When starting a West Michigan small business you plan everything out. When trying to grow your small business you put available funds toward advisers such as coaches, marketers, consultants, and branders that allow you to see that growth. When small businesses are planning and growing they don’t consider a customer not paying for an order, a product injuring someone, an employee stealing business from you, or even another business you are working with not following through with their duties. These issues are very common for small businesses and most are taken by surprise when they creep up. So you are involved in a dispute, what do you do?
While most small business owners are very used to wearing multiple hats in the running of the business, the first lesson that should be learned if your small business is involved with a lawsuit is that you cannot represent your company in court. Unless you have passed the Michigan Bar Exam you are not permitted to practice law in the State of Michigan. Going before any court and representing your small business is considered practicing law, so you are going to need to hire a lawyer to represent your business.
If your small business has been sued and you are served with a complaint, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. With all aspects of litigation, responding to a complaint is a time sensitive issue and has to be done in a certain time period. Failure to respond within in the appropriate time period can be seen as an admission to the allegations made against your small business and thus potential resolutions are very limited.
The other aspect that is extremely important is that you need to be upfront and honest with your attorney. Small business trial attorneys are very skilled at what they do but they are limited by the information that you provide to them. If there is an aspect of the lawsuit that might hurt your positioning, trying to hide that from your attorney can only limit his effectiveness. If you give all the details regardless if they benefit or hinder your case, your attorney can deal with them and present them in a manner that best helps you out.
I have long recommended working with a small business attorney prior to these types of issues coming up. Not only can a small business attorney help limit the potential of disputes but they view your small business differently than if you have to go out and hire a litigator for a specific dispute. Litigators get paid to litigate so if you have a potential dispute a litigator is going to want to litigate. A small business attorney that acts as your small business’ general counsel doesn’t want to litigate in order to find a resolution because the expense of litigation only hurts your small business. This means a small business attorney will try to resolve the conflict as efficiently as possible.
Many small businesses are able to avoid disputes and conflicts for long periods of time. As your small business grows so does the possibility of a disagreement with an individual or another business. There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with these issues. While you might think that your small business is immune that is the same thing that thousands of small businesses have said before you. Some do not survive these conflicts. Being proactive and making sure you are prepared can change a lot of things for your small business.