How Your Lawyer Can Support Business Wellness in 2023
January is when we turn the calendar ahead to a new year that is full of hope and fresh opportunities. Recognized as Financial Wellness Month, January is an ideal time to set business goals for the upcoming calendar year.
Achieving business wellness in 2023 can go a long way toward improving your overall physical health. Financial health and personal health are strongly connected. The healthier you are in one of these areas, the more likely you are to be healthier in the other. And, like physical wellness, financial wellness requires investment for the long term.
Hiring a lawyer is one of the best investments you can make in your business. The availability of online legal services can make it seem like you do not need a business lawyer. But retaining an attorney who can further your business’s success will more than make up for the added legal costs.
How Financial Wellness Affects Overall Wellness
Financial Wellness Month serves as a reminder to focus on your financial wellbeing. 1
It is no coincidence that it occurs after the busy—and often, expensive—holiday season. January presents a clean slate for many, with the chance to establish good habits moving forward.
It is also not a coincidence that getting healthy, both physically and financially, rank among the most popular New Year’s resolutions. As mentioned, financial wellness and overall health significantly overlap. Financial worries are the number one stressor across age groups. People who are stressed financially tend to get less sleep and suffer more health problems than those who are in good financial shape. This can lead to higher medical expenses that, in turn, create more financial stress, setting a vicious cycle in motion. 2
Improving your financial wellness can therefore improve your overall mental and physical health. Better health, in turn, can make you more focused and energetic in running your business, leading to better financial wellness.
Professionals and the Value of an Outside Perspective
If you want to get your body and mind right, you will need to set goals and then take steps to meet them. Getting your business right is no different. You must identify where you want to go and have a plan for getting there.
However, self-knowledge and self-direction have their limits. Part of the reason we get into bad habits is that we sometimes do not know what is hurting us. We might even think we are helping ourselves when in fact we are doing more harm than good.
That is why it can be helpful to seek assistance from a professional who can evaluate our situation from an outside, unbiased perspective. They can identify habits that undermine our success and enable us to set up new patterns to get us back on track. That includes knowing what issues we can handle on our own—and when we are over our heads and would benefit from professional assistance.
Business Lawyers and Business Wellness
It has never been easier to get answers to business legal questions. A Google search can instantly put you in touch with thousands of resources that promise to solve any issues you face. With the click of a button, business owners can now complete tasks such as downloading forms, drafting contracts, and even receiving live attorney consultations, all without having to hire an attorney.
While online legal services can provide cost savings compared to hiring a lawyer, skimping on expertise can be costly. Namely, as mentioned above, you might think you have all of your business’s legal issues under control, only to find out—too late—that you committed a serious blunder. Not only that, but there may be situations you never saw coming that a lawyer could easily have spotted and addressed before they became a crisis.
Hiring a business lawyer can save you money and avoid problems in a variety of areas, including the following:
● Formation. A strong foundation positions your business to grow. Selecting a legal structure for your business early on, such as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company, is a crucial decision that can affect personal liability, taxation, and more. Filing the appropriate paperwork with the state and establishing bylaws for your business that affect its day-to-day operations are equally important. Early legal missteps in these areas can cause your business to stumble out of the gate and struggle to find its footing. These mistakes may also hamper your business’s ability to grow in the future and will require professional help to rectify.
● Contracts. Downloadable contracts provide standard clauses that can be modified to fit your needs. But are you sure you know what your needs are and if the contract fulfills them? For example, you might download a contract that is designed to comply with New York law, when neither you nor the other party is based in New York. Or, the contract might be missing key provisions and fail to cover all contingencies, such as what you can do if the contracting party does not meet their obligations. Again, what you do not know can hurt you. A contract that does not fully protect your interests sets you up for future trouble.
● Employment. At some point, you may need to hire workers to enable your business to grow. Workers come with numerous legal requirements—and risks. There are strict employment laws applicable to equal opportunity employment, wage and hour practices, taxes, employee benefits, and workplace safety. If you do not follow the letter of the law, you could face government penalties, back taxes, and lawsuit exposure. You might try to save money on workers by using independent contractors. But in today’s gig economy, there are strict tests for determining who is an employee and who is a contractor, and misclassifying workers could cost you. Independent contractor agreements must be carefully written.
● Partner agreements. Business partners and owners are the organization’s brain trust. Some partners are more replaceable than others, but at some point, you should be prepared for partners to leave the business for business, health, or personal reasons. Creating a plan designed to enable the business to continue successfully after a partner’s departure is known as succession planning. Part of your succession plan is a buy-sell agreement, or buyout agreement. This agreement stipulates how a partner’s shares can be reassigned if they leave the business.
Not having a buy-sell agreement could allow for unforeseen—and undesired—consequences, such as a departing owner selling their shares to an outsider or significant shifts in business ownership interests stemming from personal challenges like divorce or bankruptcy.
Get the Right Legal Help for Your Small Business
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to hiring a business lawyer. Foregoing legal help now could just mean you will eventually incur more legal fees that you save by being forced to hire a lawyer later to perform damage control.
Hiring the wrong lawyer can be disastrous for your business, too. Find a law firm that has a proven track record of working with companies like yours and delivering the kinds of results you are looking for.
Get to know our business lawyers and learn how we can help you achieve business wellness in 2023—and beyond—during a no-obligation consultation.
1 Financial Wellness Month - January 2023, National Today, https://nationaltoday.com/financial-wellness-month/ (last visited Jan. 23, 2023).
2 A surprising connection: Financial wellness and your overall health, Purdue Univ. Newsletter (Jan. 2020), https://www.purdue.edu/hr/CHL/healthyboiler/news/newsletter/2020-01/finances-health.php.