BA 101 | #3: Let’s Lawyer

I’ll make this one short and sweet: You’re never too small to be “real”.

Part of building your business (big or small) means finding a lawyer. Sure, the $300+ per hour price tag isn’t too appealing, but for a little investment up front you can avoid pitfalls down the road.

Find a lawyer who knows your space.
Ask other companies who do what you do (for us it was other natural food companies in Portland) and find out who their lawyer is. Pretty quickly you’ll get an idea of which lawyers have experience in your arena. Every industry has different quirks and roadblocks — your lawyer should be prepared for anything you’ll come across.

Make sure your lawyers know your future business plans.
Our first lawyers had the wrong impression about our plans to grow the company and the right trademark precautions weren’t taken. Had we stayed a farmers market business, we wouldn’t have faced the trademark and naming issues we did once we hit the national stage.

Spend an hour or two of time setting up the basics.
Register your company in your state, file a trademark on your name, and get a nice fat binder worth of documents. It feels good to have your house in order (and do your best to avoid a lawsuit down the line).

Sure: start now and start small. But when it comes to getting your legal affairs in order, think big, plan big.

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