San Francisco, CA, October 19, 2010 - More than half of small business owners (51 percent) say the main reason they would avoid seeking legal counsel is because it is too expensive; however, one in four say legal issues pose the biggest risk to their company, according to a new survey commissioned by Rocket Lawyer™, the fastest growing online legal service. The study polled 1,000 small business owners to gauge key SMB trends and predictions for 2011.
According to the survey, the jury is still out about whether President Obama's program to provide more credit access to SMBs has in fact opened up more credit -- 52 percent of small business owners say the program has not opened up credit, while three percent say it has and 41 percent say their business does not utilize outside credit. Furthermore, the economic forecast for small business owners appears uncertain -- while three in 10 believe 2011 will be a better economic year than 2010, 72 percent aren't sure or think it won't be any better next year.
"Running a small business is always a challenge, especially when the business is just getting started. Listen to small business owners, like we did in our survey, and they say that legal risks weigh on their minds as a key factor for their success or failure. That's why Rocket Lawyer exists -- to make it simpler and less expensive to understand and do something about everyday legal issues," said Charley Moore, Founder and Chairman of Rocket Lawyer. "While legal issues and expenses can seem overwhelming, by going online for legal help, small business owners can get legally organized at a much lower cost than expected."
The survey results are being announced in tandem with the launch of a Legal Health Score™ and new affordable business legal plans from Rocket Lawyer. The Legal Health Score is a snapshot of a small business's legal health, based on a variety of key factors. With an affordable legal plan, Rocket Lawyer members can improve their Legal Health Score with a proactive, cost-effective approach to understanding and managing their legal needs. Rocket Lawyer delivers tools to help entrepreneurs create, edit and review important legal documents on an ongoing basis, stay in legal compliance for corporate governance, manage employees and hiring and take care of a wide variety of everyday legal matters.
Rocket Lawyer compiled five key steps small businesses should take to help protect themselves against legal woes.
1. Put the Business in Ink. To protect your individual assets and your company as a whole, look into incorporating your business. While business incorporation offers many benefits, it is not for every situation. Take the time to do research and determine the best option for your business.
2. Take time to Trademark. Once you've selected a company name, research trademark availability and make it official. It's also important to register your company's domain name, as well as select the name for social media channels such as a twitter handle, Facebook page and company blogs.
3. Proof and Protection. It's important to document your company's operations, as it can be critical information if your business is involved in a lawsuit. The federal, state and local agencies, such as the IRS, also require certain documentation, so take time to learn all of the records you will need to keep. In addition, if your company is based around proprietary intellectual knowledge or property, take the steps to patent your idea or invention.
4. Get Guidelines. Many companies face employee-related lawsuits; in fact, it is the most prevalent type of litigation faced by small businesses today. That's why it's important that companies protect themselves by developing an employee handbook that provides a clear guideline for all important issues such as employee/employer rights, HR issues and paid time off policies. No matter the size of the company, it is critical that these details are in writing and understood by everyone.
5. Enlist the Experts. Leverage a community of entrepreneurs and expert professionals, like lawyers and accountants, who can help guide you through the steps necessary to protecting yourself and setting your business on the path to success. There are many sites available, like www.RocketLawyer.com that can provide advice and cost-effective solutions for helping your company at all different stages.
About the Survey
Rocket Lawyer commissioned Zogby International to conduct an online survey of 1,000 small business owners from 9/21/10 to 9/22/10. A sampling of Zogby International's online small business panel was invited to participate in the survey. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. The MOE calculation is for sampling error only. Numbers in the topline report have been rounded to the nearest percent.
About Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer™ is the only complete legal service on the Internet, providing over a million businesses and individuals a simple, easy, and affordable way to manage their legal needs. Rocket Lawyer allows members to personalize certified legal documents through a simple interview process. These documents can then be securely stored, shared, e-signed, and reviewed by thousands of attorneys in the Rocket Lawyer network. Rocket Lawyer also offers a suite of law firm marketing tools and customizable client referral services for attorneys who join their network. For more information on Rocket Lawyer, visit www.rocketlawyer.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Mediamgr (at) rocketlawyer.com
415-738-6337 ext. 7467
for Rocket Lawyer PR
aimee (at) bordersgratehouse.com
(415) 963-4174 ext. 7
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.