We do a lot of thinking about the future around here--how much to hire in the next year, if we need to upgrade to a larger space when our lease expires in two years, and if people will even need lawyers like us in ten years.
When it comes to our day-to-day legal work, we find ourselves thinking a lot about our customers’ future, by gaming out scenarios they may encounter in the future and ensuring they have options and leverage to address those scenarios.
We call it “futureproofing”.
Here are some of the areas we regularly encourage our customers to consider as they focus on futureproofing:
Checking that agreements with key clients and vendors allow the transfer of rights and responsibilities to an acquirer, and if not, strategizing a way to deal with the scenario when it comes up.
Changing your product and pricing model
Rapid re-direction is something every fast-growing company encounters. It helps to build levers into your customer relationships that allow you to pivot.
Outgrowing “gateway” relationships
Everyone has a gateway relationship. Maybe it’s that early customer who was supposed to create a domino effect with new customer signups and so we agreed to support something silly or deliver a service outside our core area. Or, maybe it’s a relationship with a bigger company who promised to plug you into their established customer base if only you agreed to be exclusive to them.
Building an institutional memory
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. We frequently help customers with building an institutional memory of contract commitments—a roadmap for what’s been agreed to before and what not to do again—so that the same missteps aren’t made twice.
Bracing for departures
A fact of life for fast-growing companies is that key people will leave. It’s inevitable. Prepping your team to handle critical departures, and responding to the transition in stride, should include a discussion of transitioning legal responsibilities, buttoning-up IP and administrative control over systems, and ensuring there are no legal loose ends (e.g., re-purchasing restricted stock).
What things do you stress about when you look to the future? Drop us a line and share your thoughts