As Regina Meyers contemplates opening a Satanic coffeehouse in her hometown, she must make a number of critical business decisions related to business organization, ownership, structure, and management. A number of her friends and family members have expressed interest in partnering with her or simply being involved. As Regina’s legal adviser, I have been asked to provide advice to her on a variety of topics outlined below.
Business: Friends, Family, and Foes
As an entrepreneur and business owner myself, I applaud Regina for taking the first steps towards establishing her business - a Satanic coffeehouse – while also respectfully providing advice based on some of my personal lessons learned. The first, and from my perspective the most important, decision Regina must make is related to the ownership structure of her business. While respecting that Ben, her husband, is willing to make a capital investment in the business but does not desire to participate in the operation and management, Regina needs to ensure that, as a married couple, they both understand and accept the responsibilities and risks involved with starting a business. From the information presented in the background notes, I am concerned that Ben’s pledge of a financial investment in the proposed company was from personally managed funds and not jointly-managed funds. If, indeed, the financial support pledged was from her husband’s personal funds, I would respectfully advise Regina against the accepting the investment as the marriage relationship would likely suffer by adding a non-union investor-investee financial relationship. With this noted, if Ben’s financial contribution is actually a confirmation supporting the use of their joint financial resources for this new venture, then – assuming they accept the risks and responsibilities as previously noted – I have no reservations in advising Regina to utilize the funds as seed capital to establish the company.
While rejoicing that Regina has friends and family including Alice and Erma that are enthusiastic, I would strongly advise Regina not to enter into an ownership structure with either; perhaps, once the business is established the Alice, Erma, and trusted friends could work as an employee. (Note, I am not offering specific advice regarding Alice and her home situation: this is a personal decision that is best resolved between Alice and her husband. If Alice is able to enter the workforce, and Regina has an established business, her sister may be a trusted employee of the company.) However, I would not regard Alice or Erma as qualified investment or business partners based on the information provided. If Regina agrees with my assessment, she may inform Alice and Erma that although there is not an ownership role for them at this time, there may be a role for them to be involved.
When I was in Regina’s shoes – I had a business concept combined with a genuine desire and motivation – I found that...