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So let’s suppose that your business is not on the first rung of the ladder anymore.  Now you’re officially not a startup, but well on your way to full small business-dom.  Congratulations.  And be very afraid.

Let’s assume that you have already acted on the most basic advice – you are not routinely acting as your own lawyer, you have sought federal trademark protection for your business name and you are not doing business as a sole proprietorship or a partnership without benefit of a partnership agreement.   Here are the next dirty dozen things to sweat about at night, now,

Collect Your Money

Once upon a time, when you first got started, everyone who believed in you was your friend.  Not so now because now you are in business.  Avoid these three mistakes:

(1)          Make sure your standard invoice includes a provision relating to late fees.

(2)          Don’t use boilerplate sales or service contracts.

(3)          Fire clients who don’t pay.

So, Now You Have Employees

Avoid three more perils:

(4)          Don’t misclassify employees as independent contractors.   If you control the way in which work is done, you have legal responsibility for these workers as employees.

(5)          Don’t misclassify non-exempt employees as exempt from overtime requirements.

(6)          Remember to train supervisors about labor and employment laws.

Establish a Broad Network of Investors, Lenders and Customers

(7)          Establish business credit before you need it.

(8)          Avoid customer concentration.

(9)          Don’t cede more control of your business to investors than you’re comfortable with.

Don’t Hang Around Too Long

Locate the door, and plan your exit.

(10)        Plan your exit 3-5 years in advance

(11)        If you have co-owners, make sure that you have negotiated a buy/sell agreement.

(12)         Make sure your will provides for the disposition of your ownership interest in the business.

There now.  That should be enough to think about at night for a while.

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Legally Sound | Smart Business covers the top business stories with a legal twist. Hosted by attorneys Nasir N. Pasha and Matt Staub of Pasha Law, Legally Sound | Smart Business is a podcast geared towards small business owners.

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