The only requirement for becoming a client of a business lawyer is that you are some sort of business. After that, the door is wide open since business lawyers represent sole proprietors, corporations, and limited liability corporations. The question of precisely where he or she can be of assistance is equally open-ended but suffice it to say he or she can help you wherever the worlds of business and law intersect. Within that territory, there are many areas to be explored so if you are new to the world of business, you need a trusted guide to steer you in the right direction from the very start, and remain by your side throughout your journey should issues arise anywhere business intersects with the law.
How A Business Lawyer Can Provide Help as You Start Your Business
A business lawyer can be invaluable in helping set up a new business since he or she can anticipate legal issues and problems that may arise and help you minimize your risks. But first, she has to make sure she understands exactly how you view your business’s future and all your near-and long-term goals.
Once you and she are on the same page she can make sure you start on the right foot. Her first step may be helping you decide how to structure your business. In other words, do you want to operate as a sole owner or proprietor or assume a business entity? The choice is yours, but the duty is hers to point out the drawbacks you may face with either choice.
Deciding on a Business Structure
If you go it as a sole proprietor you can look forward to being the sole owner of all your company’s assets and the sole recipient of all its revenue. You are also responsible for paying all the bills and assuming responsibility for any errors or omissions that leave customers dissatisfied or any damages they suffer due to negligence on the part of your employees.
If you are not comfortable with the very real possibility you will have to assume debts should you fail to meet your initial sales goals; or if the very thought of being sued by a client or customer keeps you up at night, your lawyer can explain your other options. If yours is a small business, you might want to consider forming a limited liability company (LLC).
An LLC will limit your liability both for debts and should any lawsuits arise. If you still want to go it alone, you can form a limited liability company of one, but it won’t give you all the protection you would get if you form it with other individuals. Your lawyer can explain this further as well as answer any other questions you may have about how profits are shared.
Deciding on a Name
Believe it or not, many businesses say one of the hardest decisions to make was deciding on a name. They wanted a name that would be memorable and stand out from the competition but at the same time capsulize the company’s culture, characteristics, and values-all while making very clear what service or product they offered.
While this last point of clarity is important if your goals are far-reaching, and you plan to expand your offerings it’s equally important that you not pigeonhole your company with a name that becomes synonymous with one and only one thing. What you want is a name that provides context yet is expandable to include related products or services. For example, you might include casual wear in your title rather than ladies’ jeans.
Deciding Whether You Want (or Need) a Trademark
Once you have hit upon the right name, the next decision to make is whether or not to file for a trademark. If you intend to keep your business local, it’s not necessary to do anything. You are free to use your trademark in connection with your services or goods.
However, if your horizons extend wider, and you foresee taking your business national or even just regional it’s wise to trademark it now to prevent another business from infringing on your goods or services in the future. At the same time, it’s important that you do your due diligence in researching state and local trademark registries to make sure someone doesn’t already hold a trademark identical to the one you have in mind, or one similar enough that consumers might confuse it for yours or vice versa. The Maryland Secretary of State maintains a trademark database containing all the trademarks held by businesses in the state.
Doing the Paperwork
Once you’ve named your Frederick, Maryland business has a name, you need to register it with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation and if your type of business or service requires one, apply for a business license or permit.
And lastly, you need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. An EIN also called a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique number that will identify your company as a business entity just as a social security number identifies you as an individual. Many new businesses prefer relying on one of the business lawyers at Lusk Law for advice and aid during the application and filing processes and ensuring that all necessary paperwork is filed.
Ongoing Legal Matters
If you decide to form an LLC you may also need help with formulating an operating agreement. This is a document that lays out how decisions will be made, how and when profits will be distributed, and how any subsequent LLC ownership changes will be handled.
And no maybe about it, you need the assistance of a business lawyer when it comes to drafting and renewing contracts and preparing stock forms such as nondisclosure agreements that you will be using over and over again.