Starting a new business is not a simple feat. It takes courage, ingenuity, time, and research. As a practicing business law attorney, you understand what is needed to open the doors on a new start-up. When helping a new start-up come to life, your job as their attorney is to help them navigate the legal aspects. As such, there are some very important things to do first.
Some business owners mistakenly think they don’t need a lawyer unless they are at risk for legal trouble. This is not true. As a lawyer practicing business law, it’s important for you to work with company owners to get them to understand the importance of having you on their side. Getting them started on the right track is a key part of this.
Here are a few things to focus on when you are helping business owners get started.
1. Consider the Business Structure
It’s important to understand and to be able to explain the different business structures to your client. These structures vary depending on the needs and wants of the client’s business. Some structures include a partnership, cooperation, trust, and association. Each of these has different requirements.
Make sure you can properly explain these types of structures and legal filings to the client. It’s also important to know how to deal with legal issues common to each type of filing. For example, lawyers with Helix Law in the UK have attorneys that focus on shareholder or partnership disputes.
Know the laws the govern the different structures and the basic components. Working with your client to determine the best business structure could make or break their start-up. It will also give you the guidelines on helping them set up and keep their business on the right side of the law.
2. Know About Intellectual Property Rights
Many start-ups are built on fresh and original ideas and innovations. If they don’t protect these ideas, legally speaking, then they run the risk of theft and other security issues. Explain to your client the importance of guarding their ideas via legal avenues.
Many business attorneys urge their clients to sign confidentiality agreements as a method of protecting intellectual property. For bigger concepts, you could also recommend:
- Patents, for inventions or research
- Copyright, for original works
- Trademarks, to distinguish a product from other similar products
3. Understanding Their Taxes
Their business structure will help them – and you – know their tax obligations. Other factors include the state or region, the industry, and declarations. Inform them that, like personal taxes, it is important that they pay them correctly and on schedule.
If they don’t, make sure they understand the risks. You don’t want to have to tell your client that the IRS is shutting down their business due to tax evasion.
4. Know About Insurance
There are many insurance companies out there specifically designed to protect small businesses. After practicing business law for a bit, you’ll likely be able to help clients determine the type of coverage they need and what providers are reliable.
Some policies, like workers compensation, are required by law. Others are industry-specific, like cyber liability. Talk them through the options and give them advice on which types they should have.
5. Use of Contracts
A good attorney knows that legally binding documents could save a business. Be sure your clients know the importance of contracts and signatures. Help them draft and create thorough and fair contracts. It’s a major part of business law and a part you’ll have quite a bit of a hand in. Help them protect their business.
The legal aspects of a start-up will depend on any number of factors. When new business owners approach you seeking legal counsel, these are the best places to start.