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"Top Legal Tips for Bigger Small Businesses" - Michele D. Vaillancourt

Michele Vaillancourt
presented the "Top 10 Legal Tips for Entrepreneurs" at the 2006 Upsize Growth Challenge.


  • Get agreements and commitments in writing. Even a letter to the other side describing your understanding may help avoid misunderstandings.
  • Protect your company’s name and the names of your products. Remember, availability of a name at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office is not the same as availability for U.S. trademark purposes.
  • Protect your intellectual property. Protection for your IP can include much more than patents.
  • You can use a combination of assignments, copyrights, work-for-hire agreements and confidentiality agreements.
  • Take some accounting and finance classes. Knowing even the fundamentals can make a huge difference in understanding your business and dealing with accounting and financial professionals, such as accountants and bankers.
  • Have a management/business succession plan and an estate plan. Have the plans developed so they mesh. Get professionals involved in the development of the plans to avoid tax and legal pitfalls and to have an objective party work through what can be difficult emotional issues.
  • Select individuals in different areas of expertise for your board of directors. They can give you valuable (and mostly free) advice. Ask your attorney and accountant for suggestions, but it is usually best not to have them serve on the board to avoid conflicts of interest. As your business grows, also consider forming an advisory board.
  • Prepare financials on a regular basis and study them. Preparing and studying financials helps you understand your business so you can better manage it.
  • Conduct market analysis. Do not rely on a "seat-of-the-pants" read of market conditions and your company’s presence in the market.
  • Choose your legal entity wisely. Your choices include C-corps, S-corps, LLCs, LLPs and limited partnerships. Consult your accountants and attorneys.
  • Follow corporate formalities. Hold annual board and shareholder meetings, or adopt annual written actions, even though you are the only board member and shareholder. Doing so can help protect your personal assets.
Click here to view the PDF.

Reprinted with permission from Upsize.

For More Information
Deb Cochran
Direct: (612) 604-6688
"Top Legal Tips for Bigger Small Businesses" - Michele D. Vaillancourt
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