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Starting a business can be overwhelming. Although it is an exciting time, it is also a lot of hard work. As a new business owner, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what you need to know and do. Seeking professional advice from a lawyer is one way to alleviate your concerns and clarify particular issues. This article will take you through six questions to ask a lawyer when starting a business.
1. What Business Structure is Best For Me?
Choosing your business structure will be one of the most important decisions you make when starting a business. The business structure you select will impact how you set up, manage and dissolve your business. Notably, every business structure has its advantages and disadvantages, making it difficult to choose the best option for you. Before starting a business, you likely already have a structure in mind. However, it can be helpful to discuss your choices with a lawyer and accountant, who will provide further insight into the best business structure for you.
2. How Can I Choose a Name for My Business?
For many people starting a business, choosing a name is one of the first choices they will make. While this might seem a simple process, choosing a name for your business is not always straightforward. For most business structures, having a business name that is identical or near-identical to another business will not be available for you to use.
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator. ASIC has a business name register where you can search for available business names. A lawyer can help you through this process and ensure you can avoid future disputes relating to your business name.Continue reading this article below the form
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3. How Can I Minimise Risk?
Various regulations will apply to your business regarding:
- financial reporting;
- employment laws; and
- other industry-specific rules.
For example, a lawyer can help point out relevant insurances for your business. This will help avoid costly issues later down the road. Further, they can also ensure you have the right internal policies in place to protect you, such as training manuals and human resources (HR) policies.
A lawyer can also help you create your vendor contracts, providing advice about essential clauses to include in any contracts with vendors, suppliers or clients. Again, having a well-established template for contracts will help minimise contractual disputes.
4. How Can I Protect My Brand?
While most business owners think about protecting their physical assets, many business owners will neglect their intangible assets.
Safeguarding your intellectual property is a great way to protect your intangible assets and prevent any legal disputes later on. This can also further your business’ reputation and increase the overall value of your business. A lawyer can help you protect your intellectual property early on and answer questions relating to your business assets. Not only can a lawyer help you secure protection over your assets, but can ensure you do not infringe the intellectual property of others.
5. What Are My Duties and Obligations?
Your responsibilities and obligations as a business owner will depend on your business structure. For example, consider you are a sole proprietor of a business. In that case, you will be personally liable for all debts of the business. On the other hand, directors of a company are not usually personally liable for the activities of a company, although they must act in the company’s best interests. If you are a company director and you breach your obligations, you will face serious penalties, whether by accident or not.
You should also consider your responsibilities with regards to your employees. A lawyer can help you review your workplace health and safety policies to ensure they comply with legal requirements. You can minimise risk by asking a lawyer and cleaning up any confusion about your duties and obligations.
6. How Can I Raise Capital?
Ensuring your business continues to expand is the key to its success. Whether your business is big or small, having a professional who can assist you with raising the funds it needs to grow will be extremely beneficial. A capital raising lawyer will help you explore capital raising options, negotiate with investors and finalise agreements. Capital raising is also a highly regulated area, making assistance from a lawyer all the more critical.
The LegalVision Startup Manual provides guidance on a number of common challenges faced by startup founders including structuring, raising capital, building a team, dealing with customers and suppliers, and protecting intellectual property.
The guide includes 10 case studies featuring Australia’s top VC fund partners and leading Australian startups.
It is not essential to speak to a lawyer before starting a business. However, having professional advice can provide clarity and prevent future issues. Some questions you should ask a lawyer when starting a business related to your:
- business structure;
- business name;
- minimisation of risk;
- intellectual property protection;
- duties and obligations; and
- raising capital.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although it is not essential, seeking legal advice when starting a business will provide immense insight and value. Regardless of your business type or sector, there are numerous laws and regulations. Having a professional perspective on these will provide clarity that will help you prevent future legal issues.
When starting a business, there are several things you should ask a lawyer. This includes questions relating to your business structure, your business name, how you can minimise risk, how you can protect your intellectual property and what your duties and obligations are.
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