected to pay national insurance. Other tax issues may arise, for instance, over VAT, inheritance tax planning and trading abroad.
A range of different types of insurance is available to help businesses protect against risks. A solicitor can guide you through these issues.
The rules for employing staff are complicated - and constantly changing. Solicitors can give specialist advice on the rights of employees and employers, drawing up contracts and dealing with any disputes that occur.
Problems can arise for a number of reasons - contractual disputes with suppliers, recovering bad debt, disagreement with business colleagues or associates - so it is vital to receive professional advice and, if necessary, representation. Solicitors have the expertise to draw up terms of business and review contracts. More serious disputes do not necessarily end up in court. Your solicitor can help you avoid disputes in the first place or, if need be, arrange mediation.
Whatever the legal issue - from data protection and product liability to advising what you can say in promotional material, protecting your ideas and applying for licences - a Scottish solicitor can help.
In their first two years Cheeky Chompers have sold over 250,000 products in 30 countries and are in many high street stores including John Lewis, Jo Jo Maman Bebe, Mothercare, Boots and launched in Marks and Spencers in July. They have won a range of awards internationally, including two gold Mom's choice awards in the USA.
“We realised that right from the start we would require legal advice to protect our intellectual property (IP). We knew we would also need to create templates for contracts with manufacturers and distributors from around the world.
“It wasn’t just at the outset though, when you create something as unique as our products, there are always going to be companies trying to copy you, and protecting ourselves is key so we have ongoing support from our IP legal advisers and enforcers.
“Our top tip for anyone looking to start a new business would be that it’s best to leave legal matters to the experts! Don’t spend your time getting caught up in anything you can outsource – this will give you the time to focus on the areas of the business you can grow.
“The most important piece of legal advice we received was that we should focus on the business and let the professionals deal with legal matters – especially when it comes to IP!”