Starting your own small business means you’ll have your hands full dealing with employees, customers, and the market.
On top of all that is the legal side of operations, which makes a big impact on your business. The legal aspects of a startup or small business are daunting to just about everyone except trained lawyers, but they’re not impossible to get your head around. Here are eight useful legal tips that will help everything go smoothly:
Registering your business name as a trademark ensures your brand is protected, and it’s less than a couple of hundred dollars to get this accomplished. Registering your business name can prevent a lot of headaches down the road if any imitators pop up. It’s also worth checking the online trademark database to make sure you’re not infringing on anyone else’s trademark. That could be an unintentional but costly mistake.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use your business liability insurance, but it’s a great thing to have. If an employee is injured, the insurance can handle medical costs. If you’re sued, legal fees can be covered. Depending on your business, it likely won’t be prohibitively expensive, and the peace of mind it provides is well worth the cost.
Starting a business is a risky venture, no matter what the size. From the start, it’s important to limit your financial liability in case things go south. Work with a lawyer to structure your business in the best possible way, whether it’s as a limited liability company or partnership, a corporation, or something else. There are pros and cons to each of these, so make sure you don’t take this part of starting a business lightly.
When you’re starting up, make sure the company is organized internally. This prevents dysfunction and miscommunications down the road. You should have formal, written agreements in place with co-founders, investors, and any other stakeholders. This makes sure everyone is on the same page and that expectations are in line.
Written agreements are also a good way to come up with contingency plans in case of obstacles that could arise in the future, such as sudden departures of a co-founder.
Everyone wants their business to be lean and efficient, yet it’s essential to bring in outside help at times so you’re not bogged down and wasting time on certain tasks. Consider hiring consultants, whether it’s tax professionals during tax season or accountants to help out with the books. Likewise, some contracted human resource help can also be useful.
No matter how trustworthy and honest the people you’re working with are — both internally and externally — you need to get everything in writing. Contracts, sales, rental agreements, and everything else should be on paper. Give and receive receipts for transactions.
Yes, it’s a little annoying and creates clutter until you get a good filing system, but it’s essential for ensuring the business operates smoothly.
Particularly if your business revolves around something more physically demanding than office work, you’ll want to make sure you comply with federal OSHA regulations. Their rules are a little dense for casual readers to follow, but there is outside help available to make sure everything at your business is up to legal standards.
Beginning your own business can be an exciting undertaking. But, it’s important to ensure you’re protected legally so costs, potential problems and all the other things that go into this venture don’t one day spiral out of control. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to helping secure your business’s future.