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What are some of the most common legal mistakes that small business owners make?

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I love this question because all of us when we start a business we all make mistakes; some bigger than others but it’s part of the learning process of being an entrepreneur. I really enjoy working with entrepreneurs helping the people like me that really wanted to start their own business to figure out what mistakes they’ve made and correct them or avoid mistakes in the future.

The main one is putting an operating or a shareholders agreement in writing making sure that all of the rights of the owners in the business are delineated on paper because the number one thing that people come to me with that I feel helpless is when a partner is upset with his partner and wants to buy the other partner out or wants to sell the business and they don’t have something in writing which dictates the rights, duties and obligations of each owner.

So, if you got together with a buddy or a few friends and decided, you know, let’s go into business, I have this great idea and you’re all excited; that early stage is fun, you’re fired up. So you go into business and then you start making money and then it gets real fun and you never took a step back and took the time to make sure that your legal infrastructure was in place, then problems were going to eventually arise in the future.

People always, whether it’s a year out or three or five, you will have divergent interest and at some point the interest of each shareholder in the company will change and if you don’t have all of your rights in writing it’s going to be a real struggle.

So, the number one thing, we all make mistakes, it’s going to happen, but it’s to make sure that you have your legal infrastructure in place and if you didn’t do it at the beginning you can stop and get it all together right now.

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