Starting and running a business is an exciting journey filled with opportunities, challenges, and endless possibilities. However, with the excitement, it’s important to ensure that your business is legally sound to avoid potential pitfalls that could jeopardize your success.
Hi, I’m Amanda Waltz, a probate attorney serving Northwest, Ohio. I’ve spent over a decade in the legal arena, working both as an associate attorney and, more recently, as the founder of my law firm, Amanda Waltz Law, LLC, in Delphos, Ohio. I’ve helped many other entrepreneurs like you with business formation, such as registering with the Ohio Secretary of State, filing and maintaining appropriate documents, writing contracts, and more. I’m here to simplify the legal side of things and guide you to creating a legally sound business, so you can focus on what you do best.
Let’s take a look at several key categories of the legal side of owning a business so you can be certain that you’re operating lawfully, giving you the peace of mind and confidence you need for future success.
In This Post:
Understand Your Business Structure
- Choose the Right Entity: The first step in ensuring your business is legal is selecting the appropriate legal structure. This decision can have significant legal and financial implications. You can choose from various structures, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC). Each comes with its own set of legal requirements and responsibilities.
- Register Your Business: Once you’ve chosen your business structure, it’s essential to register your business with the appropriate authorities. This typically involves filing the necessary paperwork with your state’s secretary of state office. Registration ensures that your business exists legally and can conduct business within your jurisdiction.
Licensing, Permits, and Regulations
- Identify Necessary Licenses and Permits: Depending on your industry and location, your business may require specific licenses and permits to operate legally. These could include general business licenses, health permits, zoning permits, and more. Research your industry’s requirements and local regulations to identify what’s needed. I recommend you speak with someone in your line of work to identify the necessary licenses and permits. You can also visit Ohio.gov for additional information on Ohio’s professional licenses and business permits.
- Industry-Specific Compliance Regulations: Certain industries, such as healthcare, finance, and food service, are subject to additional regulations and compliance requirements. Be sure to thoroughly research and comply with any industry-specific regulations that apply to your business.
- Obtain the Required Licenses and Permits: Once you’ve identified the necessary licenses and permits, take the steps to acquire them. This may involve submitting applications, paying fees, and meeting certain criteria. Failure to obtain the required licenses and permits can result in fines, legal issues, and business closures. All things we want to avoid!
- Understand Your Tax Obligations: Compliance with tax laws is a fundamental aspect of ensuring your business is legal. Familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local tax obligations, including income tax, sales tax, payroll tax, and more. Consider consulting a tax professional to ensure you’re meeting all requirements.
- Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN): If your business is not a sole proprietorship and has employees or multiple members, you’ll likely need an EIN. This unique identifier is essential for tax reporting, opening a business bank account, and other legal purposes. You can apply for an EIN through the IRS.gov website. This is a free service offered by the IRS.
- Hire and Manage Employees Legally: If your business includes hiring employees, it’s crucial to comply with employment laws. This includes issues like minimum wage, overtime, workplace safety, and discrimination laws. Create and maintain clear employment policies to ensure legal compliance. Consider consulting an employment law attorney for guidance.
- Worker Classification: Properly classify your workers as employees or independent contractors. Misclassifying workers can lead to legal issues and penalties. Consult the IRS guidelines for worker classification to ensure accuracy.
- Ensure a Safe Working Environment: Compliance with workplace safety regulations is vital to protect your employees and your business. Establish safety protocols, provide necessary training, and conduct regular safety inspections to prevent accidents and legal issues.
Contracts and Agreements
- Draft Legal Contracts: In the course of your business, you’ll engage in various contracts and agreements. These may include client agreements, partnership agreements, employment contracts, and more. It’s essential to ensure that these documents are legally sound, well-drafted, and protect your interests.
- Protect Intellectual Property with Trademarks and Copyright: If your business involves unique products, services, or content, consider trademarking your brand and copyrighting your creative works. This legal protection safeguards your intellectual property from infringement. Consider consulting an intellectual property attorney for guidance.
- Seek Legal Counsel: For more complex contracts or agreements, it’s wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in business law. They can help you draft, review, and negotiate contracts to ensure that they are legally binding and in your best interest.
- Maintain Accurate Records: Keep thorough and organized records of your business transactions, financial statements, tax documents, contracts, licenses, and permits. This not only ensures legal compliance but also makes your business more transparent and accountable.
Running a business is an exciting adventure, but it’s not without its legal complexities and challenges. Ensuring that your business is legal from the start is essential for your long-term success and peace of mind.
If you’re uncertain about any aspect of your business’s legality, or if you need expert guidance on legal matters, consider seeking professional advice. I’m here to help you choose the right business structure, work on your business contracts, and guide you in the right direction for anything else you might need to achieve success.
Contact me today for a free consultation to discuss your specific needs and ensure that your business is on solid legal ground. Your success is a priority, and I’m here to provide the legal support you need to thrive in the business world.