So you've taken your business from a seed of an idea to opening day. It can seem like a long road to start your own business, and no doubt a lot of equity, both sweat and monetary, went into it. Unfortunately, a lot of small business owners overlook two key legal strategies for success because they assume they are not worth the money or they promise themselves they will take care of them once they are “up and running.” To the contrary, these strategies, namely (1) forming your own LLC or incorporating and (2) trademarking a company name, should be handled up front to ensure your business is built on a solid foundation. As an added bonus, you can write these items off as start-up expenses too!
Although forming an LLC or creating a corporation and clearing and registering a trademark are not free, no new business can afford to overlook these two crucial legal strategies. Creative Vision Legal can handle both tasks for as little as $1225 with its “Small Business Legal Bundle”, which includes all legal fees (a $500 flat-fee), government filing fees, 2 hours of legal advice, trademark search report & analysis, and customized business formation documents.
1. Protect Your Personal Assets: Form an LLC or Incorporate Your Business
Forming your own LLC or incorporating a company are the best ways to protect your personal assets from the debts and liabilities of your business. Businesses run as sole proprietorships or partnerships expose their owners to the possibility that their personal bank accounts or real property could be used to pay a judgment if the business loses a lawsuit or incurs a debt that it can’t pay. The key is to organize your new business formation as an entity distinct from yourself and to run it that way.
2. Protect Your Business Name: File a Trademark
Protecting your business name is something many small businesses overlook, either because they assume the cost to trademark a company name is too expensive or that it is unnecessary. However, in the internet age, you cannot afford the lost goodwill that can occur when another business begins using the same name or one that is confusingly similar to yours.
Determining the trademark availability of a business name begins with a federal business name search followed by a common law trademark search reviewed by an attorney to see if another business is using your company name but has not registered it. After your business name has been cleared, obtaining a business name registration with the USPTO takes 6 months to a year, but once you are done filing for your trademark, you have priority over anyone who starts using the same or a similar name as yours after the filing.