What Do You Need to Start a Small Business?

What Do You Need to Start a Small Business?  In some cases you may need to hire a small business attorney and in some cases you may not.

It’s probably always a good idea to speak with a small business attorney before starting a business, however there are some times when you may be able to get away with not doing so.  An instance you may not need to consult a small business attorney is if you are starting a part-time business in which you are the  sole proprietor, you have no employees, and you have no assets (such as a home) to protect.  On the other hand, there are some situations where its much more highly recommended to consult with a small business lawyer prior to starting the business.  These instances include:

Purchasing a franchise: When you purchase a franchise and are investing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for an opportunity to copy someone’s business model, it makes no sense NOT to have a lawyer review the franchise documents and, in particular, the contract that you sign.  The franchise agreement is written by the franchisor’s attorneys in the franchises favor.  Therefore, having an attorney help you negotiate the best deal possible, or at a minimum explain your rights and obligations under the agreement would be a good idea.

Starting a business with one or more other people: A lawyer can explain each persons rights and obligations and  help you determine what type of business entity (corporation, partnership, limited liability company or limited partnership or something else) you and your partners should use. A lawyer can also help you figure out how to document the terms of ownership and the splits of profits and losses. In addition, a lawyer can help you write “business pre-nup” — the agreement that explains the various ways one person can exit the business and what happens if someone does exit the business, how are they bought out, who can purchase their interest, and how that purchase is funded.

Starting a business based on some kind of intellectual property that may need to be protected: An intellectual property lawyer can help you register trademarks, copyrights and patents and help you take steps to protect and enforce those rights.

Signing a lease. When looking into what do you need to do to start a small business you may be looking at a lease for either real estate or for equipment.  Often these leases cover more than one year and when you are starting a small business you just cannot accurately forecast the income and expenses.  Unfortunately, leases are some of the ugliest contracts out there because often you will see that the larger company (the lessor) really tries to stick it to the little guy (or girl). Accordingly, it’s super important you really know what you are agreeing to when you sign those agreements and how to protect yourself. A lawyer can help you understand and, in many circumstances, can negotiate away some of the more unfair provisions.

Preparing contracts and invoices to prevent rather than encourage lawsuits. In the contracts you enter into you need to review them to be sure they are not vague or one-sided because those are the provisions that can get you into trouble later.  Then there are the terms, such as attorneys’ fees clauses, that may help you end a fight before it starts. A business lawyer may be able to help you assess the ambiguity and vagueness of the clauses and insert other language that may help you prevent litigation.

Anytime that you feel outgunned. Look, if you’re unsure of what you are getting into when you’re starting up your business or you feel somehow that something’s just not right, trust that feeling. Get legal help. Yes, it may cost you some money now but it may also be the insurance to help you sleep at night.

What do you need to start a small business?  There may be many things you need, but a business attorney may be something to seriously consider.

If you find yourself starting a business, Integrated General Counsel can help you determine your next steps.  If you are ready for a results-driven plan of action, contact us either by telephone at (925) 399-1529, schedule yourself into our calendar for an appointment at a time convenient for you, or complete the Contact Kristen form and we will get back to you.


Integrated General Counsel