Consider legal aspects when starting a new business

The Madison County Record Jan. 11, 2009, 10:15am

It's part of the American dream – launching and running a successful business. Each year, thousands of people in Illinois start a business with varying degrees of success.

Planning and more planning is critical. And part of the preparation stage is knowing how local, state and federal laws will impact your business.

There are four basic types of business organization, and the choice is entirely to you. They are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and limited liability. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type include tax concerns, organizational expenses, control of the business, expansion of the business, and personal liability.

As part of your start-up activity, you will need to select a business name. Legally, you can conduct business under your own name, the names of your partners or under an assumed name. Your attorney can advise you whether the name you choose must be registered with the city, county or state government.

Something to remember: do not select a name that is deceptively similar to the name of another business or you may face legal action. You may be able to obtain protection for the exclusive use of your business name.

Also consider whether you need a license to operate the business. A license must be obtained from the state and sometimes locally for certain businesses such as retail and service establishments, beauty shops, private employment agencies, and small loan companies, to name a few. If your business is home-based, other restrictions may apply.

Good professional advice can make the difference between success and failure. A lawyer can help you choose the type of business organization that suits your needs; advise you as to local, state and federal regulations which affect your business; obtain licenses and permits; prepare or review contracts; resolve tax questions; assist in obtaining financing and give practical advice on many business problems. Your will or estate plan should be revised by your lawyer to include your new business interests.

For further information about law-related issues, contact an Illinois State Bar Association member-lawyer in your area or visit

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