Interview with Entrepreneurial Lawyer Adrienne B. Haynes

My interview with Adrienne B. Haynes was a look into the intriguing world of entrepreneurial law. She works with new startups, as well as businesses in later phases of their development. Adrienne is both a lawyer and an entrepreneur herself, which gives her a unique perspective on this fascinating subject.

Legal Planning for Entrepreneurs: Overview

As we talked about legal planning, Adrienne explained that her firm helps businesses start out, grow, scale, and protect their business. They work with businesses that provide services as well as those that make a product. Although she doesn’t help businesses directly with entrepreneurial planning, Adrienne does suggest strategic partners to help her clients think through everything they need to consider when making legal decisions.

One of the first things a new entrepreneur needs to decide is what type of business entity to form. The law firm then produces the documents necessary to operate their business legally. Another service the law firm provides is to help the new business owner create client agreements and relationship agreements. 

I asked Adrienne if there are times when people realize they need legal advice and come to her after they’ve been established. She told me that, yes, they often do. They may set up their business, and then discover that they need legal help because they need to open a bank account, get a loan, or document a business relationship. 

Adrienne said that she helps her clients build a “professional dream team.” She helps them develop a strategy to, as she said, “cover their blind spots.” For instance, her team assist their clients in finding help with insurance. They have a list of accountants, CPAs, and bookkeepers that they share with client. They also have a list of bankers. And, they help them put together a legal team if the business is large and/or complex.

Adrienne also helps people with ongoing ventures. For example, working with construction companies, her clients often come to her for help with complex agreements that they need to understand, sign, and work within for commercial work. They need to know their scope of liability and where they need to be mindful of contractual issues.

Business Succession Planning Basics

We also touched briefly on business succession planning. Adrienne does help business owners who are preparing to buy or sell a business. In selling the business, owners need to determine the value of the business, decide whether they still want to be involved in it for a while, and consider whether they want some kind of ongoing income from it. Adrienne helps these clients figure out how they want to structure the sale. 

She also encourages all her clients to create a business succession plan and update it regularly. This is important for all businesses, even new ones, in case something happens unexpectedly that will keep them from running their business anymore, or in case they want to voluntarily leave their business.

Qualified Opportunity Zones in Missouri

I’d heard about Missouri’s qualified opportunity zones, and I asked Adrienne to tell me more about that. She explained that there are designated census tracts that the Missouri governor has outlined as places that are ripe for investment. These places have historically been de-invested in and are now available for use. The state offers a tax incentive for investors who make a long-term investment in these areas, allowing them to set aside capital gains tax after the 5-year, 7-year, and 10-year benchmarks. 

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to register the business and notify the IRS through a filing. Adrienne is excited to be working with a group of investors from the region who can invest in the community and receive those tax breaks.

The interview was a very interesting one, to be sure. One thing that Adrienne emphasized was that “every business decision has a legal ramification, whether you’re aware of it or not.” I admire her dedication to working with business to help our Greater Kansas City community grow and flourish.