Business Law & Growth

If you're the kind of entrepreneur who wants to make a real difference while you're in business and leave behind a body of work that continues to do good for your family, your customers, and the world after you're gone, you've come to the right place.

Business formation is a pivotal time in your new company's lifecycle. Your choice of entity impacts ownership, liability, taxes, profit sharing, ongoing management, eventual sale, and much, much more. Sky Unlimited can help you make the ideal choice.  

Continue reading


We help our clients leverage their IP, establish a competitive position for the future, and achieve important milestones for growth.  Our chief goal is to identify key areas in which IP protection is the most critical for achieving the company's business objectives, determine the most effective methods of protection, and create strategies to avoid issues with third-party patents.  

Continue reading


The traditional law business model is flawed. It incentivizes lawyers to spend more time on matters (since they are billing for every hour in six-minute increments), increase conflict (the more conflict there is, the longer the engagement), and constantly focus on the next new client (one off transactions are the norm in most legal practices). Plus, the world has shifted and quite a lot of legal work has become commoditized into online legal drafting software, documents on demand and do-it-yourself lawyering. 

 

Lawyers, not being entrepreneurs, tried to compete and became mere shadows themselves - document drafters, doing one-off transactions for clients, such as incorporating business, and then went on the hunt for the next new client.

 

Not us! We build lifetime relationships with our clients. Because a legal relationship not built upon a lifetime foundation is worthless. Really. If you want a transaction, go online and find a document drafting service. If you want someone great that will help you move your awesome idea into a revenue generating business, take your existing business to the next level of excellence, and prepare you and your business to leave behind a legacy of significance, you've come to the right place.

 

Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory will work with you to grow your business from day one. We support startups and small businesses through their exciting lifecycle, from business formation to sale - and every challenge and opportunity in between.


Entrepreneur Weekly

Articles from the Chief Counsel's desk.  Sign up for our newsletter to receive these in your email!

Is Your Original Written Content Protected from Theft

Today, the majority of small businesses have their own websites.

If you have included original written content such as blog posts, articles, or FAQs on your website as part of your efforts to draw people to your site and engage with new and existing customers, this is a valuable intellectual property you should take steps to protect.

 

Register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Although your written content is under copyright protection from the moment it is created and can be perceived directly or using a device such as a computer or mobile phone, you cannot bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement, i.e., theft or unauthorized use, unless you have registered your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration also makes it easier for you to be successful in a lawsuit against an infringer. If you register your work within five years after it is published, the copyright and the facts contained in the certificate of registration the Copyright Office places in the public record will be presumed to be valid unless the person you are suing for infringement can provide evidence refuting them.

 

If you register your work within three months after you publish it or before an infringement of your work occurs, you will not have to prove the actual damages you have suffered as a result of the infringement in a lawsuit against the infringer. Rather, you will be able to recover an amount set by the federal copyright law (currently $750 to $30,000 per infringement, depending upon the court’s discretion) as well as costs incurred as a result of the lawsuit, including attorneys’ fees.

 

Damages may be difficult, if not impossible, to prove. For example, it is nearly impossible to show how many customers purchased the infringer’s product instead of yours because of the infringement. Thus, the ability to obtain the damages set by statute is crucial to ensuring you are compensated if someone uses your work without your permission. This is an important deterrent to those who may steal your work, as you will be entitled to the statutory amount every time someone views the infringer’s website—which can add up quickly. It also serves as leverage if you request that your content be removed from the infringing website rather than immediately filing a lawsuit.

Read More

Managing the Money Aspect of Your New Business: It’s Easier Than You Think

Coming up with a great idea that can be turned into a prosperous business venture takes a certain talent.

Knowing how to get your great idea financed and properly managed, takes another.  However, it may be easier than you think.

