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Top 9 "dos" when starting a business

Search the internet for startup business "do's and don'ts" and you may find more than two million results. Much of the advice from other entrepreneurs or business gurus is valuable, although some may be specific to a particular business or trade. When it comes to starting a business, there are some common steps to take to ensure your legal structure is sound. Here are some top "dos" to keep in mind if you are considering whether to start a business.

Limit your liability

Create a corporate entity to get your business going. Doing so limits your own financial liability to the amount of your initial investment. Your attorney will advise you on whether to incorporate or form your business as a limited liability company, depending on your needs and goals.

Keep your lawyer in the know

Disclose everything about your new venture and your past business experiences to your attorney, both good and bad.

Learn the advantages and disadvantages of business formation

There are many options to choose from when establishing a new business. Learn about each so that your final decision on company structure is an informed one. Ask your attorney to provide you with information on what you need to do to keep the limited liability afforded to you as part of incorporating your business.

Talk with your attorney about buy/sell agreements

It takes a significant amount of investment to start a new business. So, many startups sell some of their equity to new partners. Make sure you have a detailed buy-sell agreement between you and your partners as you begin the formation process.

Learn about privacy laws

Ask your attorney about privacy laws as they relate to your customers and clients. Find out which regulatory agencies are charged with privacy enforcement in your industry and get their guidelines for personal identification information and personal financial information.

Non-compete or non-disclosure agreements

The fabric of every business has trade secrets such as client lists, marketing plans and development plans. Ask your attorney the best way to structure a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement for your company when an employee is hired that is enforceable after he or she leaves. Likewise, never encourage a new employee to breach such an agreement with a previous employer.

Limit costs on space and office furnishings

Spend your money where it can do the most good. Typically, you do not need fancy offices or retail space when starting out, save your money for costs other than rent and furnishings.

Protect your trademark

Seek the help of an attorney before printing up business cards, stationary or marketing materials. You need to be sure that your text and logo are not in use already and are protected.

Become an officer of your company

This means always use your business title when signing a document, contract or other agreement on behalf of your new company, do not sign any agreement in an individual capacity. Failing to do so can damage or destroy your personal shield from liability.

If you are considering a startup, it is important to set up the proper legal structure for your new business. An attorney experienced in business formation can help you ensure that you avoid common pitfalls and are doing everything you can to set yourself up for success.

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