12 Topics to Discuss with a Lawyer Before Starting a Business

Starting a business is exciting. You’ve got a great idea, and your future success is so certain that you can see it in your mind. You want to get started looking for shopfronts or office space and put up your sign right away.

Not so fast. Before you get started with your business’ physical space, you need to consider the legal space in which your business operates. Talking to a business lawyer should be the first step in creating your business. Elizabeth Lewis is a business lawyer who has helped many people lay the legal groundwork for their successful business. She can help you consider all these issues in detail so you get your business started right and give yourself the best odds of success. Here are some questions you need to ask a lawyer before starting your business.

business formation lawyer

What Business Structure Is Best for Me?

There are many different ways to structure your business, such as LLCs, S corporations, C corporations, and more. Which one is best for you will depend on many factors. Talking to a lawyer is the easiest way to sort out the issues. They can listen to your goals, concerns, and business plans to determine which is the best choice for creating a business that matches your vision.

They can also help you understand the tax ramifications of each different structure, and what business developments might warrant restructuring.

What Legal Actions Are Necessary for Starting My Business?

After choosing the right business structure, there are still many essential tasks to complete before launching your business. There may be founding documents that you have to file with local authorities, the state, and the federal government.

Do you need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)? Are there other steps necessary for handling local, state, and federal tax responsibilities? What licenses and permits are required for your business? Not getting these initial steps right can lead to expensive penalties or fixes later.

How Can I Protect My Personal Assets?

Starting a business is risky. These risks can extend beyond the money, time, and other resources you’ve invested. If you’re not careful, all your personal assets may be at risk if your business fails or gets into legal trouble.

Make sure you take steps to protect your personal assets or else you could lose everything.

How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?

For many businesses, the most valuable property they own isn’t their inventory, their fixtures, or their equipment – it’s their intellectual property. Software companies especially need to work hard to protect their intellectual property because that is the company’s main asset.

A business lawyer can help you take steps to protect your intellectual property before you accidentally expose it or turn it over to the public domain.

business formation attorney - intellectual property issues

Is This a Good Name for My Business?

Speaking of intellectual property, your trademark is a valuable part of your business. Choosing the right name and protecting it with a trademark can make all the difference in the success of your business.

A business lawyer can help you understand whether the name you’re considering is, first, available, and second, a good choice from a legal standpoint.

How Can I Protect Investors?

If you’re hoping to secure additional investors in your business, they are going to want assurances that they aren’t exposing themselves to unnecessary financial or legal risks. Make sure you have appropriate safeguards in place before you ask for investment capital – it will make you look more professional and help you secure backers.

How Do I Make Sure Owners All Do Their Part?

If you have partners, co-owners, or investors with an ownership stake in the business, you’ll need to clearly lay out the responsibilities of each party. For some owners, their responsibilities might end with their financial contributions, but others might have specific duties and obligations.

A lawyer can help you draw up agreements so it’s clear what everyone is expected to do, and what are the consequences of not fulfilling their obligations.

Do I Need Bylaws for My Business?

It’s not just owners who need clear definitions of their role. The business itself needs rules for how it will operate, such as who has the power to make certain decisions, and what procedures must be followed to vest this power in a different individual or group. This is especially important for corporations, which need clear descriptions of how and when stocks will be issued, how shareholder meetings will be governed, and how to handle ownership changes.

What Regulations Must My Business Comply with?

As important as your business’ internal rules is the regulatory environment surrounding your business. Each business exists at a complex overlapping of different regulatory regimes: state, local, federal, and sometimes international regulations determine how you can run your business. Failure to comply with relevant regulatory standards can doom your business. Particularly egregious offenses can even sidestep the safeguards you put in place to protect your personal property, so make sure you know what regulations your business must adhere to.

business formation lawyer - compliance with business regulations

What Insurance Do I Need for My Business?

Like driving a car, running a business often has insurance requirements to operate legally. In Colorado, all businesses need workers’ compensation insurance, and you may need professional liability insurance, depending on your business. In addition, there are types of insurance that are just a good idea to protect you and your co-owners.

A lawyer can help you understand what insurance is required.

What Contracts Will My Business Need?

Whenever your business interacts with other entities, including suppliers, employees, and landlords, you may want a contract defining those interactions. Whether a contract is necessary depends on the value of the relationship and the possibility of problems. If you run a store, for example, you don’t need a contract with everyone who buys a $10 item, but contracts become necessary when you’re providing ongoing services, and it’s a good idea to protect your business with a contract when selling complicated and/or expensive equipment.

Can You Be My Lawyer If I Need You Later?

Your business is likely to need a lawyer on many occasions. By talking to a lawyer when forming the business, you’ve eliminated some of them, but others are likely to arise. Having access to a lawyer when they do will make things go more smoothly.

Many business lawyers are prepared to handle legal issues that come up, but you might be expected to pay a retainer to guarantee an immediate response.

Get Solutions to Your Business Formation Problems

The Law Office of E.C. Lewis has extensive experience helping small businesses at all stages of formation and growth. Elizabeth Lewis has helped many businesses navigate the difficult legal requirements of starting up. She’s also seen how complicated it can be when businesses don’t take care during these early stages. Since 2007, Elizabeth has been helping small and medium sized businesses with their legal needs. She knows how important the early legal requirements are, and she can help you navigate this critical phase of your new endeavor.

For help getting your business started, please call us or use our online form to schedule a consultation.