Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Amazon Podcasts Drive, vision and persistence are all key. So is taking a long look in the mirror and knowing where your blind spots are. Many entrepreneurs fail to ask for help in the early stages, which can lead to bigger trouble down the road. Or perhaps you consider hiring professionals an unnecessary expense rather than an investment you will get a return on.
Today, we talk to lawyer Tim Kurbis, who shares with us why it is so important for entrepreneurs to get the right advice from the right people when they begin their business journey. With 30 years of practice, Tim has guided businesses from small to large and local to multinational through the legal ropes. A managing partner at Taylor McCaffrey Lawyers in Winnipeg, Tim has been recognized by Best Lawyers as one of the best lawyers in Canada in corporate law and is a past recipient of its Lawyer of the Year award in Manitoba.
In this episode, Tim offers his advice on how to avoid the roadblocks that will keep your business from thriving.
You can’t be too early when it comes to getting your advisors involved. No matter the size of your business, working with legal and financial advisors will give you a strong start.
From a legal standpoint, the first task is to determine your business structure. Are you going to work as a sole proprietor, have a joint partnership or incorporate? Each has its own legal implications, and you’ll want to take steps to protect your interests.
The same goes for the nature of your business. Are you developing intellectual property? Are you in the business of distribution? Before you sign any contract, it’s important to have a lawyer explain the fine print.
Ironing out the details in the beginning will make for a much smoother ride later on.
Take it from Tim, who offers up the number one mistake that start-up businesses tend to make—waiting too long to sort out a shareholders’ or partnership agreement.
“I like to refer to those as your business prenup,” Tim says. “The time to do an agreement is when everybody’s happy, everybody likes each other, everybody’s getting along.”
And what happens if you don’t get things sorted from the get-go?
“Waiting too long can create risk that ultimately costs more down the road to fix than it might have, had you allocated some budget and time from a start-up perspective,” says Tim.
Legal advice costs money, and money might not be something you have a lot of in your start-up phase. Tim recommends working with your lawyer to develop a reasonable scope and define exactly what is needed within that scope. By doing so, you’ll limit the chances of getting a bill you weren’t expecting.
When you’re putting the future of your business in someone else’s hands, it had better be someone you can trust. After all, your lawyer is the one helping you determine the very structure of your business and how it will operate going forward.
“The absence of fear is an important component of developing trust,” Tim says.
Referrals can alleviate that fear, as you’ll know you’re working with a professional that others can vouch for. This applies to just about any service you need, whether it’s a lawyer or a plumber.
But before you jump to hire someone based on a recommendation, be sure you’re hiring the right professional.
“Just because somebody has a law degree and a license to practice doesn’t mean that they are necessarily suited to the needs you have,” says Tim.
In other words, the person who drew up your grandparents’ will or handled your mortgage refinancing might not be the best to offer corporate legal advice.
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Tim’s final piece of advice in the episode centers on humility. He advises entrepreneurs to be humble when interacting with advisors and to feel comfortable asking for clarification or help through the process. It’s much better to get clarification if there is something you don’t understand than to avoid asking and ending up feeling lost or making a move that will get you off track or hinder your growth. After all, you have hired your advisors for their experience and expertise, and you want to make sure you get as much out of the interaction as you can, whether that’s problem-solving, developing a deeper level of understanding, or both.