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    IndianaStartup.com is a site created by Brian Powers as a resource for start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business.  

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    Entries in StartUps (8)

    Wednesday
    Jan132010

    Do I need a PPM to offer notes? (Private Placement Attorney - Debt PPM)

    This is a question I get from so many clients and potential clients that have the misconception that only stock in a corporation, membership interests in an LLC, or partnership interests in a partnership are "securities."  Under the Securities Act of 1933, a security is defined as:

    ...any note, stock, treasury stock, security future, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation in any profit-sharing agreement, collateral-trust certificate, preorganization certificate or subscription, transferable share, investment contract, voting-trust certificate, certificate of deposit for a security, fractional undivided interest in oil, gas, or other mineral rights, any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege on any security, certificate of deposit, or group or index of securities (including any interest therein or based on the value thereof), or any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege entered into on a national securities exchange relating to foreign currency, or, in general, any interest or instrument commonly known as a "security", or any certificate of interest or participation in, temporary or interim certificate for, receipt for, guarantee of, or warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing.

    Notice the first word is NOTE.  The words "EVIDENCE OF INDEBTEDNESS" are also used.  Notes, bonds, and indebtedness in general are a form of a security, and as such, any offering involving them must be handled and scrutinized in the same manner as an offering for equity (stock...etc).  This doesn't necessarily mean that you need a private placement memorandum (PPM) depending on the specifics of the offering, the types of investors you seek, or the securities law registration exemption you will pursue - but that is a determination that should be made by an attorney with experience in those matters.  

    So don't make the mistake of believing that debt instruments are not securities!

    Wednesday
    Jul152009

    New Blog for Start-ups and Small Business - IndianaStartup.com

    Up until now, this blog has really focused on start-up businesses and the many legal issues that come with running a start-up or small business.  That focus has been moved to a new blog I just launched today called IndianaStartup.com.  Here is short blurb about the new blog:

    IndianaStartup.com is a resource for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses. The site will constantly be evolving, but the focus is to provide information (not legal advice – see the Terms of Use/Disclaimer) that hopefully will be useful to the start-up community. Beyond the information supplied on this site, I am hopeful entrepreneurs will engage in a constructive dialgue by leaving comments about the articles posted here.

    IndianaStart-up.com also serves as a platform for start-ups to let the world know they exist through our Start-Up of the Week feature. This is something that is provided to qualifying start-ups free of charge. Hopefully this site will gain a strong following, and the platform provided will help more than a few start-ups get the word out.

    So please check out the new blog. I think it has lots of possibilities - and I am not totally sure what direction it will take.  I love the format, the platform and the message - so I am hopeful for good things.

    I will still be posting to this blog, but more on about personal musings related to my law practice. 

    I will also be launching two more blogs in the coming weeks - so stay tuned!

     

    Monday
    Jun222009

    Business Start-Up Attorney - Employees vs Independent Contractors

     One question I get from quite a few start-up clients of my business start-up law practice, is whether they should hire employees or independent contractors. After a brief discusion, those clients usually will opt to classify new workers as independent contractors instead of employees. This is mainly a cost saving decision. The costs attributable to hiring employees can be substantial, including workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance tax, social security tax and withholding and local payroll taxes.


    A good start to identifying workers as independnt contractors vs employees is to have a properly drafted agreement signed in writing by the company and the worker, although simply identifying a worker as an independent contractor, even in a signed agreement, does not mean that the law will recognize the worker as such. The law will look to factors such as the degree of control and direction the company has over the worker. Misclassification of a worker can lead to obligations to pay back taxes, penalties, and interest payments.

    If you are a start-up and have questions about how to classify your workers as independent contractors, make sure you seek the legal advice of a good business start-up attorney.

    Thursday
    May212009

    Starting a Business - A checklist of things to consider.

    If you are starting a business, there are a number of things you need to consider when you are in start-up mode, beyond what you might normally think of (i.e. the business name, business location, sales and marketing...etc).  From a legal perspective, here are some of the things you should carefully consider with the help of a business start-up attorney:

    • What form of business entity should you choose?  There are multiple entries on this blog dealing with the various forms of entity a start-up can choose from.
    • If there will be multiple owners (i.e. shareholders, partners or members), how will control of the business be structured?  
    • How much and how often will the business owners be paid should the business turn a profit?
    • What record keeping methods will the business employ?
    • Will the business hire employees, contractors, or a mix of the two?
    • What type of liability insurance will the business need?  How much will it need?
    • Will the business enter into a lease for space?  Or will it buy and develop its own real estate?
    • If the business will have employees, will it provide benefits? How will the business handle payroll?
    • What types of banking relationships will be necessary?
    • Will the business need to raise capital?  If so, will it be through debt or private equity?
    • Will any sort of license or permit be required to conduct business?

