Five Documents All Businesses Need
While many start-up businesses have limited resources to work with, it is still a good idea to have a business planning attorney draft a few legal documents that can spare the business owner a lot of headaches and hefty expenses throughout their journey. While the list below isn’t an exhaustive list of documents a business should have in place, they are a good place to start. An experienced Tampa business transaction attorney will be able to advise you what documents you need for your specific business.
- Articles of Incorporation or Formation – One of the first documents you need is one that establishes the appropriate structure for your business. There are five basic types of business structures, including Corporations, Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), Limited Partnerships, and General Partnerships according to the Florida Division of Corporations. The one that will work best for you depends on the goals of your business.
- Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement – For some businesses, intellectual property can be just as valuable, if not more so, than tangible assets. This means it is very important to property this type of property with copyrights, trademarks, and patents. After that, you should consider assigning intellectual property rights to the business itself which will make it more attractive to investors whose assistance you may need for future growth. Invention assignment agreements, a subcategory, will ensure your business retains ownership of the products created by your employees. These contracts often include confidentiality agreements.
- Operating Agreement, Bylaws, Shareholders Agreement – This used to be referred to as the founder’s agreement and helps businesses that have two or more founding members. The agreement works to avoid conflict by outlining the relationship between the partners and expectations of each party. In addition, bylaws are often drafted that spell out the rules that the partners agree to abide by. Issues addressed in the bylaws include shareholder powers and rights, seniority, and how you will make decisions surrounding board members and strategic moves.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements – Before you talk to any outside parties regarding your business, or even the idea of your business, you should have a non-disclosure agreement in place. This should include employees, prospective investors, and anyone else that you may engage in business with. These agreements stipulate what you consider confidential information, who owns that information, and how long of a time period confidentiality is required.
- Employment Contracts – Unless you don’t plan to have any employees and are a sole proprietor, you’ll likely need to have offer letters and employment contractors. These agreements will establish job descriptions, who owns the work that is created, duty expectations, and company specific policies such as dress code, pay structure, and sick leave to job applicants and employees.
Contact an Experienced Florida Business Planning Attorney
Attorney David Toback has been helping people and businesses with their entrepreneurial goals for decades. Give us a call at our Tampa, Florida, location and let us ensure that your business gets off on the right foot and is protected for years to come.