With a well-thought-out business plan in place, you've got the ball rolling. What's your next step? Preventive law. That is, consulting with a business attorney to make sure all your I's are dotted and your T's are crossed.
Yes, you could try to cover the bases on your own, but do-it-yourself law can be dangerous. And undoing any damage done can be costly to your bottom line as well as to your business's reputation.
"If you start [your] business with the professional assistance you need," says Torrance, California, attorney Cynthia L. Eller of Popeney, Lebetsamer & Grange, "things are set in motion that protect you."
Here is a sampling of the general areas a business attorney handles:
- Written agreements. Have your lease agreements, purchase contracts or employment agreements been drafted to document the specifics of each party's duties and expectations?
- Industry-specific licensing and ordinances. Will you need to be licensed or bonded? Will you require liability insurance?
- Business structure. Which form is most appropriate for you? Corporation? Limited liability company? Sole proprietorship? Have you taken into account the benefits--and drawbacks--of each?
- Tax requirements. How is your industry taxed? What are the tax reporting requirements in your industry?
- Co-ownership agreements. What happens if one or more owners want out of the business? Do you have an agreement in place that provides for an orderly and peaceful ownership transition (even in the event of death or disability)?
- Employer-employee relations. Are you familiar with the laws that govern hiring employees? Have you developed an employee handbook outlining your company's policies and procedures?
Don't gamble with your business's future by attempting to handle legal matters yourself. A little sound legal advice can go a long way.
What's In A Name?
Six things to think about when naming your business:
1. What do you want your name to communicate? Start by deciding exactly what your business is. Your name should reinforce key elements of the business. If your business is an upscale boutique, the name should convey that.
2. Should your name be meaningful, a made-up name or a series of initials? Many experts say the more your name tells a consumer, the less you have to explain what your business is. Words that are meaningful to consumers will more likely stick in their minds. But adding a geographic location to a name can limit your possible markets. Would the name Los Angeles Disk Drives mean anything to consumers in Chicago?
3. Should your name be descriptive or suggestive? Descriptive names tell something concrete about a business--what it does or where it is. Suggestive names are more abstract, focusing on what the business is all about.
4. Take a good look at the competition. What approach have they taken to naming their businesses? How does the name you've chosen distinguish your business from theirs?
5. Thinking about taking your business global or marketing in a multilingual area? Make absolutely sure that your chosen name doesn't have any negative connotations in other languages.
6. If you're planning to advertise in a telephone directory, consider choosing a name that is close to the beginning of the alphabet.
Popeney, Lebetsamer & Grange, 1500 Crenshaw Blvd., #200, Torrance, CA 90501, (310) 320-2333