5 Common Legal Issues For Small Businesses
To protect your business and yourself, there are potentially 5 areas you HAVE to address at the outset to make sure you avoid problems down the road. From how you structure your business to protecting your business name, it all involves a process that you shouldn’t take lightly.
1. Business Structure
Every business owner should take into account what business structure is best for their business. From Sole Proprietorships to LLCs and Corporations, you should know what the advantages and disadvantages are to each structure in order to make an informed decision. Your end goal should be to protect your business assets and yourself.
There are four main types of business structures:
- Sole Proprietorships
- Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
Not all business structures protect your personal assets. If your business runs into legal or tax issues, the wrong business structure could make your personal assets vulnerable.
2. Business Licensing
Depending on the type of business you have, you may need a variety of licenses or permits. Selling food or alcohol? You definitely need a license/permit. At a minimum, every business will need some sort of business license (even if you operate out of your home!). Don’t allow your business to get shut down for not operating legally. Contact your local government and figure out what the laws are in your county.
3. Client Contracts
Any business dealings or agreements that you make should be in writing. Oral agreements aren’t enforceable and don’t protect you in court. Make sure that your contract is carefully drafted to document the relationship between parties, how business will be conducted and how and when payment is due. Other limits and requirements should carefully be included. A handshake is not enough. Make sure that all business agreements are in writing! And have an attorney look over your agreements to make sure you are protected.
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4. Tax Laws
This also an area that you shouldn’t take lightly. If you don’t follow tax laws then you can be subjected to penalties… which are no joke. Whether you are an E-Commerce business paying the extra sales tax or a consultant with an LLC, there are applicable laws on the local, state AND federal level. Know what laws apply to you and pay your taxes.
5. Intellectual Property
Many small business owners may think that forming their LLC or Corporation is it, and there is nothing else needed to be done to protect their business name. THEY ARE WRONG. Intellectual property pertains to every business owner, large and small. It allows you to protect your business property through patents, trademarks and copyrights. If someone were to steal any property, intellectual property laws allow you to sue to reclaim your property and seek damages for any harm done to your business and brand.
An attorney can help you strategize about how to address these areas. Every business is unique and there are no cookie cutter answers. Need legal advice for your business? Feel free to schedule an hour long consultation with me and get ALL your business questions answered.