Starting a new business requires making a lot of decisions, and dealing with a lot of stress. Before opening-up your new endeavor, you need to take some time to figure out some basics. These basics include: what type of business structure is best for me;, do I need contracts with my customers, vendors, employees; do I need policies and procedures for my employees, or do I have independent contractors? It is because of these types of questions that you are best served in talking with an experienced attorney at the front end, so you can develop the necessary foundational documents from which your business can grow.
After figuring out what your business is going to provide – goods, services, a mix of the two, and who your customers are going to be – you need to spend some time determining which business entity, or business structure is best for you. At present, there are a multitude of ways to structure your business – a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), a S corporation, or a C corporation are the primary vehicles available. When deciding which structure to use, you need to look at what your business does – is it manufacturing, selling to the public, real estate development, real estate management, some other type of business? Are you going to have more than one owner/investor, do the investors have social security numbers or tax identification numbers, do you want a pass-through type entity for tax purposes, or an entity that pays its own taxes and then issues dividends to shareholders?
It is the answering of these types of questions that an experienced attorney can help you with, and in doing so guide you towards the right business structure. While an online service may be able to get certain documents filled out and then filed for you, their ability to understand the nuances that different business face in today’s marketplace is limited. This is why talking with an experienced attorney to set-up your business is a good place to start.
With his experience both serving as in-house counsel for a privately held multi-national company, and litigating corporate governance issues across the country, Todd has the experience you need to determine which type of structure can best suit your needs.
Once the business structure is established, you then need to look at how you are going to manage the relationships that you have with your customers, vendors and employees. Creating, and maintaining contracts for both your vendors and customers will help ease the headache that can occur with such relationships. Similarly, having solid policies and procedures in place for dealing with employees and the issues that they bring to the table helps minimize the stress caused by managing others.
Customer and vendor relationships are not best served by a one-size fits all policy. Unlike the major corporations of today, most small businesses are not in a position to dictate terms to their customers and vendors. Rather, it takes time, and an understanding of your business, in order to create a contract that addresses the key points that concern you, and allow both sides to do business together. Todd’s experience in negotiation contracts, both locally and internationally, ensure that your needs are going to be addressed, and that the contract will provide a solid foundation for your relationship.
When dealing with employees, today’s employers find themselves facing various challenges with tele-commuting, the gig-economy, and employees trying to make their side-gig work with their job. Challenges that previous generations did not face. Creating solid policies and procedures that address these issues at the outset can help reduce the frustrations that could occur down the road. Similarly, addressing the issues of trade secrets, confidential information, non-compete issues, and non-solicitation of customers, vendors, and other employees, are all things that an employer needs to consider.
Finally, while it may seem expedient to simply call someone an independent contractor, an employer needs to proceed with caution when faced with making that decision. Far too often an employer will call someone an independent contractor when they are truly and employee in the eyes of the law. Making sure that you properly classify someone at the outset is something that an experienced attorney can help you with.
Crafting the right policies, creating enforceable agreements relating to confidential information, trade secrets, and not stealing your customers or employees, and having sound policies in place is not a one-size fits all proposition. Different industries have different needs, and the results for then differ as well. This is why you need to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you solve these problems and create a solid foundation for the continued growth of your workforce at the outset.