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The owners of small businesses do so much more than sell a product or service. They are team leaders, risk assessors, investment deciders, public relations coordinators, and so much more. One of the most important hats that small business owners wear is the legal hat. Smart business owners understand that they need to have proper procedures in place to ensure that everything they do is handled legally — from hiring and firing to marketing to customer relations. If your business is too small to have its own internal legal team, you likely have a lot of questions about how to handle the legal issues (both expected and unexpected) that arise. Today we’re answering a few of small business owners’ most commonly asked questions. But there’s one common thread you’ll notice runs through all of our answers — when you are not sure about your specific situation, it is probably best to consult an attorney.
I’m owed money from a customer. What are my options?
If a customer owes you money, you have many options including liens, collection efforts, and filing a lawsuit. To determine which option is best for your individual situation, it is best to sit down with an attorney to discuss what makes the most legal and financial sense.
What kind of license do I need to run a business in Tennessee?
Most businesses are required to have a business license, but the type will depend on what kind of work you do, where you are located, and how much income you generate. For example, if you make under $10,000 a year, you might qualify for a minimal activity business license. A lawyer can help you determine what is required based on your specific situation.
I’ve received a summons for small claims court on behalf of my business. Can I represent myself, or do I need an attorney?
It depends. Certainly if your business is incorporated, you will likely need an attorney to represent it. If not incorporated, you’ll still want to get an attorney’s advice on your best option. An attorney can give you reliable perspective about how complicated or uncomplicated your time in small claims court will be, and whether or not it would be wise to proceed on your own.
I have been approached by potential volunteers looking for work experience with my small business. How should I handle this?
Although this may sound like a golden opportunity, it is not legal for for-profit businesses to accept free labor. You may ask yourself, “What about an intern?” The Fair Labor Standards Act has very specific rules about what does and does not qualify. You will need a lawyer’s help to navigate this.
Where can I find a lawyer to help me with the legal side of my small business?
You’re in the right place! You can use the Knoxville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) is a great resource for connecting with a lawyer who can offer you guidance. Try it today by calling (865) 522-7501!
If you’re looking for a lawyer and just don’t know where to start, the Knoxville Bar Association’s LRIS is a great place to begin. We match you with a lawyer that suits your needs. Our trusted attorneys provide you with a free consultation so that you can decide if it’s the right fit. Want to learn more? Call us at (865) 522-7501 or visit knoxbar.org/lawyerfinder.
The materials contained in this blog are intended to, and do, provide only a broad overview of various legal topics. The general information contained in this material is not designed nor intended to be a substitute for legal advice on a specific legal issue or question. In addition, the information provided in this material is only general advice and may not be applicable to apparent similar individual problems, since only slight changes in facts change the applicable advice. If you have a legal problem or question, please consult an attorney.
Any publication, distribution, or other use of these materials without the express written consent of the Knoxville Bar Association is prohibited.
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