Legal Tips For Startups & Small Businesses

Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, the modern economy is moving faster as opposed to a decade ago.  In light of the advent of cloud-based solutions in the market, reasonably low entry barriers and an influx of capital available to entrepreneurs, hitting the ground running is often the only choice.  Wait too long, and someone will overtake on your this highway of business.

However, with all these near-perfect market conditions, many potential roadblocks remain, and all entrepreneurs need to know how to tackle them. From the get-go, your business strategy has to align with the legal prerequisites of your industry. No matter how robust your business strategy is, it can not be executed if it falls outside the bounds of the law. 

The overall well-being of your company depends on assigning this aspect of your business with ample time, attention and investment at the early stages of developing your business.   Let's take a look at five tips for developing a robust legal strategy for your small business. 

1. Budget sufficiently for legal. 

Never underestimate the cost of legal expenses. Legal fees could very well become a significant upfront investment when starting your business.  Many entrepreneurs will tell you that these fees commonly end up being more costly than initially anticipated. This is due to the constant back and forth, complexities in law and more. We suggest setting aside a substantial buffer in your budget for legal services. Furthermore, it's imperative that you consult with your lawyer to estimate the total cost of legal fees from the beginning. 

Moreover, you need to consider any licensing fees, license filing fees, bonds and more. It's a wise move to discuss this with other entrepreneurs who have dealt with legal challenges similar to yours to get a better understanding and estimate of these costs.  Ensure that you budget wisely to avoid dipping into funds which could be used in other areas of your business.

2. Assume that you'll need twice as much time. 

When you see an opportunity for your business idea and possible gaps in the market, it's crucial to act fast. However, getting your legal woes out the way can be timeous so be sure to plan ahead.  Many companies take up to a full calendar year to obtain licenses, depending on the nature of their services.  Ensure that you know which licenses are required to start operations and consider the time needed to acquire any permits.

3. Recruit the correct lawyer for each specific task. 

The specialisation of your legal counsel is crucial when it comes to judicial factors.  An attorney or legal advisor not versed in a specific field can be costly. Perhaps you need to acquire a patent for a conceptual product. Be sure to enlist the services of a patent attorney should this be the case. A specialist's years of experience in IP(intellectual property) and the deeper knowledge of patent and trademark litigation will do your business well.  Going the route of a general practice lawyer who covers a broad range of legal practice, might seem like a money-saving idea at first. However, this hypothetical individual's lack of specific expertise could be costly in the long-term.  It's wise to recruit the correct legal help from the beginning as you'll almost certainly end up spending more in the long run. 

4. Ensure that you're not breaking the law 

The consequences for not having your legal ducks in a row can be notably costly. Perhaps you're a payments startup. You need to ensure that you acquire the correct money transmission license to avoid costly million rand fines.  Moreover, what's worse than penalties is the reputation damage you might do to your business and personal name.  Of course, we understand the need to keep pace with your competition, but no corner is worth cutting if it results in the ruination of your brand or worse, results in you or employees facing incarceration.  

5. Run all your legal processes in parallel.  

Should an aspect of your business model require any form of compliance or licensing, consider doing what you can legally until you're compliant.  While obtaining the correct legal compliance to run your business is crucial to starting your company, we advise against sitting and waiting for legal processes to iron themselves out.  Make use of your time wisely by investing and crafting the areas of your business which do not require legal compliance.  

Business moves fast by its nature, by following the above mentioned steps, you'll go a long way in developing your business meticulously and as quickly as possible.'s industry partner for all things legal is Legalese - get in touch with them, they are approachable, and extremely knowledgable!

  • COVID19
  • legal services
  • startups
  • small business
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Awesome article, I think that this is perfect for our Industry Partner on all things Legal - Legalese