Getting a business project off the ground requires grit and determination. It also requires an awareness of the legality of your enterprise and the steps you need to take to keep it that way. The following will explore some of the points you need to keep in mind if you’re about to set off on a new business journey.
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand that the legal safety of your business depends greatly on your location, industry, and enterprise. Be sure to run all your decisions past a business law attorney to be sure you’re not missing any crucial steps in the process.
Get Into Good Accounting Habits Immediately
Any business needs to have clean and tidy accounting. You need to know what you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. You need to know how much money you’re making and from what. If you don’t have this ironed out, your business is going to suffer come tax season. At the bare minimum, this means stress and potentially missing out on tax credits and other savings you could have. At the maximum this means breaking the law, being audited and charged with tax evasion. If you cannot handle the organizational aspect of accounting (don’t beat yourself up, some people can’t), you need to find a person who can and bring them on board as soon as possible.
Meet With A Lawyer Early On
All businesses have legal risks associated with them. This might be something as simple as a staircase out front of your location that could get frosty and dangerous or something as serious as you’re presenting a health product in terms that are legally promising things that cannot be promised meaning you’re opening yourself up to be sued. Take some time to go through your business strategy and situation with an attorney that focuses on business law. Listen to all of the recommended information as it pertains to your specific business.
Incorporate Your Business As Soon As Possible
Incorporating your business turns your company into a legal entity. Incorporation protects you on a number of fronts. First, in the event that the business is sued for any reason, it isn’t you who is being sued but the company. This means you can protect yourself from certain types of legal ramifications if something should go terribly wrong. Second, in the event that your business goes under and needs to declare bankruptcy incorporating protects you from being financially liable. Your home, car, personal savings, and other assets will be safe from liquidation orders by a court.
Learn About Permits And Licenses
Depending on your industry, you might not need additional certification to practice your business. You might also be required to have several permits and licenses for your company to function legally. Take the time to figure out what is required in this regard and meet all of the standards through the proper avenues. Furthermore, be sure that anyone you hire also has the proper certifications they need to do what you’re hiring them to do. This might mean calling the schools from which they graduated to confirm. Anyone can write down on their resume that they have certain requirements met.
Look Into Workplace Health And Safety Regulations
Did you know that if your employees are working at home, you’re still responsible for workplace injuries like carpal tunnel or back problems? You might want to offer a training session on how to keep an at-home workstation safe and healthy. Take some time to understand all the legal and ethical standards for workplace health and safety and then make sure your employees understand it too. If this isn’t a job you can handle on your own, you need to look into hiring a safety manager or inspector.
Get Everything In Writing
No matter what you’re negotiating, an employee salary or contract, a lease agreement for a building that will house your business, you need to get things in writing. This doesn’t mean you don’t trust the person you’re working with, it means that you’re making sure there’s a paper trail in case someone else ever requires you to prove something happened.
Figure Out If You Need To Publicize Your Company
Depending on your industry and the state within which you’re operating, you might be legally required to publicize news or information about your company. This can sometimes mean having an article in the local paper or it can involve being entered into a database. Ignoring this step in the process might result in a brutal fine or a refusal of the state to recognize the existence of your business.
Figure Out Insurance Early On
The majority of states in America require business owners to ensure their workers in a number of ways. Worker’s Compensation and other insurance policies are required to help protect you and your employees in the event of an accident. Sometimes people are tempted to skip over this step if they’re looking to cut costs, but that is not only illegal, it’s immoral. If you can’t afford proper insurance, you can’t afford to run a business, full stop. Be sure to get not only insurance for your employees but also some general liability insurance to protect yourself and your customers in the event of everyday accidents like slips and falls.
Do A Trademark And Copyright Search
When you’re looking to get your business up and running, take the time to do the research and see whether your logo looks at all like another logo (color, font, or design) as well as looking to see whether anything you’re using or referring to is copyrighted. Sometimes a business name is copyrighted without a business functioning under the name; just because you don’t know about the company, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The above tips should help you cover the general legal bases you need to be covered when starting a business. Of course, each industry and business has its own specific legal requirements that need to be met in addition to the above information. Ensure to consult with a business lawyer before making any decisions for legal reasons.