ll archives: Legal Lessons for the Ladypreneur: What You Need to Know to Start a Business


You’ve decided to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur. Congratulations! The adrenaline is pumping through your veins, and you can hardly contain your excitement. You want to shout it to the world that you plan to be the successful CEO of your own company. You can see your name on the list of Forbes’ 40 under 40 now. Wait – now your pulse is starting to slow down. What was adrenaline a minute ago now suspiciously feels a bit similar to panic, as logistical, monetary and legal questions start flooding your brain.

Starting a business, it turns out, is a tricky business.

Take a step back and turn the panic button off, though. You can make this work. All you need is the proper roadmap to help you navigate the avenues of a business startup. Half the battle is being prepared for what you are going to face, and one of the most important lessons you should learn early on is when to seek help.

This is especially relevant when you are considering the legal matters of your business. Your business name, structure, location and operation are just a sampling of the issues that will need to be addressed by an individual well-versed in business law. In order to really understand the type of legal counsel you want helping your dream become a reality, it’s vital that you have a clear vision of what you want your business to be on paper.

Write that business plan. There are some helpful checklists out there that include the essential how-tos and to-dos you will need to get started. Use these resources, and then customize your checklist to fit your needs.

Then look for legal counsel that aligns with these goals. Working with a firm that shares a common interest will make the process smoother, and you’ll get what you want from the start. For example, if you’re interested in working with an innovative firm that promotes diversity, you’re sure to find several options in your search that might satisfy that criteria. Whatever, the case, finding someone you like and trust is vital.

Important Legal Lessons to Cover

Now that you’ve found your attorney, sit down with them and go over the checklist you’ve put together. It’s likely that you’ll think of other issues to address, but make sure you cover these specifics:

Can You Legally Use the Business Name You Chose?

Make sure you and your attorney have done a thorough search on state and federal databases. You don’t want to accidentally infringe on someone else’s trademark – no matter how adorable those business cards you just printed are.

Have You Formed an LLC?

You’ve got your business plan inked on paper. Now you need to officially incorporate it to protect your assets. Go over the various business structures available to you, and choose which one best fits your company.

Are All of Your Licenses and Permits in Order?

Business licenses and permits can be tricky – as they vary from state to state – but must also include all federal requirements. Your lawyer will be able to help you cover all the bases, including zoning, sales tax, environmental, health department and more.

Have You Applied for a Federal Tax ID?

You can’t run a business without your federal tax ID, also known as your Employer Identification Number (EIN). It registers your business as a separate entity with the federal government. This way you can keep your enterprise and your private life separate.

Will You Have Employees?

No matter the size you envision for your company, you’ll want to understand the laws in place at local, state and federal levels for employees. Having a solid HR structure from your business’s inception will allow you to avoid any mishaps in the future – such as lawsuits.

Do You Require NDAs?

Chances are your new and innovative business idea will require contracts and financing. To maintain confidentiality, you’ll want to consider having a solid nondisclosure agreement (NDA) drafted for suppliers and/or employees, depending on the nature of the information.

Always Be Ready to Grow and Learn

Naturally there are other legal matters you will need to attend to as your business develops and grows. Make sure you retain legal counsel that you trust during the initial process and for the long term. You can also look to other successful entrepreneurs for advice on where they succeeded and what they might have done differently.

Utilize all the resources at your disposal, and keep in mind that you will be learning throughout the entire process. Take advantage of the opportunities you are given to learn during the brainstorming sessions with your lawyer, and feel free to ask questions you’ve come across in your own research.

You’ve got this. Get ready to join the world of entrepreneurial success.