Business Legal Issue

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You'll need to be on the right side of the small business legal issue because your small business can't afford big court fees to defend it. We frequently see businesses close because of a few simple steps they could had easily done. Items you must be aware of include your company's corporate structure, company name trademarks, and required business licenses. Corporate Structure You can choose your company structure as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability partnership, a limited liability company, or an S or C corporation. The different structures have separate legal and tax consequences. Most small businesses start as sole proprietorships, meaning that you and your business act as one entity. If you get sued, your company and your personal assets will be in jeopardy. Eventually as you get further along, you'll want to separate your business from your personal assets to prevent that from happening. Action step: Choose one: Sole Proprietorship Partnership Corporation S Corporation Limted Liability Corporation. Write it down on a scratch paper. Company Name If you're a sole proprietorship, technically your company name is your birth name. If you do business under a name that's not your birth name, you will have to file a fictitious name or a "doing business as" (dba) with your county or Secretary of State -- depending in the state you live. If your business is operating as a separate entity from you (i.e. not a sole proprietorship), then you don't have to worry about the above. You'll be able to choose your name as you file for your business structure. Make sure that your company name is not trademarked, or it won't be registered. Action step: Choose a name that's meaningful to you. Next, do a search at http://www.uspto.gov/ to be sure no one's using it. If someone is, choose a different name, and repeat process. When done, write it on your scratch paper above. Business License The next step in the business legal issue process is to get your business license at your local county government, so you can do business in your county. The license is not free, but it's not expensive either. Make sure to bring all the legal paperwork required as the county office will need it to grant you your business license. Action step: Bring the above scratch paper with you to the county registrar office. Fill out the appropriate information to get your business license. Your county will then show the the proper steps to register your business name. Following these steps is one basic approach in making sure you're on the right side of the business legal issue. You should contact an attorney for more in-depth legal advice.

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Posted on February 18

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