Do you have an idea for a business? If so, you may be on the verge of beginning a new start-up. If this is your first time creating a business, you probably have several questions about operating a start-up. A South Carolina business attorney can answer your questions about start-ups and guide you through the various aspects of starting a business.
7 Start-Up Questions to Ask an Attorney
1. How do I choose a business name for my start-up?
One of the most important choices a business owner makes is choosing the name of the company. Give the choice of a business name careful consideration. Your company’s name plays a significant role in your branding. A business attorney can confirm that the business name is available and reserve the name for you.
However, you may want to research the company name on the internet to ensure that it is not being used unofficially. You may also want to ensure that no part of the business name is connected to or associated with any negative phrases, products, or slang.
2. What is the best business structure for my start-up?
A sole proprietorship is the simplest and least expensive business entity, but it does not protect against personal liability for company debts and obligations. A corporation provides the strongest level of personal liability protection, but it is more costly and time-consuming to form and operate a corporation. LLCs and partnerships fall somewhere in the middle.
The structure you choose for your company impacts your taxes, personal liability, ability to obtain capital and funding, and day-to-day operations. A business law attorney can explain in detail the pros and cons of each type of business entity. Based on your needs and goals, your attorney can help you choose a structure that is best for your company and personal interests.
3. What is my level of personal liability for company debts and obligations?
The business structure and how you operate the company dictate your personal liability for company debts. You can still be responsible for corporate debts if you cosign the debt or personally guarantee the debt. Also, creditors may prevail in pursuing personal liability claims in some situations. Depending on your situation, you may want to work with an attorney to take additional steps to protect your personal assets.
4. How are taxes paid by the company and by the owners or investors?
The business entity you choose typically dictates the payment of taxes. Some business entities, such as partnerships and sole proprietorships, are “pass-through” entities for tax purposes. The business profits and losses are reported on the individual’s personal tax returns. Corporations pay corporate taxes. Shareholders and investors pay personal taxes on the net profits or distributions they receive from the company. An LLC can choose to be taxed as a corporation or a partnership.
5. How can I protect intellectual property and trade secrets?
A start-up should take immediate steps to protect trade secrets and intellectual property. An attorney can help the business file for patents and trademarks. The attorney can also explain how to use copyright laws, nondisclosure agreements, and confidentiality agreements to protect intellectual property and trade secrets.
6. What contracts do I need for a start-up?
Your start-up may need several different contacts to protect the company’s interests. The types of contacts you need vary based on your specific needs and business. Most companies need basic contracts related to employees, confidentiality, leases, sales, and privacy policies. A business law attorney can draft the contracts your start-up needs.
7. What type of insurance do I need for my start-up?
There are several different types of insurance your company may need based on the services or products you provide. Most companies need general liability insurance. A business attorney can assess your risks and company activities to determine what other types of insurance you may need. Common insurance types include unemployment insurance, automobile insurance, commercial property insurance, business income insurance, business interruption insurance, data breach insurance, and commercial umbrella insurance.
Contact a South Carolina Business Attorney for Help
You may have many more questions about your start-up that a South Carolina business attorney can answer. It is always a wise idea to consult with a business law attorney when beginning a start-up. It is also a good idea to keep an attorney on retainer to help with future legal matters and issues. Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA today.