Business Law

Business Law

Business Law

Ask a business owner what they love about their work, and you might hear about exercising their creativity, working with people, providing a valuable service, or simply making customers happy. You probably won’t hear a business owner say that they enjoy filing documents with the state, or reviewing contracts, or making sure their business is in compliance with state and federal regulations.

In short, business owners usually go into business to do what they love and are good at—but it takes more than that to make a business successful. All businesses, large and small, have legal details they must pay attention to. If those details are neglected, the business could fail, or wind up in costly litigation. If the business owner spends too much time on unfamiliar legal issues, they won’t have the time to focus on what they went into business for in the first place.

Large corporations have a legal team on the payroll to address legal issues that come up and to prevent legal problems from arising. It doesn’t make financial or practical sense for most smaller businesses to have in-house counsel. But having the right amount of legal help at the right time can make all the difference.

Sound, Affordable Legal Advice for Houston Businesses

If you own a small business, having no legal help, or the wrong kind, can be just as costly as paying for more legal help than you need. You might need someone just to look over one agreement, or to be on call for whatever legal issues arise for your business. The solution is to work with an attorney who understands your business needs AND your legal needs.

I am uniquely positioned to offer you and your business the legal services you need. As a business owner,I understand the pressures of operating a business, the need to watch the bottom line, and the desire to focus on the work of your business. As an attorney, I am aware of the legal and financial pitfalls that can await you if you don’t pay attention to your business’ legal needs. I will work with you to manage legal issues that affect your business, so you can put your focus on the work of your business.

I offer general outside counsel services to small and mid-sized businesses in the Houston area. Your business can get the benefit of a relationship with a Texas business attorney who is just a phone call or email away—someone who takes the time to listen to your needs and cares about you, your business, and your goals.

The services my firm offers include:

  • Business entity selection and formation
  • Preparation and filing of registration documents with government offices
  • Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Articles of incorporation and bylaws (corporations)
  • Articles of organization and operating agreements (limited liability companies)
  • Negotiation, drafting and review of contracts and agreements
  • Assistance with securing necessary permits
  • Sales and transfers of ownership
  • Business succession planning

Whether you need help with a single legal transaction, or a trusted legal advisor for every stage of your business, I will provide the guidance you need at a reasonable, predictable cost.

Succession Planning for Houston Businesses

If you have built a successful business, at some point the question arises: what happens when you are no longer available to run it? If you established your business to provide for your family, you may have dreamed of someday turning over a thriving company to your children. That doesn’t happen by accident.

The reality is that only about 40% of family businesses survive into a second generation, and fewer than 15% survive into a third. Part of the reason for that is that many business owners fail to actively create a succession plan for their business.

Have you discussed your goals with your intended successor? Are they interested in stepping into your shoes? Do you know if they share your vision for the future of the business? How long do you plan to continue operating the business? If tomorrow you were suddenly unable to run the business, would your intended successor be willing and able to take over?

These are some of the many questions business owners need, and often fail, to ask. I will help you explore these difficult questions and develop a plan based on the answers. Sometimes business succession means selling your business and retiring; sometimes it means passing it on to a family member. Whatever your goal, I can work with you to make sure it becomes a reality.

To learn more about outside general counsel and business succession planning services, please contact Bashirah Martin.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Choose a Business Entity?

The type of business entity you choose will depend on how many owners the business has, potential exposure to liability, and how you want to pay taxes on the business. Available business entities include C corporations, S corporations, partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability companies. If you own the business by yourself, you can run it as a sole proprietorship.

It’s best to discuss the pros and cons of each type of business entity with a business law attorney who understands your circumstances and goals and can direct you to the form that is right for you (as well as preparing the documents needed to establish your business and register it with the state).

Do I Need an Employer Identification Number for My Business?

You may be able to avoid getting an employer identification number (EIN) for your business if you have a sole proprietorship or a single-member limited liability company (LLC), but most businesses need to have an EIN, which functions as a tax identification number with the IRS. Your business uses this number to file tax returns, open business bank accounts, and apply for various licenses. If you are not required to have an EIN, you may be able to use your Social Security number, but this may expose you to identity theft. It’s better to obtain an EIN for your business; your attorney can help you with the process.

What is the Difference Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor?

Whether someone who does work for your business is an employee or an independent contractor depends on the level of control your business exercises over the relationship. For instance, can your business control what the worker does and how they do their job? Does your business reimburse the worker’s expenses, or provide tools and supplies? Does your business offer the worker a retirement plan, vacation pay, insurance, or other benefits? Does the worker perform similar work for other businesses, or only for your business?

Whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor makes a difference from a legal and tax standpoint. Employment and labor laws do not apply to a worker who is an independent contractor, and no taxes are withheld from an independent contractor’s pay. Employees, on the other hand, have Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes withheld from their pay.

Do I Need an Estate Plan for My Business?

Yes, you do! Planning for a business after the death or retirement of an owner is called succession planning, and it is essential to making sure the business is successful after a smooth transition to the new owner. If you have put a lot of effort and resources into building your business, don’t let it all go to waste by failing to plan—especially if you want the business to keep providing for your family after you’re gone.

For More Information

Contact us to discuss your legal issue and learn how we can accomplish your goals and protect your interests.

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