It’s pretty common for startups to focus all their attention on their business ideas, marketing efforts, branding, sales, finances, and so on. However, there is a number of mistakes that they often make during this hectic process, which can have negative effects on all they do. Probably among the worst are the mistakes with legal issues related to running a business. If you neglect the legal side of running your startup, you will hinder your growing enterprise right from the start. Legal issues are tedious, but they are absolutely necessary to go through because if you don’t play by the rules, your business is bound to suffer the consequences sooner or later.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the common legal mistakes that small startup owners tend to make, and as a result, ruin their business efforts.
The structure of your business is an essential first step. Here, you should definitely look for advice from a professional. Next, to think about what your personal tax situation is (such as, whether you own some property or if you are married), you also need to think about the filing costs. This is important because it will be on the basis of your decision of what kind of business entity you are going to run. There are entities that are somewhat cost-effective and also those that will have to spend more money on. So, if the cash flow is something you are worried about, sit down with an expert and consider the costs and options.
You should think about the fact that some business entities need maintenance and filing on an annual basis. If you’re really not the kind of person that wants to deal with so much paperwork, then it would be a good idea to go for an entity that requires fewer bureaucratic obligations of that sort. Finally, the tax benefit is a vital thing to consider. Tax percentage benefits in comparison to everything else is crucial, so get to know what they are, and then compare them with all the liabilities in order to make the right choice.
International protection of intellectual property
This is an issue that a lot of startups tend to wait too long to consider, and therefore find themselves in trouble. You should know that a patent is granted on a country-by-country basis. If your company is in the US, and makes their invention public or sells it, it has a grace period of a year to register a patent application. Anywhere else in the world, if the invention is made public or sold before the application has been registered, it makes it impossible to patent in that country. Let’s say that you have come up with an invention, and you have publicly presented it to a person from China during a tradeshow happening in the US. This means that under the Chinese patent law if there is no application, the invention can no longer be patented in Japan.
It is pretty much the same with trademarks. You can spend a lot of money building your brand in the US, but if you ship it elsewhere, you could find yourself in the situation where you are violating the trademarks of the businesses that sell similar goods outside the States. So, think carefully about where your markets are, and how much cash you need to spend as soon as possible, in order to make sure that your brand is available there, and that your intellectual property is protected.
Getting the necessary employment documentation
Another common mistake for startups is forgetting the importance of having the necessary employment documentation. What is necessary for every startup is to have an essential group of documents that the majority of, if not all, employees should sign. For starters, some of the employment documents that are simply a must-have for any company are:
1. So-called “At-Will” employment offer letters. These get signed by both parties and mean that either can decide to terminate the employment according to their will
2. Stock Option documents, which are necessary if you have built a corporation. These include a Stock Incentive Plan, Notice of Stock Option Grant, and Option Agreement
3. Inventions Assignment Agreement and Confidential Information
4. An employee handbook, which is meant to inform your workforce about all they need to know about vacations, differences of interest, and so on
5. IRS Form W-4, which is the worker’s certificate for withholding allowance
6. USCIS Form I-9, which is used to file that the employee’s identity has been verified and that they are authorized to work
7. Benefits forms, which are there for benefits that employees and their family members can have, such as health insurance, and so on.
Next to all these documents, if you are hiring an employee from another country, according to a migration agent from Sydney it is essential that you make sure to provide them with the necessary documents so that they can work for you without trouble. This, of course, means choosing the right visa program for them. It all depends on whether you intend to make them permanent residents or they are going to work for you only temporarily.
In the world of startups, it is pretty common to make mistakes, especially those related to legal issues. If these issues aren’t dealt with properly, you can get into various kinds of trouble, and throw a wrench into your whole business operation. Come up with a proper business structure, protect your intellectual property both in and outside of your country, and make sure that you have the necessary employment documentation.