When it’s your company, there’s nothing “small” about a small business. The stakes are high, the competition fierce, and the challenges many. And what’s more, it’s not just business – it’s personal.

You’ve invested too much money, time, and sweat to get your business where it is today, and you can’t afford missteps now. Even if you’re just starting out, every move is critical, and the wrong ones can set you back years.

As a firm that concentrates on serving small and family-owned businesses, we know the challenges and opportunities that await you. For more than 25 years, we have worked with hundreds of start-up, growing and successful small businesses in all phases of their lifecycle – from formation, to strategic partnerships and growth, through ownership transitions and exit strategies.

We know that conducting business in today’s increasingly regulated climate is difficult and that many small-business owners can’t keep up. Not only can we help keep you in compliance, but we can help you use the laws to your advantage as you minimize risks, sidestep potential problems, and make the strategic decisions that position your company for success.

We are proactive and work hands-on with our clients. It’s an approach that saves our clients time, effort and money. Firm owner Don Sadowski’s family owned a small business, giving him an appreciation of the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship that he brings when helping companies today. In addition, we’ve worked with clients in a variety of industries and understand the many environments in which businesses operate, the forces that shape them, and the legal issues that can impact their success.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]

We provide practical and effective advice for small businesses with issues in the following areas:

There’s a reason the best carpenters “measure twice, cut once.” It’s because getting things right at the beginning often is the best way to ensure they’re right at the end. Starting a small business is no different – it takes careful planning, based on sound business and financial principles. Do you know what kind of entity is best for you? Or that you can help determine how your company will be taxed? What about the future transition of your company to someone else, or the best ways to limit your personal liability or protect your business assets in the event of threats?

With a quarter century of experience helping small and family-owned businesses, we can help you anticipate the issues you might not yet see, take advantage of current laws and proven best practices, and lay the foundation for long-term success.

Whenever you hear someone talk about “one size fits all,” it seems to us it means there’s only one size, and it really doesn’t fit anybody perfectly. That’s why we bring a personalized approach to every client who is forming a business entity. We’ll learn your goals, explore the business and legal risks and benefits, and help you make the right decision – for you.

We’ll help you understand the types of business entities available today, how to maximize the legal benefits of each, and which may be best for you. We draft articles of incorporation, operating and membership agreements, partnership agreements and other required documents, and we can help plan for financing or initial capitalization no matter which type of business entity you choose, including:

• Sole proprietorships
• General partnerships
• Limited partnerships
• Limited liability corporations
• Franchises
• Joint ventures
• Corporations
• Professional service corporations
• Limited liability partnerships
• Nonprofit corporations

You’ll see what activities are critical to the formation of a business, such as:

• Funding strategies
• Insulating an owner’s assets from management liabilities
• Capitalizing on fringe and tax benefits, special uses, and business and estate
• planning purposes of a given entity
• Protecting business assets and proprietary rights
• Creation of key relationships, including the use of independent contractors
• Proper corporate operations and legal procedures

We’ll help you look ahead and plan for the issues that traditionally arise at the end of the company’s life. We can help you avoid deadlock between owners, position your business for successful sale, and properly dissolve your business when there is no buyer or after the assets are sold.

We can also help you coordinate your use of professionals who specialize in helping small businesses, including:

• Accounting and tax professionals
• Banks that work well with small and growing businesses
• Insurance brokers
• Marketing and management consultants

But if you already have your own professionals, we’ll work closely with them to provide a continuity of service that protects your interests.

Is your corporation the liability shield you think it is? Time and again, company officers and directors are held personally liable for their corporation’s obligations. There are a number of things your corporation must do to insulate and protect its owners against personal liability. Do you know what they are?

The importance of ongoing good housekeeping in the business entity can’t be overemphasized, particularly when trying to limit personal liability. Problems often arise among the shareholders, between generations of family members owning interests, or with business creditors and taxing authorities. These are problems that can be avoided by tending to basic organizational mechanics and the implementation of loss prevention strategies. We offer several cost-efficient programs designed to regularly update your corporate records and keep them easily accessible when you need them.

For more information on our membership programs, please contact us.

