For those who don’t know me, I have to admit I’m stubborn. I also have a strong “I’ll do it myself” streak. There are lots of things I can do but, as much as I may hate having someone else point it out, I do have limitations. For example, I really like to paint – not pictures – walls and woodwork. I also love to refinish beautiful wood that’s been painted over. But, when the outside of my house needed painting, it didn’t take me long to figure out that the project would require (1) way higher ladders than I want to be on and (2) way more patience than I’ve ever had. So, I found a professional painter because I knew that painting the outside of a house required skills beyond my basic primer/paintbrush/roller skills. It didn’t take a lot of thought and I’m glad I didn’t give it a try and break a bone falling off a ladder.
Sometimes people don’t realize they need a professional before getting in over their head. As attorneys, one situation that we see regularly is what happens when two people decide to start or buy a business together and use business forms they got from the internet or even just a handshake as the basis for their business relationship. The beginning of a new business relationship is very much like a new romance – the future looks rosy, the big picture is bright, and optimism rules the day. Unfortunately, a business relationship is even more likely than a marriage to go bad after the honeymoon.
Talking to an attorney about potential future pitfalls before you actually hit one is the very best way to turn a new business opportunity into a long and profitable business relationship. Go ahead and use online or other forms to start your thinking about how to structure your business but before you sign anything, consult attorneys experienced in business litigation to discuss situations that might arise in the future and how best to prevent them or resolve them if they occur.
It costs a lot less to put something together the right way than it does to take it apart when something goes wrong.
Diana J. Vogt