Business Law Attorney in Overland Park, Kansas
Small businesses, defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as those companies with fewer than 500 employees, account for 99.9 percent of all businesses in the nation, at a total of 33.2 million. Many people dream of escaping the 9-to-5 and starting their own enterprise. Most never take the plunge, but many do, and the risks and rewards can be great.
For one, starting a business means taking on liability. You will no doubt need to run up debts for products or services you supply, and probably for employees, vendors, and others who help you make your idea viable. Additionally, those same employees, suppliers, and others can become a source of conflict for you if issues of employment or contract law cause disruptions.
If you’re looking to start a business, or already have done so, in or around Overland Park, Kansas, seek out strong legal guidance. Rely on the legal team at Coppaken Law Firm to help you with all issues related to your business. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through every phase of business operations. We’ve seen it all and can analyze your situation to seek creative solutions.
Set up a consultation with us today. We proudly serve clients not only in Kansas City, Kansas, but also in Kansas City, Missouri, and throughout Johnson County and Jackson County.
Step One: Business Formation
If you’re thinking of starting a business, the format you choose can determine a lot in terms of personal liability. A sole proprietorship, for instance, might be the easiest to start, but it also opens you to unlimited liability as the sole owner. Business debts will be your personal responsibility, as will any legal actions taken against your company.
A partnership still involves liability. In a general partnership, all the partners are liable for debts and other legal obligations. In a limited partnership, the general partner assumes most of the liability, while the other partners remain mostly as investors, with some liability.
In a limited liability company, or LLC, however, the partners—who are in this case called members—have protection against their personal assets. The LLC itself is generally liable for debts and legal actions.
You can also form a corporation, which provides personal protection from liability, but the formation process, yearly recordkeeping, board meetings and the like can make a corporation a challenge to manage.
Most businesses must form agreements with other entities to keep their enterprise afloat. These entities could be suppliers of products or of services of all kinds.
These agreements, even if you just believe them to be “handshake” agreements, can rise to the level of a legal contract. In a contract, both entities involved have duties and obligations that must be met. For instance, you arrange with a manufacturer to supply you with 200 items a month to be sold, but for one month, the supplier is unable to supply the items. You could end up in a breach-of-contract dispute, and your business could suffer with no new products to sell.
Contract breaches, if not settled amicably, could end up in court. The legal fees and delays in reaching some kind of resolution can seriously threaten your business operations. At the first sign of a contract dispute, you need to seek legal evaluation and direction. Don’t let matters spiral out of control.
Most businesses involve the hiring of employees to run the day-to-day operations. Employees are protected by both state and federal legislation. One of the primary pieces of legislation, originating with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, regards wage-and-hour issues.
You must not only pay your employees an established minimum wage, but you must also pay them for hours worked in overtime. If you don’t, they may be able to seek charges against you to recover for what they’ve been shortchanged. Wage-and-hour violations are fairly common, and they can make it difficult for a business to move forward.
Issues of pay are not the only source for employee legal actions. Employees are also protected against discrimination and harassment by various federal and state laws. The areas being protected seem to expand yearly. No longer are only race, color, religion, national origin, and sex protected, but so are many aspects of an employee’s personal life, including age (over 40), pregnancy status, veteran status, and gender identity.
No one forms a business with the goal of dissolving it. Disputes, however, can thrust a business into the potential for dissolution. This is especially prevalent when there are multiple partners or owners. One partner may decide to call it quits, or to launch a new career, or may even challenge the direction of the business, making it difficult to move forward as an entity.
Competitors can also come along and underprice and outperform what you’re offering, taking market share from your enterprise. Debts can pile up, or legal actions ensue. In a partnership, you must always be prepared for any eventuality, and a partnership agreement should be comprehensive, including provisions for how to address a possible dissolution scenario.
Dissolving a business requires filing forms, paying off creditors and tax obligations, and of course, the partners or members must agree to the action. It can be a challenging time, but there may be ways to settle differences and move forward as a refashioned or restructured business entity. You need to explore all options with experienced legal counsel.
Hiring a Business Law Attorney Is Key
Before you even open your business, you need to seek the counsel of an experienced business law attorney or attorneys. If you take everything into account from the beginning, and make provisions for every possible twist and turn, you will definitely be better off in the long run. You will at least have established policies and procedures in place for dealing with every possible eventuality.
Whatever stage your business is in—from conceptualizing to forming to operating to fighting for survival—you need to cover all your legal bases. Your personal assets could even be on the line, depending on how you structure your operation. Experienced legal counsel can help you in all phases to protect yourself, your business, and your assets.
Business Law Attorney in Overland Park, Kansas
In the Overland Park, Kansas area—and in Missouri as well—contact Coppaken Law Firm for all your business law questions and concerns. We have extensive experience helping everyone from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. Reach out to us today.