To run one’s own business, particularly in the unforgiving an ultra-competitive digitally augmented marketplace of the 21st century, is to live the dream. Today’s entrepreneurs not only show girt, resource and self-determination but they’re willing to put their money where their mouths are, sensibly reinvesting their profits back into their businesses to ensure future growth and development as well as better conditions and opportunities for themselves and their employees.
Not only do those who own their own businesses invest a lot of their blood, sweat, tears and hours into their endeavors, but a significant amount of their capital, too. Thus, it can be extremely distressing when they risk the whole house of cards collapsing around them under the threat of litigation by a client, a supplier, an employee or even the IRS.
First of all, remember that you’re not alone
If your business has a litigious charge brought against it, it can be an extremely distressing and upsetting time for you, and you may feel like a pariah and that you and your business have now been irredeemably tainted. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. This is merely a temporary setback and a storm that many businesses find themselves having to weather. It’s vital to remind yourself that you are not alone. Many businesses have found themselves in crisis management mode and come back stronger than ever.
The fact that so many small businesses are litigated against with such frequency has led to a growth industry in the legal support and representation of entrepreneurs who have no idea how to fight their own corner and would be too consumed with the day-to-day operations of their businesses even if they did.
Find the right legal counsel for you
When litigation is brought against small businesses, their owners tend to go into panic mode and make important decisions arbitrarily out of a sincere (yet misguided) desire to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Remember that the key to your business’s survival lies in boxing clever and this starts with taking the time to find the right legal representation in spite of the stress you may be experiencing. Think of the care and attention you applied when starting your business to vetting your suppliers, your premises and your employees. It stands to reason that you should apply the same amount of effort to searching through the list of criminal tax and white collar defense attorneys. You should look into their history of cases to see if one mirrors your own and look at both their successes and their failures. The most important thing is that you can place your trust not only in their credentials but in their ability to make you feel comfortable and reassured. Peace of mind is extremely important as it will enable you to keep running your business effectively in this difficult time.
Be as proactive and forward-planning as possible
Just because you’ve found legal counsel for yourself does not mean that you’ve now played your part and the rest of this battle will be left to fate. As tempting as the urge may be to throw yourself back into the day-to-day running of your business and bury your head in the sand, reacting to developments on an as-and-when basis, this can be hugely counter productive.
It’s important to deal with litigation on your own terms and that means being proactive and liaising with your legal counsel frequently so that you’re not caught unawares and spending more time than you intend on legal matters to the extent where it impinges on your ability to run your business.
Know your payment options
Running a business is all about the delicate balance of profit and loss, and this is no exception. It’s important to make informed decisions when it comes for paying for your legal representation and since lawyers don’t tend to come cheap, it’s important to know your options. Remember, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get any of your legal costs back. Funding for legal proceedings tends to fall into these three categories.
Contingent Fee Agreement (CFA)– You are not required to pay an upfront fee, but an agreed percentage of your award will be paid to your attorney upon winning the case. It your attorney offers this as an option you should take it as a good sign because it means that they expect to win.
Damages Based Agreement– Again, there is no money down here, but your lawyer agrees that their fee will be taken from any compensation or damages awarded to you.
Third Party Litigation– This is when a third party other than a law firm funds your case. They pay all of the upfront costs in exchange for a share of the damages. This is beneficial for you since if the case fails, you will lose nothing.