Of all the considerations an entrepreneur has to make when starting a business—what to name it, how to price the products and more—the legal considerations are perhaps the most important. From determining a business structure, to complying with local labor laws, to ensuring you prepare for and properly file your taxes, forgetting to account for any of these aspects could lead to disastrous legal consequences down the line—ones that may be impossible to recover from.
To ensure you don’t make any legal missteps as you begin your entrepreneurial journey, consider the advice of those who have experience dealing with the legalities of starting a business. Here, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council outline some of the most important legal considerations to make when starting a business and why handling these tasks should be at the top of your to-do list.
1. Accurate Tax Filing And Documentation
Ensure accurate tax filing and documentation from the very first year. Missteps in this area can lead to significant penalties, audits or even legal actions in the future. Also, early mistakes can snowball over time, making them more difficult and costly to correct later. Investing in a competent accountant or tax professional from the outset can be a wise decision to prevent such potential issues. - Yury Sokolov, Finazon
2. Registration For Data Protection And Privacy Compliance
For immigrant founders, it's really important to have the right immigration status when starting your business and to own the company IP. Some founders register their company in the U.S. for sales primarily and then have their development offshore to protect IP rights to the software. If you are building a data-centric organization, take the legal considerations one step beyond to prioritize registering for data protection and privacy compliance. Validate your customer and product usage data rights and make sure your business is registered in a country or state where you can outline ownership of data as part of your terms of service. - Surbhi Rathore, Symbl.ai
3. Clear, Detailed Contracts And Agreements
When you start a business, it's really important to create clear and detailed contracts and agreements. These are legal documents that explain the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved in the business. Having good contracts helps prevent disagreements and protects everyone's interests. It also shows that your business is trustworthy and professional. Contracts make sure you follow the law as well as help you run your business smoothly. It's a good idea to get help from a lawyer to help customize the contracts to fit your needs and review them regularly. By focusing on clear and comprehensive contracts, founders can keep their businesses safe and build good relationships with customers, partners and all others involved. - Kazi Mamun, CANSOFT
4. Your Business's Legal Structure
The first legal consideration that founders need to consider when starting a business is the entity’s legal structure. Depending on your business type, desired operations and long-term vision, you’ll need to decide on whether you want to start an LLC, S corporation, C corporation or nonprofit organization. Not only does this decision impact things like taxation and investors, but it also affects your liability as an owner and founder. Always start by limiting your personal liability from the company’s liability. From there, you can worry about obtaining legal counsel, securing appropriate licenses and maintaining the right insurance. But protecting your personal liability must always be the first step. - Ian Blair, BuildFire
5. Proper Insurance Coverage
When embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, new founders must prioritize obtaining appropriate insurance coverage for their businesses. Starting a business involves risks, both known and unknown. Insurance acts as a safety net, protecting you from potential financial losses that may arise from unexpected events or liabilities. By securing the right insurance coverage, you mitigate risks and gain peace of mind. A few reasons why insurance should be high on the priority list includes liability protection, property protection, business interruption and professional liabilities. It demonstrates your commitment to responsible and prudent business practices, instilling confidence in stakeholders and potential partners. - Abhijeet Kaldate, Astra WordPress Theme
6. Employment And Labor Laws
Employment and labor laws are absolutely essential considerations for every founder to take care of. You need to protect the interests of all parties involved—your business, yourself, your employees and other stakeholders. You have to understand the classification of employees, overtime pay and more. You also have to follow fair practices, ensure there's no discrimination and protect your and your employees’ intellectual properties and contributions. Make sure that you hire the right people to help you comply with labor requirements right from the start to avoid problems down the line. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
7. Intellectual Property Protection
One critical legal consideration that new founders need to prioritize is protecting their intellectual property (IP). This includes trademarks, copyrights and patents. Safeguarding IP assets is crucial for establishing a competitive advantage, preventing others from using or copying your unique ideas, products or brand identity, and maintaining the value of your business. It is advisable to consult with an intellectual property attorney to identify and protect your IP assets through proper registrations, contracts and confidentiality agreements. - Ismael Wrixen, FE International
8. IP Or Patent Violations
When starting a business, it's important for founders to be wary of intellectual property and patent laws and to make sure they don't violate any. Intellectual property laws may apply to even the most basic of things that aspiring entrepreneurs are either unaware of or fail to consider, such as the name of the business, the company's logo, item design, content and so on. Violating these laws would not only lead to the demise of a business before it has even started, but it could also cause the founders to face severe penalties that would haunt them for quite a long time. Research is the key to avoiding such legal complications and helps new founders kick-start their businesses successfully. - Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
9. Proper Industry Licensing
One of the most important things to do is get proper licenses for the industry you're in. This is especially critical because having the right licenses ensures that your business operates legally and doesn't risk being shut down by authorities. Plus, the added benefit is that you appear legitimate and more trustworthy to your audience and customers. You can show that you comply with industry regulations and build a positive reputation, attracting more customers—something that is essential for success. - Blair Williams, MemberPress
10. Former Non-Compete Agreements
Consider if you still fall under any previous non-competes. Many entrepreneurs are inspired to start their businesses based on their past experiences; however, issues can arise if you are in breach of any non-compete agreements you signed in the past. Think hard about whether or not your new business directly competes with a previous employer. Review the contracts you've executed to determine the exact prohibitions and their expiration dates. When in doubt, seek legal advice or start a different business instead. You don't want to burden yourself or your business early on with such an avoidable issue. - Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.