Fertile soil: The legal advice you need to grow your coffee business

The Coffee Commune

From little beans, big things grow. We spoke to Hillhouse Legal Partners Managing Director Zac Herps and Associate Ben Ryan about how the right legal advice can help your business reach the next level – and why you should never leave it too late to ask for help.

You might think you’re the exception to the rule, but at some point, every business requires legal services or legal advice.

For those just starting out, you might have an idea for a new start-up or you’re about to go into business with friends. For those with an established business, you might be expanding and about to hire a new employee or negotiating contracts with a new food and beverage supplier to get your business up and running. These situations all require legal advice to make sure any potential risks are mitigated early on.

Unfortunately, there’s a common misconception that engaging with lawyers is expensive, painful and stressful, which often results in people not talking to a lawyer until they have a problem – an approach that usually ends up costing more in the long run.

“By the time they do get legal advice, the problem becomes larger than it needs to be,” Zac says. “Often, the problem could have been avoided entirely if they got the fundamentals right from the get-go.

“We work closely and proactively with our clients to ensure their risks are mitigated in a cost effective manner.”

Located in Brisbane, Hillhouse Legal Partners provides legal support to individuals and businesses across a variety of legal service streams, from “mum and dad businesses” right through to big international corporations.

“We work with our clients, many of whom are in the hospitality industry, to assist in establishing their business structures, employing staff, taking a lease or license for their business and negotiating contractual arrangements including with suppliers, amongst other work,” Zac says.

Hillhouse Legal Partners are foundation members of The Coffee Commune since March 2021, and have worked with plenty of our members already.

“A lot of new clients have awesome ideas for their business, and we will never discourage that,” Ben says. “We want to help them bring it to fruition and see it grow into a fantastic business.”

Ben says there is a lot of value to be added by sitting down with your accountants and legal team when starting a business.

“For a lot of people, finding the time to do so can be really challenging, but it really is a good idea,” Ben says. “Accountants are best placed to tell you what tax structures and advantages to use for your business. And we’re the ones who draw up the documents, so getting everyone in a room together to have a nice round table discussion can get you on your way from having an idea to opening the doors and starting your business.”

Ben says the best part about his job is helping businesses get off the ground.

“We just look at how we can avoid holes in your business that could potentially sink the ship,” he says. “I’ve acted on matters from everything from incorporation to liquidation, start-ups right through to sales and exits. The one thing I would say to clients is, if you talk to lawyers early, we can help you make sure you are setting up the business properly, employing people properly and getting the premises ready along with protecting your website, brand, supply chain and so on.”

While Covid has led to significant challenges for the business community, particularly in hospitality, Ben says Hillhouse Legal Partners are seeing plenty of exciting new businesses establishing themselves, while existing businesses grow and begin to consider succession plans on the horizon.

“The easiest way to think about lawyers is there’s no problem too big or too small,” Ben says. “It’s the problem that you don’t talk to us about that often becomes a significant issue or problem later. Talk to us early and talk to us often.”

Why Hillhouse Legal Partners joined The Coffee Commune

“We joined The Coffee Commune to work with like-minded individuals and businesses who understand the value of being a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all business needs,” Zac says.

Networking is the life blood of most professional services businesses. The Coffee Commune’s Meet and Mingles and Emerging Leaders Breakfasts provide an opportunity to build those networks and valuable skills – “not only for our senior staff members,” Zac says, “but also our junior staff who are one day going to be leaders in business.”

Ben agrees that networking is one of the greatest strengths of The Coffee Commune.

“We wouldn’t have signed up if we didn’t believe in the people that are part of it and didn’t want to work with them,” Ben says. “When you talk to the people here you get a really good idea of just how great this can be. If you can come into one place and say, I need lawyers, accountants, insurance, funding – and you don’t have to go anywhere else – it’s like going to IKEA and having all your business needs met under one roof. It’s the IKEA for the hospitality industry.”

Zac says one of the greatest benefits is the ability to refer a client within the Commune and be able to trust that the other advisers will be able to provide appropriate and effective support.

“We have found that the cross-referral relationship within the Commune is a major value, both when referring work and receiving work,” he says, “particularly with businesses such as BDO, HLB Mann Judd, Stellar Insurance, Star Outdoor and many others.

“Of course, other big positives are the knowledge shares, social meetings and coffees in the café.”

Exclusive offer

Hillhouse Legal Partners are offering free 30 minute legal consultations with members of the Commune and the hospitality industry to provide guidance on ways they can further protect themselves and their businesses. This includes access to lawyers who practice across corporate, commercial, property, estate planning and asset protection, and employment law.

“We know the hospitality industry has been smashed yet again with floods, staffing issues, unavailability, limited seating resulting in closures, undoubtedly stock waste and further financial hardship for many. In the busiest and most lucrative times of the year, many businesses have had to close.

“We would like to offer our free time for you to talk to us about any of your business needs – leasing, contracts, supplier agreements, staff/employment matters or licenses, whatever it might be. We hope this may provide a little relief or help for businesses as they attempt to get back on their feet for the umpteenth time in two years. We’re open to any and all suggestions on their pain points and how, legally, we may be able to help in some way as well.”

If you’re interested in taking up this offer, get in touch with the team at Hillhouse Legal Partners and have an obligation-free chat.

Listen to episode 17 of The Coffee Commune podcast with Ben Ryan and learn more about all the things you didn’t know a lawyer could help you with.

The Coffee Commune