So, you’ve thought of a business idea, or you’ve created something that you would like to sell to the public, what now? Well, regardless if your desire is to sell 1 item or 100 you’re starting a business… CONGRATULATIONS! Having a business attorney can help from the start of your business through the life of it. Business attorneys can help eliminate the guesswork in opening a business and end up saving you money in the long run.
The Number 1 rule when starting a business is to ensure that your business is separate from you as the business owner. So what does that mean? You want to ensure that the business is registered in the state you will do business in or the principal place of the business. Nowadays, with accessibility of technology this simple step can seem very daunting, since the majority of businesses sell products across state lines. Of course, every business is different so there is no model answer, speaking to an attorney can help you weigh out the pros and cons because depending on the business and circumstances it may be better to register in an alternate state.
The next step is to decide what type of business entity you will be registering. Most states recognize sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporations as business entities. Please note, that most states do not require sole proprietorships to be registered with the secretary of state and that is because this entity is not separate from you, the business owner. There are many risks in establishing a sole proprietorship but depending on the character of your business this option may be advised, this is an issue that your attorney can work through with you. Each business entity has different responsibilities and benefits and that’s why this step should not be taken lightly.
So now that you have a business that is registered… you want to actually run your business right? Well depending on the type of entity that you created you may need an agreement aka a contract, to file with the secretary of state. This agreement basically details how your business will operate. But regardless if a contract is required by the state, EVERY business will need a contract created or reviewed if they plan to do business with people or businesses. Contracts are important because in case of an issue you want the court to decide on the terms that are in writing, you never want the court to delegate what they believe is best for you or your company.
Next, we’ll discuss different types of protections that you may need for your business.
A copyright is a form of protection for an original work that has been authored by you. This work must be tangible in order to have copyright protection. The protection afforded is the right of ownership over the body of work, a copyright basically tells the public that YOU are the original creator of said tangible work. There is a host of content that is eligible for copyright protection but because of the particularity, this is something that would need to be discussed with your attorney.
A trademark is another form of protection that alerts the public that you own said name, slogan, or logo. If you’re contemplating on whether or not you should get a trademark for your business, ask yourself these 2 questions. Will I be using this name, slogan, or logo for a good or service? And. Will I care if someone uses this name, slogan, or logo for their goods and/ or services? If the answer to both of these questions is yes then you need a trademark.
So, circling back to the original question, think of a business attorney as a necessary component to your business to save your business money. We’re here to help make your business be as stress-free and legally compliant as possible. With all of the legal components that are necessary to run a business, having an attorney that you can trust and rely on is what we aim to do here at The Numbers Firm.