Business Law Questions

Do I need an attorney to start a business?

Once you have come up with the idea for your business, knowing the proper steps of formation is important. Starting with a strong legal footing can help save you time and money in the long run. We work with business owners from the very beginning, not only to get the proper documents in place, but to make sure they understand how to maintain a legitimate business and the surrounding legal issues. While an attorney is not required to start a business, they can be a key contributor to a business owner’s team. While you continue to work on growing your business, you can rely on our business law attorneys to worry about the legal issues.

What different types of business entities are there?

There are several types of business entities in the state of Minnesota, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, corporations, and non-profit corporations.  Forming the proper entity is important to laying a strong foundation for your business.  We help business owners determine which entity is suitable for them.

What about joint ventures?

Joint ventures can cause significant liability issues for those who don’t understand the legal issues involved.  A joint venture involves people or businesses coming together to achieve a common business goal.  By entering into a joint venture, you are also entering into a partnership with the other parties involved.  Under partnership law, each partner is jointly and severally liable for the actions of the other partners in furtherance of the partnership.  Therefore, you may be personally liable for the actions of your joint venture partners.  We can help you properly structure joint ventures to minimize risk and liability.

Should I hire an independent contractor or employee?

Once your operation has expanded to the point that you can no longer handle everything, you may be looking to hire an employee or independent contractor.  Most small business owners lean toward hiring independent contractors to minimize costs and administrative work. However, this means the business owner may not have as much control as they would desire over certain situations. It’s also important to know when you are improperly characterizing an employee as an independent contractor, which can lead to significant penalties, fees, and back taxes.  We can help business owners properly characterize their employees and independent contractors.

Do I need to have an employment agreement?

A written employment agreement can be a helpful tool for business owners to establish the rights and responsibilities of employees, as well as protect company clients, property, and trade secrets.  Without a written employment agreement it can be difficult to determine what the employer and employee agreed to.  We help business owners with employment law issues, including: job postings, the interview process, job offers, drug testing, employment agreements, leave issues, discipline, and termination.

Should I have a buy-sell agreement?

Any time two or more people are in business together a buy-sell agreement should be in place.  The goal of a buy-sell agreement is to address any potential issues before they arise.  A buy-sell agreement may govern when you can sell your business interest, who you can sell your interest to, whether there is a right of first refusal, what happens upon the death of an owner, what happens upon the disability of an owner, and what is the purchase price for the business interest. Essentially, the buy-sell agreement provides reassurance for life’s unpredictable events.

What is business succession planning?

Business succession planning involves several facets which include providing a plan to pass the business to the next owner, or family member, addressing what happens upon the incapacity of the owner, preventing the business from getting tied up in the probate process, protecting the business from certain creditors, seeking out potential buyers, and minimizing the amount of taxes paid when transferring business interests.  A business succession plan should be considered by all business owners.  The earlier you begin your succession plan, the more options you have available to you.  A business succession plan is the best way for you to ensure a strong future for your business after you are gone.