BUSINESS & FINANCE
Avoid the Legal Pitfalls of Operating a Business With ongoing changes in the socio-political landscape as well as the influence of rapidly evolving technology, most businesses are too focused on day-today operations to consider the legal pitfalls they might encounter along the way. “These can manifest in Roni a million different scenarios, from employment law is- Robbins sues to federal, state and local tax and revenue issues,” said Bethani Oppenheimer, an associate at Greenberg Traurig, ranked 13th last year among the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s top 50 law firms in the city. We asked Oppenheimer, who specializes in banking and finance, to answer a few key questions about legal issues facing businesses today. AJT: What are some basic legal issues business owners manage when operating a business? Oppenheimer: All business owners need to understand the importance of choosing the right corporate structure from the beginning. It is almost always easier and less expensive to spend the time up front working with your accountants and attorneys through the shortand long-term plans for your business and deciding on a structure that best serves those plans. Additionally, almost all businesses are subject to some sort of licensing or permitting, even if it’s just a municipal business license. Other businesses are subject to state and federal regulations controlling their operations as well. AJT: What are some legal questions entrepreneurs should consider when
starting a business? Oppenheimer: Are all of your employees properly classified as hourly or salaried? Have you been timely collecting, withholding, reporting, and paying all applicable taxes? Are you doing business under a name that is different than the legal name under which your business is registered? Are you doing business in a different state than the state in which your business is registered or qualified? Are you properly protecting your customers’ data by maintaining compliance with all data and privacy laws applicable to your business? All of these questions are vitally important to the success and longevity of your business. AJT: What are the legal steps for starting a business? Oppenheimer: • You’re going to need a name and you’ll want to make sure that you’re legally permitted to use that name without infringing on the rights of another person. Your attorney can help you reserve or register that name with the applicable filing office in the state in which you want to form your business, perform a nationwide trademark search to see what other businesses are using the same or similar names, and ultimately file your name for trademark protection. • After you’ve picked a name for your business, you will need to incorporate or organize your business. Your attorney, in consultation with your accountants and other tax planning advisors, can help you choose the state in which to organize and what kind of corporate structure would best serve you and any other equity hold-
ers in the new busithat apply to all or ness by advising you most businesses, such on the tax and other as federal and state legal considerations employment laws. involved. Whether starting • The next thing a company or sucthat you’ll need is a cessfully operating federal tax identificaan existing one, Option number, state tax penheimer advises: and employer identi“Don’t be afraid to ask fication numbers, and questions about areas one or more business of the law and your licenses and permits, business that you do depending on the nanot understand. In ture of your business most industries, there Bethani Oppenheimer, an associate are numerous indusand where it will be at Greenberg Traurig, who specializes try-specific publicalocated. If you’re goin banking and finance. tions that frequently ing to have a physical location, your attorney can help you ne- send materials and updates highlighting developments in laws that affect your ingotiate a lease. • You should open a separate bank dustry.” ■ account under your business name to Greenberg Traurig represents businessensure that your business credit is separate from your personal credit. You’ll also es in such matters as mergers and acquisiwant the advice and counsel of an attor- tions, commercial loan transactions, real ney to ensure that you remain compliant estate, technology, intellectual property, litiwith applicable state and local laws that gation, and employment. The firm is very are specific to your business and those involved in the Atlanta Jewish community.
Shopping around for insurance? Don’t. Let your local Trusted Choice Independent Agent shop for you and find the right coverage. Protect all that you’ve built with a company you can trust.
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www.siegelinsurance.com 2987 Clairmont Road, Suite 425 • Atlanta, GA 30329 Phone: (404) 633-6332 • Toll Free: (888) 275-0553 As part of its involvement in the community, Greenberg Traurig hosts the Jewish Breakfast Club.
Andy N. Siegel CPCU, CIC, AAI • Adele Siegel Glasser AAI • Sheldon Berch ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES DECEMBER 7, 2018 | 19
Business & Finance