5 Vital Legal Tips for Future Small Business Owners

When starting your own business, there are plenty of exciting steps that make you feel like your dream becoming reality is closer than you think. 

Even though coming up with the budget may be draining, it’s exciting to see your plans being laid out. Coming up with the ideal marketing strategy is tough, but visualizing customers responding to future campaigns can make your heart skip a beat. 

When you’re designing a website or visiting the brick-and-mortar storefront before its grand opening, the anticipation may be killing you.

What’s likely not to get your blood pumping and your heart racing is the idea of handling all of the legal steps. These actions are more likely to elicit a groan or eye roll than a “let’s go” attitude.

We know that signing documents and going over contracts can be a bore, but they are a necessary bore. Check out the list below for some crucial legal tips when starting your business.

Get it in Writing

Between friends and family, we can often make handshake or verbal agreements about something more important than “I owe you five bucks for pizza”. When it comes to your business, you need to make sure you’re documenting everything. 

Operations agreement, contracts, investor agreement, customer contracts, and everything else needs to be written down in a legal matter. It may take time and effort to get everything on paper, but it’s well worth it as it will protect you from future liabilities and issues. 

Even something like minutes in the meeting should be taken into account, even if your business structure doesn’t require it. 

Prepare for a Bad Day

As a business owner, you know not everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows the entire way through. Not only are you going to have days where it seems like no consumer wants to be within 500 miles of your business, but not all of your employees be up to par.

Similar to having everything in writing, it’s important that you set up non-compete clauses and other protective documentation in order to protect your business and assets. Even though you may never dream of running into such an issue, you want to do you due diligence and protect yourself from future issues. 

Get Help Along the Way

Depending on the kind of business you’re creating, there are many different legal steps you will have to take to set up everything properly. For example, an LLC requires completely different steps than a partnership business. 

Taxes are different, laws are different, and there are many other small differences that make up each business structure. It’s going to help you have someone who knows the ins and outs and can guide you along the way.

Even though it may be tempting to try and do it all by yourself, it’s always great to have someone in your corner who is going to remind you of the little things and help keep you on track.

Find the Right Lawyer

Lawyers can be expensive, but having a lawyer with small business expertise and wherewithal can help you should the unexpected legal issue arrive. You might have a small idea in how to manage a certain problem, but a lawyer is going to be ready to deal with whatever comes their way.

Hopefully, you won’t ever have to find you or your business in a court of law and your lawyer can be there to review contracts, help write up proposals, and make sure you’re not committing any small missteps. 

When looking for a lawyer, it’s best to find one that will work with you and listen to you instead of trying to push their own agenda. 

Keep It In House

Your small business idea is meant to be your idea. It’s how you’re going to make money and grow your business. The last thing you want is for someone, even halfway across the world, to steal your idea and take it for themselves. 

You might be bursting at the seams with your next great idea but not having the proper protection means your great idea could just as easily become someone else’s great idea. 

Make sure to apply and register your intellectual property ASAP. The methods to protect that intellectual property can vary with the type of business you have, but usually agreements should be signed by your employees and business partners. 

Through trademarks, copyrights, and patents, you can protect your business and information from anyone trying to swoop in and take it for themselves.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.