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What documents and agreements do I need to run my business?

When you launch your own business, you want to make it a success. You put a lot of time into getting your business operations up and running. Part of that time should be invested in creating the right documents and agreements that will protect your business interests.

If you plan to open a funky fashion boutique or a hip new bar and restaurant, you likely aren’t a legal expert. So, you first should consider hiring a business law attorney, who can advise you as launch your business. An attorney can create your needed documents and agreements with your specific business interests in mind, ensuring they will hold up to a legal challenge.

Some of the documents you may need include the following:

  1. A partnership agreement. If you have a business partner, a partnership agreement will spell out what assets you each brought into the business and what your duties will be in running the business. It should detail how you and your partner will split your business profits and how you will resolve disputes. It also can include the steps a partner needs to take if they want to end the partnership.
  2. A buy-sell agreement. With this agreement, you and your business partners can establish what either of you will do if you decide to sell your share of the business or you die suddenly. The agreement might require the business buys back a partner’s share or give other partners the chance to buy another partner’s share.
  3. A voting agreement, outlining how a board’s vote or partnership vote will impact a business decision.
  4. An operating agreement. If you plan to launch an LLC, an operating agreement can protect you against facing increased liabilities. It also can clarify verbal agreements between a business partners.
  5. Investor rights agreements, detailing specific rights and privileges for venture capital investors.

If your business succeeds and grows and becomes a corporation offering stock sales, you may want to add a right-of-first refusal/co-sale agreement. With that, you can detail how someone, including an employee, can sell shares of company stocks. You also may want to create a shareholder agreement, covering what privileges and obligations company shareholders have.

Creating the needed legal documents and agreements for your business takes a lot of upfront work. But creating these documents can your business to avoid disputes and costly legal problems down the road.

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