Have you ever put together a business plan? Whether you prepared the document for your own idea, your own company, or for your boss, you know that it takes some time and thought to put one together. Granted, the One-Page Business Plan workshop I went to a few weeks ago was excellent for focusing my direction. However, I think everyone that went through the exercise would agree that it couldn’t possibly cover every aspect of your business.
Do you need it to though? I’ve been through the exercise a few times in different settings. I don’t know that you need to put together a 50 or 100 page treatise on your business, but I do think it is worth it to go through the major headings: What does your business do? How are you going to market your products? What is your potential income?
And while I have run across the marketing plan and the financial plan as part of the business plan, I don’t think I have seen the legal plan included before.
So, if you manage a department, own a company, or just want to think through this exercise, here are some questions to give structure to your legal plan.
1. What general laws apply to your business? This includes things like taxes and worker’s compensation insurance.
2. Are there special laws that apply to you because of what you do? For instance, as a lawyer, I am governed by the code professional ethics. Appraisers are also governed by USPAP and Realtors by the REALTOR code of ethics. Financial services and insurance people are specially licensed and have a set of additional rules and regulations that they have to follow as well.
3. What is the risk if you don’t follow the rules that apply to you? Is there a fine? Something else?
4. What do you have in place to protect yourself from that risk? Insurance? Procedures?
5. Do you use contracts with your clients? Does anyone review them for you?
6. Do you use contracts with your vendors? Same question.
7. Do you have someone you can talk about legal problems in your business with – lawyer or not, you need a sounding board to work through complex issues.
I encourage you to think through these concepts so that if something happens, you have an idea of what you do next. Part of a business plan is planning for the what if, and having an idea of how to get around the obstacle.
(c) Kathy at KJD Legal