experience & dedication...

Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: Legal tips for the small business owner

April 23, 2008

No one can anticipate all of the legal issues that will arise during the course of running a small business. However, the more that you can anticipate issues early on, the more prepared you will be administratively, financially and emotionally should legal issues arise. This article will touch on certain legal issues that every small business owner should be aware of. These items are by no means exhaustive, but should provide at least a short check list of items to consider.

(1)Form an LLC, corporation or other such business organization: To the extent possible, you should separate and protect your personal assets from your business. Being a small business owner is risky. You should shield yourself (and your family) personally from any issues which may affect the viability of your business. Forming a proper business organization will help you do so.

(2)Put all business agreements in writing: Why jeopardize any aspect of your business with an oral agreement? Whether it is an agreement with other members of the business, with employees or with customers, clearly written agreements will force everyone to be on the same page, and will remove much of the ambiguity inherent in oral agreements.

(3)Be careful when hiring employees: Good employees can help make a successful business. Bad employees can severely hamper a business. Analyze potential employees carefully before hiring them. Check references! It is much easier (and less costly) to prevent problem situations than it is to rectify them after they have arisen.

(4)Educate yourself on legal issues: You, as a business owner, must be aware of legal issues such as the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, sexual harassment laws, discrimination laws, family leave laws, wage and hour laws, and a host of other employment-related laws.

(5)Use common sense: To be successful in business, you have to use common sense. Think of the big picture when making business-related decisions.

(6)Make a will: Although this does not seem business-related, proper estate planning will protect your loved ones by indicating what specifically will happen to business assets (and the business itself) in the event of death. This may not be pleasant to think of, but it is an important business decision.

(7) Be careful of what you promise employees: When you make commitments to employees, you should be prepared to meet them or you may open yourself up to a complaint to the Department of Labor or in court. Even though New Hampshire is an \"at will\" employment state (employees work at the will of the employer and can be let go at any time for any reason), making oral promises or statements in an employment handbook may expand an employee’s rights. There is nothing wrong with that if you wish to do so. However, you do not want to unknowingly grant an employee more rights than you wish.

Being a small business owner is not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort under any circumstances. However, a little foresight and planning up front will reward you many times over down the line. The smartest business owners always hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay