This past Monday night Maker Market presented the first class in the Maker Session series. Jan Pierce, local business attorney, led the discussion about where to start when taking your small business to the next level. “Become Something,” were his first true words of wisdom. This led to a discussion on what exactly to become and how to incorporate. Much time was spent on Limited Liability vs Corporation vs Sole Proprietorship and their individual pros and cons. He also explained what it means to have a DBA and how it was no longer needed. Jan then went on to structuring your business and how these different options affect your personal and business taxes. He covered topics on how to create a EIN number, and the benefits to having one compared to using your SSN. He also talked about the benefits of having a business checking account and how to open one. He fielded questions from the group about separating finances from their personal accounts. He explained the simplicity of filing taxes through a schedule C and tracking expenses to benefit your small business.
The next topic was the differences in patents, copyright, and trademark, how to apply and what kind of protection each will have for your work. Jan highlighted ways for makers to not only protect themselves, but give their small business power if ever being copied, stolen or used without permission. He then outlined how to recoup damages after the work was taken if you had successfully protected yourself vs. if you had never taken those steps. The session was filled with many questions throughout and then a lengthy question and answer towards the conclusion of class.
A valuable tip from this session is the knowledge that no matter how small and how young your company may be Jan always donates one free hour of legal advice to any potential business owner!
Here is a list of links discussed in the session for more information.
For information about creating a corporation or LLC: https://www.wdfi.org/apps/CorpFormation
For information about state trademark registration: http://wdfi.org/Notary_Public_and_Trademarks/defaultTrademark.htm
For information about federal trademark registration: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks
For information about federal copyright registration: http://copyright.gov
For information about sales and use tax: http://www.revenue.wi.gov/salesanduse
Also, here are links to a few columns that might be helpful.
About type of entity: http://bayviewcompass.com/2012/09/page/2
About sharing ownership: http://bayviewcompass.com/the-fine-print-how-do-i-avoid-being-held-hostage-in-my-own-company
About contracts: http://bayviewcompass.com/the-fine-print-do-it-yourself-contracts