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Prompt attention to legal details intrinsic to a new business launch can save major headaches down the road. The most important of these tasks include naming your firm, procuring proper certification and documentation, and establishing a corporate structure.
Names, Licenses and More
If you haven’t already done so, review and complete the chores that will cement your new company’s legal framework. Some steps are easier than others, but all of them are critical:
While official forms and applications require a firm’s legal name, you also may file a trade or fictitious name with your state’s appropriate agency. Sometimes called a DBA (doing business as) name, this tag should embody the unique aspects of the business.
For instance, the name “Flowers Your Way” tells prospective customers they can order floral arrangements designed to their specifications. “Round-the-Clock Car Repairs” promises to fix automobiles any time of the day or night.
Before finalizing a name, make sure no other business exists with that name. One way to do this is to visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database. On this site, you can search for both trademarked business names, logos and other branding art. The Secretary of State’s offices for most states also provide this information on their respective websites.
Given that you’ll probably require future financial services such as loans and credit card merchant accounts, opening a business account in a strong bank or other financial institution is a good way to start a relationship with prospective lenders.
Corporate Structure: More Choices
Even solo operations require a legal structure, not simply for tax-filing purposes, but also to take advantage of tax deductions, insurance breaks and revenue distribution (e.g. salaries and dividends). Here is a rundown of the models currently in use in the commercial sector: