A recent article featured on AllBusiness.com titled, “7 Legal Tips for Starting a Business,” discusses important legal steps to take to ensure a successful start for your business.
“Starting a business can be an exhilarating time, where everything seems full of potential and purpose,” writes Nellie Akalp, contributor, in the article. “But amidst the excitement, navigating the logistics of launching a business can be daunting for the first-time entrepreneur.”
Akalp shares seven legal tips to keep in mind to ensure a legitimate business:
- Check name availability. Make sure your proposed business name is legally available before spending any time and, most importantly, money on branding. Checking name availability ahead of time when ensure smooth operations without the worry of abandoning your company’s name a year or two from now.
- Choose a legal structure. “Every business has a business structure,” explains Akalp in the article, adding that some businesses, for example, are sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies (LLC). Your business will be a sole proprietor (single owner) or general partnership (multiple owners) by default if you never formally apply for a business structure with the state. These structures might be easy to manage, but they don’t offer any liability protection for the owner and their personal assets.
- Register your name. Register your business’ name with the state. If you are forming an LLC or corporation, this step will automatically register your name. If you choose to stay as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, then you’ll have to register your name by filing a “Doing Business As” (DBA). Registering your name will ensure that you are legally able to operate your business under that name in the state and that no one else may operate under that name.
- Get a federal Tax ID Number. Also called an EIN, Employer Identification Number, a Tax ID Number acts like a Social Security number for your business. For free, you can apply for an ID number with the IRS online.
- Open a bank account. Once your business has been registered and you have received your Tax ID Number from the IRS, open a business bank account to accept payments made out to your business’ name and to help keep your business and personal finances separate.
- Obtain local permits. You may need local licenses or permits form your state and/or county, depending on your type of business, such as zoning permits and tax licenses. Contact your local office or check out websites, such as businesslicenses.com, to learn about specific requirements for your type of business and location.
- Become familiar with employer laws. Several legal obligations that go along with hiring employees exist, including tax withholding and payroll, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, wage/hour requirements, workers’ compensation and health insurance. Make sure that you understand these obligations before hiring any staff. Akalp recommends checking out the Small Business Administration’s website, sba.gov, as a good starting point.
Read the entire article on legal steps for startups here.