You have a great idea for starting your business. You feel ready to launch. And you just know that your business will be successful. Not so fast. There are legalities involved with opening a business. And actions you should take that will help you steer your business toward success. Not following the rules and guidelines can jeopardize your business before it has a chance to prove itself.
Here are 5 questions to ask your lawyer to get your business off to a good start.
- What do I need to know about choosing a business name?
Generally, you want to avoid choosing a name that is already taken. Or that infringes on another’s trademark or slogan. In order to make sure that you are in the clear, have your attorney research your proposed business name. And make sure that it is available to use. Then ask your lawyer to see what protections you should put in place to keep others from using it.
- What do I need to know about choosing a business type?
There are various business types that your business can be listed as. Sole proprietorships, general partnerships, C corporations and S Corporations.As well as LLCs and limited partnerships.
Each business type comes with their own set of rules, regulations, and tax breaks. To find out which you are eligible for and what is the best fit for your situation, consult with a lawyer. Explain your business model, and then see what your attorney suggests. While you will be able to change your business type at a later date, there are costs for doing so. Get it right here, and minimize costs down the road.
- How do I register my business?
You will need to register your business name as your Doing Business As (DBA) name. This applies in the case where the business name you have chosen is something other than your name, or the name of your co-founders. Your lawyer will be able to help you register your DBA at the appropriate city office, which would depend on your business location. In some cases, depending on the business type, and the state in which your business is in, you may need to register with other local or state agencies. Again, your lawyer will be able to inform you what applies to you.
- How can I minimize financial liability and other risks?
Particularly if your business hires employees, you will want to make sure that you comply with all state employee regulations. There are other business-type specific regulations you should be aware of too. It might be worthwhile to find a lawyer with special expertise in the field you are opening a business in. For example,if you want to open a restaurant, you will need to be aware of all health code regulations for operating a kitchen. Ignoring or being ignorant of regulations can result in hefty fines that can potentially sink a new start up. Therefore, a restaurateur should consider a law firm with service experience. And a lawyer opening a law practice might want to consult with a firm such as LawBiz.
- What disclaimers or contracts does my business need?
Almost every business needs to have templates prepared that outline terms with your clients or customers. Ask your lawyer to help you prepare documents that will protect you in the case of liability issues. Other forms or contracts your business might need include confidentiality agreements, employee contracts, etc.
With so much to think about as you start your business, it can be easy to want to cut corners. But don’t be guilty of ignoring legal consultation. The above questions should help provide you with a sturdy legal framework from which you can safely launch your start up. Once your business is up and running, have an open line of communication with your attorney. Doing so will keep you operating legally as your business expands.