So you want to start up your own business?

Some helpful tips and advice to consider

  1. Protect your intellectual property.  Make sure that the company itself owns the intellectual property and that anything that a third party has commissioned to create is formally assigned over to the company.  Carry out due diligence checks before deciding what to call your business.  Basic searches can be carried out at Companies House, Google and the Intellectual Property Office website. You can instruct legal advisors to “watch” for third party applications to register marks which may infringe their rights and take swift action against anyone violating those rights.
  2. Always have contracts in place from an early stage.  A handshake is not enough to regulate a relationship between parties.  The general principle is that pretty much all commercial decisions should be supported by a contract outlining the responsibilities and obligations of each party.
  3. Avoid using templates cheaply available online.  These are risky and may not provide adequate protection in a contract.  Shareholders agreements, employment contracts and terms and conditions form a business’ key documentation. These documents should be skilfully and thoughtfully prepared to ensure that the business is protected in the event of a dispute.
  4. Have a clear shareholder’s agreement setting down the obligations of the shareholders and what happens when the honeymoon period is over.  What happens when a shareholder dies or decides he no longer wants his shares?
  5. Have a well-structured Business Plan.  This is crucial in communicating to others how your business is put together.  Having a business plan forces owners to review everything at once, financials, staffing, marketing and operation plans etc. It will be used as a tool to raise finance and will be placed before potential investors so having a succinct and robust business plan is imperative.
  6. Have trusted advisors on board. You need people to support you and give you counsel when you need it.  This means having advisors on board to foresee any risks your business may face so you can plan to avoid these and react to any issues that arise.  A sound legal and financial team to assist your business can be key to its success.

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