Anyone remember the old game show Press Your Luck? It ran for about three years in the late 1980s. It wasn’t a big hit, but variations of it have appeared worldwide and the show itself was basically a remake of Second Chance, another show from the 1970s. It was even brought back briefly as the show Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck but that didn’t last nearly so long.
In the show, contestants would take chances to win more and more money. However, lurking on the play board was a little red goblin looking thing called a “Whammy.” A Whammy came out of nowhere to take all your money, laugh at you for losing, and basically ruin your day. The risk of the Whammy showing up increased the more a contestant played. So the more money a player made, the greater a chance some giggling goon would show up and take everything.
What does this have to do with running a business or legal services? Quite a bit, actually. Businesses come with various risks, and each day a businessperson is out there making money and growing their business is also a day something could go wrong and cost them dearly.
However, there’s one big difference between running a business and a game show. In business, you can take affirmative steps to reduce risks and protect yourself from loss. One of the best ways to do this is with solid legal services that ensure your contracts, agreements, licenses, and other elements of your business are as effective and well crafted as they can be.
One of the most persistent mistakes I see businesses make is waiting until everything has gone wrong before looking for a lawyer or seeking legal advice. Otherwise smart, motivated business people for some reason decide that when it comes to legal matters their plan is just ignore risks, push ahead, and hope everything works out. Without consulting an attorney, businesses often miss the hidden risks or problems of their contracts, business transactions, partnership, or policy changes. These are risks that can be reduced or eliminated by consulting with an attorney before the transaction.
So what happens in these situations when things do go wrong down the line? They get very expensive, complex, and stressful. Suddenly, attorneys must be hired to litigate or otherwise resolve these problems, often needing to spend a significant time familiarizing themselves with the client’s business and the details of any agreements or past actions that led to a problem. Legal fees for litigation can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars or more. Litigation is also very time consuming. Meetings, depositions, and communications all cut into time that would be better spent running your business.
Given the potential price on such work, it’s amazing how many business owners, especially those starting out, cut corners by having no budget for legal fees. A business owner who will spend money to design logos and websites, hire staff, train staff, renovate locations, or advertise, have a line item for legal fees that is basically just a picture of themselves with their fingers crossed for luck.
Now, my point here isn’t to scare you. Nor is it to suggest that you must run out and pay an attorney huge fees to pour over everything you do. My point is that it’s very risky to just press forward with no protections or plan. It’s a bad idea to avoid developing a relationship with a good business attorney in order to save a few bucks. Far better to find an affordable and skilled attorney whose work you fold into the budget of your regular business operations.
Your business isn’t a game; it’s something you worked very hard to build. Treating it like a game show may pay off big for some lucky few, but it’s far more likely to hurt your chances of success. So do your business and yourself a favor and consult a business attorney to help ensure your risks are minimal and manageable. Leave “pressing your luck” for reruns on the Game Show Network.