Articles Tagged with start a business

Entrepreneurs are faced with numerous decisions when forming a business. First, they need to contemplate the nature of the corporate entity they wish to operate (i.e., corporation, limited liability company, partnership, etc.). This decision hinges on many factors including the type of business, the desired ownership structure, tax considerations and potential financing opportunities. If the entrepreneur determines that forming a corporation is most advantageous for his or her particular situation, then he or she must next decide whether the corporation will be taxed as an S-corporation or a C-corporation.

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The “S” and “C” designations refer to different subchapters of the federal tax code. They each have their own governing requirements and qualifications, some of which are laid out below.

S-Corporations

Contracts are an integral part of conducting business and the necessity for certain contracts can arise from the very start of your company. The following are only some examples of important contracts for startups in California.

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Founders’ Agreement — If you are going into business with one or more people, having a comprehensive and clear founders’ agreement is imperative. This agreement can be likened to a premarital agreement: it foresees and addresses potential issues that may arise and sets guidelines for dealing with those issues. A solid and enforceable founders’ agreement can prevent a lot of legal conflict and costs down the road.

Nondisclosure Agreements — If you have the idea or formula for a unique product or process, you want to keep information confidential so others do not try to misappropriate your idea. However, it will be necessary to share information with co-founders, employees, investors, contract developers, and others involved in the project. In such cases, you may have others sign a nondisclosure agreement to ensure they will not disclose confidential information to other parties.

A limited liability company (“LLC”) is one of the most favored forms of business entities because they combine the advantages of a corporation, such as limited liability and protection of their members from investor-level liability, with the advantages of a partnership, such as “pass-through tax treatment.” Additionally, LLCs are characterized by the informality of its organization and internal governance, set forth through an internal contract called the operating agreement.  An LLC member can be an individual, a corporation, a partnership, another limited liability company or any other legal entity.

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An LLC can be structured as a manager-managed or member-managed LLC.  In a manager-managed LLC, the members appoint a manager or managers to run and manage the LLC while the members take on a more passive role.  In a member-managed LLC, all the members share in managing the day-today operations of the LLC.  The managers or managing members who have been charged with the responsibility of running the LLC are obliged to act in the best interest of the LLC. The duties connected to this obligation are  known as fiduciary duties.   The key fiduciary duties are the duty of loyalty and the duty of care.  These duties are specifically defined by California law, as discussed in more detail below.

Requirements of a Fiduciary Duty

While many well-known businesses are either corporations or limited liability companies, partnerships remain a common and savvy business entity selection. In fact, some of the biggest names in tech—Apple, Microsoft, and Google—started out as partnerships.

What is a Partnership?

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Partnerships exist whenever there is a cooperative endeavor of two or more people, entities, or some combination thereof, to provide a product or service. The main characteristic of any partnership is that the partners share in the profits and losses of the business.

Many startups in the tech sector are idea-rich and cash-poor, meaning that their most valuable (and often only) asset is their intellectual property that may have the potential to be worth a substantial amount of money. While some startups are able to move their ideas from concept to deployment with relatively little labor involved, many of these ideas require the assistance of developers, programmers, engineers, and marketers, all of whom are skilled professionals who can easily command salaries well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

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For this reason, many startups are faced with the issue of how to pay their employees during the development and launch phase, before they are generating any revenue. Of course, one option is to borrow the money or to seek investors – a solution that has significant pros and cons which should be considered. Another very popular option is to offer employees equity shares in a company in lieu of cash compensation. In some cases, this may take the form of equity for a lower salary than they would normally expect, while in others an equity share may be the only compensation they receive.

There are many issues that tech entrepreneurs and founders should consider when offering equity as compensation. These include the following:

According to an article published by Forbes in late 2014, 42 technology startups potentially looking at a 2015 IPO had raised venture financing of at least $1 billion. With the potential for the creation of significant wealth in a relatively short period of time, it is no wonder that many people are seeking to enter the tech marketplace with new ideas that have the potential to impact the way that millions of people conduct their daily lives.

Incorporation is one of the major steps involved in the growth of a tech startup and involves creating a distinct business entity that can own intellectual property, issue stock, raise capital, and is subject to rules of corporate governance. Incorporation can be a complicated process and involves filing paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office in the jurisdiction in which you wish to incorporate.Business-ball-300x245

What are Bylaws?

Very generally stated, the Board of Directors of a California corporation is responsible for the way in which the corporation is run. California law requires every corporation in the state to have a board of directors and, according to the text of the law, “all of the activities and affairs of a corporation shall be conducted and all corporate powers shall be exercised by or under the direction of the board.” While this may make is seem as if a company’s board of directors participates in the everyday management of the business, this is usually not the case, and corporate boards regularly delegate management of a business to individuals who may or may not be a member of the board.

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How is a Board of Directors Formed?

When a company incorporates, it is required to file a document called “articles of incorporation” with the Secretary of State’s Office. This document establishes much of the basic identity about a corporation, including its name, how much stock it will issue, and the way in which the board of directors will be chosen.  California law requires that every board of directors has a chairperson or a president (or both), a secretary, and a treasurer or chief financial officer (or both), as well as any other named officers that may be required by a corporation’s bylaws.

Starting a business entity is a complicated issue that can be compounded by things such as founder’s stock and each founder’s respective contribution. Equity considerations can be extremely important in starting a business, especially when one founder contributes intellectual property (IP) rather than cash or labor.

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What is Founder’s Stock?

Awarding a company founder stock is a relatively common practice in business formation, particularly in situations in which a startup is new and not yet generating income.  Doing so gives the contributing founder a measurable property interest in the newly formed entity. Typically, these stocks have a very low face value so that the founder receives a large amount of stock respective to his or her contribution.

Many individuals who are citizens of foreign countries want to take advantage of the economic market in the United States. More specifically, California is a particularly popular state in which to start a business as a foreign national due to the close connections with the tech industry and the large and diverse population, among other reasons. If you are a foreigner considering conducting business in California, there is good news for you—neither residency nor citizenship is required to do so. Instead, you need only go through very similar steps as a U.S. citizen starting their own business with the state.

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The following are some important steps that you must take to start your California business:

  • Choose your business entity – This is an important decision with many implications and your options, including corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or limited partnership, should be carefully weighed. An experienced business attorney can assist you in choosing the correct entity for your type of business and your goals.

With the United States having an extraordinarily robust economy and the highest level of consumer spending in the world, many non-U.S. resident foreign nationals are justifiably interested in starting a business in the United States, but are not sure whether it is possible or where to begin. Fortunately, it certainly is possible, and in some cases, may even be accomplished without setting foot within the U.S. Below are some of the steps required for a foreign national who is not a U.S. resident to start a business.

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Choose the state in which you wish to start your business

One of the first things that non-U.S. residents should understand about starting a business in the U.S. is that each state has its own laws regulating the way businesses are formed, the way they operate, and their tax treatment. While these laws tend to be very similar, there are often significant and nuanced differences that may have a significant impact on your ability to conduct business from overseas as well as your ability to minimize your tax liability.

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