Join Elizabeth Lewis at a Free Seminar on Legal Issues at Denver Startup Week!

Join Elizabeth Lewis at a Free Seminar on Legal Issues at Denver Startup Week!

Join Elizabeth Lewis at Denver Startup Week!

Are you going to Denver Startup Week? If so, make sure to join me and an awesome panel as we discuss legal issues for start ups. Information is as follows:

Legal Roadmap for Startups
Monday 9/25/17 12:00pm—2:00pm
WeWork Union Station 1550 Wewatta St.
This session about business basics is for new, small, or expanding businesses. With a panel of startup lawyers, topics include corporate structure, vesting and related documents, contracts, intellectual property, and confidential information that every founder should be aware of when starting or growing a business. In addition to me, Tricia Meyer of Meyer Law and Jeffrey Schell of Rocky Mountain Patent will also be on the panel.

If you can’t make it to my panel, make sure to make it to other events. Denver Startup Week is a massive – FREE – summit unmatched in size and caliber, Denver Startup Week (DSW) celebrates entrepreneurial energy, innovation, and connection. Each day offers premium sessions in tech, design, DIY-making, marketing, and leadership, presented by experts and distinguished guests from the local community. The mission of Denver Startup Week is “to foster an environment where every member of a team, in every industry, can come to learn, grow, and prepare for their next challenge.”

Reflecting the rich diversity of Denver’s startup community, the summit incorporates useful and meaningful programming to spark ideas and solutions for improving skills, product, process, approach, or project. Each year, DSW adds more to its impressive roster, which includes several different tracks, clusters, expos, socials, and tours throughout the week.

Tracks Offer Business Advice by Team Member

Tracks cover functional roles within a startup team and give valuable insights for your career and success. For example, if you are a founder, you may want to check out a session from the Founder Track:

Session Sample – Founder Track

Legal Roadmap for Startups
Monday 9/25/17 12:00pm—2:00pm

WeWork Union Station 1550 Wewatta St.

This session about business basics is for new, small, or expanding businesses. With a panel of startup lawyers, moderated by Tricia Meyer of Meyer Law, topics include corporate structure, vesting and related documents, contracts, intellectual property, and confidential information that every founder should be aware of when starting or growing a business. Panelists include Elizabeth Lewis of the Law Office of E.C. Lewis and Jeffrey Schell of Rocky Mountain Patent.

Find a Track that Meets Your Colorado Business Needs

  • Designer
    The designer track focuses on the critical elements of design – from fashion to architecture to breakout digital design and artwork. Come learn from designers responsible for some of the best projects in Colorado.
  • Developer
    Learn new technologies, refine your skills, or just check out something completely different in this track.
  • Founder
    Whether you are just thinking about starting a business or are a seasoned entrepreneur, the founder track will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to found a company.
  • Growth
    Growing a startup depends on numerous variables, including digital marketing, inbound and outbound sales, and customer experience. These skills will be covered throughout Denver Startup Week.
  • Maker
    These sessions encompass every type of physical product from outdoor recreation, distilling or brewing, and crafting to connected devices, open-source hardware, and 3D printing among many others.
  • Product
    In this track, you will learn how to improve your product management, development, and marketing skills.

Small Business Tips by Topic

Clusters highlight unique sessions related to the same topic area or industry vertical. Here are the clusters available this year:

  • Social Impact
    A company’s impact is not just measured by profit, but it is also measured by the lasting effects it has on the people and communities around them. Learn how you can start to build social good into your company.
  • IoT
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way we interact with the world. From smart devices to integrated homes to intelligent vehicles, check out the latest technologies and trends
  • HealthTech
    Explore the significant transformations coming and already being implemented in the healthcare industry from both technologists and healthcare professionals.
  • Diversity and Inclusion
    Building an inclusive organization and culture is a critical part of any early-stage company, particularly in a world of increasingly global and diverse customer bases. Hear firsthand the experiences of those on the front lines enabling diversity in the startup realm.
  • Canabis
    At the forefront of entrepreneurship, technology, and the emerging cannabis industry, Colorado is leading the way for the intersection of technology and cannabis. See how these two seemingly different fields interoperate.
  • Business Basics
    Covering a range of fundamental topics required to run a successful company – accounting, finance, operations, marketing, accessing capital –
    come learn the ins and outs of running your company from the people in the community who have done it most sucessfully.

