Starting a business from scratch can be a daunting experience, especially if you haven’t done it before. In fact, you’ll find that there’s so much for you to do in the beginning, including developing your products and services, putting together marketing and business plans that you might easily miss important details due to lack of experience or time.
That’s why you need to have someone with the right expertise and experience in your corner to help you answer all the tough questions before you start so that you can go in prepared. This is where hiring a business lawyer comes in.
However, there are certain critical questions that you need to ask your lawyer during that initial meeting in order to get the ball rolling, and they are:
What Kind of Business Structure Should I Go With?
The first step to take when starting any business is to figure out what kind of structure you will register your business as. Your options are limited to either a sole proprietorship, which is suitable for businesses with one outright owner, a general partnership, which is suitable for businesses with two or more owners, as well as a formal entity.
Now, each option has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, registering your business as a sole proprietorship or as a partnership will mean that you and your business are one and the same in the eyes of the law, and thus you will be held legally liable for anything that happens within your business, good or bad.
On the other hand, you could register your company as a limited liability partnership or corporation, which means that the company has its own legal identity that is separate from the owners. That way, all that you stand to lose is your investment in the company and nothing else.
When choosing from these different business structures, be sure to weigh your options carefully because whichever route you take will have repercussions in the ownership, administration and taxation of your business. The good news is that there are companies such as CSB Group that will help you when setting up you tax friendly business in Malta.
What is involved in the Naming Process of my Business?
At this point, you probably have a few name ideas that you’ve thought of for your business, but before you select one, make sure that you’ve considered all the legal issues involved in the process.
For example, you’re not allowed to choose an existing name that is already in use by another business entity, and if you choose to trademark your name make sure that it meets the standards for trademark protection. Having a business lawyer will come in handy here, as they’ll be able to assist you with understanding the ins and outs of the whole process.
How Can I Minimize Risk as an Employer?
It’s important that you understand your responsibility as an employer, as well as the rules and regulations that come with hiring people, so that you don’t find yourself in hot water through unconscious lack of compliance.
Now, there are several laws pertaining to employer best practices. They include, but are not limited to, health and safety regulation, complying with anti-discrimination laws, having the right training materials and protocols, as well as policies and procedures. You also have to make sure that you comply with the country’s national benchmark for the minimum wage. Best to familiarize yourself with your national labour law
Again, your lawyer will handle much of the admin that comes with minimizing your risk as an employer, leaving you to focus on doing what you do best, which is to manage the operational side of your business.
How Can I ensure that my Intellectual Property is protected?
Regardless of how small or big your business is, there are certain identifying trademarks that you’ll probably need to have in order to distinguish your business from other similar enterprises in the same industry. This includes the business name, logo, slogan and packaging. All of these are your business’ trademarks, and you need to protect them by making sure that they’re registered with the Trademark Department.
Additionally, businesses in the creative industries that provide services like website design, photography services or brochures, will also have to acquire copyright protection for their products. Selling a unique invention on the other hand requires that you patent it so that no-one else profits from it but you.
Needless to say, your business attorney will be of great help during this whole process, as they’ll guide you through and advise you on the best course of action to take.
What Contracts Are Required for my Business?
The type of contracts required by each enterprise depends on that particular company’s line of business. However, some of the most standard contracts required by a company include:
- Contracts for your employees with terms and conditions for each position
- A contract for the protection of confidential information
- A contract for leases, routine transactions as well as major transactions
The importance of having good contractual agreements drawn up cannot be overstated. Not only will it help to set out the expectations for each transaction you’re involved in, but it’ll guarantee that you get remunerated for your work and provide clear remediation guidelines should either party be in breach of contract.
For best results, get your lawyer to draft all major contracts and routine agreements in the beginning. Then, have him review all contracts that require your signature to make sure that you’re getting a good deal in all your transactions.
What Risks should I Look Out for?
Make a request for your attorney to perform a risk assessment for your business so that you can both come up with strategies to minimize and even eliminate those risks.
What Will I Require to Get Started?
Initially, all you need to start a business is an idea, a sound business plan, a financial plan and of course a good lawyer. Whatever you do, be sure to hire an experienced business lawyer and not someone who just started a few years ago. That way, you’ll be able to benefit from their years of experience so that you can avoid some of the mistakes that they’ve seen other business owners make.
Well, there you have it! Seven questions that you need to ask your lawyer before you start a business, and we hope that they’ll help you to get the most out of your relationship with your attorney. Now, while this list is by no mean comprehensive, it gives you an idea of the kind of just how valuable and necessary it is to hire a business lawyer.
Just make sure to ask your lawyer what their fee structure from the first meeting, so that you can decide whether or not to make the investment or move on to other options.
You might also want to pick your lawyer’s brain on which financing options you should explore in order to get your business off the ground.