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Helping Your Business Succeed – The Legal Way

I’ve seen all too often that in an effort to get businesses up and running, business owners often throw form invoices, contracts and other business documents together just to have something for customers to sign to evidence the products or services bought or delivered. No one can fault business people for wanting to get on with business. After all, no can come in until the business is up and running.

What often happens, however, is that once the business is up and running the business owner forgets that the original invoices and contracts were thrown together hurriedly. Until there is a problem with a customer or client, the business documents are ignored and business goes on as usual. Once a problem arises, however, it is often too late to save thousands of dollars in lost interest and attorneys’ fees. The time to review your business documents is before a problem develops.

Let me give you some examples of costs that can be saved and/or moneys recouped with careful attention to your contracts and invoices. The general law in the State of Florida is that each party must bare their own costs and attorneys’ fees in the event of a conflict dispute or lawsuit. There are several exceptions to this general rule; if a contract or agreement between the parties specifically addresses attorneys’ fees, those contractual provisions are generally enforceable. The other exception is if there is a statute providing for the recovery of attorneys’ fees, then they may be recoverable. It is the first exception that usually applies to the business owner. It is important that all of your contracts and/or invoices and other business documents contain a provision that if you need to hire a lawyer or instigate a lawsuit in order to collect moneys owed that you will be entitled to recover your attorneys’ fees and costs from the other party. Absent this provision, in all likelihood you will be required to bear your own attorneys’ fees and costs. This document should be signed by both you and your customer.

You may also want your contractual business documents to provide for the payment of interest. This provides an incentive for your customers to pay in a timely manner and once again gives you leverage in the event of a dispute.

In short, having your business documents reviewed and/or drafted by a professional can help your business succeed, the legal way, in the long run by helping to protect your investment. It may be worth the relatively small up front costs to avoid larger costs, legal fees and unearned interest in the future. A successful business means planning for the future, and that includes planning for your legal needs. Attending to your legal needs now may help your business succeed: the legal way.