You’ve just made an enormous, potentially life-changing decision: You’re going to start that business you’ve been thinking of starting for years. You’re so excited you can barely keep a thought in your head; you can’t sleep at night as your mind churns out idea after idea, plan after plan, and all you want to do is hit the ground running and make it happen. When people are this inspired and motivated, it’s easy to overlook details or to minimize their importance. One detail that’s critically important for anyone getting ready to start a business is hiring a small business attorney.
Obtaining the help of a lawyer for a business startup is important for a lot of different reasons. Below we’re going to share 10 of them with you, but keep in mind as you review the information that every situation is different. If you’re thinking of starting a business, you may have more than 10 reasons or fewer, but regardless, you will need the advice of a small business attorney. If you’d like a personalized review of your situation, contact the Kam Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation.
1. Decisions During the Idea Stage
Even before you officially open your doors for business, you have several decisions to make that will affect your daily operations going forward. What will you call your company? Is the name you have in mind available? What is your marketing tag line? Can you use that without encountering any problems? Where will your business be located? Are there any zoning issues of which you need to be aware? These are just a few examples of decisions that need to be made before you even start doing what it is you want to do. These decisions will be a lot easier to make with the help of a small business attorney.
2. Startup Protocols and Legal Requirements
Another early decision you’re going to have to make involves the specific type of business entity you want to initiate. You need to do so for several reasons, not the least of which is that most types of business entities require some sort of registration with the State of California’s Office of the Secretary of State, and all businesses will need to register and obtain a business license from the local municipalities in which they operate. In addition, you may need to provide public notice of the intention of starting a business entity, which could involve publishing that notice in a newspaper for four weeks. You need to do this right or you could face other problems, which is another reason why hiring a lawyer for your business startup is a wise decision.
3. Banking Questions
If you’re going to start a business, you’re also going to need to open a bank account or perhaps multiple bank accounts. You may also need to apply for credit in the forms of credit cards and/or lines of credit if attainable. It’s highly advisable for a plethora of reasons to keep all of your business finances completely separate from your personal situation, as it’ll be much easier to organize those separate forms of finances come tax time or should any other questions arise. A small business attorney can help you choose the proper bank and the type of account or accounts you should look to open so you don’t wind up scrambling after you begin your core mission.
4. Tax Questions
Since the founding of our country, a common quote that people tend to repeat in several contexts is, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” Most attribute that quote to Benjamin Franklin when he included it in a letter in 1789, although there is debate about the origin of that statement. What is not debatable is that your business will be taxed in one way or another, and you need a lawyer for your business startup to make sure that you’re both in compliance with local, state and federal tax codes and so that you’re not unnecessarily facing double taxes. Tax questions should be answered before you get started so you know what to generally expect in this regard, and from there you should work with a tax accountant for your specific tax questions.
5. Insurance Questions
One of the issues that you’ll begin to hear and think more about as you get ready to start your business involves liability. You are responsible for the product or service you provide to your clients or customers, and you want to make sure that you’re protected from personal liability should something go wrong. You may also need to comply with regulations that require some sort of liability insurance coverage, but choosing the proper coverage and understanding the nature of that coverage are involved tasks that need to be done right. A small business attorney can help guide your business towards the coverage you need while simultaneously helping you minimize the chance for unexpected and unpleasant surprises down the road.
6. Debt Management
For most Americans, debt is simply a part of life. For the majority of small business owners, debt is something that exists even before they open their doors. A study Experian did in 2016 found that small business owners, on average, face more than $2,000 per month in payments to service debt. Debt is real and it doesn’t go away easily, and like anything else, questions, confusion and problems relating to debt can arise that can harm your ability to push your organization forward. The best way to manage debt issues is by way of advice from a small business attorney who can explain the legalities involved with it and fight for you if there is a problem.
7. Intellectual Property Questions
There are certain types of business where the owner is going to need the help of a patent lawyer or someone who has a highly-specialized focus in terms of protecting clients’ inventions. For others, questions regarding intellectual property may still arise when it comes to issues such as copyrights and trade secrets. If you are starting a new business, chances are you’re doing so because of some sort of innovative product or concept you’ve put together. Regardless of the specifics, you’ll also need to make sure that your name, your logo and other aspects of your business are protected, and a small business attorney can help you in that regard.
8. Employee Policies
Most people understand that small businesses are what drive the American economy in many ways. According to statistics published by the Small Business & Entrepreneurial Council, firms with fewer than 20 workers made up nearly 90 percent of the 5.6 million employer firms in the United States in 2016. That means that more than 5 million businesses across the country could be defined as “small.” It also means that if you’re starting a business, it’s likely that you have or will soon need employees and perhaps independent contractors. Each of these types of relationships requires planning and documentation, and each should involve the advice of a small business attorney so that your operation is protected and compliant with relevant laws.
9. Contract Oversight
Many small business owners remember the day they signed their first contract with a customer or client fondly. This is an incredibly important step towards the success of any business entity. In order to make sure that this remains a fond memory, however, small business owners should make sure that they have all of their contracts drafted or at the very least reviewed by a small business attorney who’s experienced in these matters. Every term and condition matters, and every detail needs a thorough analysis before any contract is signed.
10. Dispute Advocacy
It’s common for any business to encounter disputes of one type or another. It’s also unfortunately common for a startup business to wind up dealing with a problem with a vendor or some larger, more established entity. Regardless, owners need a small business attorney at the ready to fight for their company when such situations arise. An attorney who isn’t going to hesitate to advocate zealously for clients can level the playing field and even help resolve issues before they become much larger problems. In some cases, even mentioning that you have an attorney representing you could help avoid those problems altogether.
How Kam Law Firm Can Help
Starting a business is, as mentioned above, an exciting time. You should free yourself to focus on what truly inspires you with regards to your business and minimize the chance that you’ll get bogged down by red tape, regulations, technicalities or legalities. If you would like to learn more about how you can achieve that goal, contact the Kam Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation. We can provide you with small business attorney advice that every startup needs.