Why you need to get your documentation sorted for 2011

Normally when I go on holiday I think very little of things like travel insurance and the terms and conditions of my airline ticket.  But as I sit here contemplating whether to board a plane this evening to snow covered London, these two documents are at the forefront of my mind.

We all need to adopt the same approach to documentation in our businesses and below explain why.

London in the snow

The snow has brought Heathrow airport to a standstill.  Air New Zealand says that there is a risk that I may not reach my final destination and I may end up in Hong Kong – the halfway point in my journey.  Air New Zealand terms and conditions say that they will not be responsible for any cost should I get stranded there.  However, if I choose not to board my flight they will give me a complete refund of my fare.  Interesting dilemma.

My travel insurance on the other hand will also recompense me for cancellation and will give me $500 if my travel plans are disrupted.  That means I can get accommodation, food and drink in Hong Kong if I need to (assuming accommodation is available).

All of a sudden, the documentation and fine print are in the forefront of my mind.

It’s the same with legal agreements in your business

When things are going well, legal agreements don’t really matter that much.  When legal agreements become important is when things go wrong.

Most businesses will be starting to see themselves gradually emerge from recession as we leave 2010.  That may prompt a desire to grow in 2011, but the last thing you want to do is grow and have the wheels fall off your business just as you are getting going.  That is more likely to happen if you grow without proper documentation in place.

How do you grow?

There are many ways of growing your business in 2011.  For example, you could launch a new product but what will be your payment terms and what will happen if someone doesn’t pay you?  Maybe you want to take on more help but would an independent contractor be the better arrangement or should you opt for employees?  How will you be sure that any independent contractors or employees will not steal your intellectual property?  Perhaps it’s time to take on a new business partner, but what if it doesn’t work out and you have to unravel the relationship?  If it’s time for an office move, what terms and conditions are you going to negotiate with your landlord to ensure that you get the best deal possible?

These are just some of the issues you may face if you want to grow in 2011.  The answer to all these issues is to put good agreements in place just in case things don’t work out as you plan.

But how?

At Approachable Lawyer we know good lawyers are expensive and sometimes it is simply not cost effective to get every agreement drafted by a lawyer.  However, we have a number of other options which may make things more affordable for you such as the Secret Library and the Approachable Lawyer Legal Hotline.  If you’ve been thinking about either of these things in 2010, then make a resolution to make your business watertight in 2011 by signing up.

As for me, I will be going to the airport, but I’m still not sure if I am going to get on that plane and head to the snow.

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