The Startup Law 101 series aims to educate founders and entrepreneurs on the basics of startup business law.
Here are my suggestions on this important question.
1. Law is fundamentally a field of expertise and employers should, for the most part, leave it to specialists when it comes to technical details.
This part cannot be stressed enough. The law is a maze of complexities. If you, as an entrepreneur, try to master it at that level, you will be an unusual entrepreneur if you are not quickly discouraged into giving up the effort altogether.
2. However, entrepreneurs can feel trapped by specialists around them and sometimes abuse them. Lawyers have been known to try to capitalize on the “fear, uncertainty and doubt” (FUD) factor that can be used to scare businesses where it does not legitimately exist. Therefore, it can be dangerous to leave everything in the hands of specialists without being informed about their proper role and without being proactive in managing their activities as contract agents.
3. Entrepreneurs should try to obtain a working knowledge of the law that affects their companies. The emphasis here is on “working.” This is not technical knowledge. It’s not about going to law school or learning to think like a lawyer. It is about trying to obtain the equivalent legal knowledge that a serial entrepreneur might have; It is about knowing the decision points and the main factors that affect those decisions so that you can manage the efforts of an attorney to provide you with technical assistance in those cases. points. It’s about learning the fundamentals of how businesses are formed, financed, managed, and sold. It’s about understanding how agreements work within the context of a business. As an entrepreneur, no I have to find out how these things work beyond following the advice of your attorneys. But you will be much sharper if you do. It can be led by professionals or you can actively manage your efforts, even while using their expertise, to help you achieve your goals.
4. Therefore, although the law is fundamentally boring for most entrepreneurs, the smart ones try to educate themselves in this area as necessary to achieve the goal of being proactive effectively when working with lawyers and being able to use the law in a effective to promote your business. goals.
5. What does this investment of time and effort bring you? It will teach you how to use the law to protect yourself from liability risks related to your business. It will improve your ability to effectively plan for the launch and growth of your business. Ultimately, it will save you money by improving your ability to manage your attorneys’ time.
6. How do you get this knowledge? It depends on you. I only emphasize here that you should not disdain the task just because it involves the law. Nor should you exaggerate in the other direction by immersing yourself in special ways of knowing. Strike a balance. Invest the time necessary to understand business law at a high level, with a strategic and non-technical focus. Use this author’s Startup Law 101 series to learn the basics of Startup Law. Read important blogs in the area (Startup Company Lawyer and The Startup Lawyer are good). Read the posts. Think about the problems. Get a broader perspective on how legal problems affect you and your business.
You can also use the self-help resources of publishers who specialize in these jobs. These can be useful for learning about general legal problems that affect businesses, although they are less useful for startup problems specifically.
In the end, experience will be your best teacher. But you will need to acquire fundamental knowledge to ensure that you learn the most from your experiences. And most of all, be sure to work with a business attorney who works with you and educates you on the legal steps you are taking. Beware of attorneys who keep you in the dark and simply spread the FUD factor.
Remember, don’t be discouraged if you can’t understand the legal technicalities. Your goal is not to master the technicalities. It is acquiring practical knowledge. Put a high value on anything that gives you that perspective. This is what the serial entrepreneur has mastered. It’s what you’ll need to master as well if you want to be optimally effective as an entrepreneur in managing legal affairs to further your business goals.