Checklist for Starting a Small Business
The idea of making your dream come true and starting your own small business has been calling, but so have the doubts. Will people like my product or service? Will they like it enough for me to make money?
Starting your own small business may be a scary prospect, but it's a lot less frightening when you've got all your ducks in a row. Here's what you need to start a small business:
When you're getting started, it's important to protect both yourself and your business by choosing the right legal structure. Corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships all have their advantages and disadvantages, and knowing which is right for your business is as essential as the name on the sign.
For example, a limited liability corporation could protect your personal assets if your business is sued, but could complicate your tax filings at the end of the year. So make sure you've done your homework on company structures before you start.
It's your idea, so make sure no one steals it by having the right intellectual property protections in place. IP isn't one-sized fits all -- it will depend on what you have and what you're selling:
- Copyrights protect original works like literary, musical, and dramatic works, and can cover photographs, motion pictures, architectural works, and sound recordings.
- Patents are used for inventions and can protect anything from computer software and hardware to drugs, jewelry, and even fabrics.
- Trademarks distinguish your business, product, or service from your competitors'.
Make sure your small business ideas are protected prior to launch.
If you're going to make a product or have a physical location, you're going to need commercial liability insurance. And you'll need health insurance for you and your employees. Accidents can happen anywhere and anytime, so make sure one bad thing doesn't wipe out your small business.
It's also important to have all of your permits and licenses lined up before your open your doors.
An experienced business attorney can guide you through all the phases of your small business, from start-up to stock sales.
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- 10 Reasons to Contact an Attorney before Starting a Business (FindLaw)
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- Starting a Business (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
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