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Legal questions start-ups must ask

You have a great idea and a business plan. You have an investor. You have a business partner. You've worked on your branding. You feel like your company is ready to launch.

Is it? Make sure you ask these important legal questions first:

  • What business structure is best for your company? It's important to consider your future and projected growth.
  • What records do you need and what documents are required to ensure that your company is compliant with local and federal laws? You can't just open your doors and start selling to the public.
  • Does your debt threaten your personal assets? Most new businesses have debt, and you may want to protect what you own outside of the company in case things don't work out the way you hope.
  • Do you have a partnership agreement in place? What types of future issues should that agreement address, such as selling the company?
  • What legal obligations do you have to the people you're hiring? What legal responsibilities do they have to the company?
  • Do employees need to sign a nondisclosure agreement? If you have business secrets that set you above the competition, a nondisclosure agreement may be very valuable.
  • Did you protect your company name and other important information? You want to be sure no one can steal your company's identity and branding.
  • If you do get sued, what do you do next? Have a plan in place and be sure you understand how to proceed before it happens.

These are just a few examples, but they help to show you why it's so critical to consider your legal rights and obligations as you launch your new business.

Source: We Work, "Startup Legal Issues," Jonathan Maisel, accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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