Starting your Business

Own your business - Start your own company




Starting a business can be both exciting and stressful. But, with proper planning and legal guidance, the process can be smooth and problem free.

The process of setting up your own business can be broken into a few simple steps:

1. Prepare a business plan. A properly written business plan will serve not only as a blueprint for your company's future operations, but will be pivotal to obtaining capital and financing.

2. Choose a location to set up your business. While the first thought may be to organize your business in your home state, there are certain advantages to organizing in other jurisdictions. Delaware is a popular state given its favorable corporate laws. There are even reasons to consider incorporating overseas.

3. Obtain financing or other forms of start up capital.

4. Determine a legal structure for your business. Sometimes an S corp is the way to go, other times an LLC or a partnership. There are multiple forms of business entities and they vary slightly by state. Each will have different tax implications, different forms of business governance, and varying legal and procedural requirements.

5. Register your business. Once you have selected the form of legal structure, you will need to register your company with the jurisdiction you choose. You will also need to renew that registration each year to ensure that your company remains legally in existence.

6. Obtain a Tax ID. One of the most important steps to establishing a company is obtaining a tax ID from the IRS. This is an integral step to creating the separate identify of the business entity, establishing its separate taxation, and activating the tax benefits of the chosen form of business entity.

7. Obtain business licenses and permits. Most businesses will need to obtain a license to legally operate in its given place of business from the local municipality. Failing to do so could result in fines or other penalties.

The resources found here will help you work your way through these steps. Additionally, the attorneys and law firms listed in our directories can assist you in setting up your own company and managing its legal needs as it commences operations.


Developing a Business Idea

Developing a business idea is more than just jotting a dream on a cocktail napkin. It takes research, consideration, and careful market analysis to create a successful business. After developing an idea for what your business will be, you need to take the next step and figure out what your company will be about, who your customers will be and how your company will reach them, and identify your competitors and devise a plan for differentiating yourself from them. The resources below will help you to navigate this process and set you on the course to a successful and profitable business.
  • Business Owner's Toolkit

    Business Owner’s Toolkit offers more than 5,000 pages of free cost-cutting tips, step-by-step checklists, real-life case studies, startup advice, and business templates to small business owners and entrepreneurs. The site also offers a monthly newsletter, up-to-date news topics, and Ask Alice!, a column that closely follows industry trends and provides trusted advice to inquiring site visitors. Free and paid memberships options are available.

  • Checklist for Starting a Business - IRS

    Sponsered by the IRS, this page provides links to basic federal tax information for people who are starting a business. It also provides information to assist in making basic business decisions. The list should not be construed as all-inclusive. Other steps may be appropriate for your specific type of business.

  • Developing a Business Idea

    Provides a series of checklists to aid in the development of business ideas.

  • Evaluating Your Business Idea FAQ

    A list of questions to ask before starting your own business.

  • How to Start a Small Business

    A Web book developed to help prospective small business owners with the often overwhelming process of starting a business - everything from writing a business plan to finding government contracts.

  • Small Business Planner

    Careful planning is fundamental to success. The Small Business Planner includes information and resources that will help you at any stage of the business lifecycle.

  • Starting a Business - Entrepreneurs.com

    Starting a Business: How-To Guides; Business Ideas; Startup Basics; Business Plans; Getting Financing; Finding Customers; Inventing; Success Stories; and Going Green.

  • Starting a New Business

    Starting a new business is one of life's important steps, whether you are starting your first business, or moving into a new business after years of experience. Provides checklists for starting a new business.

  • Starting a small business by Brad Ross

    Each small business is as unique as the entrepreneur running the business, and there is no one standard formulae for starting your own business. This article describes key success factors to help guide your business and ensure you are on a solid foundation before you open the doors.

  • Startup Guides

    Entrepreneur magazine's Startup Guides give you all the information you need to start your dream business.

  • The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups - Paul Graham

    List of things Startups shouldn't do - essentially, not making something somethings users want. Paul Graham provides a list of 18 things that cause startups not to make something users want. Nearly all failure funnels through that. Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, language designer, and investor. He co-founded Viaweb (which eventually became Yahoo! Store).

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. It's programs include: Technical Assistance (Training & Counseling); Financial Assistance; Contracting Assistance; Disaster Assistance Recovery; programs for Special Interests Groups; Advocacy, Laws & Regulations; and Civil Rights Compliance (CRC).

Business Plan

A business plan is a written description of what you plan to do with your company and how you plan to do it. It is also one of the single most important documents you can prepare for purposes of obtaining financing. A business plan is strategic in nature, identifying where you will start, where you want your business to go in a set period of time (usually three to five years), and how you plan to do it. The resources below will help you to start developing your business plan and help you get your business started on the right path with a solid plan for its development and growth.
  • Business plan - Wikipedia

    This is a summary article that covers many topics related to business plans - their content, how they are used, legal issues, and spoofs of business plans, among others. Please see individual sections for links to detailed discussions of various topics relating to business plans.

  • Center For Business Planning

    Business Plan Software, Samples and Strategy.

  • Why You Need to Write a Business Plan

    Nolo.com Article: Learn why writing a business plan is important - even if you're not trying to raise money.

  • Write a Business Plan

    U.S. Small Business Administration guides and links to information for writing a business plan.

  • Writing a Business Plan FAQ

    Learn the what, when, why, and how of business plans from findlaw.com.

