Legal Forms for Starting Up and Running Your Social Enterprise

Starting up and running your own social enterprise can be tough.

The Challenge of Social Entrepreneurship

It’s a challenge in itself, but it’s definitely worth pursuing. Many entrepreneurs would agree that starting up your first venture is likely to be the hardest of them all. The reason is because there is so much for you to learn and do, and you have to learn and do it all very quickly in order for your enterprise to survive and thrive.

Start Up Businesses and the Law

One particular area that needs to be decided upon at the outset of the venture is the legal business structure. Is your business a sole proprietorship? A partnership? A corporation? Or have you decided to create a non-profit venture like a charity?

Starting up a sole proprietorship is probably the easiest to set up out of them all. However, one thing in common with all these legal business structures is that you will need to be clear about your legal standing. In addition, as you start cranking in business, you will surely come across numerous occasions in which you will engage in contracts with other parties, such as partners, clients and suppliers. Again, you will need a clear sense of the legalities involved in these dealings.

Legal Advice as Often Too Costly for Start Ups

Many aspiring entrepreneurs are put off by the potential start up costs of a business, which includes legal costs. Sure, seeking legal advice when you start your business may be important. Nevertheless, when you are still in the very early start up stages, you may just want general guidance about the your legal duties and obligations. Getting advice from a lawyer at this very early stage may be too costly for you and inappropriate.

That’s where your personal research can be worth your while.

Do Your Own Research About Legal Forms and Legal Obligations

In my personal experience, I wanted to start up ventures but at the same time I didn’t want to spend too much money at the outset. I recognized that in the future, I may require legal advice, but for now, I only needed some guidance and an overal picture of my legal obligations. For example, I wanted to engage in a partnership with a friend. I believed we both had something to offer each other in the way of a harmonious business relationship. However, I wanted there to be an agreement between us about the nature of the partnership, our obligations as well as our stake in the business. We hadn’t fully talked about the business model yet but we had shared some ideas.

Since we were only in the initial stages of our ideas, I didn’t want to waste my money on getting a lawyer for advice or to get a legal form from him or her. Rather I sought out excellent examples of legal forms. I found that Nolo’s Legal Forms book was fantastic, particularly the section which provided a template Partnership Agreement. I used it as my very own template, and I edited it according to the specific circumstances of our business relationship. (I now think that the Nolo brand has partnered up with Quicken so the more recent versions are under the Quicken brand)

Find Legal Resources to Help You Succeed

I liked having that Nolo / Quicken Legal Forms resource on hand. It gave me more confidence and guidance, and I didn’t have to overly spend on legal costs with a lawyer. I admit that while it’s a great guide, once your agreements and your contracts and legal issues become more complex you should contact a lawyer. Nevertheless, for start up enterprises wanting some cheap help, you can do your own research and obtain legal templates to ease you into your start up phase.

What other legal resources have helped you in your start up phase?