Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Checklist – 10 Legal Basics for New Entrepreneurs



Thinking about legal matters can be tedious when you have a lot of details on your plate. But laws and regulations are important when establishing and operating your company.

Every region has different laws and regulations — here are some of the fundamentals:

1. Give enough thought to your legal structure. You have several options ranging from sole proprietorship and partnership to S corporation.

You must consider all the implications – your tax situation, access to profits, amount of paperwork, and liability.

ID-100208147stockimages2. Keep good records. Be sure to have a good recordkeeping system. 

To save time and energy, use good accounting software such as Bookkeeping, Quickbooks, Sage Peachtree, or Simply Accounting.

But each is different. Make sure you check out all the options to make certain your business needs are met.

You might consider off-site storage. Most small businesses are ignoring all the hype about the cloud. In fact, a study shows open source technology is preferable to the cloud.

But if you must, practice good risk management in selecting the best cloud storage provider.

3. Agreements. A paper trail for all transactions is vital. Honest people can be well-intentioned but memories can fade.

Non-written agreements can be valid but very difficult to enforce if you’re dealing with questionable characters.

4. Be up-to-date on laws and regulations that affect your industry and business. You can be hit with a myriad of issues – workers’ compensation, health and safety, environmental, immigration and taxes.

They can be very expensive lessons. For example, in case of problems, it helps to understand the mindset of IRS auditors, avoid EEOC discrimination suits, and avert legal hassles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

5. Be careful in signing leases and other agreements. You can easily be locked into long-term agreements. Read the agreements carefully.

A big frustration for businesspeople is lease agreements for office or retail space, and financing and leasing business and commercial equipment. Commonly found in the fine print, evergreen clauses are designed to keep customers committed to an agreement beyond the original term. You’ll even encounter these agreements in the purchase of antivirus software. In most cases, you can managing evergreen clauses for your benefit.

6. Your intellectual property needs protection. Don’t assume that an original idea is protected. You must register your intellectual property.

Depending on the situation, this means even registering a trademark for your branding slogan or logo design, or patent. In some states – for regional protection – you can register trademarks economically.

For more complex matters, here are six patent tips.

7.  Be mindful of the intellectual property of others. That goes for graphics, images, pictures, songs and other media.

Depending on the situation, do a public domain search or a trademark or patent search – even before choosing a business name.

8. Avoid relying solely on those stationery store agreements and forms. You can purchase the forms, but customize them for your own purposes.

If there’s any doubt, have an attorney review the forms.

9. Three professionals could be invaluable for you. That means a good attorney, tax accountant or CPA and insurance agent. Research them carefully.

By the way, if you need professional liability insurance, here are four tips to save money.

10. Remain current on laws and regulations. Become a voracious reader and/or join an effective local business association. You have three entities with which to contend: City and county, state and federal governments.

From the Coach’s Corner, more recommended reading:

“People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”

-Will Rogers


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.