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Fairfield County Business Owner Attorney

If you are thinking about starting a business, one question you will run into is where to physically carry out your business. Many entrepreneurs assume that they will use space inside their home as their primary workspace. There are several advantages and disadvantages associated with using your home as your place of business. Depending on the type of business you intend to start, you may not even have the option of running the business out of your home.

Is it Legal to Have a Home Business?

The first question you must ask before you can decide where to house your business is whether home-based businesses are even allowed at your residence. You will need to research city and county zoning laws to determine if you can lawfully run a business from your home. If you rent your home, you will need to read your lease and determine if it disallows home businesses. Homeowners associations may also enforce rules regarding home businesses.  

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Long Island Sound business law attorney sexual harassment

COVID-19 has forced many business owners to radically change the way that they run their companies. Many employees are now working from home on a part-time or full-time basis. Meetings are increasingly held via Skype, Zoom, and other video conferencing platforms. Employees may also perform much more of their work duties through phone calls and emails. While it seems that all of this social distancing would prevent sexual harassment at work, sexual harassment continues to be an issue for many workers. As a business owner, having a robust sexual harassment policy that includes information about working from home is key to preventing harassment or discrimination lawsuits.

Sexual Harassment May Take New Forms in the COVID-19 Era

Working from home does not eliminate the possibility of workplace sexual harassment. In fact, many believe that working from home may actually increase the chances of a hostile workplace. Employees may act differently when communicating through email or instant messaging services instead of in-person. People often say things online that they would not say during a face-to-face interaction. Furthermore, having a colleague’s personal cell phone number or seeing into their home via a video call can create a sense of familiarity that may encourage inappropriate comments or jokes. Some employees may even go so far as to send suggestive pictures or videos to other employees.

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Fairfield County family business law attorney

If you are like many people, you see business ownership as a means of determining your own destiny and creating a legacy. A family business can be a great way to ensure that you get to work with your loved ones on business ideas that you feel passionate about. The benefits of business ownership are considerable. However, starting a family business also involves substantial risk. When starting a family business, it is important to work with a skilled business law attorney so you can avoid mistakes that can lead to legal problems and financial hardship.  

Choose a Business Structure and Develop a Solid Business Plan First

For many aspiring business owners, one of the biggest appeals of starting a business is having a great deal of creative control over the business. You may be eager to name your business, start social media and marketing campaigns, and begin developing your products and services. However, the best way to ensure that your business will be as successful as possible is to first develop a business plan. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Your business plan should include information about:

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Long Island Sound business law attorney

Being a business owner comes with considerable perks. However, owning a business also takes a great deal of time and personal sacrifice. If you are currently a business owner or you plan to become one soon, the end of the year is a great time to take inventory of your situation and re-establish your goals for the new year. It is possible that the COVID-10 pandemic may have affected your company negatively this past year. Evaluating how you are spending your time, money, and effort is important to stay on the path to success and there is no better time to do so than now.

Find Sources of Wasted Time and Resources

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the best skills a business owner can develop is knowing when to give up on a particular project or idea. If you are like most business owners and entrepreneurs, there are projects on which you are spending a considerable amount of your time and energy that are not benefiting you. Think about how you invested your time in 2020. Have the ideas you invested in paid off or have they only led to frustration and dead ends? Beware of falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy. The new year may be the perfect time to abandon fruitless ideas in favor of ideas that have a greater chance of success.

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Stamford, CT business law attorney franchise

If you are ready to become a business owner, one option you may be considering is buying a franchise. Purchasing a franchise location of an existing company is a great way to start your journey into business ownership. Buying a franchise allows you to operate your business while still receiving guidance and leadership from the franchisor. However, a franchise is not the right choice for everyone. If you are thinking about buying a franchise, make sure to speak with an experienced business lawyer so you can avoid costly legal mistakes. Additionally, consider the following factors.

Your Business Goals and Personal Aspirations

Being the owner of a franchise is much different than starting your own business. The benefits of a franchise are plenty. The business will likely be profitable more quickly than a startup, you gain valuable resources and assistance from the parent company, and you benefit from the company’s established reputation. However, buying a franchise also limits the direct input you have on how the business is run. You will be expected to conform to the franchisor’s policies, rules, and procedures. If you are a person who thrives on creativity and independence, buying a franchise may not be the best option for you. However, if you are looking to buy a business that is ready to start operations immediately, a franchise may be the right choice. You will need to evaluate your own goals and aspirations to know whether buying this type of business is the best way to achieve these goals.   

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Greenwich business law attorney noncompete agreement

noncompete agreement, also called a “covenant not to compete,” is a contract that business owners often ask their employees to sign upon employment. Many people underestimate just how important this particular type of contract can be. A noncompete can help you protect your business from unfair competition and ensure that your employees do not use the information and practices they learned through you to undermine your business. However, noncompete clauses must meet certain criteria to be legally enforceable in Connecticut.  This is one reason why it is so important to have an experienced business lawyer review any employee contract for weaknesses or flaws.

