The legal landscape is constantly evolving. Long gone are the
days when just a solid grounding in the latest legislative changes
would suffice. To provide meaningful advice, lawyers need to know a
company inside out, they need to be sensitive to its
commerciality, they need to work alongside its owners to build a
substantial business that will be around for a long time, and
identify and facilitate ways and means by which to achieve it.
For most owners they want to see their microbusiness grow into a
healthy, strong company that could be passed on to the next
generation to manage. To achieve this, there are many factors to
consider: the people involved, identifying what you really want out
of the business, listening to clients and customers, protecting
your product and securing supply.
Richard Branson once said: "Train people well enough so
they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want
It is important to retain key people in your business as they
will contribute to its success and take it forward when the owner
wants to take a step back – or out. By incorporating
financial incentives, such as employee share schemes into the plan,
you can encourage key managers to stay and grow the business, with
the promise of a share in its success.
Alongside retaining key staff, it is important to develop the
next leader and senior team so that the owner's departure
doesn't have a negative effect on the company and the business
will continue to do well.
Owners' visions of the future of their business
It seems pretty obvious but it's worth considering the
relationship you have with the co-founders of your business and
ascertaining what each of you want out of the arrangement. Would
you like to grow it to a certain size before selling it or are you
all invested in it for the long term? It encourages business owners
to face any difference of opinion from the beginning rather than
further down the line when a lot more money is at stake.
Listen to clients
Always listen to clients and customers to determine exactly what
they need; then link it to what is profitable for the business.
IP protection is a must
Disclosing business plans, pitching new ideas and proposing new
designs are well-trodden routes for businesses to encourage a new
client to buy and an investor to invest, but they come with a
constant risk of
IP (intellectual property) infringement.
Protecting IP, by excluding others from using your creations,
can offer a huge commercial advantage. However, it can be
expensive, and if third parties breach protected IP, the
difficulties of proving that breach and the costs of bringing a
rival to court can put smaller firms off pursuing a case. But
there are cost effective methods that can be employed to ward
competitors off your turf: ensure all contractors have contracts
confirming transfer of ownership to the business, confirm IP
ownership in employee's contracts and ask clients and investors
to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Your supply chain is one of the most collaborative relationships
in your company, and it can pose greater risks to the
confidentiality and availability of corporate information. Tracking
the flow of information and keeping an eye on key access points in
order to continuously manage information security risks, is an
essential part of building a stronger business.
But over everything touched upon here, it's about planning
ahead at all times. Successful businesses always do rather than
just rolling with the punches. And according to Roger Harrop,
former Group Chief Executive of a FTSE quoted company, on a
personal level it's also about business owners having
'belief, passion and
courage' in what they're trying to achieve
– the acronyms of which reflect the B P Collins name –
a serendipitous coincidence!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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