a person who is starting a small business in fort worth/dallas texas
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By Carey Thompson
Founding Attorney

Starting a small business is both an exciting and challenging endeavor. In Texas, there are several crucial legal steps to ensure your venture is set up correctly. From choosing the appropriate business structure to understanding employment laws, it’s vital to be informed. Addressing these legal aspects upfront can ensure a smoother entrepreneurial experience.

Choosing a Business Structure

Choosing the right business structure is a foundational decision every entrepreneur must face. Each structure comes with its own set of benefits, responsibilities, and implications. Your choice will influence how you report income, your level of personal liability, and how you can raise capital. Thus, understanding the nuances of each option is essential for long-term success and legal compliance.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships are often chosen by those looking for simplicity and direct management. However, these structures might expose owners to personal liability. On the other hand, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) offer protection from personal liability and provide more flexibility in terms of taxation. An S-corporation offers the dual benefits of limited liability protection and pass-through taxation, avoiding double taxation on corporate profits. Finally,  corporations, although more complex, are suitable for those looking to raise significant capital, separate personal assets from business liabilities, and possibly take their company public. 

Preparation of Foundational Documents

Preparing foundational documents is essential for any business to establish its operations and ensure clarity among stakeholders. These documents, such as bylaws or operating agreements, lay out the company’s structure, roles, and processes, providing clear guidelines for decision-making and conflict resolution. Moreover, having these essential documents in place not only offers a roadmap for internal operations but also demonstrates professionalism and preparedness to potential investors and partners.

Registering Your Business Name

Registering a business name is a vital step in establishing your company’s identity and legal presence. In Texas, before settling on a name, it’s important to ensure that it is not already in use by another entity. Once you’ve chosen a unique name, the registration process involves formalizing it with the appropriate state agency. This not only legitimizes your business but also provides protection against others using the same or a confusingly similar name in the state.

Obtaining Necessary Permits and Licenses

Securing the necessary permits and licenses is crucial to operate a business legally and avoid potential legal complications. Depending on the nature and location of your venture, the requirements can vary from local zoning permits to state-specific licenses. For instance, a restaurant might need health department permits, while a retail store may require a seller’s permit. It’s essential to research and stay updated on local, state, and federal mandates to ensure your business remains compliant at all times.

Setting Up for Taxes

Setting up for taxes is a fundamental step in ensuring your business’s financial and legal health. Every business should obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which acts like a Social Security number for your venture. Additionally, understanding state tax obligations, such as sales or franchise taxes, is crucial. Regularly maintaining clear financial records and considering professional tax advice can assist in navigating tax responsibilities efficiently.

Complying with Employment Laws

Compliance with employment laws is not only a legal obligation but also a reflection of a company’s commitment to fair and ethical practices. When hiring employees, businesses must be aware of regulations such as the I-9 verification, which confirms the eligibility of an individual to work in the U.S. Additionally, anti-discrimination laws ensure that hiring, promotion, and compensation are based on merit and not on factors like race, gender, or age.

Beyond the hiring process, it’s essential for businesses to understand the rights and protections afforded to employees. This includes adhering to wage and hour laws, providing necessary workplace accommodations, and ensuring a safe work environment. Being informed about workers’ compensation requirements and other benefits is also crucial to avoid potential legal pitfalls and maintain a positive employer-employee relationship.

Drafting Business Contracts and Agreements

Drafting clear and robust business contracts and agreements is important to establishing and maintaining healthy professional relationships. These documents set the tone and expectations between parties, whether they are partners, vendors, clients, or employees. A well-crafted contract can prevent misunderstandings, mitigate risks, and provide a clear path for dispute resolution. It’s essential to ensure that contracts are legally sound, address all pertinent issues, and are understood by all involved parties. Seeking legal expertise in drafting or reviewing these agreements can save businesses from potential pitfalls in the long run.

Protecting Intellectual Property

Protecting intellectual property (IP) is pivotal for businesses that rely on unique ideas, designs, or processes. IP encompasses trademarks, which safeguard brand identity; patents, which defend inventions; copyrights, which protect original works; and trade secrets, which secure proprietary information. Properly registering and enforcing these rights ensures that businesses maintain a competitive edge and prevents unauthorized use or imitation by others. Being proactive in IP protection can foster innovation and strengthen a company’s market position.

Get Help Starting Your Fort Worth/ Dallas Texas Small Business

Understanding the legal intricacies of starting and running a business in Texas is crucial for long-term success. From selecting the right business structure to protecting intellectual property, every decision can have lasting implications. While this overview provides a foundation, individual situations may warrant tailored guidance. For a deeper dive into your specific needs or for expert advice, we encourage you to reach out to the Law Office of Carey Thompson.

About the Author
Carey Thompson has been practicing Social Security Disability Law Since 2008 after he graduated from Texas Wesleyan School of Law, now known as Texas A&M school of Law in Fort Worth, TX.  While at Texas Wesleyan he served on Law Review.  Prior to going to Law School, Mr. Thompson was a High School Band Director for four years using his degree in Music Education from Michigan State University.  Prior to Attending Michigan State, he attended Aledo Schools from Kindergarten to graduate.  Mr.Thompson feels strongly about serving the people of Tarrant County.