How Can A Noncompete Benefit Me?

If you are like most business owners, you have probably put countless hours into your business. You may have honed your business strategies, pricing, sales techniques, marketing campaigns, employee policies and procedures, and other aspects of your business to be as efficient as possible. Even if you still have business goals and personal aspirations that you have not yet achieved, you are most likely closer to those goals now than you were when you first decided to start your company. A noncompete agreement helps protect all of this hard work from being used to benefit a competitor. When an employee signs a noncompete, he or she is agreeing not to work for a competing business for a certain period of time after leaving your company. This prevents the employee from using knowledge about your business to benefit a competitor or even to start his or her own competing business. Noncompete agreements may dissuade employees from leaving your company for a similar position at another company. They may also deter competitors from attempting to steal your most successful employees.

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Norwalk business attorney

Business ownership has numerous perks. You get to “be your own boss” and manage the business exactly the way you want. However, becoming a business owner also involves substantial risk. Studies show that about 20 percent of small businesses fail within a year. Many of the common mistakes business owners make can have substantial legal consequences. The best way to lessen the chances of your business failing is to avoid these crucial errors. In addition, an experienced business attorney can help you with the legal aspect of owning your own company.

Business Mistakes You Should Avoid

As the old adage goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you are interested in starting your own business or buying an existing business, educating yourself about the legal steps involved in business ownership is crucial. Some of the most common mistakes new business owners make are also some of the most consequential.

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Norwalk business law attorney succession

If you own a family business, you may not have ever given much thought to succession planning. You may intend to pass the business down to your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, or another relative, so you assumed that succession planning was not necessary. While handing down a business to a loved one may seem like a straightforward process, there are countless issues that can arise that will hinder your company’s growth and continued success. The best way to ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible is to create a detailed succession plan well in advance of your successor taking over.

It Is Never Too Soon to Start

You may not be planning to retire or transfer ownership of your business for several years or more. However, it is never too soon to start building your succession plan. As your business evolves and grows, your succession plan can be modified accordingly. Keeping the eventual transition in mind helps ensure that you are currently making choices that will allow the business to flourish under new owners in the future. Including your family in the business succession planning process can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevent disputes in the future.  

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Fairfield County business law attorney commercial financing

Whether you are launching a new business or you are interested in expanding your current business, financing your business goals is probably one of your top concerns. Small business owners and entrepreneurs have several different options when it comes to securing funding for a new business venture. Some of these individuals use their own savings, borrow from their home’s equity, withdraw retirement funds, or even use a credit card to finance the business. However, many people find these options to be too risky and instead choose to take out a loan. Conventional bank loans and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are two popular options to consider when financing your small business.

Conventional Bank Loans

Conventional loans are the most popular type of lending for small businesses. When a borrower obtains a conventional loan, the bank lends him or her a set amount of money at a fixed or floating interest rate. Payment schedules are negotiable and may involve monthly payments, quarterly payments, or annual payments. The parameters of the loan are based on the bank’s particular policies and the business’s overall credit risk. Typically, the higher a business’s perceived risk, the higher the interest rate. Conventional loans are highly dependent on personal and business credit scores. Young business owners with less credit history may not qualify for a traditional loan.

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Norwalk commercial and business law attorney

Did you know that the average U.S. small business owner is 60 years old? If you are like many business owners, you are nearing retirement age and starting to think about your future. You may be thinking about selling your business sooner rather than later because you have concerns about the effects of COVID-19 or because you simply do not want to continue investing so much time and energy into the business. Whatever your reason, choosing to sell your business and retire is a major decision. It is important to define clear objectives, properly prepare for the sale, and take steps to avoid mistakes that could delay your retirement.   

Preparing Your Business for Sale

As the old saying goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Although you may be eager to sell your business so that you can pursue your retirement dreams, it is important not to rush this important transition. One of the most essential steps you will need to take is to secure an accurate business valuation. Properly valuing your business may be complicated – especially if the business’s revenue is down because of COVID lockdowns. A qualified business valuation professional will help you determine how to put an appropriate price on the business. You have probably poured a tremendous amount of your time and energy into growing your business. You deserve to get the best price possible.

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

One of the most important decisions you will ever make as a new business owner is choosing a business entity or business structure. Although making this decision may not be as enjoyable as choosing a business name or making decisions about products and services, it is an absolutely crucial aspect of starting a new business. Many new business owners find themselves in deep legal and financial trouble after choosing a business structure that does not fit their ambitions and needs. This is why it is essential to make an educated decision when choosing how to structure your business.  

