10 Legal Boxes to Check Before Launching Your Online Business
You had your light-bulb moment, and now you are ready to introduce your innovative product or service to the world. But, before you go too far, you want to make sure that the legal side of your new business is in order. Contact our Springfield business lawyer to discuss your options and get the help you need to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Here are 10 boxes to check – ideally before your website goes live:
1. Business Entity Formation
Have you formed a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or other appropriate business entity? Forming a business entity provides several important benefits (including providing protection for your personal assets), and it is a critical step if you hope to secure outside investment.
2. Business Entity Documentation
In order to obtain the benefits of forming a business entity, you need to do more than just file Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization with the appropriate state office. You will need various other forms of documentation as well, and all of your company documents should be custom-tailored to your unique business.
3. Trademark and Copyright Clearance
Did you check to make sure no one else is using the trademark you selected (or a confusingly similar trademark)? Did you pay for the right to use any images or templates you found online? If not, you may receive a cease and desist letter in short order, and you may be facing a complete re-branding of your online presence.
4. Trademark and Copyright Registration
If you selected a unique trademark and developed your own creative presence, you will want to protect them through registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the U.S. Copyright Office.
5. Business Banking and Insurance
In order to maintain separation between your business and personal assets, you need to manage your business and personal finances separately. You will likely also want to consider insurance coverage in the event that something goes wrong.
6. Local Compliance
Are you subject to state or local permitting or licensing requirements? Do you need to register to do business as a foreign entity? These are important legal steps that many entrepreneurs overlook.
7. Online Compliance
8. Contractual Rights and Obligations
From software licenses to real estate leases, it is important to make sure that you have the contractual rights you need to run your business. When working with vendors and other third parties, you will want to make sure that you secure adequate contractual protections as well.
9. Employees and Independent Contractors
If you have hired (or will hire) outside help, unless you are prepared to take on the legal burdens of hiring an employee, you will need to make sure that the relationship is structured so that the person you hire is classified as an independent contractor.
10. Annual Filing Requirements
If it has been a while since you formed your business entity, have you kept up with the requisite annual filing requirements? These vary from state to state, and you will need to make sure you make the necessary filings on an ongoing basis in order to keep your entity in good standing.
Seek Legal Guidance from a Knowledgeable Springfield Business Lawyer
This list is not exclusive, and your specific needs will depend upon a variety of factors that are unique to your new business. If you live in Missouri and would like to speak with an experienced Springfield business lawyer, you can contact our office for a confidential consultation.