If you’re a new or existing business opportunity or other small business owner in need of legal help, chances are that you’ve tried to go it alone, at least at one time or another. In fact, a new nationwide study released this summer by leading legal protection plan provider LegalShield, shows that the majority (54%) of America’s small businesses would rather risk losing everything than seek out costly legal advice or counsel when they need it most.
Drawn from more than 1,000 interviews with owners and top executives of small businesses with as few as one to as many as 250 employees, the Legal Needs of Small Business Survey also found that:
• Nearly 60% of small businesses experienced significant legal events in the past two years.
• When the more than half of them who did not hire legal counsel were asked why, 57% reported they believed they could handle it on their own, while 40% said cost concerns held them back.
• Despite not hiring legal help, nearly all respondents cited at least one legal issue as being among the “greatest threats to their business,” among them debt collection, insurance disputes, government regulations, tax issues, contract concerns, intellectual property protection, product liability and threats of lawsuits by customers and employees.
• Debt collection assistance and contract/document review were some of the most sought after legal services by small business owners.
• For those who did use legal services, the average cost in a given year was estimated at $7,600, and 20% of them reported spending $10,000 or more.
With numbers like that, is it any wonder most small business owners opt to struggle through their legal challenges themselves as opposed to hiring an attorney? Trouble is if you’re one of them, the trade off may be too great should things not go your way. In fact, you could be risking it all, according to experts.
“Our study clearly points to a dangerous cost-benefit issue in the marketplace,” said Rip Mason, LegalShield’s CEO. “A frightening number of small business owners deal with legal issues on their own because they don’t believe hiring an attorney is worth the significant cost they have to pay.”
Fortunately, there are a now a number of options available for small business owners who need legal services, but who don’t have unlimited budgets, LegalShield among them. For as little as $75 to $125 per month, depending on the number of employees, LegalShield’s Small Business plans provide year-round access to a range of legal services that small business owners want and need to protect themselves and their assets. Basic services include everything from assistance with debt collection, contract and document review and incorporation counseling to intellectual property protection, employment issues and vendor problems, among many others.
While having the assurance that legal support is readily available by paying a monthly fee may be an appealing option for some, others may want to stick with finding the right legal assistance only when and if they want or need it. And for those who prefer this option, the advent of technology has enabled the marketplace to meet their demands affordably and efficiently like never before.
Take UpCounsel for example. Founded in 2012, UpCounsel is the “fastest growing online workplace for businesses to easily find, hire and work with top attorneys” on an as-needed basis. It’s a service designed especially for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to locate and pay only for the legal services they want at any given time. Operating much like a match-making service, UpCounsel is a platform for startups and SMB owners who are looking for just the right kind of legal help they need only when they need it, all for about half the cost of what most full-service law firms charge. The company guarantees its services too. “If something goes wrong,” they say, “let us know. We want to make it right.” Can’t ask for more than that, can you?
If you’re a small business opportunity, franchise, licensee opportunity, distributorship or other SMB owner in need of answers to your legal questions, it’s important that you don’t shy away from searching for good solid help that you can afford. With so many options currently available, going it alone in an increasingly uncertain and complex world may be unnecessary. Okay, not just unnecessary. It could very well be the dumbest “penny wise, yet pound foolish” decision you’ll ever make.