As a business owner, entrepreneur, wife and mother of three (soon to be four!), I truly understand the hectic schedule of the small business owner/entrepreneur.
In the flurry of thinking about how to increase sales, juggling play dates, figuring out what’s for dinner and trying to find some downtime for yourself, it’s all too easy to forget or put off some of the legal aspects of your business.
And while legal regulations may not be the most glamorous part of your business, they’re absolutely critical.
Business Laws and Regulations You Need to Consider
1. Make Sure You’re Legally Permitted to Use Your Business Name
You should search corporate names in your state’s secretary of state’s database, as well as conduct a trademark search at the federal level. CorpNet.com offers both a Free Business Name Search and Free Trademark Search Tool.
2. Register Your DBA, or “Doing Business As”, if Necessary
For sole proprietors and general partners, a DBA registration must be filed when your company name is different than your own name. For an LLC or corporation, DBAs must be filed whenever you conduct business using a name that’s different than your Corporation or LLC name.
3. Incorporate or Form an LLC
This is an essential step to protecting your personal assets, such as your personal property or your child’s college fund, from any liabilities of the company. Popular choices are the LLC, S Corporation, or C Corporation. Unless your business is particularly complex, you should be able to incorporate or form an LLC online, without retaining a business attorney.
4. Get a Federal Tax ID Number
You’ll need to obtain a Federal Tax Identification Number, also referred to as an Employer Identification Number or EIN, to distinguish your business as a separate legal entity and to identify your business to several federal agencies responsible for the regulation of business.
5. File for Trademark Protection
Using a name instantly gives you common law rights, even without formal registration. However, you should consider registering your trademark for proper legal protection.
Registering a Trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a relatively easy process if you know what you are doing. The good news is that CorpNet.com can relieve you of this hassle and prepare and submit your federal trademark application to the USPTO for just $149 (USPTO fees additional). Expect to pay approximately $325 per class for filing fees for each class that your mark would potentially fall under (that’s for filing directly online; it’s approximately $375 per class for paper filings). The process can take anywhere from 9-12 months once your application is submitted depending on the complexity of your mark.
So Why Register for a Trademark?
Trademarks and brand names have value; they can be sold as corporate assets. But most importantly, trademarks registered with the USPTO enjoy significantly stronger protection than “common law” (unregistered) marks. As a personal anecdote, since we registered the mark CorpNet, it was exponentially easier to recover ‘CorpNet’ on Twitter, ‘CorpNet’ on Facebook, and ‘CorpNet’ on YouTube. In the long run, we saved a ton on the legal fees associated with getting injunctions – and all because we registered the trademark.
Getting your legal ducks in a row now will help your business grow and avoid any legal pitfalls in years to come.
As you journey through the process, be sure to take each stage seriously. CorpNet.com’s professional staff is here to assist you every step of the way… And once you know what you’re required to file, we can take care of the details for you! If you have specific legal questions or concerns, you should consult an attorney for sound advice. After all, your business is worth it.
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Original content written by Nellie Akalp for The Mogul Mom