You've got some stability in your small business now and are considering expanding into different markets and geographic areas. Now is the time, in your growth planning phase, to find legal counsel to support you. Specialty attorneys will help you experience a smoother expansion. Here are a few areas where you'll benefit from working with an attorney as your small business grows.
As you expand geographically, you may take on staff that works in different countries. Knowing the labor laws of those countries is important to ensure your company is compliant with all of the rules and regulations. An attorney who specializes in human resources will help you establish the best hiring practices to bring in new talent from other countries.
Patents and Trademarks
As you expand globally, you'll want to protect your company's products and services from being copied. Patents help to protect key inventions and ideas foundational to your business. A patent attorney knows how to navigate the complex process of applying for these protections. They also understand which products and services can actually be patented, so you don't waste time apply for a patent for something that will be denied.
An attorney can also identify those items in your business that should be trademarked. This protects your brand from the competition. While businesses in other countries are not required to comply with U.S. trademark laws, having your brand trademarked will help prevent the formation of "knock off" products and services that will compete with your business.
As your business grows, you will likely work with other companies on products and services. This puts all businesses at risk of having their intellectual property compromised. A business attorney will create partner agreements that specify to what information each company has access and how it may be used. The agreements also indicate how the staff from each company will work together to support any joint projects.
Mergers and Acquisitions
When the time comes that you expand by purchasing another business, or merge with an existing one, you'll want an attorney to help sort through all of the legal challenges. You'll need to get an attorney involved early in your planning process to make sure you follow the governmental and financial regulations regarding any merger or acquisition activity you are planning to do.
This is especially important when dealing with businesses out of the country. Regulations differ from country to country. You'll want to be compliant with all of the regulations from the beginning so you don't have problems in the future as you continue to grow.