Legal issues often present a dilemma for cost-conscious small businesses, and especially startups. You want the best information and advice to understand your options and make the right choices. But paying legal professionals for every little thing gets expensive. The range of legal issues facing entrepreneurs is immense. They include:
- Naming a business
- Obtaining licenses and permits
- Complying with tax laws
- Understanding wage and benefit laws
- Workplace safety
- Environmental compliance and dozens more
Get more free business tips at BizBest.
Get expert legal guidance onlineA great free site is FindLaw for Small Business from Thomson Corporation. FindLaw offers plain-English legal info in six main areas: 1) Starting a business, 2) Incorporation and legal structures, 3) Employment and HR, 4) Intellectual property, 5) Finances and taxes, 6) Forms and contracts. In each section you'll find a breakdown of topics with helpful advice and legal FAQs.
Legal help from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)The NFIB Legal Foundation offers excellent legal help tools for small business, available free online.
Free legal advice and information from the SBAThe U.S. Small Business Administration Web site has helpful advice on business law, tax and many other legal topics. Business.gov - the official business link to the U.S. government - also helps small business owners identify and solve legal and regulatory questions.
SBA Web site on business law has helpful advice on dozens of legal topics. Also visit sba.gov and look in "Starting Your Business," "Financing Your Business" and "Managing Your Business."
Legal help for state, local and federal laws and regulationsBusiness.gov was designed by the federal government to be the "ultimate" portal for business to legal and regulatory issues stemming from government agencies. For a site run by the government, it is surprisingly well done.
Business.gov covers all federal agencies and has handy sections for tapping info in your region or industry. Click Region and then your state for information on state and local tax and legal requirements such as sales taxes, permits and licenses.
Go to the legal self-help leaderNolo is the leading publisher of do-it-yourself legal solutions for small business.
Nolo's specialized legal books for small business have proven extremely popular and cover just about any topic you might need, from incorporation, to taxes to small claims court. Look in Business & Human Resources for a list of titles as well as business forms and featured articles on legal topics. There's a helpful glossary of terms under Tools & Resources.
Enlist free help for your business from a legal advocateThe National Ombudsman is available to help small business owners when they experience excessive enforcement actions, such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, threats, retaliation or other unfair enforcement action by a federal agency.
Visit the National Ombudsman Web site for details.
- Not enough small businesses are aware of the SBA's National Ombudsman program. If you have a problem with excessive federal enforcement, get in touch and they'll help troubleshoot on your behalf.
- The self-help forms section at Findlaw.com also includes real-life examples of contracts that make interesting reading.
- Order Nolo legal self-help books at a discount from Amazon.com. Many of the books come with CDs that include helpful legal documents and templates that can save you money.