The excitement of starting a business is sometimes doused by the staggering amount of paperwork.
It’s a necessary evil, and as important as your product or service offering is, keeping your business legally compliant with the necessary paperwork is even more important.
Incorporating your business is the first step.
Below we’ve listed other important documents you’ll need after incorporating.
Documents for General Business Operation
- Notice of Incorporation: Certain states necessitate that new corporations issue a public notice of the opening of their business, which can also serve as one of the first marketing tools for your business
- Business Licenses: Depending on your business’s home state, the process, payment, and necessity of getting your business license differs.
- Registered Agent: This role can be filled by you, the business owner, or you can hire a professional registered agent to manage your outside contacts.
- personal information that you are collecting via your website
- options that the customer has concerning their data being collected
- how customers have access to view what data is being collected
- how the customers’ collected data is stored and protected
- how customers are informed about policy changes
- Bylaws: These are the rules of operation for corporations and are usually one of the first things drafted after incorporating.
- Annual and Financial Reports: Annual reports are drafted at the close of the fiscal year. Financial statements are prepared every quarter and at end of the fiscal year.
Documents for External Business Agreements
- Liability Release Forms: These forms are used to protect your business, usually for potentially dangerous activities.
- Advisor Agreements: Advisor Agreements include rules and boundaries for anyone you’ve appointed as an advisor.
- Consulting Agreements: Like the advisor agreement above, it gives your consultants rules for what they can and can’t do.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements: NDAs work to protect your business’s intellectual property.
- Employee Contracts: Signed upon hiring to define the rights, roles, and responsibilities of each employee.
- Indemnification Agreements: For companies who manufacture products that are sold to other businesses, this agreement transfers any liability associated with your product to the entity that is now in control.
- Ownership of Assets: An agreement that irons out who owns what is good to establish in the beginning, in case there’s ever an issue.
Documents for Internal Business Agreements
- Operating Agreement or Founder’s Agreement: This agreement outlines the function of the business as well as financial decisions.
- Technology Assignment Agreement: This agreement allows you to assign IP rights for technology developed within your company.
- Invention Assignment Agreement: Allows you to assign your inventions to your company.
- Board Consent: Shows that your board is on board with the business operations
- Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement: Allows you to assign your intellectual property to your business.
Documents for Funding
- Shareholder Agreements: Describes company operations and shareholders’ obligations and rights.
- Voting Agreement: Allows shareholders to act jointly towards a common objective.
- Stock Purchase Agreement: Lays out the terms and conditions regarding the sale and purchase of a company’s shares
- Right of First Refusal and Co-Sale Agreements: Makes sure that shareholders can’t liquidate shares until the majority has a chance to purchase them.
- Investor’s Rights Agreement: Outlines the rights and privileges given to stockholders in the company.
- Term Sheets: Shows the terms investors must abide by when making an investment in the company.
- Stockholder Consent: Allows a stockholder to make decisions without holding a stockholder meeting.
- Model Legal Opinion: An attorney uses this document when giving legal opinion to a client.
- Management Rights Letter: Gives venture capitalists certain rights, such as attending board meetings.
- 83(b) Election Form: Gives a startup owner the ability to pay taxes on the fair market value of their property.
- Due Diligence Request List: List of documents needed for a potential acquisition.
- Cap Table: List of the company’s securities and who owns them.
Not every business will need every document type on this list. It’s important that you find out exactly which you need in order to protect the interests of your business and your interests as a business owner.