If I have learnt anything in my 18 months in business, it’s to make sure you get the legal’s right! One only has to watch the Facebook movie to realize how sticky an amicable relationship can become. A metaphor immediately springs to mind as to how I would describe the importance of it:
Between the ages of 8 and 12, all I wanted to do was play football. Everyone remembers the days of throwing down two jumpers 6 feet apart, picking teams and shouting ‘begsy not doin’ goals!’ As soon as we would kick off, all 10 boys would proceed to chase a worn Mitre ball round the not-so-Wembley back garden. Each player as determined as the next to achieve their aspiration of scoring that wonderful individual effort just like everyone’s hero, Eric Cantona. I usually tried to stay out of doing any of the really hard work like chasing after the ball. Instead I would opt to loiter around the opposition’s penalty area in the hope that the ball would be passed through to me, and I could then toe-poke it into the top corner.
Alas, it tended not to be the most productive of tactics but you can bet your life, that when the plan came good, I’d be the first to throw the t-shirt over my head and slide belly first across the grass in celebration of my success.
Those were the days where the outcome of a friendly football match held serious importance. But if we rewind back before those happy memories, let’s remind ourselves of what the logistics were in playing football with your friends. Here’s an example of a conversation prior to the football
Me: “I’m going out to play football with the lads…ok see ya….bye”
Mother: “Wait wait wait, make sure you have a jumper on, it’ll be cold when you’re coming back”
“I don’t need a jumper, I got to go,” says I, as I start to move closer towards the door.
“WAIT! Go upstairs and put a jumper on this instant, or you’re not leaving this house!”
“OK fiiiiiiiine,” I say as I trudge back up the stairs to get an old hoodie.
When you start a business all you want to do is get out there and play. Everyone wants to go and do the really fun things involved in the start-up environment like building a cool website or trying to get your first customer. But behind all of those fun activities, is our forgotten friend – the legals.
To bring it back to the football analogy, I never wanted to hear about having to stick on a jumper. As far as I was concerned, those conversations were just wasting valuable goal scoring time. Looking back on it, the parent telling the child to wear a jumper, before they go out to football, is simply making sure they don’t end up with a cold the next day. Similarly, by spending the time on the legals before you enter into a contract for example, you’ll make sure you don’t run yourself into trouble in the future. For the sake of spending a bit of extra time, getting the correct advice and putting in place good structures, it will ensure all parties are adequately protected. You’ll be especially glad of it, if and when a legal arrangement ends up not going quite to plan.
So, to sum up my advice, make sure you get the legals right before you go running out to play because if you do, I guarantee you won’t catch a cold further down the line.