San Jose Business Lawyers Blog

California employees are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state laws. An employer cannot discriminate on the basis of:

• Race
• Gender, gender identity, or gender expression
• Sexual orientation
• Religion
• National origin
• Disability
• Medical conditions
• Sex, including pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding
• Citizenship status
• Age
• Genetic information
• Ancestry
• Color
• Marital status Continue Reading

A B Corporation, also called a B Corp, Benefit Corp, or B Corp Certification, is a third-party designation for a socially responsible business that assures the public it has passed rigorous standards of environmental and social performance, as well as a commitment to fostering open communication and transparency. The Certifications are issued to for-profit companies by B Lab, a U.S. based non-profit.

Currently, there are over 1,000 Certified B Corps covering more than 60 industries. Becoming a B Corporation can be beneficial to your bottom line when considering business entrepreneurship. Here are some things to know about achieving B Corp Certification for your company.
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Provisions of B Corporations
Making sure you are in legal compliance is one of the first steps to starting a business. B Corps have provisions attached to certification such as establishing a public cause, transparency, and proof of continuing benefit to society and the environment. Continue Reading

Does your company have a social media policy for employees? Policies regulating Internet use in the workplace can be very effective for maintaining your business’ positive reputation online. Last week, we discussed the first 3 items to think about when writing a social media policy. Here are 3 more considerations for writing an effective and appropriate company-wide policy.
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3 More Considerations When Drafting a Social Media Policy
1. Define “Appropriate”

Your employees need to know what is acceptable to say online and what isn’t. Make sure you set clear boundaries on what business and trade information is private and for internal-use only, and what information is acceptable for online discussion or even marketing purposes. Continue Reading

Instituting a company-wide social media policy is one of the best ways to protect your business’s brand and image on the Internet. Disgruntled employees may say negative things about your business online, harming your reputation and putting your company at risk. A well-written social media policy sets reasonable restrictions on your employees’ use of the Internet. Here are 3 considerations to think about when drafting a social media policy.
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3 Considerations When Drafting a Social Media Policy
1. Read Other Policies

It’s important to do your research when writing a social media policy for employees to make sure yours is in line with current industry standards. You don’t want to institute a policy so unforgiving that you drive potential talent away from your business. Search for other social media policies and contact an experienced lawyer to make sure your policy is appropriate. Continue Reading

Are you thinking about starting a business? The success or failure of your business venture depends on your ability to plan ahead, take action, and respond to what happens after your idea becomes a company. Here are 4 actions to consider on your path to business success.
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Building a Successful Business: 4 Steps
1. Clearly Define Your Vision and Goals

Business success comes through hard work and dedication. Having a clear vision and measurable goals is the first step. Write down your plans for the future of your company, both short term and long term. It can also be helpful to scout out your competition to see if your plans will hold up in the market. This is known as market research, and it will allow you to identify whether a similar product or idea is already out on the market. Continue Reading

Crowdfunding is a great way for individuals and companies to fund new businesses, projects, and products through the Internet. With the advent of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, it is easier than ever to fund your new business venture with the help of online supporters.

If you’ve heard anything about crowdsourcing money online as a source of achieving your startup dreams, you may have wondered what some of the legal consequences may be that are associated with taking “donations” from the public. Here are 3 potential legal issues that arise from using crowdfunding to support your business.

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Crowdfunding Sites: 3 Potential Legal Issues

1. Choose the Right Structure for Your Business

When you post your project on a crowdfunding website, if you haven’t formed a business already, you are now a sole proprietor by default. This type of business structure comes with its own benefits, but keep in mind that this might not be the type of business entity that’s best for you. There may be another business entity that is better suited for your business needs. Consider forming your entity with the help of a lawyer before posting your project to avoid being locked into the wrong type of business structure. Continue Reading

In any business venture, compliance with applicable laws and regulations is essential. These vary significantly depending on your industry and the jurisdiction in which you operate. In some cases, you may be subject to licensing and permitting requirements on the federal, state, and municipal levels. While many entrepreneurs are understandably excited to begin operations, failure to obtain the required licenses or permits can have serious consequences. In some cases, noncompliance with the applicable business regulations in your jurisdiction could even result in criminal charges or significant fines, potentially putting you out of business.

