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7 Questions to Ask an Attorney Before Starting a Business

Starting a business is an exciting adventure that can also be scary and difficult to navigate. Most entrepreneurs are focused on getting the business up and running and making plans for products and services. However, taking a minute to meet with a business attorney can save you many headaches in the future and set you up for success in the long run. Here are 7 questions to ask an attorney when starting your own business:

1. How should my business be structured?

You want to form a company with a structure that best suits your needs. There are several options available to you. If you do not want to form a formal entity, you can have either a sole proprietorship (single owner) or a general partnership (more than one owner). However, if your business is sued for any reason, you are personally liable because you and your business are seen as one.

If you want to limit your liability, then you can form a corporation, limited liability company (L.L.C.) or a limited liability partnership. This helps keep your personal assets safe if something happens to the business.

Depending on what type of business you want to form, you also could qualify to be a nonprofit.

2. What do I have to know about choosing a name for my business?

You probably have a name picked out for your company already, but there are rules about names. First, you want to make sure it’s not taken by another company. If you find a name you want to use, then one of our attorneys can walk you through the process and explain how it works.

3. What is an Operating Agreement or Bylaws and what should I include in them?

If you decided to form a corporation or LLC, then you will have an Operating Agreement or Bylaws. You can think of these as rules or guidelines for how your business operates. They discuss how decisions will be made, how shareholder meetings are held and how to handle any ownership changes. These can be unique to every business so an attorney can make sure your documents cater to the needs of your specific business.

4. What contracts does my business need?

Contracts are needed when your business enters into an agreement with other companies or even employees. This helps provide clear guidelines and can be used for anything from transactions to employees to leasing a building. Attorneys prepare and review many contracts and can help draft yours for these situations.

5. What permits, licenses or registrations do I need?

Many businesses need federal, state and possibly local licenses or permits. An attorney can help you navigate the licenses that are needed for your particular business.

6. How do I protect specific business assets such as my name, logo and other identifying characteristics?

Once you pick a logo and other brand items, you may want to trademark those items to protect it from anyone else using them. There are different types of ways to protect your work and ideas. It can be in the form of registering a trademark, applying for a patent for an invention, or copyrights for any original work such as photographs or websites. An attorney can help you identify which items to protect and assist with the registration.

7. What do I need if I am hiring other employees?

There’s a lot that goes into hiring people to join your company including employment agreements, insurance, HR policies, etc. You want to make sure you are covered and have policies and paperwork in place for the employees. Our employment attorneys can help you set that up so you have a plan for hiring new people.

We understand there are many more things to cover as you start a business. If you are thinking about starting a business or are in the process of starting one and have questions, reach out to our office at 810-232-3141 or 1-800-837-1973. Our experienced and knowledgeable business attorneys will walk you through the process and be able to answer any questions you have about getting started.

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