Unless you’re a lawyer, you need someone on your team who is well-versed in business law.
For small business owners, understanding all the financial and legal landscape can be overwhelming. From remaining financially buoyant to not breaking any laws, it’s imperative to be on top of what you are required to as a business owner, including tax obligations to regulatory compliance. To make the process just a little easier, this guide will map out some of the most important to-do’s on your business owner list.
Choose the Right Business Structure
One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make is choosing your business structure. If you’re opening shop on your own, you need to protect your personal assets. That means registering as an LLC or S corp. Both entities protect your personal assets in case you’re ever sued or need to file bankruptcy. In addition, you also need to understand how that chosen structure affects your daily operations. If you run a government fleet in California, there are firm regulations to follow. Smog checks are required by law; however, they can be time-consuming. Using telematics can help increase your fleet’s uptime and reduce costs as well.
Understand Legal Agreements
As exciting as it is to become your own boss, there is plenty of legal complexity behind them. Unless you’re a lawyer, you need someone on your team who is well-versed in business law. Does that mean you need to employ a full-time legal representative? Absolutely not, however, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer on retainer who can review all your contracts and agreements. You can even find one that will offer per service pay scale, which will help you save money in the long run.
Your taxes are another important aspect of running a business. As a business owner, you need to be on top of how tax reporting applies to you, in addition to when you need to do it. Some choose to file once a year while others choose to file quarterly. An experienced accountant can advise on what you need to do and when. Just be sure that you’re filing the right way and writing off the correct deductions. The last thing you want is to claim deductions that you’re not allowed to claim.
If you plan on hiring employees, you also need to understand your state’s employment laws. These rules and regulations include what the minimum wage is, workplace safety protocols, and anti-discrimination laws. When your team is large enough, you can also print out a handbook to share with your entire staff, ensuring that they are well-informed as well.
Intellectual property includes your company name, logo, and even patents for a product you create. You should always trademark everything you don’t want copied, and make sure to register with the appropriate parties, including in your state. Additionally, you should learn about IP protection and how to apply and maintain them.
Protecting your and your customers’ privacy should always be a top priority. In fact, even if you own a physical location and only keep invoicing online, you need to make sure it’s protected. Make sure personal information is safe behind a firewall and encrypted, especially if you plan on having customers pay on your website. Customers also trust a company more when they see that they can safely use their credit cards without the risk of getting hacked.
Regardless of business type, you need to remain compliant with both federal and state regulations. This may include health and safety regulations, driving regulations, and industry-specific rules. If you’re not sure what they are, you can check with your local government agencies for additional information and guidance.