Do you have a system for keeping track of important obligations and notice requirements under your contracts and agreements?

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Contracts and agreements are sometimes the most important assets and potential liabilities for a small business. Many contracts have important clauses that require notices or other things to be done in certain time periods. If these things are not done, you may lose valuable rights. It is important to have a system in place to keep track of these obligations.

Are your company’s important agreements set forth in carefully drafted written contracts?

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Many small businesses don’t take the time to put their important agreements in writing. As a result, there is much more room for disputes later. It is a good idea to make important agreements in writing.

Have you provided for ways to get out of long-term leases if circumstances change?

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Make sure there are limits on the ability of the landlord to pass on other costs through tax provisions, charges for common areas, indemnities and repair and maintenance.

Do you clearly understand your lease costs?

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Do you easily understand the base rent? Is the square footage accurate and properly measured? Are any escalation clauses in the agreement clear?

Do you have the right space for your needs?

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Are there clear and exact descriptions of the space, are you getting what you need in the space and do you have the ability to make changes to the space?

Are your office leases flexible?

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As a small business, your business is subject to growing, shrinking and changing – probably more so than most businesses. As a result, make sure your leases allow for flexibility in the size of space, in getting out of the lease and the ways you can use your space.

Do you have well-drafted non-competition and employee confidentiality agreements?

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When a small business exposes its employees to trade secrets or practices or customers, it is important to obtain non-competition and confidentiality agreements to keep the employee from exploiting the assets of the small business.

Do you have employment agreements that protect your status as an at-will employer?

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Many states allow small businesses to treat employees as at-will employees, which means they can be fired generally at any time. In these states, it is important to clarify these rights and make sure that no agreements or policies affect these rights.

Are you properly classifying workers as either independent contractors or employees?

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One of the most frequent disputes between the IRS and small businesses comes with respect to the treatment of workers as independent contractors versus employees. Many small businesses try to avoid all the red tape that comes from having employees by having independent contractors.

Have you posted all required workplace notices?

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A number of laws require a small business to post certain notices for its employees.