Legal Insights Q&A with Ben Kirk
Start-Up Business First Steps
Q: What’s important when beginning your journey as an entrepreneur?
A: First, protect your intellectual property. Entrepreneurs often don’t recognize the value of their intellectual property. The Oklahoma Uniform Trade Secrets Act requires that you take certain steps to protect that property. Anyone you talk with about your business concept, such as private equity firms, angel investors and potential vendors, should be required to sign a non-disclosure (confidentiality) agreement. Second, seek capital to start your new business. Begin this process by asking others for their help to make your business idea become a reality.
Q: Once you’ve decided to start a business, what’s next?
A: You must develop a business plan. At a minimum, the plan should include: a description of the business concept; a list of the resources needed (assuming you obtain capital); financial projections for the first three years; an explanation of why your concept is better than the competition; and how you intend to penetrate the current market. This business plan should serve as your company blueprint – although it may evolve and need to be refined as changes occur within the market place. Understand this business plan will likely be part of the first impression you make on potential investors, lenders and customers. Never underestimate its importance.
Q: How significant are business entity selection and documentation?
A: Very significant. Business entity choice can impact the desirability of your business to investors, and impact tax attributes and/or consequences. Quality, real time documentation is needed which is consistent with the structure and methodology you choose for conducting business. Devoting time and resources to these decisions in the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey can save money, frustration, and anguish during the critical phase of the startup process. Because of the significance of business entity selection and documentation to the success of the venture, legal and financial advisors are among the most important people entrepreneurs will need to start and guide the growth of their new business. Consequently, an entrepreneur should exercise care in selecting experienced legal and financial advisors, as they help provide protection for you and your investors.