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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Are you sure you need a big law firm?

For most business owners and entrepreneurs, using a major law firm is like taking a space shuttle to the supermarket. Expensive and likely to burn lots of fuel right as you're trying to lift-off.

When you're bootstrapping you don't need a lawyer with wow factor. You need an expert in a specific field who can get the job done for a reasonable price. With this in mind, here's some advice about how to squeeze the most out of your legal bill.

Learning on your dime

In large firms, juniors will often "learn on your dime". Many lawyers will remember their early years being charged out at eye-watering rates, despite having next to no knowledge or experience.

Delegating work to juniors makes sense in some circumstances, for example, when it comes to basic research, due diligence or litigation "discovery" tasks. So ask your lawyer: exactly who will do your work? If juniors will be involved, get them to show you how the economics stack up in your favour.

Bottom of the pile

If you're a start-up that's getting traction, you may find yourself being courted by a brand name firm. They might offer discounts or defer their fees, betting that one day they might (for example) get to work on your capital raise. The fees for that future work will more than compensate for backing a few "loss-leading" start-ups with cheap or free services in the beginning.

But it's worth remembering that the lawyer working for you still faces internal pressure to meet their own "billable targets". Be upfront and ask them: "I know you're losing money by doing our work. When the big clients call, will I go to the bottom of the pile?"

Hourly rate v fixed fees

The trouble with lawyers charging by the hour is that it rewards time spent - the more the better. If a mediocre lawyer spends a day on a task, one that takes a great lawyer only two hours to complete, the mediocre lawyer gets rewarded and the client loses out.

The systems and culture of recording time by the hour and rewarding lawyers by the amount of time billed works in their favour - not yours.

Here's the thing: many lawyers hate billing by the hour. To escape, they leave big firms to go to smaller, boutique or solo practices. These firms are often structured to offer fixed fees, where you get the price up front for a defined scope of work.

The Holy Grail

Big firms excel in complex or large-scale transactions and litigation. Their lawyers eventually become a highly trained, specialised elite - whose expertise comes at a high price. But outside of those firms - and without their overheads - those same lawyers can deliver their services for a fraction of the cost, at fixed fees.

They might live in Bristol, rather than Mayfair. And their office might be their kitchen table. But you get the same "big firm" training, for less money. And no junior will ever learn on your dime. Now that's a no brainer.

Copyright © 2015 David Bushby of Lexoo, which can get your business multiple quotes from specialised lawyers, all handpicked and vetted by Lexoo.

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