“I’m starting a small business in Wisconsin, what do I need to do!?”
There must be a million questions going through your head when you decide to officially create your new small business. Don’t let them overwhelm you! Follow our 5 step guide below, or contact one of our business attorneys to do the hard work for you!
1. Incorporate your Small Business
Before beginning to operate a small business, a corporation, or limited liability company, you must select an entity.
Which type of entity you pick will depend on the circumstances of the business and its owners.
Why you ask? An entity must be established in order to shield owners from the liabilities of the entity, and to obtain favorable tax treatment, among other benefits.
If you find yourself wondering, “What entity should I choose for my small business?” set up a meeting with one of our small business attorneys, they can easily guide you towards the right entity for your particular business.
2. Don’t Forget to Patent or Trademark Intellectual Property
If your product is new or distinguishable from your competitors or you have brand recognition or a logo that garners goodwill, don’t lose this value by failing to patent and/or trademark your product. Without intellectual property protection, competitors may manufacture and sell your product or use similar trade names and logos in order to usurp the goodwill you’ve generated.
3. Follow Corporate Formalities
If you have taken the time and effort to incorporate your business to shield shareholder or member liability, among other benefits, make sure the company is treated as a separate and distinct entity, and not a mere extension of the shareholders or members.
Under Wisconsin law, an owner may be liable for the entity’s debts under the doctrine “piercing the corporate veil” if the owner uses the company as a mere façade for his or her personal dealings and/or fails to follow corporate formalities, such as having distinct personal and business bank accounts and maintaining annual meetings minutes.
4. Don’t Forget About a Shareholder or Operating Agreement
Shareholder and operating agreements describe and govern the relationship among business owners, along with the owners’ rights and duties.
Although owners begin small businesses with the best intentions, disagreements with the operation of the business may arise and relationships between owners may sour.
Make sure you have a shareholder or operating agreement in place to avoid uncertainty as the business changes and grows, or in the event of an owners’ death or disability. Also make sure that these documents are valid by having them drawn up or looked over by a business attorney. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a pickle due to a non enforceable agreement!
5. Hire a Business Attorney
With the many laws of today numerous things can easily (and unknowingly) get overlooked!
A business attorney will help burgeoning small business owners with the following (just to name a few):
- determine which type of entity is right for them and their business,
- prepare corporate filings and operating agreements,
- advise of the need for intellectual property protection,
- draft and implement employee policies,
- and serve as general business counsel during the early stages of the business’ operations.
While you can take on these tasks on yourself, having a business attorney will give you peace of mind of knowing that documents are completed properly and in legal accordance to your state’s regulations.
This is what we do day in and day out! Let one of our Green Bay business attorneys help your small business mitigate risk and prepare a plan for success today. Give us a call to schedule your appointment today: 920-499-5700
If you are starting your own small business contact a business attorney at Gerbers Law today to guide you on the road to success (920) 499-5700.