It’s 2020 and that means it’s time for you to get the backend of your business into shape. With the beginning of the new year (and decade!) I want you to make sure you have all the tools to do a quick legal audit of your business. I promise thinking about your risks and set yourself up for the year is such a valuable use of your time.
First off, check in and take a look at your business and how it’s formed. Are you an LLC, S-Corp, or Sole Proprietor? Are you making more money than you did last year, have there been any legal or client issues, or have you registered your business? These are things you need to think about when choosing your business structure. Each business entity offers varying forms of protection, tax benefits, and reporting requirements, to name a few. This is also the time that you may want to contact tax and legal experts, such as a CPA or an attorney, they can help you navigate the different types of formations and choose which one is best for your business.
For more information about the differences between Sole Props, LLCs, and S-Corps, I have a great podcast episode HERE.
READ your client contracts! Go through your contract line-by-line to ensure that it’s protecting your business and covering all your potential liabilities. Make sure you’re using proper clause headings, numbering your clauses, and bolding and underlining all headings. If you don’t have a legit contract (aka you piece yours together through Google or got it from an industry friend) GET ONE! Contracts are the most vital tools for business owners and will make sure that you are explaining your services and communicating with your clients in an appropriate legal way from the very beginning of your relationship. The Legal Paige suggests you search for an attorney local to your area to help you draft a custom contract, or you can purchase a template contract that has been reviewed by an attorney like the ones currently available in The Legal Paige Shop.
Intellectual Property Protection:
Has your brand gained more recognition over the past year? If so, this may be a time for you to start thinking about Trademark and Copyright registrations. You’ve worked hard to gain that brand recognition so make sure you protect it. If you’ve had a company use your photos without permission or necessary attribution or had another company steal your business name, now’s the time to act. Contact an intellectual property law attorney to get a consultation on whether or not you can and should protect these intangible assets of your business.
Business Insurance & Taxes:
Business insurance is imperative for any online small business. Make sure you are covered BEFORE something happens to you, your equipment, or your team. Contact local insurance companies for quotes on business insurance and determine which one works best for your company. Also, look into Hiscox, PPA, or Hill & Usher are great insurance underwriters that work with photographers and creative professionals.
I know, I know, no one wants to think about taxes. But, the one thing my grandpa always said is that you only HAVE to do two things in life: pay taxes and die. 😉 You’re legally obligated to report all the income you made in your business each year. Depending on how your business is formed your filings may vary. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help here. Having a good CPA can be the difference between thousands of dollars in tax liability for your business. (Also, now is a good time at the beginning of the year to look into becoming an S Corp for self-employment tax purposes.)
Lastly, The Legal Paige suggests you take a few moments on your website. This is a super quick and easy check to make sure that all your copyright and privacy policies are updated to 2020. All of your “last updated” sections should be at least 1/1/2020 to be in compliance with this year’s online website regulations. Remember, if you’re in California, the new CCPA law went into effect on January 1st. You can read more information about that HERE.
That’s it! A quick and simple DIY legal audit at the beginning of the year to get you legally legit in no time. I cannot wait to see you all at Reset 2020 here in a few short months. We’ll dive deeper into ensuring your website is legal and protected!
Paige Griffith is the founder of The Legal Paige, a virtual law firm working with online businesses and wedding industry professionals. She is a certified Juris Doctor barred in the state of Montana and holds a double B.A. in Economics and Policy Science. After working as a federal law clerk, Paige traded in the traditional law life for a virtual one and opened the doors to The Legal Paige in 2018. She helps her clients run legal and protected businesses and counsels them on issues related to contracts, intellectual property, privacy, and business law. She has worked with creatives such as Davey & Krista, Julie Paisley, Marie Wold, Emma Natter, Kat Harris, and dozens more. Her mission is to create an online space where the law isn’t so scary and entrepreneurs can get legally legit in no time. Law aside, Paige is a small town Montana girl who loves travel, her dog, Sugar, and the color pink. You can find The Legal Paige online on Instagram & Facebook.