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10 Legal Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Starting a new business is a thrilling experience, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. You’re committed to your business and your customers and you know your product or service has the potential to be highly profitable—but you may not know much about corporate regulations and company filings. Before you dive in, it’s important to lay the foundation for a successful and sustainable business.

That often begins with legal considerations.

1. Test your business model

If you’re starting from scratch, do your research if you’re doing affiliate/network marketing. Make sure that there is a way for you to actually make money before starting your business. Your business model could be one or a combination of the following:

  • Physical products (jewelry, clothing, beauty products, food, software)
  • Information products (coaching, eBooks, workshops, challenges, consulting)
  • Personal services (makeup artist, personal trainer, hair stylist, web designer, lawyer, accountant)
  • Subscription/membership services (Netflix, magazines, group, monthly box)
  • Network marketing and affiliate marketing (Amazon, eBay, Mary Kay, It Works, BeachBody, Travel)

2. Have a non-disclosure agreement before sharing your business ideas and creative work

Excluding only your grandmother, be very careful with sharing your business idea, television script, screenplay, etc. People will steal or copy your idea/work before you get a chance to launch your business. This is key when discussing strategy, branding, and marketing ideas with service providers. Don’t be afraid to ask them to sign this agreement promising to keep everything you share confidential.

3. Make a business plan

I know you’re super excited and you’d like to skip this step, but it’s too important to skip. You have to do lay the proper foundation to make sure your business will be successful.

4. Decide on an entity

Whether it’s an LLC, a sole proprietorship, or a non-profit organization, be sure to explore all of your options and decide which is best for you. Make sure you understand both the legal and financial impact your choice will have on your business.

5. Get professionals on your team

You should have a good attorney and accountant/bookkeeper on your team to help you with making decisions.

6. Keep personal and business accounts separate

Keeping separate accounts not only makes things easier for your accountant at tax time, but it also protects your personal assets from claims if someone alleges that your business isn’t run as a separate entity from you personally.

7. Do a trademark search before choosing a name

This is super important. You have to make sure that the name you select is available and doesn’t infringe on someone else’s trademarked name. You can start by going to the U.S. Patent & Trademark website: www.uspto.gov and you can also search domains and social media handles here https://namechk.com/

8. Get it in writing…ALWAYS

Every relationship that you have in your business should be governed by a contract , interns, clients, graphic designers, marketing/PR help, partners, joint venture/collaboration projects).

9. Don’t sign without reading it and have your lawyer read it

Don’t be afraid to ask for time to review a document with your attorney before signing. It can cost you much more money, time and energy to get out of the contract than if you have an attorney help you from the beginning.

10. File taxes

The IRS can come after you and try to take everything that you have. Don’t play with them.

If you need help getting your business off the ground, or you want to make sure you’re doing things the right way, contact our dedicated business attorneys serving Largo, Hyattsville & Bowie. Call Gray Legal, P.C. at (301) 281-4817 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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