Should You Talk to a Lawyer Before You Start Your Business?

Because the law technically does not require you to speak with a lawyer before starting a business, you may be tempted to skip right to getting your venture off the ground. Do you need to have legal counsel? The short answer is yes. You will be much better off if you have someone with business law experience helping you navigate the complex landscape of government and economic bureaucracy. So, what exactly are the benefits of sitting down with a lawyer?

They can guide you through the process

If this is your first time starting a business, you may not know how you want tostructure your venture, or what your options are. Are you operating your startup as a sole proprietor, or with some colleagues as a general partnership? If you choose these routes, you and your business are legally the same entity, so you are personally liable for any debts and obligations.

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Instead, maybe you would prefer to start a corporation, limited liability partnership, limited liability company, or something else. A lawyer can help you understand how to protect your assets and what each option will require of you (and what the other pros and cons are). Different business models must follow different rules, so it never hurts to have someone acting as a friend or dropship guide (for dropshipping companies). If you are launching a nonprofit organization, legal counsel can also help you legitimize yourself and qualify for helpful tax exemptions.

You are hopefully passionate about the business you are about to start, but in your eagerness to begin, you might forget to attain necessary licenses and permits. You know that you need an Employer Identification Number and a business license, but did you know that some places require you to have special permits for events, alarm systems, signage, and zoning, and other elements? You do not want to plan without the steps for obtaining these permits in mind, so a lawyer can help you acquire what you need and avoid any unpleasant surprises that impede your launch process.

Helping you avoid legal troubles

The last thing you want is to find yourself in amire of legal issues before you get going. Even your business’s name can get you in hot water if you do not research it thoroughly. Before you dive into the branding process, double check that your preferred name, logo, and other materials are original (or original enough). If you are not sure or want to be extra thorough, a lawyer can make sure that you are not infringing on anyone else’s copyrights.

Speaking of copyrights, you’re going want to ensure that no one else can infringe on yours, in turn. Legal counsel can help you trademark your name and other pieces of intellectual property. Copyright protection is especially useful in creative fields. Even if you are outside the creative space, though, you want to make sure the government recognizes your brand’s characteristics and regards you as a distinguished company.

Giving you general advice

Lawyers who specialize in business can grant you access to their own experience. When you sit down with someone, ask them all of the mistakes they have seen past clients make, how they solved them, and what you can do to avoid those same errors. A lawyer is not an accountant, but they can still help you with ensuring you have the right amount of capital to get started, and they can double-check that you have completed the necessary state and federal paperwork.

Some other questions to ask a lawyer: what contracts do you need, and what can you do to reduce risks as an employer? A lawyer can sit down with you and help you write company bylaws that will govern how your business operates. Without them, your venture could be in for a world of confusion and unproductivity in the future.

Having someone to go to later

Getting everything right at the start does not mean that everything will go right for the rest of your business’s life. You will hopefully never find yourself in legal trouble, but if you do, you are going to need a lawyer to turn to—and who better than someone who has known your business since the beginning, and is therefore familiar with its history? Having a lawyer on call save you the time of hiring one when in a pinch.

Dealing with the legalities of starting a business is not the most enjoyable, but it’s necessary. Thankfully, you do not have to do it alone—there are experts available who can help you get off the ground smoothly, and stay that way. What questions will you ask your lawyer before you launch your business?