January may be famous as the divorce month, but it can also be the new start month. Not just in terms of relationship, but in business too. Many people come back from their Christmas break full of determination to start up on their own.

Some of these ideas fall flat on their faces – often having arisen out of drunken conversations on New Year’s Eve, much like people’s determination to go to the gym more, or have a dry January (never understood that one!). Nevertheless many of their ideas are full of promise and opportunities.

Having the good idea is only a small part of what you need. Money, support, technical knowledge and determination are some of the many other essential ingredients.

What about the legal side? Often people don’t think about the legalities of what they are doing until it’s too late.

Most importantly, if you are going in to business with someone, have you thought about all the what ifs?

What if it’s a great success and one of you wants to sell – who gets to buy the shares and for how much?

What if something happens to one of you – their shares might become owned or controlled by their spouse – is that someone you want to be in business with? The same could apply in a divorce.

What if you want to take on new shareholders or get investment – what happens to your shares if the shareholding is diluted?

What if you fall out or even just couldn’t agree on the way forward with the business – if you are 50/50 owners, who gets the casting vote?

All these problems and many more can be avoided by having a shareholders agreement, which sets out what everyone can and cannot do.

Whether you’ve just set up your company or you’ve been running it for years, it’s never too early or too late to be hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Sharing the love.