As you prepare to launch a startup and fast-track your way to the cover of Forbes, WIRED, or Inc. Magazine, there may be — and probably will be — some key legal decisions to make along the way. Below are four legal issues that you might face sooner rather than later:
- Changing your business structure.
Chances are that your current business structure is either a sole proprietorship or standard corporation. However, as you grow and evolve, you may want to explore other structures such as a partnership (of which there are multiple kinds), s-corporation, LLC, and the list goes on. Ensuring that you get the expert legal counsel you need to make an informed decision is essential — both to your financial health, and for your peace of mind.
- Ensuring compliance with prevailing standards and rules.
You might not be aware, but there are several regulatory bodies — including the FCC, FTC, FDA and so on — that will take a very intense interest in what you say on your website, your social media accounts, and all the rest of your online and offline collateral, including investment-related documented (prospectus, etc.). Is it because these acronym-happy organizations want to buy your products and solutions? Alas, no: they want to ensure that your messaging is compliant with standards and rules. Do your research, get the facts and if necessary, get input from a lawyer so you don’t end up on the wrong end of a fine or lawsuit.
- Meeting all of your obligations as an employer.
The IRS and Department of Labor take a dim view — to put it mildly — of employers that fail (even by accident) to follow all of the rules regarding worker classification, mandatory deductions, payroll filings, and so on. Make sure that you work with an HR expert who understands all of the legal obligations in this area. And if you’re thinking of recruiting a foreign worker through USCIS’s H1B visa category, then working with an experienced H1B attorney is an absolute must.
- Getting the space you need with no regrets.
For many startups, moving out of their somewhat meager initial digs to a larger, more sophisticated office is a cause for celebration — but for others, this milestone marks the beginning of a nightmare. Why? It’s because they didn’t hire a real estate lawyer to go through their commercial lease or mortgage agreement before they signed on the dotted line.
The Bottom Line
The journey from where you are to Fortune 100 stardom — or at least, a thriving and successful business — will have its ups and downs. Challenges and opportunities will arise; some positive, others not-so-much. Your role as leader is to make smart decisions that keep your startup on track for success. Keeping the above advice in mind will help you do that, and increase the chances that your best days will always be ahead!