Minneapolis Business Lawyer for Entrepreneurs
What We Do
We are all entrepreneurs ourselves. We purposely chose to form a law firm together with a different, client-focused approach to delivering legal services to other entrepreneurs. We all come from bigger firms and large corporate legal departments. Our depth of business, industry, and entrepreneurial experience benefits our clients every day.
Connecting Entrepreneurs to Investors
When you work with Avisen Legal, you will receive senior level attention from lawyers with 20+ years of entrepreneurial and business experience. We have worked with thousands of entrepreneurs like you and helped those businesses at every stage of the business cycle.
Business Law Firm for Entrepreneurs in Minneapolis
Entrepreneurial businesses face many challenges and needs that have legal components. We are adept at solving these needs and challenges. We help our clients with:
- Startup of Your Business
- Shareholder Agreements and Operating Agreements
- IP transfer and protection
- Friends and Family
- Outside Investors
- Venture Capital
- Stock Option Plans and Executive Compensation
- Service Agreements:
- C-Suite Executives
- Outside Consultants
- Regulatory Issues
ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESS LAW ATTORNEY MINNEAPOLIS
We Know the Recipe for Successful Businesses
It starts with a great idea to solve an important need. Then add great people. Next, you need the capital to expand and go to market with your business. You need good lawyers to structure, legally protect, and help you implement your business. Finally, you need good luck!
You bring the business skills. We’ll bring the legal skills.
Connecting Entrepreneurs to Investors
Many of us at Avisen Legal grew up in entrepreneurial families and know first-hand the excitement and stress of starting a new business. We know the pain and frustrations entrepreneurs can face. We are able to help entrepreneurs like you connect with other people who see the vision and potential for your company and can help you succeed. If we think something is going to be difficult, we are not afraid to share that and to help you think of alternative approaches.
Our Contacts are Your Contacts
We open the door for you to our best contacts that will help you achieve success. From advisors and board members, to banks, CPAs, and business valuation experts, we have amassed a strong group of contacts that are interested in helping you succeed. When we work with you, we introduce you to people who can help you:
- Raise Capital – We have deep understanding of the investment philosophy needed to attract the capital you need
- Make Connections – We love to connect our clients with others who can help
- Put Your Best Foot Forward – We prepare you legally and in marketing to be in front of prospective investors. We understand what investors are looking for in all aspects of your business from financial proformas to your management team
- Timing is Everything – We know if you’re talking to the right person at the right time, and we encourage course corrections if necessary
So Much More Than General Business Advice
Let’s be honest. It isn’t hard to find a lawyer. But it is hard to find a lawyer who not only knows business and entrepreneurial law but also knows how to run a business.
Clients tell us we are good at explaining complex legal concepts in an understandable and actionable way. We boil complex legal strategies into language business people understand. But beyond that, we present recommendations with clarity and pragmatism so you can more easily make decisions that will drive your business to the next level.
Clients We Work With
At Avisen Legal, we work with companies in a broad scope of industries and many types of businesses, including:
- Consumer Products and Services
- Data Privacy and Security
- Food and Beverage Companies
- Green and Biobased Chemistry Solutions
- Healthcare Technology
- Medical Device and Diagnostic Companies
- Networking and Telecommunications Companies
- Real Estate Technologies
- Renewable Energy Technologies
- Software and Software as a Service
- Technology Companies
Angel Investor 101 – What You Need to Know
These questions will address the basics of Angel Investing and Angel Investors – who they are, what they offer, and how they can help you and your business.
Let’s start with the basics – Who is considered an Angel Investor?
An Angel Investor is an individual with high net worth who invests in, or provides capital to, a startup business in exchange for some ownership “interest” in that business. Oftentimes Angel Investors are successful entrepreneurs or industry professionals looking to invest in startup companies. In addition to investment dollars, Angel Investors often contribute their knowledge and insights to the entrepreneur.
What do Angel Investors have to offer?
Angel Investors can provide access to capital, an essential asset for startups, as well as expertise and insights on the industry. They may also provide mentorship and access to their own network of industry connections as they help guide and support up-and-coming businesses.
How do you find Angel Investors and how can they help your business?
Angel Investors can be sought out by networking with other entrepreneurs and industry professionals at startup conferences and pitch events, and they may also be found online. Some startups even consider hiring a business development or fundraising consultant to help identify and pitch to potential Angel Investors.
Since they have capital and guidance to offer, Angel Investors typically look for startups equipped with a strong team, a defensible and scalable business model, a large addressable market, and an overall clear path to profitability. This means that when seeking out or pitching to potential Angel Investors, an entrepreneur should be prepared to concisely present the problem that the startup is addressing, the strengths of the team, the target market, the competitive advantage in the market, and the realistic financial projections. Pitch decks should demonstrate confidence in the team, product or service, and business model in order to inspire that same confidence in the Angel Investor.
Once an Angel Investor has been located, the actual investment should be documented by legal professionals who represent each the entrepreneurs and the Angel Investors interest. Careful consideration should be given to an Angel Investment to make sure all agreed upon legal and financial rights are protected.
ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESS LAW VIDEOS
Frequently Asked Questions about Entrepreneurial and Business Law
The entrepreneurial law attorneys at Avisen Legal each have decades of experience advising entrepreneurs and early-stage companies on strategies and processes to start and build new enterprises. The Avisen team regularly helps in selecting and organizing the right form of entity to operate new businesses, to developing the equity and other incentive arrangements to attract and retain key employees, to counseling on the opportunities and rules of fundraising.
Attracting and retaining key talent will require agreements with employees, consultants and advisors. Many early stage companies incorporate equity compensation arrangements into these agreements to preserve precious cash and align the long-term interests of all parties. Typically, the company will adopt an equity incentive plan to set aside a portion of its share capital for these purposes. Of course, developing the company’s first customer-facing agreements is often an early priority with start-up companies.
After raising initial capital from friends and family, most startups are still not in a place where they can garner traditional bank financing unless they have principals with substantial net worth to personally guarantee the debt. Accordingly, raising funds from “angel” investors (in many cases being successful entrepreneurs in their own right) is customarily the next stage of funding for many companies. The lawyers in the Avisen Legal entrepreneurial team have together negotiated thousands of investment agreements with angel investors and understand and provide counsel regarding the intricacies of these arrangements
If you develop a unique product or service, you may be able to obtain federal and/or foreign patent protection for your idea. Patents essentially give the inventor a monopoly to commercialize the idea for a set number of years. If your intellectual property is not well-suited to patent protection, the use of confidentiality agreements and trademark and copyright protection are often incorporated into an IP protection strategy. The Avisen Legal entrepreneurial law team can help sort this all out.
For start-up enterprises organized as corporations, we often recommend adoption of an equity incentive plan that allows for granting options and other forms of equity compensation to officers, directors, employees, consultants and advisors. These plans incorporate provisions that may offer tax advantages to option recipients. If your business is organized as a limited liability company, we often recommend the use of instruments called “profits interests” to provide tax-efficient equity grants for these recipients.
Although Avisen Legal is not a broker-dealer, we regularly assist our clients in connecting with investor prospects. Our many years of representing entrepreneurs and investors has given us the opportunity to meet with and befriend many investors and gain insight into their investing preferences. This facilitates our ability to best match specific investor introductions to our clients’ capital requirements and businesses.
We regularly work with bankers, accountants and financial advisors that focus on entrepreneurs and the requirements for their startup and growing enterprises. We facilitate introductions when appropriate to help our clients access these resources.
Many of our clients nowadays use PowerPoint presentations not exceeding 12 minutes to guide investor discussions. Your presentation should cover the problem you have identified, the market opportunity involved in addressing it, your solution to the problem, how you mitigate or navigate regulatory and other roadblocks, the competitive landscape, your go-to-market strategy, the team you’ve assembled to execute on your plan and your capital requirements.
Most entrepreneurial startups are organized as corporations or limited liability companies. The Avisen Legal entrepreneurial law team can help you choose the form of entity (and the jurisdiction to form it in) that best suits your needs, based on your capital fundraising plans, the type of business you are building and the personnel you need to attract and retain to accomplish your plans.
A service agreement typically refers to the customer-facing agreements by which your customers engage your business to provide products or services. These agreements are often heavily negotiated, particularly with enterprise-class customers. The Avisen Legal entrepreneurial law team is well-versed in these arrangements and can help develop a master agreement properly tailored for your business requirements.
We normally recommend that you form your business entity when you first plan to bring on any team members, raise capital or enter into contractual relationships with third parties.
Assuming that you issue an equal amount of equity to each of the founders, each one will have an equal right to share in the profits and losses of the business and to participate in voting for management. Normally, those who own a majority of the voting rights control all affairs of the company, so four equal owners can create problems. In situations like this, we recommend that the founders enter into a buy-sell or voting agreement to properly set expectations as among the group. The Avisen Legal entrepreneurial lawyers can help design and implement these arrangements.
Typically, the corporation itself issues out new shares to the additional incoming owners. This often is the most tax-efficient way of bringing on new shareholders. Note, however, that each new issuance has the effect of diluting the ownership interest of those who already are owners at the time.
Confidentiality agreements with your employees, contractors and customers are a common way to protect your intellectual property and business secrets. Failing to make use of these agreements can, in fact, be used as evidence against your company if a competitor copies your business ideas and processes or hires a former employee of your business. We think they are essential in today’s business world.
This is a very fact specific question with significant tax implications, as the business can be pursued by the IRS and state taxing authorities for failing to withholding payroll and income taxes from workers improperly categorized as independent contractors. If the business controls the time, place and manner of an individual’s service performance, there’s a higher likelihood that, on audit, the taxing authorities will maintain that the individual should be treated as an employee. The Avisen Legal team can help you sort out the risks and benefits of your classification of various service providers to your enterprise.
You should contact us right away so we can help you form the entity and complete the negotiations and documentation for your proposed financing. Often, there are many documents that must be created to give effect to a letter of intent, so don’t wait until the day before you want to close on the funding to reach out to the Avisen Legal entrepreneurial team for assistance.
Issuing stock (or membership units in a limited liability company) to founders in exchange for their work to organize the business is very common. It is important to structure these arrangements correctly to avoid adverse tax consequences and to ensure that all equity recipients are properly incentivized to remain with the new enterprise over an extended period. The Avisen Legal entrepreneurial team can assist in counseling and documenting these arrangements.