4 MAY 2018
How much of the business document load can be handled by a business owner?
Entrepreneurs are no strangers to the "do-it-yourself" attitude. Business owners are the original DIYers. From the moment they decided to create a business out of nothing but hard work, they have quite literally been doing it themselves. They have learned on their own or from their predecessors how to take matters into their own hands on behalf of their company. So what is the limit? At what point should a business owner stop forging ahead alone and turn to an expert for help?
Many entrepreneurs hesitate at the thought of handling their own legal documents. There are real risks associated with amateur legal documentation in the business world. First, one-size-fits-all DIY legal documents aren't detailed or specific. An omission on a contract or misuse of wording on a liability clause can come back to haunt you. Second, lawyers are familiar with the business laws that govern your industry. Business owners can’t rely on amateur skills to secure the future of their business when the livelihoods of their employees are at stake. Does that mean that business owners shouldn’t touch any legal paperwork of their own? Absolutely not.
Jack of All Trades
Let’s not forget that lawyers are expensive. Their expertise cost them years of schooling and they charge a steep fee to be paid fairly for their valuable services. Multinational enterprise-level corporations have in-house legal teams with lawyers on retainer. Smaller businesses of up to 50 employees don’t have this luxury. Business owners can take on some of the legal work to make it more affordable. Entrepreneurs forget that they are smarter than the average person. They are familiar with their industry and the inner-workings of their business. Even without formal education, all business owners have experience in marketing, finance, management, and practical business administration. They are working with quite a bit of knowledge. Though an owner might not know the specifics of a well-constructed liability clause, men and women who own businesses are capable of filling out forms and editing simple legal documents. Once the document is ready, it can be passed off to a legal professional for the final word. This cuts down on billable hours from your lawyer and reduces unnecessary spending.
For small-medium businesses in Malaysia that need to be careful with finances, it’s an obvious option. When business performance decreases the way it dropped 6.9% across sectors in the first quarter of 2017, the bottom line becomes the most important thing to the company. Jobs are saved when time-consuming work like information mining, data entry, and information merges are done by administrators instead of by a lawyer.
DIY legal documents can be completed with professional quality in many areas of business. Beyond mere editing, there are entire processes that are possible without using a lawyer’s time. For example, a business plan for loan applications would benefit more from financial input than legal. Spend your resources wisely. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is another example of official documentation that doesn’t need a lawyer’s immediate input. Many regions of the world require corporations to record and sign agreements in order to settle potential disputes. Informal business decisions and partnerships can use a properly written MOU for these purposes. Finally, some documents are nearly impossible to mess up. Power of Attorney (POA) documentation for individuals or companies in ASEAN are straightforward declarations of who can act on your behalf or continue your affairs should you not be present. Because the document is meant for general purposes, it can be attested and registered with the High Courts. DIY is the way to go. Though our first instinct may be to avoid DIY legal documents, it is extremely beneficial to take on some of the workload. Through DIY business solutions, entrepreneurs can save money and gain a deeper understanding of the legal aspects of their industry. DIY legal documents can always go through a final vetting process with a real lawyer. Remember, there is no need to fear legal documents. From the viewpoint of an informed and resourceful entrepreneur, they are not always as complicated as you think.
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