At some point, everyone has come across a great business idea or venture they wish to undertake, but will usually give up in the early stages due to a lack of knowledge about how to start a business. However, you don’t have to be a business major, have an MBA, or be an attorney to start a new business. You just need the right attorney to tailor their help to your needs, and before your know it, your idea is reality.
Every business is unique; therefore, the needs of one company can vary drastically compared to the needs of another company. However, the first steps a company must take are generally outlined below:
- Create a Founder’s Agreement- If more than one individual will be an “owner”, this is the first step to take to assure that everyone involved in the company knows his or her role, contribution, and entitlement. If you’re a one-person company, you may want to create an Operating Agreement instead, whereby you outline how to add others in the future, if needed. But a Founders’ Agreement is crucial before commencing any work on the business.
- Filing with the State- Once you know who is doing what within the company and you have contractually agreed to a general distribution of duties, it’s time to file the company. This is important to you and the other founders to shield yourselves from any personal liability. You’ll need to choose what state to file in and what type of company you will be (i.e. LLC, Inc., Sole Proprietorship, etc.).
- Registering Your Logo/Company- Just because you purchase a website or come up with a creative logo or slogan, does not mean you’re protected. Before your company grows and others pick up on your witty slogan or creative name, you need to register each with the USPTO. Sometimes a company’s name or slogan becomes so deeply tied to their identity, losing it, can mean losing your entire business.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements- If you are still in the early stages of your company, and are soliciting clients, investors, etc., you need to have a non-disclosures in place to make sure that your new, innovative idea, is not released prematurely, nor anyone takes your idea and develops it before you have a chance to.
After completing the above, the next steps can vary drastically depending on the type of company you are creating and what products or services you are selling. If you plan to hire employees, you need to assure you are paying them properly, develop procedural manuals, issue employee handbooks (to address the hundreds of issues which could conceivably arise), have employees execute enforceable non-compete agreements, etc. If you plan only to use independent contractors, you need to assure your independent contractor agreements are properly written and enforceable, and also make sure your independent contractors are not actually employees.
Even though such steps seem daunting, don’t let your small business idea fade away. Set up a consult with one of our attorneys before moving forward with an idea, and let us help you plan out the best steps to take to form your company. Wilson McCoy, P.A. offers flat-fee and small business retainers to our entrepreneur clients and will work with you to make sure our services can fit your budget.