Starting Your Business Off Right   Leave a comment

As with almost any issue that arises today, individuals interested in starting a business often turn first to the Internet as a potential source of information and guidance. A web search returns an overwhelming number of listings on the subject, some with general principals and advice, others advertising “one-stop-shop” start-up business packages, often promising online legal advice and company formation services for a few hundred dollars.

Although such services are appealing due to their promised ease of use and low price tag, using an online start-up service has high hidden costs. These services may advise customers on taxation, whether to form a corporation or a limited liability company, how to structure shareholder relationships, and whether to file a trademark application – this type of advice, when given by a non-lawyer, may amount to unauthorized practice of law. More gravely for the customer, these services, by their very nature, are limited in scope and cannot effectively assist the entrepreneur with customized or long-range business planning. Therefore, while new business owners utilizing such services may save a few dollars initially, they may ultimately lose significant money, property, relationships and sleep over legal problems that could have been avoided or minimized with a modest initial investment in comprehensive, competent legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.

Here at ATC, our corporate attorneys regularly assist new and small business owners with their start-up and ongoing legal needs and are familiar with the challenges and obstacles small business owners face. In the coming weeks, we will post a series of articles intended to spotlight those areas and issues that every entrepreneur should consider at the outset of any new business venture, from proper entity choice and ongoing corporate governance, to shareholder and partner relations, protection of tangible and intangible company assets, relationships with employers, suppliers and customers, and e-commerce and web presence matters. Although these articles cannot replace individualized legal advice, we hope they highlight the complex legal issues involved in starting a business.

If you are an entrepreneur with a great idea looking to start your business, we encourage you to engage a lawyer early in the process to help you identify and prioritize the most pressing legal needs of your new business, so that you may efficiently use your limited start-up capital. If you are interested in learning more about our firm’s wide-ranging and services and how our expertise can help build a better business, please contact us at the link above.

By: Kathleen Hart, an associate in our Corporate Department

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