Business Name

Choosing a business name is critical to the business planning and development process. Your business name needs to reflect your brand identity, it needs to be clear of trademarks, and ready for use on the web. Consider how your business name will look, what connotations it evokes, whether its unique, and whether a web domain matching your business name is available. Once you have one picked out, you will also want to register it for trademark protection to prevent others from trading on your company's name and reputation. The resources below will help you to select an appropriate name for your business and avoid legal conflicts related to its use.

Buying a Business

Buying an existing business can be a great option for some entrepreneurs. It can represent less of a risk than starting a new business from scratch. But, without performing due diligence the risk can be just as great as any other investment. Buying a business can be broken down into a few steps:

1. Identify the type of business you want to buy.

2. Consider what you are good at and what you know and avoid going into businesses that would be unrealistic to run with your level of expertise.

3. Investigate the financial health of the business you are buying.

The resources below will help you with your investigation of an existing business you intend to buy and give you other pointers for developing such a company.
  • Buying a Business

    About.com overview about buying an existing business that's already demonstrated an ability to successfully operate, rather than starting your own. Provides links to other articles that address the various aspects of buying a business.

  • Buying a Business: What You Need to Know

    Nolo.com article about the research you should do and the information you should have before purchasing a business.

  • Top 10 Mistakes Made When Buying a Business

    List of common mistakes to avoid when buying a business.

Home Business

Home Based Business. Some of the world's biggest corporations started as home based businesses. Apple Computers, Hershey's, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Ford Motor Company, and many others are among the companies that started in their founders' homes. Today, more than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of an owner's home.

Of course, not every work-from-home business is bound for success. There are also numerous new scams and marginally viable home-based franchise businesses in the market.

The resources below will help you to find and analyze home-based business opportunities. They will also guide you through determining the practicality of these solutions, the legal and tax consequences you should consider, and the prospects of profitability for your given circumstances.

Franchising

Franchising. In franchising, the franchisor licenses the use of its business model to other companies that are allowed to open their own operations using the franchisor's name, trade marks, distribution network, and products/services. The franchisee pays a royalty to the franchisor for use of the business model, marks, and name, and is normally granted access to the franchisor's distribution network from which it buys its products. As a result, the franchisor usually takes on more of a supply role, allowing the franchisees to operate the day-to-day public interactions with customers. Franchising also has the benefits for franchisors of allowing for rapid expansion and raising capital without having to give up control of the company.

The resources below will assist you in understanding the legal and practical considerations for franchising, both as the franchisor and the franchisee.
  • 10 Steps for Choosing the Right Franchise

    List of steps to help you evaluate any franchise opportunity you are considering to choose the one that suits you, and to reduce risk and raise the levels of success.

  • Buying a Franchise: A Consumer Guide

    A booklet prepared by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to explain how to shop for a franchise opportunity, the obligations of a franchise owner, and questions to ask before investing.

  • Consumer Guide to Buying a Franchise

    Guide from the 'Lectric Law Library" about the benefits and responsibilities of owning a franchise, and what buying a franchise entails.

  • Find the Right Franchise

    11 Top Tips to Help Select the Perfect Business Franchise.

  • Franchising

    Franchising.com provides a directory of hundreds of franchise opportunities; thousands of articles; news stories; how-to guies; and informational profiles to assist you in finding the right franchise opportunity.

Articles on HG.org Related to Business Law

  • Do I Need an Operating Agreement for an LLC in Florida?
    In most states, including Florida, it is not required for a Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) to have an Operating Agreement, but it is always recommended to create one. The reasons are several, as we shall see below.
  • Go Realtime - Foreign Depositions
    Litigation involving foreign witnesses can be challenging. Paralegals will no doubt find that their cases will require the services of both deposition interpreters, also known as legal interpreters, and realtime court reporters who are up to the task.
  • Should You Invest in a Resale Franchise?
    There are many reasons franchisees decide to sell their franchise – life changes like death, divorce or retirement comes to mind – and if you are looking at investing in a resale franchise, you should neither discount nor leap into it without careful investigation.
  • Licenses and Permits for Opening a Restaurant in Florida
    If you are opening a new restaurant in Florida or are the new owner of an existing restaurant, you are required by law to obtain a business license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants before you can begin operation.
  • Breach of Contract Litigation: What Do I Need in a Contract?
    If a party sues for breach of contract, the onus is on that party to prove the validity of a contract. This party has the duty to show that all of the necessary elements are present. The following elements must be in all valid contracts
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    Employers and employees alike should be aware of the not-so-new litigation device known as the anti-SLAPP motion to strike. This motion, typically filed in the early stages of a case, is designed to strike a Complaint before it gets off the ground.
  • How Businesses Benefit from Good Contracting Practices
    Starting and running a small business has never been more challenging. Now more than ever the small business owner has to navigate a patchwork of confusing and oftentimes contradictory laws and regulations that can add extra costs to legal compliance.
  • Terms of Service For E-Commerce Websites
    Although the average consumer tends to disregard the fine print found in a terms of service contract, this legal documentation provides protection and security to business owners and/or service providers in the event of an unforeseen situation or unexpected outcome. Especially for companies that conduct business or facilitate various transactions via the internet, a website’s terms of use is imperative to compensate for the lack of or limited verbal and/or written communications.
  • SEC v. Dawn J. Bennett: From “Financial Myth Busting” To “Busted”
    Last fall, the SEC initiated disciplinary proceedings against financial advisor and self-proclaimed “Financial Myth Buster” Dawn Bennett, accusing her of publicly inflating her client assets under management (or “AUM”) and exaggerating her investment returns.
  • What Is It and What Happens in a Class Action?
    Class actions provide a number of benefits to plaintiffs who can band together, usually to take on a big manufacturer or defendant with heavy pockets and a legal team on hold.

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