All small business owners have certain legal obligations. It’s important to ensure that you protect your business by relying on the top 10 legal tips for small businesses. This will keep your company thriving for many years to come, whether it’s a start-up or you have been operating for many years.
File Originating Documents
Businesses that are not partnerships or sole proprietorships are required to file legal originating documents to initiate their operations. Any business that is running as a corporation must file legal documents that allow it to, and articles of organization must be filed if a company is operating as an LLC. The requirements for registration vary depending on the state.
Choose a Viable Business Name
When choosing a name for your business, you must make sure the name isn’t already in use by a different company, especially if it offers the same goods or services. You should also be wary of the other business’ location so that you can avoid any legal snafus if your chosen name is too similar. Always check state and federal name registries to ensure if any other businesses are already using a name you have in mind. You will also want to check for domain names to avoid naming your company website too similar to one that already exists.
Get All Necessary Licenses and Permits
It’s usually a requirement for businesses to acquire permits or licenses to operate. Depending on the type of business you own, you should research what requirements apply to you and then get them immediately after.
Adopt Governing Documents
Certain types of businesses also require specific governing documents that outline their bylaws, operating agreements and more. Even if these are not required by law, all businesses should adopt covering documents as they touch on topics such as daily operations, ownership, the structure of the company, responsibilities and how profits and losses are to be treated.
Have Written Contracts and Agreements
All small businesses should have written contracts. Merely making a verbal agreement or shaking hands on a business plan is not enough. You should always have contracts and agreements written out so that everyone knows their rights and what to expect.
Properly Market the Business
Legal issues can come up regarding how businesses market and advertise goods or services. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) governs these laws, but there are also other laws on the state and local level. Make sure to abide by those laws and properly market your business.
Protect Intellectual Property
It’s important for all businesses to protect their intellectual property. These are ideas that come from the minds of those running the business. This can be anything from a company logo to a product or special recipe for a dish at a restaurant. Protecting intellectual property means copyrighting, patenting or trademarking your ideas and inventions.
Comply with Employment Obligations
Any business that has employees is required to comply with both federal and state employment laws. There are laws pertaining to the minimum wage, overtime, maintaining a safe workplace and treated all employees fairly and equally. If you prefer not to have regular employees, you can rely on independent contractors to help with the day-to-day operations of your business. However, they are also protected by the law.
Get Financial Matters in Order
You should open bank and credit accounts for your business and keep them separate from any personal accounts. If you don’t do this, you will be found personally liable for any business debts or lawsuits against the business. You should also get insurance for the business and pay all pertinent taxes, including employment taxes, income taxes, sales taxes and more. You must also manage your accounts receivable as well.
Implement a Record-Keeping Program
Maintaining the books in an accurate fashion is essential, especially as your business grows and flourishes. It’s common for many businesses to fall back on this area, especially when it comes to managing financials, payroll documents, stock certificates,and meetings.
No matter what type of business you own, it’s important to hire the right attorney to help you learn all the legal aspects you can expect as a business owner. Contact Ray Gupta & Associates to get the best representation for your business.