What exactly is business planning? Business planning revolves around helping small business owners with multiple legal services needs. Common applications include:
- Business Entity Formation
- General Counsel Legal and Consultative Services
- Business Succession Planning or Transition Planning
Business Entity Formation
One common application is the initial business entity formation for the small business. This involves reviewing the entity options with the business owner, determining the best entity structure for the business and then creating this business entity with the proper authorities (state, IRS or other groups). Once the business entity has been created, then the business owner has additional formation documents they will want to create for their corporate records. Additionally, the business owner usually needs an initial education on their ongoing requirements for keeping the business entity established and in good standing.
General Counsel Legal and Consultative Services
As the small business grows, their operations will have varying legal and consultative service needs ranging from standard contract negotiations to an employee handbook to more complex needs, such as protecting intellectual property of the business or handling a complex business litigation challenge. Many times a small business owner is looking for trusted legal support to help them navigate through the legal requirements of their business operations. Similar to a general counsel within a larger corporation, there are general legal needs that should be handled “in house” while for the more complex matters the client may be better served by a specialist attorney. The Bell Law Firm, PA assists business clients providing a general counsel legal role for them, and performing services similar to an internal general counsel in a larger business. A few of the common areas where The Bell Law Firm, PA will advise business clients for their operations include:
- Review and analysis of contracts and pending agreements
- Confidentiality issues and non-compete agreements with employees
- Negotiating and executing contracts
- Maintaining ongoing entity documents like corporate bylaws, minutes and additional operating agreements
- Liability analysis for officers and directors
- Asset purchase agreements
- Commercial lease or sub-lease agreements
- Finding the right specialist for complex business or legal challenges
Business Succession Planning or Transition Planning
Finally, many small business owners are approaching retirement and making plans for transitioning out of their business. These clients may be planning to transition their business to a family member or an employee with an internal transfer of the business. Or these clients may not have a family member, or a reliable employee, to transition the business, so they are planning an external transfer of their business to a 3rd party. Many times the value of the business is their primary asset, so it is critical for the transition to have no negative impact on the value of the business.
In both of these situations there are multiple legal needs for the business owner ranging from executing shareholder agreements with inclusive buy-sell terms, to creating transactional agreements maximizing the entity value within existing tax laws and regulations. Business succession planning is typically done in a team environment working with the clients’ accountants, appraisers, financial advisor(s), employees and other key advisors. The Bell Law Firm, PA is very comfortable working in a team environment for the business client, and we are always sensitive to the confidential needs of the client. A team approach can be most effective for the business owner during these transitional times.
As a business owner makes plans for transitioning their business, there is an increasing need to integrate those plans with their personal estate planning. The Bell Law Firm, PA works with the business owner to be sure their business succession planning is properly aligned with their estate planning. As part of this effort there is an increased effort to align asset ownership with all of these plans. Our goal is to provide the business owner peace of mind as they transition their business and their legacy to the next generation of business owner.