How to Legally Protect Your Business

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[ ]  Hire and consistently consult competent business legal advisors who are familiar with your type of business

[ ]  Hire and consistently consult competent accountants who are familiar with your type of business

[ ]  Research and establish the appropriate structure for your business: sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, non-profit, franchise

[ ]  Research the federal, state and local legal requirements of your business structure and file all appropriate registration and taxation forms and documents

[ ]  Clearly outline issues of liability, control, profit distribution

[ ]  Plan for ownership succession

[ ]  Determine how the business will be financed and file all appropriate investment, securities and tax forms

[ ]  Investigate which records you need to keep for tax or other purposes and store them in a safe and easily accessible place

[ ]  Make sure that you are adequately covered with appropriate insurance

[ ] Research and understand fair business practices and anti-trust laws

[ ]  Research and understand trademark, copyright and patent laws

[ ]  Register all trade names, trademarks, inventions and other intellectual property

[ ]  Protect proprietary secrets by notifying everyone exposed to them that the material is confidential and by having them sign confidentiality agreements

[ ]  Research and understand all property, environmental and zoning laws related to your business location

[ ]  Put all agreements in writing and follow legal requirements

[ ]  Study and understand all contracts

[ ]  Obtain all necessary city, county, state and federal licenses and permits

[ ]  Research and file necessary documents if you intend to do business in different states or countries

[ ]  Follow internal and external legal requirements when issuing stock certificates, holding meetings, recording minutes, electing directors, filing documents

[ ]  Research and stay current on tax issues that affect your business

[ ]  Determine how you will handle collections

[ ]  Develop an employee handbook that outlines your personnel policy

[ ]  Research and understand ramifications of different ways of hiring employees: at-will, contract

[ ]  Understand your options for resolving disputes

[ ]  Research and understand leases for office space and equipment

[ ]  Investigate legal ramifications whenever you make changes to your business, such as additional financing, new products or markets, relocation

[ ]  Understand your options and follow all legal requirements for exiting your business: selling, transferring ownership, liquidating your assets, declaring bankruptcy

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