At Work

4 Legal Questions New Business Owners Need to Ask in 2017

Maybe this is the year you’ve decided to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur yourself.

Perhaps you’re already running your own empire and want to take your business to the next level.

Either way, you need to be asking the right questions if you want to make it as a business owner in 2017. After all, conventional wisdom tells us that most businesses indeed fail; however, oftentimes it’s because of careless mistake and a lack of attention to detail.

With the following questions in the back of your mind, you’ll be poised for success and ensure that you’re focusing on the right aspects of doing business in the digital age.

Is It Time to Form a Corporation?

Among the many questions small business owners ask, perhaps the most important involves protecting your assets and structuring your company in a way that makes sense for tax purposes.

For example, forming your business as a C-corp is a solid idea for those looking to ensure that their business is taxed as a separate entity. Laws for corporations vary from state to state; however, you should make it a priority to do your homework and understand which legal structure is right for your company.

What’s Going on With Health Insurance?

Although the future of the Affordable Care Act is still up in the air, small businesses as of March 2017 do not have penalties if they have less than 50 full-time employees. If you’re a solopreneur, there’s obviously less to worry about providing coverage to others; however, if you currently receive coverage through the ACA, you need to follow legislation closely and stay on top of your status.

How Am I Handling Freelancers?

The rise of the freelance economy and remote work represents a potential goldmine for small business owners looking to grow their businesses without hiring a bunch of dedicated employees.

That being said, you need to be careful with how you handle freelancers. For starters, consider the following when hiring remote workers:

  • Only hire workers with a proven history, either from trusted freelance platforms (Upwork, for example) or someone with a portfolio and resume to show off their previous work
  • Be careful with what you provide to freelancers in terms of sensitive information and documents (for example, intellectual property and company log-ins or passwords)
  • Make sure that you keep on track of contracts (think: non-disclosure agreements) and payments to freelancers

Freelancers can be fantastic hires, but only if you treat them well, set clear expectations and protect your assets in the process.

Am I Following the Law Myself?

Small business owners need to take particular care when it comes to their digital assets. Plagiarism runs rampant (think: photos, sales letters, marketing language) but it can land you in huge trouble If you’re not careful.

For example, there’s a misconception that just about anything published online is fair game. Whether we’re talking about images for blog posts or fonts for your website, make sure that everything you use actually belongs to you. When in doubt, take pictures yourself and do not make the mistake of plagiarism (which can land you in massive legal trouble).

If you’re not sure if you should publish something yourself, simply don’t. Chances are it’s not worth it.

Being a proactive business owner means asking all of the right questions. If you have a solid answer to each of the aforementioned questions, you’re more than likely on track to succeed in 2017.