Business Tips — Business Law Basics

A series of Business Tips from the book:Business Law Basics
Business Law Basics: A Legal Handbook for Online Entrepreneurs and Startup Businesses
by James Hart

There is a reason why half of small businesses fail within the first year of operations, and only one-third make it ten years of more. 5 More likely than not, the high failure rate is due to poor planning.
— James Hart

James Hart book, Business Law Basics, is an informative, fun (and inexpensive) book to read.

Written in simple language, James listed some the most important and practical legal tips to implement in your small business.

Being an entrepreneur himself, he is well versed in the various mistakes and oversights a new business owner might make and shares these tips in his simple and easy to read format.

Even if you have already started your business, I recommend you pick up a copy of this book.

Stay tuned for more of his business law tips…

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Entrepreneurs severely underestimate how important the choice of their business name is.   It can literally be the difference between long term success and utter failure.
— James Hart

“What’s in a name?” …. But James has a different idea than William Shakespeare

James says one of the biggest mistakes you can make is using a business name that is already trademarked.  So when you come up with your favorite business name, make sure you or your lawyer has completed a trademark search BEFORE you start using it in your marketing, business literature or on your online presence.

The second mistake is using a business name that is cannot be trademarked!  (Since James has resources on picking a business name, I will not go into the details.  Check out his book!)

 

Business names that are unique are most memorable.  I once repped a gourmet food company that had the word “Fartless” in their names.  Very memorable name, but, from what he told me, it took a long time to get it trademarked because it was viewed as an “inappropriate” name!

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Once you have settled on (and properly cleared) a name for your business, the next step is to grab as many social media accounts with your future brand / company name as you can.
— James Hart

When we first launched our Tastes of Idaho business, we bought the TastesofIdaho.com URL along with the .org and .net sites as well (the only URL combinations available at the time).

In addition to the URL, you will want to grab the Facebook page, LinkedIn company page, Twitter account, etc. etc.for your new business name.

Not too long after we trademarked our business name, a local government agency started sponsoring a ‘Tastes of Idaho’ event.  But, because we had the trademark on the name, they ended up using ‘Taste of Idaho’.

In retrospect, we should have grabbed that name as well, but I do believe after a few years, the event was dropped

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From a business standpoint, you want to document how you do things (i.e. your “systems”) so that you can hand off what you do to new employees. But from a legal standpoint, you must reduce all of your legal relationships to writing.
— James Hart

I know this sounds incredibly tedious, but I can assure you, in some circumstances, it can be a life saver.

When I started getting sick back in 2007, one thing I did remember to do (with the prompting of my husband, I am sure!) was to start writing EVERYTHING down.

Listing my procedures and system helped me to always know what to do next, what order to do them in, and, basically, what I needed to remember to do.  Had I ended up hiring someone, I would have my business all wrapped up in a procedures manual.

James says this practice is also important from a legal standpoint.  Writing up simple agreements (as I have always called them) with everyone you work with is a helpful guide that outlines what everyone expects.  I can’t remember how many times I had a misunderstanding with a vendor over one point or another.  With an agreement, I could always go back to the document and have the situation cleared up.

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Whenever you are dealing with or handling confidential, proprietary information related to your business, you must have a valid non-disclosure agreement in place.
— James Hart

When we were gourmet food producers, there were times where we hired a co-packer to make our products for us.  In other words, we gave them our recipes, specifications and, sometimes, our jars, and the co-packers made the actual product.

When we did this, we ALWAYS had a signed non-disclosure agreement in place.  A non-disclosure agreement means the folks who you are sharing the information (in our circumstances, this was the recipe) are bound, by the agreement, not to share the information with anyone or use it in their own business.

An agreement like this was critical because as a gourmet food producer, our recipes were our main asset!

During the 1960-70’s my father worked in the aerospace industry, designing and making products for space vessels, missiles and other war materials.  I didn’t know the details of his job, but I did know that he was require to sign a similar agreement. Actually, if I remember correctly,  it was called an anti-espionage agreement:  Much more sophisticated, but still a type of non-disclosure agreement.

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