Legal To-Do List for New Business Startups

Apr 11 / Launi Sheldon

Launching a new business is an exciting venture, but it's crucial to ensure all legal bases are covered to avoid potential issues down the line. This to-do list is designed to guide you through the essential legal steps needed to set up your business properly from the start.

Legal To-Do List for New Business Startups

1. Choose the Right Business Structure

Assess Your Needs: Different structures (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation) offer varying levels of liability protection, tax obligations, and operational flexibility.

Consult a Business Attorney: Get professional advice to select the best structure based on your liability concerns, taxation, and growth ambitions.

2. Register Your Business

Select a Business Name: Ensure your business name is not only unique but also suitable for trademark protection.

Secure Necessary Licenses and Permits: Check local, state, and federal requirements to obtain all necessary operational permissions.

3. Protect Your Intellectual Property

Trademark Your Brand: Register your business name, logos, and product names as trademarks to protect your brand identity.

Consider Copyrights and Patents: Protect original works and inventions to prevent unauthorized use and enhance your competitive advantage.

Conduct a Patent Search: Ensure your products or methods do not infringe on existing patents.

4. Set Up Your Accounting System

Implement Rigorous Financial Tracking: Use reliable accounting software to manage your finances, crucial for legal compliance and financial health.

Prepare for Taxes: Understand your tax obligations and set up systems to manage payroll, sales tax, and other relevant taxes efficiently.

5. Develop a Comprehensive Contractual Framework

Draft Standard Contracts: Have contracts for clients, suppliers, and partners reviewed by a lawyer to ensure they are legally sound and protect your interests.

Employee Agreements: Ensure employment contracts are clear on terms and compliant with labor laws to avoid disputes.

6. Build an Online Presence Carefully

Website Compliance: Ensure your website complies with privacy laws, such as GDPR if you operate in or market to customers in Europe, and ADA standards for accessibility.

Social Media and Marketing Law: Adhere to FTC guidelines for advertising and marketing, ensuring transparency and fairness in your promotional activities.

7. Understand and Mitigate Legal Risks

Liability Insurance: Consider obtaining liability insurance to protect against potential lawsuits.

Regular Legal Reviews: Schedule periodic reviews with your attorney to ensure ongoing compliance with new laws and regulations.

8. Prepare for Potential Legal Disputes

Dispute Resolution Mechanisms: Include clauses in your contracts on how disputes will be handled (e.g., arbitration, mediation).

Stay Informed on Legal Issues: Keep abreast of legal changes that could impact your industry or business operations.

9. Plan Your Exit Strategy

Succession Planning: Have a legal plan in place for transferring or selling your business to ensure a smooth transition.

Buy-Sell Agreements: Establish buy-sell agreements in partnerships to address situations where a partner wants to exit the business.


Taking the time to address these legal aspects can save your business from costly mistakes and legal challenges. While the process may seem daunting, proper legal planning is critical to securing the longevity and success of your business. Always consider consulting with legal professionals to tailor your legal strategy to your specific needs and circumstances.