Starting a hardware startup unfortunately isn’t just about creating a great product that you’re proud of and then selling it. If you’re really going to launch a small business, you’ll find that you need to wear many hats, and some of these will be less enjoyable than others.
There’s marketing of course, there’s sales, there’s web design but none of that is quite as despised by many startup owners as the legal side of things. Nevertheless, taking the time to handle the legal aspects of your business is very important. This is what will enable you to protect your intellectual property, to set up your business and pay the right amount of tax, and to ensure your products aren’t considered unsafe.
This is crucial stuff, so it’s lucky that there are so many useful tools available online to help you get started and to make life a little easier. Here are a few you can try out…
LegalZoom is a site that provides numerous tools to startups and small businesses, as well as offering general support. The site is clean and well designed and as soon as you click ‘Get Started’, you’ll be presented with options for protecting ideas, planning your estate or starting your business. From there, it then takes you through all the steps you need to know and gives you access to additional help, should you need it. For instance, if you want to set up a Limited Liability Company, then LegalZoom aims to streamline the process and simplify it for you. Pricing for that particular package starts at $149 + fees.
This is a great tool if you’re just getting started with your business and you find the legal side of things daunting. Likewise, it can serve as a handy go-to tool for registering trademarks and handling other legal tasks.
If you read this site regularly, then you’ll be familiar with the concept of crowdsourcing. Only, you’re probably used to associated crowdsourcing with coming up with names and designs – not finding legal advice!
That’s precisely what UpCounsel does though, by allowing you to post job listings and get free proposals. This is a great place for business lawyers to find work and for startups, it’s an easy way to get legal advice and representation cheaply and conveniently. Just click to ‘Post a Job’ and then fill out a few details (location, type of lawyer needed) to get started.
Nolo provides a ton of free legal information which includes not only business law but also divorce law, property law and more. Not only does the website act as a repository itself, but you can also find a selection of ebooks and even software products freely available.
This link will take you to a great resource where you can find templates for legal forms and contracts. Want to produce an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) for your business? You’ll find that right here. Likewise, you’ll also be able to find a range of other things ranging from non-compete agreements to marketing agreements.
Law.com is a comprehensive glossary that will allow you to search for legal terms and definitions. If you’re trying to make head and tails of a contract you’ve been given, then this site may act as a great resource.
This is Google’s free patent search utility that will allow anyone to quickly browse through patents issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. If you want to make sure that your idea hasn’t been done before, or you’re worried that you might be encroaching on someone else’s intellectual property, this is the place to look. Note that the real detail is in the claims section – just because something looks the same as your idea, that doesn’t mean it necessarily covers the same key points. You should always look thoroughly before applying for your own patent too to avoid wasting time and money.
These are just a few useful resources for businesses that can help with the legal side of things. There are many more, so let us know your experiences, if any, in the comments below.
Try not to be daunted by documents with lots of acronyms and jargon. While it seems a little uninviting to begin with, you’ll find you gradually absorb all the information you need and these tools can help you get there faster! Do sign up to receive such important news and updates to help you launch your startup.