Youth Business Expos and Field Trips

For the first time, Denver Startup Week is providing exciting opportunities for Denver’s young entrepreneurs.

  • YouthBiz Marketplace and Expo
  • Youth Early Access

Basecamp – Complimentary Happy Hours and Coffee!

Say no more! Basecamp, located in downtown Denver in The Commons on Champa, offers opportunities to speak with leading panelists and speakers, share your own startup plans with seasoned pros, and kick back and socialize with free food and beverages.

If you need help with your startup, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Future Expectations and Your Small Business Structure

Future Expectations and Your Small Business Structure

You have had your brilliant idea for you new business – whether it’s software development or a boutique bakery – and now you need to know how to make it come to life. One of the most important things you will do for your new business will happen at the very beginning and concerns your future expectations and your small business structure.

Choosing your business structure has important implications for your future taxes, who owns your company, and who is responsible for any losses. Your business structure can mean the difference between paying employment taxes on everything you make and being able to take part of your business’s income as non-employment taxable dividends. Without the correct business structure and operations, you may fail to have limited liability and be personally liable for any damages caused by your business, you, or your workers. A Colorado attorney will help you choose the best business structure for your individual needs. Here is a brief summary of the most common small business types:

Sole Proprietorships

Sole Proprietorships are the most basic business type. If you are a freelancer, you probably are already a sole proprietor. There is little paperwork to be filed or forms to fill out, as it is the default status for running a business in the U.S. While simple, this business type comes with a lot of risk as there is no delineation between you as a person and you as a business. You are the only person responsible for the profits, and also for the loses. “This risk extends to any liabilities incurred because of employee actions” (SBA.gov).

Partnerships

If you are part of dynamic duo (or trio, or beyond), and you want that to continue into your business, a Partnership may appeal to you. The IRS sets the expectations of a Partnership as “Each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business.” There are different types of business structures housed under the umbrella of Partnership, each with different expectations for the length of the collaboration between parties, and the amount of liability and input for each party. The Small Business Administration has a helpful list of things you should discuss with your potential business partners before filling your paperwork. However, like a sole proprietor, partners typically have personal liability so careful consideration of this business structure should be had with an attorney before entering into it.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) is a business structure that does just that – limits your liability. It is a relatively new business structure – the first one was created in 1977. LLC laws are determined at the state level, so the state you form your LLC in matters. Due to the variation between states, LLCs can get a bit complicated, but Attorney Elizabeth Lewis is experienced in business formation and will help you navigate the formation of your LLC correctly. A few types of businesses generally cannot be LLCs, such as banks and insurance companies.

C-Corporations Taxes as C-Corporations

“From a legal standpoint, a corporation is a different person than the person or people who created it, and is therefore able to own property of its own, accrue its own profits, and be responsible for its own debts and civil liabilities.” (Upwork.com)
Most large businesses are Corporations, and a lot of legislation regarding Corporations has these large businesses in mind. A corporation taxed as a c-corporation may not be a good fit for your small business, as owning one tends to place a large burden on owners. Additionally, you may be taxed twice, since your corporation is a separate entity from yourself if you are a c-corp. It is a better a company type than the previously listed ones, however, if you plan on taking your company public.

Corporations and LLCs Taxed as S-Corporations

You can only have s-corporations if you have an LLC or corporation formed under state law. Many small businesses use them since they do not cause the double taxation problem. Not all companies can become S-Corporations however. From the IRS:

“To qualify for S corporation status, the corporation must meet the following requirements:

  • Have only allowable shareholders
  • May be individuals, certain trusts, and estates and
  • May not have owners that are partnerships, corporations or non-resident alien shareholders
  • Have no more than 100 shareholders
  • Have only one class of stock
  • Not be an ineligible corporation (i.e. certain financial institutions, insurance companies, and domestic international sales corporations)”

The way you structure your business will have long lasting implications for your earnings, liability, and taxes. Improperly done filings can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and create stress year after year. It is best to consult an attorney before creating your business.

If you need help evaluating your future expectations or deciding on your small business structure, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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What’s in a Name for Your Home Business?

What’s in a Name for Your Home Business?

Your home-based business may be something you have been dreaming about for a long time, or it may be the result of a lay-off or need to supplement your existing income. Being your own boss, making your own hours, and having endless possibilities for growth are just some of the many perks. Whether you are a designer making custom jewelry or a freelance programmer looking to expand your business, you will need to consider all of the legal, technical, creative, and minute details of starting, protecting, and broadening your home business. Small Business Attorney Elizabeth Lewis will not only help keep your business legally upright, but she will also help with the things you may not have considered. This post will cover three often overlooked areas of home business planning:

  1. Choosing a Name
  2. Choosing a Legal Structure
  3. Choosing an Address

1. Choosing A Name For Your Home Business

Coming up with a name can be the easiest and most fun start to your home business. Testing out names on your family and friends and drafting logos are an exciting part of the creative process, but there are important steps to take before you settle on a name or establish a brand. Your name should identify your products/services, be memorable, and stand out. If it is too generic – Denver Jewelry – it may be difficult to register or trademark. If it is too narrow – Carla’s Breakfast Cupcakes – it may inhibit or restrict the growth of the business. The name should match the spirit and purpose of your business and inspire your logo and marketing. But first… make sure it is available. Before you do a national trademark search, check with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. You can register or reserve your trade name online on the Secretary of State’s website. The Denver Public Library also has resources, like trade name searches, for small business. It is also important to secure a domain name for your website. Your small business attorney will help with both the legal aspects of your home business name as well as your online marketing presence and, if needed, refer you to a trademark attorney to help secure your name.

2. Choosing A Legal Structure For Your Home Business

The structure of your business impacts many other decisions, affecting your liability, taxes, permits, and licenses. You might start doing business as a sole practitioner, but later decide to become a limited liability corporation (LLC) or an a corporation. Operating as a corporation can give you legitimacy that you may not have as “some guy who works out of his house.” With an LLC or Corp, you may be able to protect your personal assets from creditors, avoid paying both personal and corporate taxes, and deduct pre-tax expenses (e.g. travel, computers, phone bills, advertising, and health care premiums). Here are some pros and cons for LLC versus a corp.

Pro LLC

  • easy to set up
  • inexpensive to start
  • less red tape than forming an S corp

Con LLC

  • required to pay self-employment tax on income generated in the LLC
  • must operate the LLC distinctly and separately from personal affairs

Pro Corp

  • profits after payroll expenses, federal taxes, and FICA can be distributed to owner and are taxed at a lower rate than income if s-corp status is chosen

Con Corp

  • stricter tax code guidelines than LLCs
  • costs more to form a Corp
  • can have additional state taxes

Make sure you know the difference between the tax status and legal status of your entity though. For example, a LLC or a corporation can be an “s-corporation” as s-corporation just means you have elected to be taxed under subchapter s of the internal revenue code. If you are an LLC taxed as an s-corp, you may have many of the restrictions (and costs) of a corporation.

Because each state has its own rules, a small business attorney will help you choose both the best legal and tax structure for your home business and, with the help of a CPA, make sure you remain compliant with Colorado’s tax, licensing, and permit laws.

3.

