As a new entrepreneur you are likely overwhelmed with the many tasks of starting a new venture. There is a team to build, capital to raise, and a marketing campaign to start. But many a new business has had to change their company name and rebrand because one or more of these common legal issues was overlooked. Here is a checklist to make sure your new business is compliant with local, state, and federal regulations.
- Have a company mailing address. Even if you have a virtual business, you must have an address for legal documents and IRS correspondence. Remember, some government forms will not be delivered to P.O. Box.
- Make sure your company name is available. Along with filing your name with the state be sure to do a trademark search. Finding out months later that your company name was previously trademarked can be very expensive.
- Register your business name. Often the name you choose is already taken, so it may take several tries. When you settle on your name be sure to register it and the domain name at the same time.
- Find a lawyer that has experience with startups. A good lawyer will assist you with all these steps, modify existing documents and assist with negotiations.
- Decide if you will be an LLC or Corp. One of your most important decisions is whether to be Limited Liability Company or a Corporation. This will be important for tax considerations and if you plan to sell off any equity.
- Always put funding agreements in writing. Even if it’s a short term loan from a family member there should be something in writing stating the amount, how and when it will be paid back and what interest will be paid. This will communicate not only that you are serious about paying the loan back, but you are also committed to the success of your new venture.
- Publicize your company if legally necessary. When forming an LLC, at least three states have newspaper publication requirements: Arizona, Nebraska, and New York. Residents of those states should pay special attention to the rules. Entrepreneurs in those states will need to pay for a small newspaper advertisement.
- Make estimated tax payments. Have your CPA help you set up your company taxes and your payroll taxes. You never want to find yourself owing money to the IRS! Their interest rates and penalties can suck the cash out of young company. Have all your payments scheduled.
- Get set up to receive payments. Your bank will be able to help you with this. Look at the options of taking payment online and even through your accounting software.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Check with your county and state offices before you land in trouble. You may only need an Occupancy Permit, but some industries are much more regulated.
Taking a little time as you start your new venture to cover these point can save you significant time, money and frustration in the future.
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