 

What You Need, What You’ve Got, and Where to Get the Rest

If you think you’re in over your head when it comes to the financial aspects of your business, you’re probably not.  Really. In fact, all you need to do is sit down with an experienced business lawyer and determine what money you need, what you’ve got, and where to get the rest.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the following are some of the financial areas in which to focus on when financing your new business:

 

Estimating Startup Costs.  While the most important startup cost will likely be “seed” money (the funds necessary to bring your idea to life), others include:

  • ongoing costs – such as insurance, inventory, and utilities;
  • one-time costs – such as incorporation fees;
  • essential costs – such as fixed expenses (rent, utilities, administrative, etc.) and variable expenses (inventory, shipping, packaging,  commissions, etc.); and
  • optional costs – such as advertising, signage, or grand opening activities.
Read More

4 Reasons to Consider Changing Your Business Structure

As your small business expands and evolves, it may make sense to consider changing its structure. Many small businesses start out as sole proprietorship or partnerships, with only one or two owners and no employees.

Over time, as your business grows and changes, a more complex business structure may become beneficial. There are several key considerations in deciding whether a change in your business structure may be right for you and your company.

 

1. Protection from personal liability. If your small business has hired employees, taken out loans, or provided products or services to customers, you, as the owner of the business, may be exposed to extensive personal liability for business-related damages in lawsuits against the business unless you have selected a business entity that limits potential liability to business assets. In an LLC, for example, members can only lose the amount they have invested in the LLC, and they are generally not liable for business debts or obligations.

 

2. Changes in ownership. If you have been a sole proprietor, but now want to add one or more business partners, it is beneficial to formalize the arrangement by entering into a partnership or limited liability company (LLC), with a partnership or operating agreement that clearly spells out everyone’s rights and obligations.

 

Read More

Does Your Home-based Business Qualify for the Home Office Deduction?

According to the Small Business Administration, about 50% of all businesses are home-based.

If you are one of the many owners of a home-based small business, you should consider whether your home office meets the IRS requirements for the home office deduction, which is a sometimes overlooked way to reduce taxes.

 

How Do I Qualify for the Home Office Deduction?

Although the home office deduction was eliminated for employees as part of the 2017 tax reform, owners of home-based businesses may still take advantage of this deduction as long as they meet the following requirements set out by the IRS.

 

1. You must use your home office exclusively for the operation of your business. To qualify as exclusive use, your office must be located in a separate room or rooms, or even a section of a room if you have a clear division, such as a partition, to exclude personal activities from that part of your home. If you use the office during the week, but your children use it as a playroom on the weekend, your office will not qualify for the home office deduction. If you occasionally engage in very limited personal activities, e.g., if you make an occasional personal phone call from your office, just as you might if you worked at another location, this is not likely to preclude you from meeting the exclusive use test. 

Read More

Legal Issues to Consider Before Selling Your Product Online

If you are considering expanding your physical business or starting a home-based business, selling your products online is a great way to reach additional customers.

Before you begin to sell products online, there are several legal issues you should be aware of to ensure that your business is compliant with the law and that your interests are protected.

 

Business entity. If you are starting a new business to pursue online sales, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons of different business structures. A sole proprietorship is uncomplicated and inexpensive, as no separate business entity is formed. In a sole proprietorship, there is no distinction between your business and personal assets, so you are personally responsible for all the business’s debts and liabilities. A partnership is a similarly simple business structure used when two or more people co-own a business. Like a sole proprietorship, you will be personally liable for all the business’s obligations—including those incurred by your partner. A limited liability company (LLC) is a separate business entity that can be formed by a single business owner or multiple owners. It involves the payment of certain fees to the state and a few formalities, such as an annual meeting, and in some states, an annual report. An LLC, however, provides limited liability, meaning, if someone is injured by one of your products, they can only sue the business, and your personal assets will be protected. Other business structures are available as well—these are just some of the most common structures used by small businesses. We can help you evaluate which business structure will best achieve your goals.

