Starting Your Business
Deciding who to hire and what professional services you need for your business really starts with the foundational plan for your company. If you have not created a basic business plan or you're not sure how to even begin, consider the following:
1. What is the big offer? What type of transformation will your clients receive and what problem will you solve? This is essentially the core to your business idea and will help you understand whether you have a "good" idea - one that will bring in REAL money! If you know what the idea is and how it can change lives, let's move on to step two.
2. How are you planning on establishing yourself? This question goes to your business entity type. Are you going to keep it simple and ride solo? Then maybe a sole proprietorship is the best route for you. Just make sure to operate under your legal name. If you wish to use an alias or a more "exciting" brand name, then you'll need to file for a DBA (doing business as). If you want a formal filing, then you'll need to determine whether or not an LLC or Corporation is best for your business.
3. Can you answer the WHO WHAT WHO assessment? Who are you professionally, what do you do or provide, and who is this product or service for? This actually sums up your elevator pitch and bio, and it should also pull from your core mission and values. Writing out your brand's goals, mission, and guiding principles will help you for this question but also the next.
4. What's the marketing plan? This is a big one because this is how you take all that magic inside your head to the public. Pick two main social media platforms based on where you think your ideal customer will hang out and create a weekly content plan to promote and share real value with your audience consistently.
So Where Does Legal Come In?
Let's address potential legal concerns and steps based on the order of our business plan above. You can hire an attorney during any phase, but getting everything set early on is such a valuable time saver.
The Big Offer
As you're establishing your big idea, there might be a fabulous brand name that sticks with you or a secret recipe you're going to sell. These things are your proprietary items and should be legally protected. In the early stages, your business is bound to change directions, but if you are aligned and confident in certain brand elements, you might want to talk to an attorney about registering a Trademark or Copyright for your business. If you want to address this later on in your brand's developmental journey, you totally have that option. Just know that IP protection is all about who can register first. This means time is of the essence!
Establishing Your Business Entity
Most people DIY this process because it is pretty simple to navigate. I'm based in Georgia, so I spend a ton of time navigating this site: https://sos.ga.gov/
If you are looking to file an LLC or Corporation or you want to explore other state specific business services, the Secretary of State's (for YOUR state) website is the best place to start. Many business attorneys still provide business formation services if that's something you prefer, so reach out for a quote to get started.
A couple of other steps that come up for business owners include obtaining an EIN (Employer Identification Number) and opening up a business bank account. Again, this is something you can do on your own or hire an attorney to assist with.
Once you have an EIN (or social security number for sole proprietors) you can reach out to your local bank to get started. When it comes to choosing a bank, look at special promotions, fees, and the basic requirements. I actually recently switched over to AZLO for a zero fee, zero hassle, and 100% online approach (not an ad) ... So far so good!
Building The Brand
When it comes to building a business that can scale, legal considerations are going to be addressed for IP protection, collaborations, and contracts (the list goes on). The best way to look at it is to ask yourself: Am I building something original or secret? If yes, you likely have some intellectual property rights that need protection. The next question is: Am I partnering up with someone are collaborating for growth in my business? If the answer is yes, then you will need contracts to cover your partnership agreement or podcast guest, for example.
There are tons of templates online for free but contracts are not all created equal. There may be times that an agreement is old or not as relevant to the facts of your arrangement. Make sure to use templates that have been drafted by an attorney and are enforceable in your jurisdction.
Time To Get Started!
Now it's time o build that empire. Get your business plan going, draft out your legal questions, and book an audit with a professional that can point you in the right direction. For more on this topic, listen to Your Legal Guide For Working With A Business Lawyer on The Boho Business Guide Podcast now.
Best of luck, and please don't hesitate to reach out with your business questions!