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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

New small business owners beware: avoiding legal issues

There are so many laws on the book, the people who enforce the laws don’t even know the half of them. A million laws, a billion laws and a large portion of them will affect a small business owner in some way, shape or form. You need to be aware of these laws because they could lead to your business being held liable, or even you being held liable personally if the injury is great enough. Here is a list of some of the most important legal issues for new small business owners to be aware of:

Business formation laws

You need to form your business as a legal entity in order to protect yourself personally from liability and to ensure you are taxed in a way favorable to your particular business

Consumer protection laws

These laws will regulate what businesses can and cannot do when it comes to disclosing information and providing credit. They also protect consumers against fraud, false advertising and defective products.

Contract laws

State law usually governs these legal issues. It is important to have a basic understanding of when a contract is formed, how they are enforced, and what exactly you can put in a contract.

Employment hiring laws

These laws affect what an employer can do when hiring, firing, and providing benefits to employees. If you have any employees at all, you should be aware that your conduct is regulated to avoid any legal issues.

Environmental issues and regulations

State and federal laws regulated emissions, asbestos, hazardous waste, the discharge of water and a host of other issues that affect the environment.

License and permit laws

Depending on your type of business you may need special licensing in order to sell a product or provide certain services.

Intellectual property laws

These laws protect your inventions, trade secrets and creative works. If your product or service is unique in any way you should inquire with a lawyer about how to seek protection.

Tax laws

This one is a whopper. From your payroll taxes, to the deductions you can take to your real property taxes. A seasoned accountant or tax expert can help you get your ducks in a row for tax season involving your small business.

Zoning issues and ordinances

Local ordinances may limit the use of a particular property and may regulate parking, waste disposal, signage, business that you can conduct and so on.

These are just the most common laws governing business! Depending on your particular business you need to research any laws that may affect it.[1]


[1] Richard D. Harroch, Small Business Kit for Dummies, (Wiley 2nd Edition)(2004).

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