Types of Business Structures

The type of business structure you choose will have a major impact on how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes your business revenue. Your business structure will also determine your level of personal liability for business losses. The most common types of business structures include:

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Darien commercial and business law attorney

Business ownership comes with many privileges. As a business owner, you become your “own boss” and get to decide how your business is run. Deciding to buy a business, however, is not a decision to take lightly. New business owners who are unprepared or who do not have dependable legal guidance can fall into major financial and legal pitfalls. If you are considering purchasing a company, you may be wondering whether you should buy a franchise location of an existing business or a standalone business. The answer to this complicated question will depend upon several factors. That is why it is crucial to hire a knowledgeable business attorney to guide you through this important endeavor.

Consider the Differences Between Standalone Businesses and Franchises

The biggest difference between a franchise and independent business is the amount of control and authority the owner has over his or her business. If you buy a franchise, you will likely have a great deal of control over day-to-day aspects of your business, but you may have little input on “big picture” concerns. The franchisor will likely decide the types of products and services the business offers, the business hours of operation, pricing, marketing strategies, and more.

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

If you are in the process of becoming a business owner, you may have an overwhelming number of tasks ahead of you. You will need to decide on a business structure, choose whether or not to share ownership with business partners, develop a business plan, and much more. One matter that you may also be considering is whether or not to hire a business lawyer. If you are like most entrepreneurs, you are probably looking to reduce costs wherever possible. You may assume that a business lawyer is only necessary if you are being sued or have other urgent legal matters. However, retaining an experienced legal representative from the very beginning of your journey into business ownership may help you save a significant amount of time, money, and frustration.

A Poorly Written Contract Can Be Disastrous for Your Company

An entrepreneur’s skill set and that of an attorney are often vastly different. Entrepreneurs and business owners are often creative, abstract thinkers who look at the “big picture” instead of focusing on small details. Lawyers, on the other hand, are trained to scour business contracts and other important documents for even the tiniest mistakes that could cause problems for their clients. Having a lawyer assist you in drafting or reviewing contracts such as purchase agreements, nondisclosure agreements, employment contracts, non-compete agreements, and commercial property leases can ensure that you uncover and address any issues that could present problems for your business in the future. Your attorney will ensure that these contracts are accurate, free of ambiguity or errors, and accomplish the task intended. A poorly written business contract can result in breach of contract claims, employment disputes, and a host of other legal issues.

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Stamford, CT commercial and business law attorney

Deciding to sell your business is not an easy decision to make, since it has likely been integral to your livelihood. You have probably put a tremendous amount of your own money, time, and energy into growing your business, and parting with it may be challenging. When selling a business, whether big or small, it is essential that you avoid mistakes that can reduce the profit you obtain from the sale and cause major financial and legal headaches. Rushing a sale or selling without fully investigating your options may cause you to miss out on better opportunities. However, waiting too long to sell can also spell disaster. Whatever your reasons for selling, it is important to discuss your plans with an experienced business law attorney so that you can receive accurate legal guidance personalized to your unique needs.

Start Preparing Sooner Rather Than Later

Experts suggest that business owners should start preparing for a business sale at least several years before planning to close the deal. This gives you time to ensure that selling is truly what you want and avoid the dreaded feeling of “seller’s remorse.” Preparing well in advance also allows you to gather the financial data a conscientious buyer will want to evaluate. Typically, buyers want to look at up to five years’ worth of tax returns, profit and loss statements, bank statements, supplier and vendor contracts, and other relevant documentation.

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Darien business succession attorney

Business succession planning is a crucial step for any business owner. You have probably put an enormous amount of time and effort into your company, and you want the business to continue to succeed after your retirement or death. A carefully designed succession plan gives you the best chances possible of avoiding problems during an ownership transfer. One of the most important considerations when building a comprehensive business succession plan is who you should choose as the new owner.

Selling Your Business to a Co-Owner or Employee

If you share your business with one or more partners, a natural successor may be one of your co-owners. Some partnerships choose to draft an agreement that permits the remaining owner to purchase a disabled or deceased owner’s business interests from his or her next of kin. This option can be especially advantageous if an owner unexpected passes away or becomes incapacitated through a major accident or illness. However, this option also requires co-owners to be prepared to buy out a partner's shares at a moment’s notice.

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Long Island Sound commercial and business law attorney

If you are considering purchasing a small business, you may understandably be experiencing a mix of excitement and apprehension. Being a small business owner can have tremendous personal and financial rewards, but the decision to purchase a business is not one to take lightly. It is very important to take your time and not rush this major endeavor. Thoroughly research your options and speak with a qualified business law attorney to ensure that your purchase goes as smoothly as possible. As you start the business purchase process, make sure to avoid the following common mistakes.

