Business Law Attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee
Owning and operating your own business is the dream of many Americans. However, it is challenging to begin a new business, let alone keep it thriving.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2021, nearly 5.4 applications to start businesses were filed, an increase from 2020 by 23 percent and 2019 by 53 percent.
How many of those applications turned into actual functioning businesses – or will eventually turn into ongoing enterprises -- is probably anyone’s guess, but the dream of owning and operating a business is obviously alive and well in America.
Problem is, most people don’t do the necessary research to know exactly what starting a business and operating it entails. Not only is money needed to get the enterprise off the ground, but various government laws and regulations must be observed if the entrepreneur wants their business to succeed.
If you’re looking to launch a business in or around Nashville, Tennessee, or anywhere in Rutherford County, contact the business law attorneys at Brazil Clark, PLLC.
The attorneys at Brazil Clark, PLLC, have the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you navigate the process and legally operate your business. Also, they can help you put in place the necessary protections against lawsuits and other legal liabilities to protect your investment.
Choosing a Business Structure
Choosing the proper legal structure for your business is an important consideration. Some legal entities protect the owner(s) from personal liability or limit their liability to their initial investments. Legal business entities affording protection of one’s personal assets include Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and corporations.
A corporation can further be divided between the traditional structure called a “C” Corporation, and an “S” Corporation. The S Corporation allows profits to flow directly to the corporate owners instead of to the corporate treasury as under a C Corporation.
Partnerships are also available, but they do not generally limit the partners’ liability to lawsuits and a duty to honor all credit and contractual obligations. Not surprisingly, among today’s existing small businesses, more than 60 percent of them are operating either as LLCs or S Corporations.
Contracting with Others to Provide for Your Business
Most businesses need to contract with other persons or entities, either to provide products to sell, services to help run the business, or both. Services can include accounting, payroll, and perhaps even clean-up after hours to prepare the site for the next day.
Once you set up an arrangement with another person or entity to provide goods or services, you have created a binding contract. Many people may think of contracts as being paper documents that you sign and agree to, but a handshake agreement can also achieve contractual status.
The law generally recognizes three types of contracts – express (written), oral (the handshake and/or spoken agreement), and implied. Implied means a contract comes into existence through the repeated actions of both parties involved. If an individual keeps cleaning your store and hauling out the trash each evening, though you never ask them to, the implication of their continuous actions equates to an implied contract.
Contracts, of course, not only are necessary to ensure the continued availability of products and services that your business requires, but they are fraught with legal contingencies. Should one person or entity fail to live up to their part of the bargain, they could be accused of breach of contract and taken to court for damages.
In short, many business owners end up with contractual agreements that can come back to bite them. Before entering into any form of agreement with another party, check with a business law attorney for all the legal implications and then put the proper protection measures in place. Contracts are safest legally if written out with clearly delineated obligations.
Employment Laws and Regulations
If your business employs others to help you run your operations, you will need to adhere to various state, federal, and local laws and regulations. Perhaps the most visible and present among these are wage and hour laws. Tennessee follows federal guidelines in observing minimum wage and overtime laws. You must pay employees at least $7.25 an hour, and if they work more than 40 hours a week, you must pay them time and a half for all excess hours.
Employees also enjoy broad protections against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation at work through an array of state and federal statutes. If you treat your employees unfairly, they can lodge a complaint against you, and government regulators can step in to investigate and perhaps hand down fines. Lawsuits might also ensue.
Health and safety standards are also subject to government mandates and investigations for violations if employees file a charge for unsafe or unhealthy conditions at your business.
In short, your business likely will never exist free from government oversight and regulation. Even if you operate your business out of your home by yourself, your practices and how you treat your customers will be governed by various laws and regulations.
What If You Choose to Close Your Business?
If after giving your business everything in your power, you decide it’s just not for you or you don’t have the resources to keep operating, you may have to make the painful decision to shut down. You may think you can just put a sign out front saying you’re out of business and then walk away to retirement or another career pursuit.
This, however, is probably not going to be possible. You may have contracts you have to end honorably, taxes still to be paid, government forms to be filed, and the responsibility to make sure all your debts are honored. If you can’t afford to pay your obligations and you’re a sole proprietor, you may have to make the painful choice of filing bankruptcy.
If you’re operating as an LLC or corporation, you may be able to avoid personal liability for outstanding obligations, but the process to close down those types of businesses is fairly involved and time-consuming. Assets will need to be sold, and good-faith efforts made to honor all liabilities. There is also much government red tape to tend to.
In short, though no one wants to envision the need to shut down a business you’ve long dreamed of opening and operating, you should make sure you have all the necessary legal protections in place before you open your doors or start conducting business. For this, you need the guidance and advice of an experienced business law attorney.
Business Law Attorneys
Serving Nashville, Tennessee
For all your business start-up and operating concerns in or around Nashville, Tennessee, rely on the business attorneys at Brazil Clark, PLLC. They have the experience, knowledge, and resources to help make the difference between a business concept that gets off to an exciting start and one that faces challenges and setbacks from the beginning. Contact the team today to arrange a consultation.