The daily challenges facing small and medium sized businesses are diverse and can vary widely in complexity. They can range from an issue on the scale of Brexit, down to responding to an individual warranty issue, writes Paul Lenehan, Partner at Edwards & Co Solicitors.
A business may have problems with customer debt or it may be that the business’s’ terms of sale need to be re-written. At times it can seem never ending. Having acted for businesses over many years I have seen first hand the levels of stress and anxiety that handling and delegating such issues can cause business owners and employees.
While the challenges may vary in scale, importance and regularity, one constant remains: if the business does not respond appropriately, it will inevitably suffer financially as result of that failure. Business owners are well aware of this reality and for that reason much time and capital is invested in putting in place systems and procedures for addressing what might be considered “legal” matters.
Business owners know their own business better than anyone. They know what their business needs and what outcome they desire, but sometimes it can be prudent for a business to supplement that wealth of in house knowledge, with expertise from the legal world. In such circumstances a legal adviser can add real value to a business to help navigate choppy legal waters. Of course all this is predicated on the adviser understanding the commercial nuances which are often at play when an issue arises.
In this relationship the adviser must be motivated by outcome. The fundamental question should be what is a positive outcome for the business? For an adviser to add value to the business, they must listen intently to what the needs of the business are and in doing so must understand, from the outset, what represents a good outcome for the business. The business decides what a good outcome is. The adviser will obviously advise, but they must approach their role in a flexible fashion and with an open mind.
It helps, of course, if the adviser knows the client and the business well. Often business owners want to develop a long standing relationship where trust and knowledge are at the heart of it.
It is only through this approach that that a solicitor will bring value to a business. This in turn, will empower the business to make the right decisions at an early stage and reduce the risk of the business experiencing more substantial and costly legal problems further down the line.