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Regulations regarding business licenses and permits are often voluminous and difficult for even sophisticated business people to understand. Anyone considering starting or expanding a business in California should contact an experienced attorney to discuss their circumstances.

In the meantime, here is some information about some of the more commonly required business permits and licenses. Continue Reading

Breaking away from the rest and forming your own business is a dream for many people. Business entrepreneurship can be a risky but rewarding venture, and it’s possible to achieve great success in your new company. Although running a business takes a lot of hard work and has challenges, you can reach a high level of success. Here are four keys to achieving great things as a business owner, as well as some advice from successful entrepreneurs.

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Business Entrepreneurship: 4 Keys to Achieving Success

1. Hire a Lawyer

“Surround yourself with great mentors.”-Thalej Vasishta, CEO, Immigration Lawyer

Sound advice and a strong team to lean on are essential for entrepreneurs. One of the first things you should do when starting your company is hire a lawyer. Choosing a business entity and licensing can be intricate, so have all paperwork looked over before making big decisions. A good business lawyer will be able to guide you through the whole process and assist you in protecting your intellectual property rights along the way. Continue Reading

Sometimes, avoiding litigation in a legal dispute is the best way to achieve a resolution. Mediation and arbitration may be viable alternatives to reduce the time and money spent litigating. Here are some pros and cons to choosing meditation vs. arbitration when deciding whether or not to opt for avoiding litigation.

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The Pros & Cons of Mediation
Pros:
1. Control

In mediation, you must sign in agreement of the final decision. This gives you control over your approval of the ruling. You also reserve the right to litigate if the mediation fails, making this a less costly alternative to heading straight to court. Continue Reading

Among the most important decisions a business owner or entrepreneur can make is determining what business entity best suits their needs. This decision can affect how much you pay in taxes, the amount of paperwork that you will need to do, your own personal liability, and your ability to raise capital by issuing stock. Additionally, some business formations require certain formalities in order to be in compliance with state and federal law.

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Of course, every business is different, and what may be an appropriate business entity for one venture may be completely inappropriate for another. Business ventures that anticipate rapid growth or are formed with the intention of being acquired by another company may choose an entity type that may be unnecessarily onerous at startup but allow growth and compliance with federal securities laws, preempting the need for a potentially costly reorganization down the road. For these and other reasons, it is best for anyone considering forming a business entity to discuss their goals and options with an experienced Silicon Valley business lawyer before filing any paperwork with the state.

In the meantime, here is some basic information regarding the some of the most commonly used business formations:

Sole Proprietorships – A sole proprietorship is perhaps the most common type of business that exists today, and many people may own one without knowing it. Sole proprietors are simply individuals who engage in some sort of business venture for themselves. There are no filing requirements to start a sole proprietorship, and they may even do business under an assumed name if they choose to file a fictitious name with the state. One of the main drawbacks of sole proprietorships is that the owner can be held personally liable for all obligations incurred by the business.

Partnerships – A partnership involves two or more people who work together in a common enterprise and share in the profits and losses of that enterprise. Like sole proprietorships, partnerships can be formed without any state filings, and can actually be formed with a simple oral agreement. In some cases, a court may even determine the existence of a partnership even in the absence of an agreement. All partners are jointly and severally liable for the financial obligations of the partnership and profits or losses pass through to the partners for the purposes of taxation.

Corporations – A corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners created to conduct business. Because it is a separate entity, a corporation has the benefit of shielding its owners from personal liability for the debts or other obligations incurred by the corporation. One of the main disadvantages of a corporation is the legal requirements associated with formation and ongoing operations, which make them better suited to large, well-established businesses.

Limited Liability CompaniesLimited Liability Companies are a relatively new business formation favored by many startups and small businesses because they combine the flexibility of partnerships with the liability protection of corporations. An LLC has the same limited personal liability as a corporation that is provided by state law and gets treated as a Partnership for Federal tax law purposes.

Choosing a business formation can be a complicated decision with far-reaching implications on the success and operation of your business. If you have any questions at all regarding business formation or any other matter related to business law, the skilled lawyers at Structure Law Group can help you. Please do not hesitate to call us today at (408) 441-7500 for assistance today.

About Structure Law Group

Structure Law Group is a San Jose based firm that specializes in business issues including business formations, commercial contracts and litigation.