Business Legal Templates

Being a small business owner myself, I know there are certain hurdles to jump when you're first starting out. Don't let legalities be one of them!

 

But, speaking with an attorney can be expensive, right? These legal templates are drafted by an attorney who owns her own business and knows exactly what you're going through. 

 

For instance, did you know if you have a website you are legally required by certain domestic and international laws and regulations to have certain legal documents on your website or at least in place with the right entities?

 

Read this page to learn more!

The Certificate of Formation is the document you file with the State to form a limited liability company (along with the filing fee, of course!).

 

This is the first step in building your business legally with the State! Upon receipt of your formation document and fee, the State will process the information and add you to its businesses “allowed” to work within the State. This also registers you for state taxes (note not federally). You should hear back from the State within a week or two with a confirmation that your business entity has been officially formed!

 

Note: You will need to setup a federal EIN for your LLC so that you are registered with the federal government for all sorts of fun and necessary reasons like paying federal taxes.

If you plan on starting a business, the most likely business entity that you'll form is the LLC. The Operating Agreement (otherwise known as a Company Agreement) is a vital part of the business formation process.

 

This document governs how the business is managed daily as well as how long-term fundamental changes to the business are handled. If one is not put into place, your state business statutes will apply and you want to be able to make certain selections.

There’s this thing called the GDPR, it stands for the General Data Protection Regulation and is a data and privacy law governed by the EU. It requires organizations to protect personal data in all its forms.

 

If it’s governed by the EU, then does it apply to me?

Yes, if you “collect, store, or use the data of people in the EU, then the GDPR applies to YOU. Meaning, if you sell to anyone living in an EU country (here are all 27 countries) you have to comply with the GDPR. So, if you have an online shop and sell worldwide, this law applies to you.

 

Not only does it have strict laws on data protection and compliance requirements, it also has steep penalties ranging in the thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are four (4) areas that it regulates specifically: (1) email marketing, (2) data processing, (3) personal information + (4) cookie policy.

 

You need a Privacy Policy that is GDPR Compliant as well as CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which is the United States federal law regulating privacy policies. The Privacy Policy template listed on my site is compliant with the GDPR and CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and is great for blogs or other small business websites.

Terms + Conditions

Terms + Conditions govern the policies of your website and are the rules that users need to abide by when using your site. You can ban users from your site due to a breach of a terms and conditions policy. This is the place to insert your disclaimers and any miscellaneous contract provision you need to insert onto your website for liability coverage.

Did you know you need to include certain terms within your giveaway policies? You do! For example, you don’t want to spend $$$ money mailing a $25 giveaway item halfway around the world. Keep it within the US.

This media consent form covers both photo content and video content and also contains a provision for a parent to release the rights to a minor child’s photo and video rights.

 

Think about it – WHO sues for their photo being on the internet without their consent? PARENTS that’s who.

 

This is the complete package when it comes to media releases and contains a vital component to keeping your butt safe – the child consent form.

A confidentiality agreement is paramount to success in business. All of your ideas, content and work produced, tangible and intangible, you want it protected. It’s too easy nowadays to hear a great idea and steal it as your own – protect yours!

 

I’m a firm believer that all employees from the top down should execute one of these, no matter the business you're in.

An Assumed Name Certificate is used when you want to go by part of your Legal Business Name and not the full Legal Business Name all the time - aka on marketing materials and in advertising - OR if you are physically transacting business in more than one state.

For example, my law firm’s legal name is “Fergus & Tomanka, PLLC” but we recently filed an Assumed Name Certificate to go by “Fergus & Tomanka” legally on all of our marketing materials. 

 

The PLLC designates the form of the business, a professional limited liability company and is a state requirement in Texas. The only way around this is to file an Assumed Name Certificate.

Anytime you are in a partnership, joint venture, or company with a Board (including nonprofits!), you need to have a Conflict of Interest Policy in place.

 

This policy prevents Directors from self-profiting off third-party businesses they have an interest in.

Hiring Your First Employee

Once you are ready to hire your first employee, you'll need the following four (4) documents prepared and ready:

1. Employee Application: This Application contains all of the requisite information you need to know to hire staff. Add in your own job description and company culture information and you're ready to submit this application to the job market!

2. Employee Offer Letter: Once your employee interviews are complete and you're ready to make a new hire, it’s typical to send out the offer in the form of a letter along with any other applicable forms needed to fill out prior to the first day. The Employee Offer Letter confirms the basic terms of employment so both parties can start off on the right foot.

3. Employee Handbook: Once you have just one employee, you'll need an employee handbook to have policies and procedures for them to follow and help YOU run your business. It contains everything you are required to tell your employees as well as daily management and operations.

4. Employee Evaluation: A “Good Business” Rule of Thumb, that I personally use in my own legal business, is to give a New Hire a 6-week evaluation period for their employment. From there, they get permanent employment, but I do these evaluations with them every 6 months so that they STAY on the right track.