Choosing An Address That Isn’t Your Home Address (And Why It Matters)

There are so many wonderful benefits of working from home – having clients or customers know where you live might not be one of them. For LLCs or Corps, a registered agent’s address can be substituted for your own. However, if you are not incorporating, you can get a P.O. Box or use a “Doing Business As (DBA)” mailing address. These are options if you would like your personal residence to remain private or if you live somewhere, like an apartment complex, you fear will come off as unprofessional. There are home address alternatives. A mail-receiving service can provide a street address and a suite number rather than your actual address or a P.O. Box. These mail service companies will also pack, ship, and track your packages. An email account will further reduce the volume of mail and phone calls you receive. Whichever address you choose for your home business, remember to respond to all inquiries promptly and establish an efficient system. This will keep your operations running smoothly and your customers satisfied.

Another issue relevant to your home address and your home business is how your address appears to listing services such as Google My Business. If you don’t want you home address with a map to your front door being displayed, make sure you double check and correct how your listing is shown.

If you need help setting up or keeping up your home business,
contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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How To Stay Software Compliant And Avoid Big Trouble

How To Stay Software Compliant And Avoid Big Trouble

Your small business may not operate on a national or global level, but as a software user on any level, you are subject to licensing agreement laws. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted software is more common than you think. Not thinking about it will also lead to legal trouble, like the $3 million penalty the City of Denver recently paid to Oracle. Examples of misuse include sharing, downloading, selling, or installing multiple copies of licensed software. Other examples are installing a piece of software more times than the license permits and sharing software license codes, activation keys, or user IDs and passwords for web-based software applications. It is equally as important to protect your business’s intellectual property as it is to protect it from threatening audits or penalties. A small business attorney will help keep you compliant and protected. This post will discuss:

  1. Different types of software licenses,
  2. Impact and consequences of unlicensed software, and
  3. Precautions concerning software and license choices every small business should take.

1. Staying Legal With Software Licenses

According to Wikipedia, a software license is a legal contract that governs the use or redistribution of software. All software is copyright protected, and a license grants the licensee/end-user specific permission to use one or more copies of the software. One exception is public domain software, where the software has been put into the public domain for anyone to use. Another exception to typical proprietary software is open source. Open source software is under copyright, but this type of license grants users the right to modify, reuse, and share the product while protecting the copyright holders from legal liability. One of the most popular of these licenses is a GNU General Public License, which takes measures to ensure that your software stays open source even if modified or redistributed. Other open source licenses include GNU Lesser General Public License, Apache License, MIT License, and BSD License. There are varying levels of complexity and restrictions among the different open source licenses each with their own benefits. A small business lawyer will help you determine what type of software and licenses are right for your business.

2. Impact And Consequences Of Failure To Comply With Software Licensing Laws

Software licensing or compliance audits are conducted to improve software distribution and to avoid or determine copyright infringement. Not only can an infringement result in your software being disabled, but it can lead to civil as well as criminal penalties. Unlicensed software also exposes businesses and consumers to security threats, like malware, ransomware, spyware, and viruses. A CBS Denver news story reveals that, as a result of the city’s violation of licensing agreements with Oracle, Denver taxpayers will pay millions of dollars more in 2017. The article states that Oracle threatened a $10 million penalty but settled for $3 million. Chief Information Officer for Denver Technology Services Scott Cardenas did not say how the city became out of compliance, only that the city has entered a new five-year contract with Oracle that is a “true-up” or balancing of its licensing with Oracle. A Forbes article indicates that companies, like Oracle, are giving more audit and breach notices, leaving businesses prone to losing their software programs and much more. It is easier than ever to fall out of compliance with the changing nature of software products and evolution of IT infrastructure. Your small business attorney will ensure your business stays compliant in order to avoid costly fines or loss of your current database.

3. Precautions When Considering Your Software And License Choices

Small businesses can learn valuable lessons from big entities and their mistakes or misfortunes with software licensing compliance. There are numerous precautions you should take to keep your small business out of big trouble. It is essential to find the right software and license fit for your company. Once you have done this, follow a checklist as it applies to your business.

