You have an idea you’ve been mulling over for a while but have been afraid to get started. This is a plan to help you take action.
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Professional Help. Find a good lawyer and an accountant that focus on helping business owners at your stage of business. Find a mentor. Hire on-demand consultants, executives and agencies to fill gaps in your skill set.
Entity selection. Figure out what type of legal entity supports your business plans. Most entrepreneurs will choose among a C Corp, S Corp, LLC, or not-for-profit Corp. This is one of the most important legal and tax choices for your business in the short run. Your lawyer and/or accountant can advise you on the differences.
Governance. Determine how you will run your business. Your attorney can help you set up an operating agreement (LLC) or company bylaws (C Corp, S Corp or Nonprofit) that will be the foundation of how you run your business and the relationships between the various stakeholders of your business. An agreement from the internet that is inconsistent with how you will run your business may do more harm than good. A shareholder or buy sell agreement may also be helpful or necessary.
Product. Figure out which products or services you are going to offer to the world to make money. Talk to your potential customers and make sure legitimate demand exists for your offering. Ensure that the market for your product is big enough for you and your investors to make money.
Focus. From the outset, you won’t have the resources, bandwidth or organization to take on too many things at once. Focus on your best path forward. Don’t be afraid to fail and pivot when needed.
Plan. Figure out your business plan. Determine how you will find and market to potential customers. Figure out how you will finance your business in the short term and your future growth.
Finances. Make sure you can cover you and your family’s living and personal expenses for at least 6 months. Make a budget for your business. Get an EIN and a business bank account. Keep your personal finances separate from your business finances. Register with the appropriate agencies to pay sales tax, withhold tax for employees, and become licensed at the federal/state/local depending on your business type. Track your expenses and start working with a bookkeeper and/or accounting software. Take out an insurance policy.
Branding. Your brand name is one of the assets that will distinguish you from your competitors and help you stay present in the minds of your customers. Protect it with a trademark or a service mark. You most likely can skip a “Doing Business As” name or trade name for now.
Existing Obligations. If you’re currently working for an employer or another business, consider whether any non-compete, non-solicit, invention assignment, confidentiality or fiduciary obligations could stand in the way of your success. Speak to a lawyer to understand your options.
Patents, Trade Secrets and Copyrights. Once you figure out what course of action you’re going to pursue, see if you can protect your efforts by stopping future competitors from copying your products, software, technologies, and other secrets that give you an advantage in the marketplace. Speak to an intellectual property lawyer (preferably a patent lawyer) to find out how to seek protection and implement best practices.
That's it. 10 things. What are you waiting for?
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silverlegal provides superior service and accessible advice to startups and small businesses starting and progressing on the journey of entrepreneurship and business ownership. The author, Jarrett Silver, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia and can assist international clients with their U.S. legal needs including formation, contracts, investments, and more. Additionally, Mr. Silver is a Registered Patent Attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and can help clients worldwide by drafting and prosecuting U.S. and PCT patent applications before the U.S.P.T.O. You can book a consultation with silverlegal to discuss the above topics or other issues at https://www.silverlegal.net.
Disclaimer: This list is non-exhaustive. This message is legal advertising. This is not legal advice. Seek the help of qualified legal and tax advisors who can take into account the specifics of your situation.
© Silver Legal LLC, January 2018