    These are just a few things that should be considered?  Need help sorting through your start-up business questions?  Contact start-up business attorney Brian V Powers.

     

    Friday
    May012009

    Starting a Business - Forming a Corporation

    A corporation is an entity created under statute that is separate and distinct from its owners. In other words, a corporation can be created only by following the requirements of the relevant statute (in Indiana, it is the Indiana Business Corporation Law) and will not automatically be created (as can be the case with some partnerships). Once formed, the corporation is recognized as being independent from you, the owner/shareholder. The corporation is managed by directors and officers; sometimes, the directors and officers are also the shareholders. From a liability standpoint, the corporation affords you complete protection; creditors must rely on the assets of the corporation and you are notpersonally liable for anything beyond your investment and financial commitment to the corporation.

    That said, lenders frequently require shareholders of smaller corporations to personally guarantee the debt of the corporation. Corporations are the most complex entities, both in terms of creation and operation. In addition to filing articles of incorporation, corporations need to adopt by-laws, elect directors and officers, and in many states, have regular meetings. There may also be annual reporting requirements with the Secretary of State in addition to annual fees.

    The shares of a corporation are freely transferable and unlike a partnership or limited liability company, the transferee of yourshares will succeed to all of your rights in those shares. In other words, the person to whom you transfer your shares will be just as much an owner of the corporation as you were. This ease of transferability can have significant impact later on as you begin to implement exit strategies (that is, you are ready to retire from
    the enterprise).

    From a tax perspective, corporations can also be more complex than their partnership and limited liability company counterparts. Usually, a corporation is a separate taxable entity. It pays tax on its income and later, when it distributes accumulated income to the shareholders, the shareholders will pay a second layer of income tax on those dividends. This “double taxation” is a significant drawback for most corporations. There is a special type of corporation (commonly referred to as an “S” corporation) that generally is not subject to double taxation. An “S” corporation allocates income and losses on a pro-rata basis to its shareholders, although the use of losses by a shareholder is limited to that shareholder’s basis in the corporation. You must strictly adhere to rigid equirements imposed on “S” corporations, and shareholders sometimes are surprised by how easy it is to terminate an existing “S” election inadvertently.

    Occasionally, a business owner might intentionally choose the double taxation of a regular corporation to take advantage of certain corporate tax benefits. For instance, while partners in a partnership cannot be employees of that partnership, shareholders in a corporation can be employees; as a result, these shareholders can participate in certain fringe benefits extended to “employees” under the federal tax law, such as flexible spending accounts. Other examples include (i) the ability of a corporation to participate in tax-advantaged reorganizations unavailable to partnerships and limited liability companies and (ii) the potential for up to $50,000 ($100,000 on a Married Filing Joint Return) of losses from the sale, exchange, or worthlessness of certain small business corporation stock to qualify for ordinary loss treatment (as opposed to capital loss treatment).

    As you can see from this post and my prior business entity selection and formation posts, a good deal of thought and care must go into your decision of what type of legal form your new business should take. Quite often, the advantages of one form will be offset by disadvantages not present in another. As mentioned, within similar types of legal forms, nuances exist that make the decision all the more difficult. By identifying the right combination of advantages and disadvantages and with the assistance of competent advisors, the right choice of entity selection can help ensure your business success.

    Contact Indiana business attorney Brian v. Powers if you need legal advice on setting up your Indiana business, and for your other business, legal needs.

    Monday
    Apr272009

    Starting A Business - Forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company)

    Beginning in the late 1980s, various states began exploring a hybrid entity, one in which co-owners would enjoy the liability protection of limited partner status and the management participation feature of the general partners. Wyoming was the first state to enact its limited liability company statute and many states quickly followed suit. Indiana adopted its limited liability company statute, known as the Indiana Business Flexibility Act, in 1993.

    Most of the characteristics of a partnership are shared by the limited liability company. The company is formed upon filing articles of organization with the Secretary of State’s office; rights and responsibilities are spelled out in a written operating agreement; the interests are freely transferable (though again, the transferee does not automatically become a member in the company); and the entity itself usually does not pay any tax, although some states other than Indiana do subject limited liability companies to franchise taxes. 

    A major difference between a partnership and a limited liability company is that each of its members enjoys liability protection. Another major difference is that in recent years, most states have recognized limited liability companies with only one owner. This means that you can protect yourself from personal liability and yet still operate your business, in many ways, as you would a sole proprietorship (presuming you comply with the formalities of the limited liability company). These so-called “single member LLCs” offer an important tax advantage—annual information can be reported on the owner’s individual tax return, and no separate tax return or identification number is required.

