When starting a business, one of the most critical steps is to create an agreement outlining how the operation will be run. An agreement to operate a business, commonly known as an operating agreement, lays out crucial details such as ownership percentages, decision-making processes, and profit distribution.
Not having an operating agreement in place can lead to significant legal and financial issues down the line, particularly if the business has multiple owners. In the absence of an agreement, state law will dictate how the business should be run, which may not align with the owner`s intentions.
Before delving into the essential components of an operating agreement, it is crucial to understand what type of business structure the agreement should apply to. Operating agreements are typically associated with limited liability companies (LLCs) but can be used for other business structures such as partnerships or corporations.
Once the business structure is established, the operating agreement should cover the following areas:
Ownership percentages: This section of the agreement outlines the percentage of the business each owner holds. It is critical to specify exactly how much equity each owner has to prevent disputes down the line.
Decision-making processes: Every business has decisions that need to be made, whether big or small. An operating agreement should outline how decisions will be made, such as through a unanimous vote or by majority decision.
Profit distribution: One of the most critical aspects of any business is how profits will be distributed among the owners. An operating agreement should specify how profits will be divided, whether through equal shares or based on ownership percentages.
Roles and responsibilities: An operating agreement should outline what each owner`s role and responsibilities are. For example, who will run the day-to-day operations, who will be in charge of finance, and who will be responsible for marketing.
Exit strategies: Finally, every owner should have a plan for how they will exit the business if necessary. An operating agreement should lay out the terms and conditions of selling an ownership stake or winding down the business altogether.
In conclusion, an operating agreement is essential to the success of any business, providing clarity on ownership, profits, decision-making, roles and responsibilities, and exit strategies. It is always wise to consult a qualified attorney to ensure that the agreement meets all relevant legal requirements and protects the interests of all owners.