If you’ve wondered how to start a business from scratch, you aren’t alone. Especially with the unpredictability of the world, more and more women are opting to work from home to create the business of their dreams. Before you decide to jump in with both feet, you’ll want to know a few bits of entrepreneur law to protect yourself, your family, and your business from the very beginning. Take note of these legal tips for small businesses:
At-Home Business Ideas
So, maybe you don’t know what at-home business you’d like to start; you just know that whatever it is, you’ll have to start from scratch. One lesson that COVID-19 taught us is that more businesses can be worked from home than we initially thought. Of course, there are the tried-and-true service based businesses, such as website design, copywriting, and virtual assistance. Yet, in today’s world, you can think a little more outside of the box, such as:
- Social media influencer,
- Pinterest manager,
- Event planner,
- Cupcake baker,
- T-shirt designer,
- Mask maker.
No matter what you choose, the sky is the limit! You can do this, just try to scope out the scene to see if there is a market and, if there is, that it isn’t oversaturated.
Choose an Available Business Name
The last thing you want to do is start a business, tell all of your family and friends, and even start accepting clients only to realize that not only is your business name taken, but you’re being sued because the name is trademarked. What a nightmare! But, it happens more often than you might care to think about.
The last thing you want to do is start a business, tell all of your family and friends, and even start accepting clients only to realize that not only is your business name taken, but you're being sued because the name is… Click To Tweet
You might consider investing in a trademark class to walk you through the process of not only doing a business name and trademark search but also walk you through registering your own trademark. It’s a great way to make sure that your business is on the right track from the beginning.
Choose Your Business Structure
Most at-home businesses choose to register their business as a sole proprietorship. When it comes to tax return time, a sole proprietorship has the least amount of forms and is, therefore, often cheaper.
However, tax return time shouldn’t be the sole determining factor in how you structure your business, even if you are the only employee. There are great reasons to choose one of the other options. Depending on your state, you may be able to register as an LLC, which is more costly but offers the highest legal protection with the least amount of paperwork. An S-Corp can be more cost-effective while still providing standard coverage. Another alternative is choosing to register as a “DBA” or “Doing Business As.”
Any of these options offer another layer of professionalism to your business, building trust with your potential clients. They can also protect you and potentially your personal finances if a contract goes sour. You can find out what the best option for you is in The CEO Legal Kit.
PROTECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER WITH AN EIN
If you’ve chosen to operate as a sole proprietorship, you can use your social security number for tax purposes. However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you always should. The general rule of thumb is to protect your identity by safeguarding your SSN.
You can protect it by getting a Federal Tax Identification Number, also known as an Employer Identification Number, or an EIN. You may recognize that from filing tax returns while working at your previous employers. This is a required number for all LLCs and S-Corps.
RESEARCH LOCAL LAWS FOR ZONING AND PERMIT REQUIREMENTS
Before you open up shop, remember that every state, county, and even city has its own permits and regulations surrounding what you can and cannot do.
Find out what permits are required for you to run your dream business legally. Although some industries do not require any licenses, others require several to start and routine checks.
You’ll also want to make sure that your home or dwelling is in an area zoned for your type of business. If you’re selling products out of your home office, you may need commercial zoning. You’ll also want to do your homework on your homeowner’s association– some restrict home businesses.
The bottom line is, it is your responsibility to do the footwork here to determine if this business is possible in your area. If it isn’t, then you may have to go back to the drawing board with your business idea, plan a move, or contact the appropriate parties to argue your case.
Invest in a Legal Membership
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success when you’re learning how to start your business from scratch is to invest in a legal membership for entrepreneurs. From registering your trademark and choosing your business structure to contract templates and terms and conditions, The CEO Legal Loft offers an all-inclusive legal membership that helps protect your business during startup, growth, and scaling your business. Created by a business attorney just for creative and service-based entrepreneurs like you, this space is for you! Enjoy!