It's in your own interest

Inspiring talks about contracts Learn from three Scandinavian entrepreneurs and a Nordea business advisor why working out contracts for every action, deal or agreement can be of value to your business.

Starting a business can be much like marriage. In the beginning you are head over heels and nothing can ever go wrong. You are happy, you move in together and you build a home together – it’s all good. But if one day things go bad, and you decide to break up, you might suddenly find yourselves arguing over who should get what. Such a quarrel could easily be softened, had you made an agreement from the very beginning. 

And this is why you need to get everything related to your business in writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ownership or partnership agreement, a manufacturing or distribution deal. Get it in writing! And do spend the money on a competent lawyer – it will be in your own interest.

But don’t just take our word for it. Read, what three Scandinavian entrepreneurs and our business advisors said, when asked about the necessity of clearing legal matters before starting your business. 

“I never say ‘yes’ or sign anything without having a third party look at it.”

What’s your experience with legal matters?

Jankeh Njie Jamanca, founder and CEO from Jarga Designs in Oslo, who works a lot with people in both Gambia, Poland and the rest of Scandinavia, has her own way on handling contracts and agreements with the people and companies she works with.

“I never say ‘yes’ or sign anything without having a third party look at it. So, even though I write my own contracts, I never send out anything before having someone with the right expertise going through the details.”

Writing your own contracts is not always as easy as in the case with Jankeh. For a company like Leadfeeder, who provides an online service that depends entirely on the access to and use of private data, all legal matters regarding the use of this data is absolutely crucial. So legal matters are constant factor for Leadfeeder founder and CEO Pekka Koskinen.

“Lucky for us, one of our investors have their own lawyer, which means that in most cases we have used them. But since we entered the US market and needed legal advice on the American market, we have hired a US lawyer.”

The legal work that Pekka and Leadfeeder need to get done does not include filing for software patents. Software patents are very rare, so instead they have made a trademark registration, and Pekka strongly recommend any new business to follow his example.

“As long as everything goes well, no one ever reads those legal papers.”

What legal matters will the bank focus on?

A business advisor in a bank is not a lawyer, and is not able to provide any legal advice for your business. However, a business advisor will not hesitate to recommend you to get hold of a lawyer if and when you find yourself in a situation that requires legal assistance. Per Kristian Haugen, Business Advisor at Nordea Oslo gives his three best advices on what you should get in writing:

“If you have something unique, you need a patent, so that no one can copy it. If you get on an investor, make sure the terms in your deal is very easy to follow, and be sure to read the fine print. If you bring on a partner, make sure that you have a clear description of who owns what and how the company is divided between you.”

Based on the advice found in this article it’s easy to conclude, that it’s always in your own interest to get all legal matters settled, before you actually go live with your new company. Makes no difference whether your business is brick and mortar, a hairdresser, a café, an ice cream van, a webshop or a software development service, having a lawyer check your contracts and papers is a smart move – a clever investment in the future of your company.

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