June 2019, I embarked on my compulsory six months internship at the Nigerian Ports Authority, where I would learn the intricacies of my course. During the course of the program, I encountered what I’d call a legal organisation. A lot of new startups embark on the journey of their business to grow them into successful businesses we see today, without having a legal organisation by their sides. The first time I was made to visit the legal department at the Nigerian Ports Authority, I was surprised. This is a big company and they were quite ready in their legal department. It shows how important it’s to have legal in place if you want your companies to succeed. It’s one of the many mistakes many new business owners make. Because to them, legal organisation is supposed to be the last option or come when there’s an actual legal case but legal, is meant to draft whatever is important to keep the business up and running, first before other things follow. There should be legal knowledgeable lawyers to educate many business owners and aspiring business owners on the impact of legal organisation at the start of their business. It helps to get everything ready.
In Nigerian Ports Authority, there was a legal unit by the side to help them navigate their legal status. To help them deliberate on any situations when they are ready to be harnessed. To help them do their legal biddings, be held accountable internally when things are not done right rather than investing all hopes on freelance legals. For a lot of large organisations, they have already planned how to run their organisation successfully and scale whatever is on their way which is unlike small ones. It’s why large organisations keep getting big while the smaller ones continue getting small. It’s not any other thing more than, lackadaisical attitudes. If you want growth, plan to make it happen. Don’t wait for it to happen. Why are lesser organisations not with these lines of thoughts to get their companies up and running? Instead of waiting until they are slammed with lawsuits? Or until there is a little mistake before they start looking for legals?!
For many small startups in Nigeria, they are not pushing their business forward because they didn’t get the business right from the onset, especially placing the legal organisation in consideration. It’s why many small businesses will keep failing while large ones are blossoming.
How important is legal in whatever business you are handling? It’s very important if you want to run a successful business. Get everything available, in case there is an incoming problem later on, in the future. Be alert. Stay woke.
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Obinna Tony-Francis Ochem is a freelance writer, who navigates through gender, class, sexuality, climate change and shape shifting monsters. He is alumni of the Lolwe Fiction Workshop facilitated by Zukiswa Wanner and SpringNG '20 cohort writing mentorship programme. His works are published or forthcoming on Elseisy Blog, Kalahari Review, Rustintimes, LivingFreeUk, Punocracy Longlist '19 & 20, Tush Magazine essay finalist/winner, Chinụa Achebe Essay Anthology, SpringNG anthology, and The WorkBooth magazine. A finalist for Kalahari Review Igby Prize for Non-Fiction and longlisted for Second edition of Kitodiaries Prize for Literature. Also, a finalist for the '19 Quramo Writers' Prize for his manuscript, Deep Ocean, and Afire '19 Linda Ikeji Prize for Literature, for Living in the Ghetto. He is currently studying Marine Sciences at the University of Lagos and has a link to his works, https://linktr.ee/obynofranc. He tweets, @obynofranc.