Not Asking Why the Business Is for Sale

The prospect of being a business owner, especially a first-time business owner, is an exhilarating idea for most entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm can sometimes cause potential business owners to make hasty mistakes. One of the most common errors people make with regard to business purchases is not understanding why the business is for sale in the first place. Make sure you have a detailed conversation with the business owner about his or her incentives for selling the business. Business owners may not always be 100 percent honest about their reasons for putting the business up for sale, so you may also need to look for subtle clues that reveal the real motivation for the sale.  

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Long Island Sound commercial financing attorney

In order for any business to be successful, it must be able to grow and develop. While there are many ways to foster the expansion of a business, these techniques may require significant financial resources. Whether your company needs an increase in capital to hire additional staff members or to lease or purchase new machinery, a commercial loan could be the answer. As one of the most common approaches to funding a new business endeavor, a commercial loan can provide several advantages to a growing company. A knowledgeable business law attorney can help you secure the finances that are needed to grow and expand your operations.   

What Is a Commercial Loan?

Simply put, a commercial loan is a long-term, capital-heavy loan that typically has low interest rates and somewhat flexible payment options. In most cases, the approval process for this type of loan can be burdensome, which is why it is recommended to have a financing attorney help structure and apply for the loan. For business owners who are looking to foster the growth and development of their company, it is important to be aware of the benefits of obtaining a commercial loan. 

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Stamford, CT business attorney noncompete agreement

A noncompete agreement is a type of contract that prohibits an employee from entering into competition against his or her employer. Workers often have access to sensitive information about clients, customers, business operations, practices, strategies, and marketing plans, all of which can be used against an employer. If you are a business owner, you may wish to use a noncompete agreement, also called a noncompete covenant or covenant not to compete, to prevent your employees from using skills and information gained during employment to compete with you in any way. It is important for business owners to obtain legal counsel regarding noncompete agreements, as these documents must meet certain criteria in order for them to be enforceable.

Noncompete Agreements in Connecticut

A Connecticut noncompete agreement is a legal contract that prevents an employee from entering into direct competition with an employer during his or her employment or after his or her employment ends. A noncompete agreement can also prohibit an employee from disclosing business secrets and proprietary information to other parties during and after his or her employment. Noncompete agreements must be limited in their scope and duration in order to be enforceable by the court. Many noncompete agreements include a one- or two-year restriction period, but the amount of time the employee is prohibited from entering into competition can vary based on a range of factors. To be legally binding, a noncompete agreement can only prevent an employee from working in certain geographic areas. Blanket noncompete agreements that do not specify a reasonable time period and location stipulations will typically not be upheld by the court.

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Greenwich commercial and business law attorney

If you are a business owner, you know the vital importance of setting clear expectations for your employees. When a business is in its infancy and only has a small number of employees, you may be able to get away with verbally expressing rules and expectations to your workers. If you are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of your business, it is easy to keep a watchful eye on employees to ensure that they are not exposing you to any liabilities. However, as your business grows and develops, the need for a written set of guidelines and expectations becomes critical. Creating an employee handbook that states employment policies, company rules, and how workers are expected to behave at work will help prevent employee-related disputes in the future.

Why You Need An Employee Manual or Handbook

An employee handbook contains a company’s practices, policies, and the legal rights and obligations of employees and their employer. Not only can this type of handbook protect you as a business owner legally, but it can also significantly improve the work environment. Many of us have had jobs where we were unsure of our role in the company or what was expected of us. It can be confusing and disheartening to be an employee and not feel like part of the team if other employees are not on the same page as you. An employee handbook can go a long way in establishing a culture of teamwork and professionalism at your company.

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Darien non-disclosure agreement attorneyBusiness dealings often involve the exchange of highly confidential information. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is an effective way for business owners and entrepreneurs to protect sensitive information from being shared or misused. An NDA is a legally enforceable contract that establishes a private relationship between two or more parties. The involved parties agree not to share or profit from confidential information to which they are made privy. NDAs, also called confidentiality agreements, are a valuable tool for businesses.

Non-Disclosure Agreements For Business Negotiations

Non-disclosure agreements can be used to protect sensitive information that is shared during business transactions, such as the buying or selling of a company. For example, if a business owner is interested in selling his or her company, he or she will almost certainly meet with potential buyers to discuss the business in detail. A potential buyer may have access to proprietary information, product designs, marketing strategies, trade secrets, business practices, and other information that could be used as leverage in other business dealings. Asking a potential buyer to sign an NDA prevents the buyer from misusing sensitive business information or sharing that information with others. If a party signs a confidentiality agreement and then violates the terms of that contract, the injured party has the right to seek financial compensation for breach of contract.

The two most common types of NDAs are unilateral NDAs and mutual NDAs. A unilateral NDA is a contract where only one party agrees not to disclose sensitive information. In a mutual NDA, all of the parties involved agree not to share certain confidential information.

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