Congratulations! You’ve started your own business. You’ve been handed the keys. You’ve managed to turn your dream into a reality.
Now it’s time to focus on some logistics.
Running a business is rewarding and demanding, and we want to be sure that you are prepared to protect your business and its assets to continue on your path to success.
Below, we have collected four standard contracts you will need to be familiar with to do just that.
1. Bill of Sale: Most likely, you are going to engage in many transactions when first starting out. This contract will protect and complete a purchase of a valuable asset (large items like a car or TV). The bill of sale will help prove you legally own the item and can determine how much sales tax you will pay. It can also release the seller (possibly you) from liability to keep both buyer and seller from any future disputes.
In order to write the bill of sale you must include: Buyer and Seller’s name and address, description of the item being sold (serial numbers, identification numbers, make, model, size, color, any features or faults, etc.), special conditions of the sale, date of transaction, previous owner, amount paid, method of payment, and any agreements regarding payments and interest rates. For more detail visit: How Stuff Works
2. Employment Agreement: We know you are a highly intelligent individual, so odds are you are going to hire more intellectuals to join in running your new business. It is prudent to write a contract for this incoming employee that is clear on the expectations of both the employer and employee.
To accurately do this, the contract must include: The employer and employees name, the date of the offer, name of the position, start date of the employee agreed upon, compensation, commission, how commission is paid and calculated, if a draw is being received and if it is recoverable or not, and the employee benefits.
Many of the legal matters of this document vary from state to state, so be sure to consult your state government’s laws and adhere to those when drawing up this contract. For more detail about the stipulations above and for a template visit: LearnThat.com
3. Licensing Agreement: Licenses protect your intellectual property. Intellectual property can be anything that is intangible, like art, music, innovations, or trademarks. It is essential to protect your intellectual property to maintain the competitive advantage of your business. There are three licenses that may be particularly interesting to you:
a. Copyrights: Copyrights are the legal rights to your creation. These legal rights give authorization to you, the originator, to decide who has the rights to use or copy your creation (intellectual property). To obtain a copyright visit: Copyright.gov
b. Trademarks: Similar to a copyright, a trademark gives you the legal right to authorize who can use your creation. However, trademarks are specific to a symbol, word, or words that you legally register to represent your company or product. This includes logos or brands. To obtain a trademark or learn more information visit: USPTO.gov
c. Patents: The easiest way to describe patents is a license over any inventions you create. The toughest part about a patent is finding one that has not been registered. Upcounsel has provided a simple solution for this issue by suggesting to do patent research with Google Patent Search. Much like any Google search, you just type in your imagined innovation and results will surface, dating back to the 1790s, of inventions that match your search. To obtain a patent or learn more information visit: USPTO.gov
For more information about licenses, please visit: Lawyers.com
4. Nondisclosure Agreement: When dealing with confidential information, it is best to always err on the side of caution and have vendors, individuals, or other businesses sign a Nondisclosure or Confidentiality Agreement (NDA). This way you know when dealing with these partners there is no reason to worry that valuable business information will be compromised.
A proper NDA consists of eight sections: definition of confidential information, exclusions from confidential information, obligations of receiving party, time periods, relationships, severability, integration and waivers. To get more in-depth information about what should be included each of these sections, please visit: NOLO Law for All.
While there are many more contracts to make yourself familiar with as you embark on your small business journey, these four should be a good start in protecting the valuable assets of your business. Yes, investing in a lawyer is the most secure way to proceed, but it is important to at least be familiar with these terms to have a productive and informed conversation on the needs for breaking ground in your industry.
So just remember to do your homework, invest in contracts, and defend your brilliant new-found venture!
About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Webs and Pagemodo, and also manages our social media presence. She can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech. Get more from Deanna on Webs’ Blog and Google+.