Thinking about legal matters can be tedious when you have a lot of details on your plate. But laws and regulations are important when establishing and operating your company.
Every region has different laws and regulations — here are some of the fundamentals:
1. Give enough thought to your legal structure. You have several options ranging from sole proprietorship and partnership to S corporation.
You must consider all the implications – your tax situation, access to profits, amount of paperwork, and liability.
2. Keep good records. Be sure to have a good record-keeping system. To save time and energy, use good accounting software.
But each is different. Make sure you check out the system’s security record, and all the options to make certain your business needs are met. And practice good risk management in selecting the best cloud storage provider.
3. Agreements. A paper trail for all transactions is vital. Honest people can be well-intentioned but memories can fade.
Non-written agreements can be valid but very difficult to enforce if you’re dealing with questionable characters.
4. Be up-to-date on laws and regulations that affect your industry and business. You can be hit with a myriad of issues – workers’ compensation, health and safety, environmental, immigration and taxes.
They can be very expensive lessons. For example, in case of problems, it helps to understand the mindset of IRS auditors, avoid EEOC discrimination suits, and avert legal hassles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
5. Be careful in signing leases and other agreements. You can easily be locked into long-term agreements. Read the agreements carefully.
A big frustration for businesspeople is lease agreements for office or retail space, and financing and leasing business and commercial equipment. Commonly found in the fine print, evergreen clauses are designed to keep customers committed to an agreement beyond the original term. You’ll even encounter these agreements in the purchase of antivirus software. In most cases, you can managing evergreen clauses for your benefit.
6. Your intellectual property needs protection. Don’t assume that an original idea is protected. You must register your intellectual property.
Depending on the situation, this means even registering a trademark for your branding slogan or logo design, or patent. In some states – for regional protection – you can register trademarks economically.
For more complex matters, here are six patent tips.
7. Be mindful of the intellectual property of others. That goes for graphics, images, pictures, songs and other media.
Depending on the situation, do a public domain search or a trademark or patent search – even before choosing a business name.
8. Avoid relying solely on those stationery store agreements and forms. You can purchase the forms, but customize them for your own purposes.
If there’s any doubt, have an attorney review the forms.
9. Three professionals could be invaluable for you. That means a good attorney, tax accountant or CPA and insurance agent. Research them carefully. For a financial advisor, make certain the person is a fiduciary who has a legal obligation to act in your interests.
By the way, if you need professional liability insurance, here are four tips to save money.
10. Remain current on laws and regulations. Become a voracious reader and/or join an effective local business association. You have three entities with which to contend: City and county, state and federal governments.
From the Coach’s Corner, more recommended reading:
- First Step in Fighting Lawsuit Abuse – Risk Management
- Best Practices to Optimize Your Brand, Manage Your Web Reputation
- Are You Insured for Cyber Theft? No? Read This!
“People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”