    A limited liability company can either be managed by its members, or the members may select one or more managers (e.g., a board of managers similar to a corporate board of directors) to run the business. Most states will require you to decide upfront how the company will be managed. All things being equal, most business owners will choose the limited liability company form over the partnership form. However, things are almost never equal and nuances do exist. It is important to discuss these details with your attorney.

     

    The Law Office of Brian V Powers works with new and prospective business owners to aid in the purchase, structuring and formation of a new business. We also provide convenient, fixed pricing for certain business formation legal services.  Contact us today at inquiries@bvplegal.com for help forming your Indiana Limited Liability Company.

     

    Saturday
    Apr252009

    Starting a Business - Forming a Partnership

    A partnership is an association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners of a business for profit. This means that a partnership can often arise automatically when you and one or more co-venturers start conducting business together. In most cases, you will want to spell out the rights and obligations between you and your partners in a legal document known as a partnership agreement. For example, the partnership agreement will provide that each partner is entitled to a certain percentage of the profits and/or losses from the business.

    In general, as a partner, you can sell or assign your interest in the partnership, and that transfer does not cause the partnership to dissolve. However, the transferee of your interest does not automatically become a partner. Rather, the transferee is merely entitled to a share of the profits and certain rights upon liquidation. To replace you in the partnership, that transferee must be admitted as a partner, usually by vote of the remaining partners. Interesting partnership issues can arise in the context of intellectual property protection. For example, where one partner invents certain patentable technology, absent an agreement to the contrary, it is not entirely clear whether the partnership itself is entitled to use the technology. This could potentially result in one partner having unforeseen leverage over his co-owner(s). 

    Nearly all partnerships are non-taxable entities; that is, while the partnership files certain tax returns, the partnership itself does not pay any federal, Indiana, or local taxes. What is more, you can typically make contributions to and take distributions from the partnership in a tax-free manner. For this reason, many business owners will choose the simplicity of the partnership form over a corporation. 

    A general partnership will not provide you or your partners with liability protection. Creditors can and often do look to the assets you own individually to satisfy liabilities. However, there is a special type of partnership known as a limited partnership. In this type of partnership, there are two types of partners; the general partners, who manage the affairs of the partnership, and the limited partners, who do not participate in the management. In a limited partnership, the general partners’ individual assets are subject to creditor claims, but the limited partners enjoy liability protection. Absent unusual circumstances, the most a limited partner stands to lose in the business enterprise is the partner’s capital investment. 

    A limited partnership is subject to a slightly higher degree of formality in that it must file a certificate of limited partnership with the Indiana Secretary of State before it can be formed.

    My entrepreneurial law / start-up law practice helps clients choose the appropriate type of partnership, form partnerships, and draft partnership agreements.  Contact Indianapolis business attorney Brian Powers for help with your partnership.

     

    Wednesday
    Apr222009

    Starting a Business - Choosing the Right Form of Business Entity

    So, you have come up with the next great idea and you are ready to begin building your fortunes. One of the first questions you should ask is “what type of business should I be,” or as we lawyer-types put it, “what choice of business entity should you make”? Choosing the proper legal entity with which to conduct business is one of the most important decisions a business owner faces. This early decision will determine myriad other issues including responsibility for tortious acts, complexity of the entity, ability to transfer interests in the entity, ease of additional capital infusions, protection of intellectual property, and, of course, liability for the payment of taxes, to name just a few.

    The list of available entity forms is fairly extensive. From the more traditional corporations and partnerships to the more exotic state business trusts and conduits, it seems there is a form for everyone, and in most cases, multiple forms. In some instances, it may be appropriate to forego a separate entity and conduct your business as a sole proprietorship. In a sole proprietorship, the business is conducted in the owner’s individual capacity. Perhaps intuitively, a sole proprietorship offers no protection from liability, but it is the simplest way to conduct business. Generally, no separate documents or records need to be filed with any governmental authority, including the Internal Revenue Service.When a business owner wants to sell his or her sole proprietorship, it will always be a sale of the underlying business assets.

    Future blog entries in this series will focusing on the three most common types of entities — partnerships,limited liability companies, and corporations.  Each of these has important characteristics that distinguish one from the others. By recognizing these differences, you can begin to highlight the factors that will influence your decision on which form of entity to select.

    The Law Office of Brian V Powers works with new and prospective business owners to aid in the purchase, structuring and formation of a new business. We also provide convenient, fixed pricing for certain business formation legal services.  Contact us today at inquiries@bvplegal.com.