Are you starting a business and wondering whether you can do everything on your own? Starting a business, even a small one, can be difficult. Not only do you need to create a business plan, you also need to consider all of the legal liabilities that are involved with starting up. From naming your business to creating an entity, there are a number of ways that you can violate current business laws, and doing this can cost you a great deal of time and money. Before you start writing down your plans and acting on them, here are five legal situations you need to plan for.
1. Trademark Infringement
You cannot just choose any business name, unless you are using your own legal name. When you are choosing a business name, you need to be smart and check to see if the name is already trademarked. You should also be sure that the domain for the name you choose is available. If you order all of your marketing material and then try to register a fictitious name that is already in use, you will need to order new materials and come up with an entirely new name.
2. Structuring your Business Legally
Many entrepreneurs choose to structure their businesses as an LLC because they will not lose their personal assets if the business faces litigation. You must learn how to form an LLC and learn about the ramifications of choosing this legal structure before you fill out the forms and file them. Failing to understand the consequences can land you in hot water with the IRS. If you choose to form a corporation, which requires a board of directors, you must file all of the appropriate articles of incorporation with an attorney to ensure the administrative side is in order.
3. Deciding Whether or Not to Patent a Product
If you are manufacturing products, you may have to decide whether or not you should patent your products. You may not actually need the rights to a product that you would earn by patenting and it is a very long process that will cost money start ups cannot typically afford. If the patenting is not going to give you a marketplace advantage, assess whether or not you need to take this start now.
4. Applying for Licensing and Permits
While you always need a business license, some service providers need special permits and licenses, and these must be applied for before you can start your operations. Applying for permits and licenses can be difficult if you are not familiar with the process. Do not wait until you want to open your doors to apply for the rights to get these licenses and permits. If you are not sure where to start, you can use a program like Lexis Nexis legal software and get access to all of the documents you need to file for these licenses well before you are ready to open your doors.
5. Vendor Agreements
If you will be dealing with vendors, you are going to need to create contracts and non-disclosure agreements that protect your rights and your business interests.
If you want access to all of the documents you need to structure your business, use technology to your advantage. With advanced software programs, you can do your very own legal research and avoid some of the common pitfalls small business owners make.