How we help start up businesses
Running a business can of course be rewarding, but also challenging. Red tape covers almost everything nowadays and getting good, practical, advice to support you in setting up and growing your business is essential. An important part of that is instructing the right advisers, whether accountant, business coach or solicitor.
So what should you look for when instructing a solicitor to help you with the wide range of legal issues you may face across the life of your business?
We would suggest someone who:
- will listen to what you want, and not just tell you what they think you need.
- is used to dealing with your issues, a commercial law specialist and not someone who only dabbles with the odd bit of business law advice.
- is focussed on the SME sector, not someone who acts on City type work (who often charge City lawyer rates).
- is flexible with their charges, and who will work with you to ensure the advice and support they give is tailored to your needs and budget.
- speaks your language, and not in legal gobbledygook!
We at andrews ritson do all of this. We also offer free initial interviews at your place of business or at our offices, fixed fees to suit your budget, cost effective retainer fees for ongoing support and we encourage our clients to keep in contact with us, updating us on their news, so we get to understand your business and can provide even better support, on a proactive basis.
So what type of advice do we give to business owners on setting up their business?
The first thing is usually what legal structure to use? Sometimes this is determined for you, otherwise, the options you have are to trade as:
- a sole trader – you are the business, with personal liability for operating it
- a partnership – if two or more of you work together. Again the partners will have a personal liability for running the business
- a limited company – this is a separate legal entity from you (giving you limited liability), but you can own it as a shareholder (with others), and run it as a director and employee.
- A limited liability partnership or LLP – a body corporate owned by its members, with the advantage of limited liability but some potential tax advantages for members.
We can talk you through the best option for you, and help you set up in the right way to comply with current legislation. At this stage it is also important to get input from an accountant who can give guidance on the right structure for you from a tax and accounting viewpoint too.
If you operate as a limited company, partnership or LLP, getting a written constitutional agreement in place is important. So:
- For partnerships, a partnership deed ought to be put in place to regulate the way in which you as partners operate with each other is important. Also, unless a written agreement provides differently, an old statute The Partnership Act 1890 will govern and regulate what you do!
- For LLPs, a similar type of partnership agreement is needed.
- For a limited company, the company’s articles are important to confirm how the company can operate by its directors, and the rights of its shareholder owners. It is often best to govern how shareholders can vote and operate as between themselves and a shareholder agreement is often of great use and importance.
Terms and Conditions of Trading
If you sell goods or services then the basis on which you trade is important. A good set of terms and conditions can help give you protection. It covers things like what is included in the sale, and what isn’t, protecting ownership of goods until the customer pays, and your rights to pursue them if they don’t pay.
We can help with standard terms, and draft bespoke ones, all for fixed fees.
If you employ someone, the law states you must issue that person with a written statement of the main terms of their employment within 12 weeks of starting work. The best way to issue that statement is in a contract of employment.
We can help with providing you with contracts for you to issue to staff, and we can provide the full range of policies and other documents that might usually be contained in a staff handbook. Again, we do this on a fixed fee basis to give our clients budgetary certainty. We also support our clients with an HR service on a monthly retainer.
Occupying Property – Leases/Licences
Where you trade from usually involves legal issues. If you occupy premises, then this is likely to need a legal agreement. So for serviced offices, you are likely to have to sign a licence agreement (a simple contract giving you permission to occupy). If you are in an industrial unit, office or somewhere for a long time, then a formal lease is likely to be required. It’s important to check the terms of a lease before signing as often there can be hidden and significant obligations placed on tenant particularly when they leave the premises. We offer a service to provide a fixed price review and written report highlighting areas of risk for clients. That can often be a cost effective way of getting good advice on a lease before signing.
As your business grows, we can then help with other areas of legal work. Such as:
- Business law administration – we can help you keep in line with regulatory requirements. For companies we can assist on ensuring you file your annual returns and other documents on time, when appropriate. We can also advice on your rights and responsibilities as a director, or business owner.
- Debt recovery – when customers don’t pay, we have a fixed fee service to support you. We also provide training on credit control procedures to help you reduce the number of late or bad payers.
- Dispute resolution – we can help resolve disputes when they arise. We have fought cases for clients in the wide range of courts in this country, up to Court of Appeal, and beyond. But we also know the value of alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation, and can represent you in these procedures.
- Property – you may wish to buy, sell, let or develop property. We can help with the full range of services here.
- Commercial contracts – as you grow you may get involved in ordering particular items of plant, machinery or software, or you may want others to sell your items for you. We can assist with drafting the right contracts to protect you in these circumstances.
- Employment – as mentioned earlier, we can provide HR support on an ad hoc basis or by retainer. As and when problems arise, we can guide you through disciplinary and grievance procedures, and represent you in Tribunals if necessary.
We can also help if you to decide to:
- buy a business, as part of your growth plans, or set up a joint venture or other co-working initiative.
- sell your business, whether planned (working with you on business succession planning) or as a result of an approach of an acquirer/investor.
And there’s more…!
- We also provide services to serve our business clients with their personal legal needs such as estate planning, wills, powers of attorney, and residential conveyancing.