The Start-Up Corner: Your Start-up Lawyer is Your Best Friend (no, really)
Sharks. Greedmongers. Say-No's. Out-of-Toucher's. Bureaucrats. Snakes.
We know how lawyers have been portrayed since the dawn of time, and we all have met lawyers who fit the generalized view of low-downs.
But we at Impono know far more lawyers-- especially those interested in building and growing companies-- who have grown their business on the basis of truth, justice, innovation, lifting up the under-dogs in business, and offering the best possible advice and service that any entrepreneur should deservingly receive.
As such, we are the first ones to ask about whether a Start-Up has a good lawyer, and we are the first to say that without one, your road will be a bumpy one, unnecessarily.
In Startupland, your lawyer is your best friend.
How We All View Lawyers: Those Who Say No, Those Who Protect Greed, or those who tell you what you Can't Do. Alas, Those Aren't Lawyers...
... those are people who say no because they cannot think of a more innovative answer or they do not have the time or inclination to learn a better way...
... those are people who protect greed because they themselves are greedy...
... those are people who have created a career telling others what can't be done instead of what can be done...
And every industry has those types, from school teachers to physicians, from personal trainers to general contractors building a house, from tour guides to professors.
"Those types" are because of their profession, it's because of who they are as people.
Startups need good people around them, expert people, who know how to manage the startup waters. Your lawyer, if he or she is truly a start-up lawyer, will be every bit as vital in their advice to you as the rest of your initial management team-- including your consultants. All and each should be keenly focused on the end game, or at least a very successful milestone next step, and often times your lawyer is the one to enable your best path in the most cost-efficient (= de-risked) manner.
What to look for in a good start-up Lawyer? Those who still dream, and those who want to enable other people's dreams.
If you currently have a lawyer, how do you work with him or her? Are they aware of your concerns? Do they randomly phone you to share news of something interesting in your industry that they think might help you (and do not charge you for that quick call?). Are they honest with you? Have they said things you haven't liked, but said it in such a friendly non-threatening manner that you were more irritated with how impossible it was to be irritated with them?
Chances are good that if any of those scenarios resonate with you about your lawyer, you have a the best-friend lawyer for a startup.
Above all else, they must be willing to align to your dream, to your vision. They must be able to take the leap with you and see what you are trying to accomplish because they are one of the most important assets in your early startup to help you get there. It might be as easy as determining your legal and tax structure, or as difficult as determining your Intellectual Property strategy. Nonetheless, they should be there beside you, determining the best legal ways to make your dreams a reality.
You must also seek and find competence, solid work ethics, and an reputable moral compass.
Obviously, the flip side of having a lawyer who can help make your dreams a reality is the imperative of making sure he or she is competent, has a cost structure that is compatible with yours, is open and transparent with cost and billing structures and has a reputation for unwavering ethics. It's easy for those fees to load up when you get billed for a 2-minute conversation.
If we carry forth the idea that your lawyer is your best friend, we must also agree that you will (by association) be paired with such a lawyer. As with any other profession, but certainly with a lawyer who has such an impact on your startup (and you!!) early on, it's important to consider how your lawyer's network and reputation will be aligned to your company's network and reputation in these early days.
It is a great find if you have a startup lawyer interested and on board to help make your ideas into a reality in a legal and protected manner. It goes without saying that all of that disappears in an instant (and we've all seen these examples) the moment your lawyer does not serve justice or your business in an appropriate manner.
In the end, Startups want and need early stage experts who know how to touch the sparks, navigate the rules, setup the course, and help Founders create the reality. Lawyers are a good place to start.
Impono is not a law firm, not do we have any one affiliation or partnership with a law firm. However, we cannot do what we do well if the right legal advice is not provided, heeded, understood and implemented before we come on board. We have seen and recovered small businesses and nonprofits after a negligent lack of legal structure left them in financial risk and (often) reputation ruin. We have also seen how startups can accelerate profoundly when they received, heeded, understood and implemented the right legalities and structures before we came on board.
Suffice to say, the latter is better and more cost effective. For everyone.
We know that launching a new or transforming an existing organization isn't simple, but it can be easier with the right advisors and doers. If you have additional questions about this topic or how it can impact your business, contact us. Let's see what we can do for you.
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