  1. Keep an organized record of purchase orders, contracts, paid invoices, retail and other receipts for purchase, and original license certificates;
  2. Audit software installed on any desktop, portable, virtual computer, server, or personal computer/device used for company purposes;
  3. Compare and match software product names, version numbers, and types of licenses;
  4. Establish a company policy regarding software usage; and
  5. Monitor ongoing usage.

A small business attorney will ensure you have taken the necessary precautions and represent you in the event of a software licensing violation.

If you need help with software compliance or your small business contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Niche Retail in Denver – The Key to Your Small Retail Store Success?

Niche Retail in Denver – The Key to Your Small Retail Store Success?

You have decided to relocate or open a niche retail store in Denver. There is an established market for your product. Financial and business plans are in place. You are honing in on your desired location, then you learn more about Colorado’s business environment. A recent 7 News Denver story (May 31, 2017) reports that retailers with a significant Colorado presence could be closing stores, citing overbuilding and a shift in consumer spending habits. Consumers have been spending more money online while moving away from traditional brick and mortar businesses. What was once considered a niche market on a product has become over-saturated. Despite this, you know Denver is the place for your retail store. A small business attorney in conjunction with a tenant-focused leasing agent can help you find the right location for your product as well as guide you toward the right channels for doing business. This post will cover some key information on location, product, and delivery.

  1. Deciding on Denver for your niche retail business
  2. Finding your niche market in Colorado
  3. Going omnichannel to expand your niche retail reach

1. Deciding On Denver For Your Niche Retail Business

With its distinctive retail districts, community-centric shopping centers, and a vibrant downtown, Denver caters to an eclectic consumer palate. Young families, artists, entrepreneurs, and active seniors alike call this pulsating metropolis home. Denver has long been ranked as one of America’s best cities and is rapidly becoming one of the hottest retail destinations. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked it #2 out of 100 best cities to live in, based on being a desirable place to live and having a strong job market and high quality of life. This all translates into confidence that you have picked the right place for your retail store. As you narrow your neighborhood search, it is important to know the zoning laws associated with any prospective location, even if you plan to operate, in any part, from a home-based business. It is also essential to know your business neighbors and protect your business from potential ones that can harm your business. A small business attorney will safeguard you and your business by helping you decipher zoning and other mandatory licensing laws as well as reviewing any contracts, such as a lease, before you sign.

2. Finding Your Niche Market In Colorado

A niche market is defined as the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. It is a targetable portion of a particular market that other businesses may have neglected or overlooked altogether. There may be several shops in the area selling artisanal foods and craft beers – a good example of what was once niche market becoming more mainstream – but, you can further establish your niche by using only locally sourced ingredients or offering additional means of obtaining your products/services, like delivery or a “product of the month” club. You could even focus on a subset of potential customers, like catering to seniors. One local brewery got very clever with their customer base and decide to cater to cyclist who love beer by opening a craft brewery where you can have your bike repaired!

Having established that your product is unique, desirable, and available, your focus will turn to marketing. Location, business structure, and ability to reach your target customers will further determine the success of your niche market business. A small business attorney will see you through each phase of opening and operating your retail store.

3. Going Omnichannel To Expand Your Niche Retail Reach

An omnichannel approach can keep you at the top of your niche market. Broadly defined as a multichannel business approach to maximizing customer experience, omnichannel marketing merges at-home, in-store, and mobile shopping into one seamless experience. It is not enough to grab the attention of potential customers or clients; you must hold onto it. How do you do this in a way that is not a deterrent and that is effective and natural to their everyday lives? According to a Forbes article, you need to track consumer behavior, deliver relevant messages, and manage your customer relationships in real time. A true omnichannel customer experience integrates all of the various channels completely. As a small retail business owner, you may not be able to broaden your presence through all of the same methods as a large corporation, but there are options, including social media advertising, in-bound marketing, Google Exchange Network advertising, and online as well as brick and mortar storefronts to name a few. A small business attorney will be there for you as you navigate the various contracts you may be presented with once you decide to expand into advertising and/or marketing your products online.

If you need help finding the key to your small retail store success, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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