In Part 3, we covered business licenses and permits, working with employees and contractors, and the importance of written agreements. In this last part of the series, we’ll discuss other issues you should consider to help your business grow
9. Develop a System and Stay Organized.
Although this isn’t technically a legal tip, being organized and having a system in place to handle the operational aspects of your business can save you time, money, headaches and legal issues down the road. Ideally, your business affairs will always be in order so that someone could step in to run if for you if necessary. (Additionally, the more organized you are, the less time your professional team will have to spend sifting through shoeboxes to find crucial information.)
Have a method to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain your licenses, etc. Set up an accounting and record-keeping system so you can properly account for all business disbursements, payments received, invoices, accounts receivable/payable. Speak with an accountant about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying, and get copies of the IRS’s Tax Calendar for Small Businesses and Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records. Keep important company documents in a safe place and have backup systems in place should anything happen to your physical work space or your electronic record systems.
10. Other Issues to Consider.
Business Plan. A business plan is not only a good idea to help you clearly outline your goals and ferret out potential opportunities, costs and obstacles, but it may be required if your business intends to seek a loan or venture capital funding. The SBA and organizations specific to your profession/industry can provide helpful planning resources.
Insurance. As an entrepreneur, you should expect the unexpected. You’ll want (and may be required) to obtain certain types of insurance for your business. General business policies can cover everything from product liability to company vehicles. You may want to obtain health and disability insurance for yourself and your employees. You might also consider a personal umbrella policy. You and the entity should both be named as insureds on any general liability insurance for the business, and the entity should also be the named insured on all property insurance covering any property owned or leased. Contact an insurance agent or broker to answer questions and give you policy quotes.
Intellectual Property. Intellectual property — copyrights, trademarks, domain names, patents, trade secrets — can be some of the most valuable assets a company has. Make sure that any intellectual property you create (or hire someone to create for you) or utilize in your business is properly protected. You also want to make sure that you’re not infringing on a third party’s intellectual property rights. Consult with an intellectual property attorney to learn more.
Support Team. Your new venture will be much more successful if you have a great support team around you. From family, friends and business partners to mentors, advisors and professional service providers, your team can make or break your endeavor. These people will be your sounding board, your cheerleaders, and remind you that you’re not alone.
Starting a business is a thrilling and slightly overwhelming undertaking, but with a bit of planning (and some key professionals to help advise you), you could be up and running and playing by the rules in no time.