The law can have a significant impact on your business, regardless of its scale. From protecting your innovations against copycats to securing the best deals with vendors, addressing the legal side of running a business is vital for your success long-term. Investing in legal advice in the legal aspects of running a business can save you time and money over time.
The following are legal aspects every business needs to iron out.
Legal Structure of Your Business
When running a business, you’d naturally want to minimize your liability to increase profits—and the best way to do that is establishing a legal structure for your business. For instance, to protect personal assets from being subject to your business’s creditors, if you take on debt or get sued, you can choose to form an LLC.
However, if your business doesn’t go as you hoped, you can take advantage of the “corporate veil” to insulate you and your assets. Regardless, a lawyer can help you decide which legal structure would work best for your business. In case your business needs to file legal action against a supplier or individual, you can count on a process server to ensure that the summons is received and your case can continue smoothly.
For your business to thrive and experience long-term success, you need to ensure that everything is transparent and settled on the home front, meaning you should formalize agreements with co-founders, other principals, and investors. Memorializing business processes and having a consensus on what to do whenever a co-founder, principal, or investor needs to leave the business saves you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Certain kinds of products, such as food, medicine, insurance, and food alongside different types of transactions, like securities and banking, are often heavily regulated by state and federal rules. A lawyer can help you evaluate whether your business fits into any of these categories, strategizing how to handle compliance to avoid running into any legal issues.
If you have workers, whether regular or not, you need to comply with federal and state employment laws. You’ll need to have a contract between you and your employee and a designated employee handbook of your company’s policies. If you have contractors, you may need a lawyer to help you ascertain if they’re an actual employee and whether your regular workers are exempt or not, safeguarding your company’s confidential information.
A business’s intellectual property is at the core of its success, so you must protect it at all costs. You can do this by establishing a trademark, keeping your business’s brand, including the logo, company name, slogans, and product names, safe. You’ll need to perform due diligence to make sure you’re not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property and register a federal trademark or trademarks on your business.
It would be best to consider copyrights to protect original works, including art, software codes, and written content. For this, you’ll need to file for copyright protection or a license for your business. Finally, you can also file for patent protection, protecting inventions and business methods. However, this option is only helpful in certain instances.
It’s best to consult with an attorney to see if you need to file for a patent or not—and they should be able to help you deal with the overall intellectual property protection process.
A significant legal aspect you need to take care of while running a business is tax concerns. You’ll need advice on how you can structure your company to keep tax obligations to a minimum and what tax requirements your business needs to meet, including if you’re required to pay sales tax.
Real Estate and Zoning Laws
Whether you’re running a storefront business or other commercial spaces, you’ll need to have a lawyer help you secure a great deal regarding real estate, ensuring there’s nothing in the agreement that could cause your company problems later on. If you’re still searching for a good location for your business, you’ll need to ensure the area you’re considering is “properly zoned” for the type of business you’re planning on operating.
You can find out more about an area’s zoning laws by asking local government bodies, making sure you can open your business in that particular area. Avoid making the costly mistake of assuming that your zoning’s appropriate just because there are similar businesses located there.
That’s because there will be instances where local zoning laws have changed while those businesses were already operating. These businesses are usually pardoned and given exemptions than new establishments such as yours.
Hiring an experienced and capable lawyer can help you strategize on how to address these seven legal aspects for your business—and handling them early on is a great way to secure your business’s future.