First of all, congratulations! Having the guts to start up an organisation or company takes confidence, financing and self-belief, as well as that all important money making idea. Before you get ahead of yourself, get yourself legally clued up on the fundamental basics to consider when first starting out.
Five top tips below:
1. How are you going to structure your business?
Do you want to be a limited company, a partnership or a sole trader? There are legal advantages and disadvantages to each one, and even tax benefits, so it is important you seek the right advice on what legally suits your ideas from day one.
2. Are you selling a product or service?
If so, consider on what terms you will be trading on. Recently the law has changed on consumer law with the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, so you need to make sure you are staying within the law. On the flip side, you need to ensure that you are protecting yourself and can rely on terms that are favourable to you if something goes wrong. By getting proper terms and conditions in place, and advice on how to make those terms part of your contract with a consumer or a supplier, you minimise your risk of any problems later down the line.
3. Get to grips with Intellectual Property rights
Have you created a brand that represents your company? Do you know if you even own your Intellectual Property (IP)? It is important to make sure you check your own your IP from the start, and if you do not, do everything you possibly can to keep it. In some circumstances, a situation can arise where the person who made the artwork for you, owns it, or joint owns it with the person who commissioned the work. It is never as clear cut as you think so get an IP health check on your IP rights, or you will find it could lead to a dispute, or a devaluation in the assets of your startup as it grows.
4. Surround yourself with the best people you get on with to help your startup
Get yourself surrounded with those professionals you know will help you; get an accountant on board and a solicitor to advise you along the way, so your approach is pro-active, rather than reactive. This will help you get things in place from the beginning, to again minimise your exposure of risk, and get things right with good practice from the very beginning. You will also be fully informed of all your options.
5. Are you telling others of your idea before everything is in place?
Think about the risks that occur from that. If you are telling someone who is helping you with your idea, is there a risk they could start up with the same idea and make money from it, even though it is yours first? If you have specific formula, equations, methods or recipes that are secret to you and key to your product, this is valuable information worth protecting. Consider getting legal advice on a non-disclosure agreement to allow you to talk freely to others if they sign, with the comfort of protecting your ideas as your own in the market place.