Opening your own business is a lot like preparing for the arrival of your first child…very exciting but scary! Behind the excitement of both situations is the “what ifs.” Much like soon-to-be parents, entrepreneurs can ease those “what ifs” by consulting someone with experience…someone like us!
Not only is Fortman Law a small business we have helped numerous other business owners start their own businesses. At Fortman Law we understand the ins and outs of starting a business and we can’t stress enough how important starting off on the right foot can be. Most entrepreneurs come to us seeking help with registering their business with the Missouri Secretary of State. We sit down with those clients and within a few questions, the clients quickly realize that they had not even thought of, much less considered, several things. Several things that NEED to be considered in order to really start off on the right foot and reduce your risks.
For example, we had a client come to us wanting to register a specific name. This client had already began operating under that name, built a website, and designed a logo. Basically the client had spent a year or so building his business before he came to us. After we sat down and talked to the client, it became clear that he had not considered numerous items relating to setting up a business. The big questions were easy and he felt confident providing answers…What is your ultimate goal? What name would you like to use? What is the business? Etc. But the smaller questions got harder. When we started asking questions like what do what to happen if you die? What about business partners? Investors? Tax status? Personal liability? Etc. The answers to these questions were anything but confident. But the next question really threw him for a loop…What names do you have in mind if this one is unavailable? – insert confused/concerned face – “What do you mean? I am already using the name I want.”
We then explain that a business name has to be unique to be registered with the secretary of state and if someone else has the same name as you, you won’t be able to register your name. As he starts to process this, he says but I can still use it even if I can’t register it, right? The answer to that is “it depends.” From there we looked up the name to see if it was registered. Unfortunately it was and our job did not get any easier from there. After a quick search we revealed additional problems. Not only was this name already registered with the secretary of state there was a potential trademark issue. The client was stunned. Like so many people who come to us….he “had no idea.” Now it was our turn to get hammered with questions…What do I do? Can I still use the name? What happens if I use the name? Etc. Ultimately by the end of the meeting we had properly assessed all of his risks, evaluated all of his options, and helped him make a plan for the future. That client left our office feeling confident that now all he would have to do is concentrate on growing his business. He left with a smile on his face and said “I wish I would have contacted you sooner! Thank you!”
And we love to hear that from our clients! At Fortman Law we strive to be your legal partner. We are not your typical law firm. We focus on building a relationship with our clients and being the best advisors we can be rather than worrying about meeting a billing minute quota. If you are starting a business we would love to help you too! Just give us a call or email and we can put your mind at ease too.