Starting a business is exciting as it is stressful. On top of debt, deadlines, and permits, you’re undecided whether it is necessary to hire a lawyer or not. Well, several factors determine the answer to this question.
There are many initial steps to starting a business and a good lawyer can help guide you with a list of the potential issues and tasks to undertake. Complicated agreements, hiring employees, forming an entity, lease agreement reviews, franchise agreement reviews are a few things that may require legal assistance. It is important to note, though, that if you feel uncertain about anything in the process, it is in your best interest to get legal representation. Utilizing their legal expertise is the best way to avoid being involved in difficult situations with costly and long-term consequences. There are also government requirements depending on your profession, like some licensed professionals like dentists, doctors or lawyers have limits on who can own such a business or corporation.
Information on the different types of business entities is usually provided by the Secretary of State website where your business is located. The most common ones are a partnership, sole proprietor, LLC, and corporation. The type of business structure will be determined by the type of business, financing, and the number of owners your company has. The residence of the owners can also factor into the entity choice. A lawyer or accountant would help with concerns involving tax, liability, ownership, and more.
For corporations, after registering with the secretary of state, bylaws are essential to define the policies for the corporation’s directors, shareholders, and officers. For LLCs, an operating agreement is required to provide structure to their operation.
There are a few legal requirements associated with naming a business. It’s essential to check if the proposed business name is available in the state where the business is planned to be formed. Most states have a business name database on their secretary of state website. Also, for California, you can call and reserve the name with the Secretary of State. However, simply checking for an exact match on the name is not enough. You also want to at least do a search on the internet, such as thru Google, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, or other search engine for your proposed business name. If you find other businesses with the same or a similar name, then you may want to consult an attorney or choose a different name.
Once it has been determined that a specific business name is available in the state where it will be formed, it is essential to be sure it isn’t a registered trademark. This can be discovered by viewing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Business Center online. Domain name conflicts need to be checked before a business can have a website for its particular business name. You can check online to see if your proposed business name and proposed domain are available as well.
Once a company is established, opening a business account is vital to effectively track your finances by keeping business and personal expenses separate. Doing this will require obtaining an employer identification number (EIN). This can be obtained online from the IRS. Once an EIN has been obtained, copies of the business formation documents from the Secretary of State can all be taken to a local bank to open a business account.
Once the formation tasks are completed, it is time to get the business operating. Any permits and licenses required must also already be obtained at this stage. You can focus on developing strategies to sell your products or services and create an online presence. This is also an excellent time to look into getting your company insured.
In the future, you may come across more complex situations involving legal issues. Buying another business, employee lawsuits, obtaining investors, etc. Despite taking preventive measures, most small businesses encounter a problem at some point where they need the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable business attorney.