We frequently tell clients and prospective clients that no matter what kind of business you own and no matter how much time you’d like to spend developing your products or providing your services, the thing that will take up most of your time as an entrepreneur is really marketing. You have to let potential customers and clients know about your products or services and why they should choose you over the competition. But how much can you really say about the competition in your advertising materials?
Being an entrepreneur requires you to wear many hats. Not only do you have to provide a great product or service, but you’re also responsible for all of the financial details like setting prices, learning how to use accounting software, managing expenses; long term strategic planning, especially if you plan to grow the business; and human resources and the never-ending challenging of managing people. But no matter what kind of business you run, it seems like your “real” job is sales and marketing. After all, none of the other staff matters if you can’t get customers or clients to buy what you’re selling.
As a law firm, we can’t solve all of your marketing problems. But we can make sure your marketing plan doesn’t land your business in legal trouble. Like most things legal, advertising isn’t covered by a single law with simple rules but instead by a complex framework created by federal, state, and local laws, industry regulations, and common law restrictions on commercial speech. In this series, we’re looking at just what small businesses should know about advertising laws.
'The Copyright Office has a new registration option for what it is calling “short online literary works,” which includes blog posts, social media posts, and other short online articles. If your business provides content via the Internet, should you be using this new registration option to protect your work? What about online courses, podcasts, and other content?
The early days of entrepreneurship are all about proving your concept and turning that concept into a profitable business. Then you start thinking about growing and scaling and what that means both for you, the individual entrepreneur, and for your larger team. But eventually your thoughts will extend to the long term:
Whatever you might be envisioning, what do you need to consider to position your company for sale or investment? You may be surprised to learn that you need to spend a year or two getting your house in order before the business is ready for a potential sale.
There is a major change on the horizon that will impact filing requirements for the vast majority of our small business clients. In January of 2021, Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), which amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA), to crack down on the use of shell companies to launder money.
You may be wondering, what does money laundering have to do with my small business? Unfortunately, shell companies are often used to hide who really owns a business and ultimately to hide assets, whether for tax evasion, to fund terrorism or other criminal activities, or to evade other financial obligations like child support. The CTA will require “reporting companies'' to provide information about the “beneficial owners” of the company to FinCEN (the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network).*
You might decide to close your business for a number of reasons. Perhaps it is no longer financially feasible, or maybe you are moving on to something else. Regardless of the reason, there are several legal tasks you’ll need to undertake to protect yourself, your credit, and your reputation within the community—especially if you think you might want to have another business someday.
A nonprofit’s bylaws serve as the governing document for the organization. This important document dictates how decisions are made within the organization. We frequently get questions from both newer nonprofit organizations (How do I put together the bylaws?) as well as more established nonprofits (I’m not sure we’re following the bylaws. How do we update or fix our bylaws?)
Forming a business entity like an LLC or a corporation typically provides limited liability protection to the owners. But in certain situations, you can find yourself personally on the hook for the debts and obligations of the business. This week we’re discussing the legal concept of “piercing the corporate veil” and why it’s used so often against small business owners.
If you’ve worked hard to build your client or customer base, or even put significant time and effort into training your employees or recruiting the right subcontractors, you probably want to protect that investment. Non-solicitation agreements are typically used by businesses of all sizes to ensure that their employees and subcontractors will not solicit (or run off with) the company’s customers, clients, or even other employees or contractors that the company has worked so hard to find and develop in the first place.