When it comes to business transactions and ownership transitions, our clients understand the stakes are too high to go it alone. That’s why from the smallest of transactions to the largest, the businesses we represent turn to us for the direction and advice that can help ensure they make the right decisions today for a good outcome tomorrow.

Over the last 25 years, we’ve engineered transactions that range from asset acquisitions and sales to stock transactions, mergers, spin-offs, and a stock tender offer.

Our approach is simple. We listen and learn, and we’ll take the time to understand your business so we can anticipate potential conflicts and problems while helping you formulate an effective approach to the transaction.

We know many small-business owners like to negotiate their own deals. Others want to rely on someone to engineer the deal for them and manage negotiations to a favorable outcome. We’ll provide the level of support you want, affordably.

During the negotiation process, we’ll work with you toward achieving your overall objectives. We’ve negotiated enough deals to know what can go wrong down the road and how to eliminate deadlocks and develop terms that avoid future disputes while minimizing tax liability.

Our full suite of business transactional and transition services includes:

• Business transactions

– Family ownership transition planning
– Restrictive covenant agreements
– Executive and owner compensation
– Non-competition agreements
– Shareholder agreements
– Buy-sell agreements
– Voting agreements
– Financing a business
– Trademarks and copyrights
– Trade secrets
– Confidentiality agreements
– Relationships with employees and employment agreements
– OEM
– VAR
– Licensing
– Intellectual property
– Strategic alliances
– Conversions and consolidations
– Mergers and acquisitions
– Real estate
– Commercial leases
– Corporate governance and maintenance
– Drafting, review and advising on contracts of all kinds

• Business terminations

– Stock redemptions
– Corporate liquidations
– Stock sales
– Asset sales
– Preparing the business for sale
– Appropriate tax considerations
– Estate planning considerations
– Ownership transition planning

It’s one thing to give your children your old car when you’re done with it. It’s another entirely to give them your business. And even though that’s what many retiring business owners do, there are plenty who don’t go about it the right way. Unfortunately for those, they may wind up creating a burden for their children, hardships for themselves, or hastening the end of the business they spent a lifetime building.

According to one survey, it’s estimated that two-thirds of family business owners plan to leave their companies in the next 10 years. And that means it’s time for questions – questions without easy answers. Should you hand the company over to your children? Should you sell it to an outside company? What will happen to your employees?

While some legal firms are comfortable discussing the consequences of a business owner’s death, there are fewer that hold thorough discussions around the lifetime transition of ownership, even though lifetime transitions are much more common. These transitions – in which buyers must put up their own money to buy the business and the seller needs to realize the value of his or her capital – are different from death transitions, which often are completely funded with life insurance proceeds.

And these lifetime transitions are further complicated by issues that include owner/employees vs. owners not employed in the business, founders with retirement concerns, and children waiting in the wings to become full owners.

Over the years, we have had success designing and implementing lifetime transition plans that help ensure businesses are successfully passed along according to owners’ wishes. Firm owner Don Sadowski’s family owned a small business, and he learned early the benefits and challenges of being in a family-owned business. It’s a perspective that can’t be taught, and one that helps him see your challenges through your eyes.

It’s difficult for many business owners to prevent legal problems and stay out of court when they don’t know the risks.

State and federal laws and regulations are numerous and always changing, making it difficult for many small-business owners to stay on the right side of the law and regulations, despite their best intentions. And that means a small problem today can mean big headaches tomorrow.

We’ll help you with the laws that can impact your business, work to ensure you remain legally healthy and compliant, and help you stay ahead of the “hidden” issues you might not see coming.

Our hands-on approach involves identifying the legal problems likely to arise based on your company’s activities and recommending steps to prevent problems or minimize adverse effects. By working closely with you, we can develop customized procedures to monitor your company’s compliance with evolving laws and regulations.

Protecting products, services or business ventures to the fullest extent possible through trademarks, service marks and trade secrets is not to be overlooked.

We’ll work with you to give your venture a distinct and protected advantage and assist you with the agreements and documents that will help protect your products, software, services, trademarks and trade secrets. In addition, we can help you address issues unique to today’s Web-centric business world, including privacy use policies, e-commerce and Website challenges, and domain name concerns.