 

Trademarks. A trademark is a word, name, symbol, device, or a combination of them used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods and services of a seller or provider, and to indicate the source of a good or service. A trademark is one of your business’s most valuable assets, and if you engage in e-commerce transactions beyond your state’s borders, it is important to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which enforces your rights as a trademark holder across the entire country, not just the state in which your business is located.

Read More

DIY Investment Management of Retirement Assets

As baby boomers begin to retire, the burden of making management decisions regarding their retirement assets may seem daunting.

This is especially true for those who choose to forego using professional investment advisors and instead self-manage their assets. Despite the challenges, there are benefits to choosing to manage your retirement assets on your own, particularly if you are a business owner with expertise in the area in which you choose to invest your funds. The primary benefits associated with managing your retirement assets are:

 

 

  • Exercising greater control over what types of investments you make,
  • Enjoying greater flexibility in organizing these investments, and
  • Avoiding high fees sometimes associated with having a financial advisor.

If you choose to pursue the DIY method, a reasonable option for you to explore is the self-directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA). A self-directed IRA is like other retirement accounts that allow individuals to save for retirement. A self-directed IRA can take the form of any of the more common ROTH, SEP, and traditional IRAs, allowing your investments to enjoy benefits like tax-free growth or specified tax-deferment. The self-directed IRA’s unique attribute relates to the types of investments that are permitted. Unlike standard IRAs, a self-directed IRA extends beyond mutual funds and stocks. With a self-directed IRA, a custodian can also invest in real estate, private company stock, precious metals, and all other investments available by law.

Read More

Important Considerations for Purchasing a Business

Among those who desire to own their own business, many attempt to build a company from scratch. That, however, is not the only available option.

Purchasing a company that is already in existence is a valid alternative. If you are interested in potentially acquiring a business instead of starting one from the ground up, there are several vital questions to answer.

 

•  Do you want to purchase an independent business or a franchise? One decision you must make is whether you wish to buy a franchise or an independent company. Each option presents its own unique set of circumstances. With franchises, you are part of a systematic network built around an established name. There may be stringent requirements regarding the systems and procedures you must follow as a franchisee. If you opt to purchase an independent business, you may enjoy the benefit of increased flexibility, but may require more research and business development to acquire the same level of recognition an established franchise— properly situated—may have.

  • Does this business suit your lifestyle? Another significant factor is the type of lifestyle you desire to enjoy. Different businesses may require different types of lifestyles. If you choose to purchase a restaurant, you may be required to be at the restaurant during times when most ordinary family gatherings occur. For some, that is a sacrifice they are willing and able to make. Other industries and businesses call for frequent travel. As an owner, you must understand what you value and what you can handle.
Read More

What Records Do Small Businesses Need to Keep for Taxes?

Tax season is just around the corner, so now is a great time to make sure that you are retaining all the documentation you need to back up the income, deductions, and credits listed on your small business’s tax return.

Keeping the proper records is not optional—it is required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

 

Recordkeeping System

The IRS does not require a specific type of record-keeping system. Rather, you must simply use one that clearly shows your income and expenses. Although the type of business you own affects the types of records you need to retain for taxes, in general, you should keep records (either hard copies or electronically) summarizing your business transactions. This summary may be included in your business books, such as accounting journals and ledgers, which show your gross income, deductions, and credits. Your business’s checking account may be the main source of the information included in your business books.

 

Supporting Documents

Not only should you maintain a summary of your business transactions, but it is also important to keep supporting documents that can be used to verify the accuracy of your summary. According to the IRS, small businesses should keep:

 

1. Documents showing the amounts and sources of your gross receipts, i.e., the income you receive from your business. These documents include:

  • Cash register tapes
  • Deposit information
  • Receipt books
  • Invoices
  • Forms 1099-MISC (required for each person to whom you paid rents, services performed by a non-employee, other income payments, etc.)
Read More

What You Need to Know about Business Opportunity Laws

If you are interested in starting a new business, you may be attracted by “out of the box” business opportunities offered by sellers that promise immediate success.

Some of these schemes have rightly earned a bad reputation, for example, false promises that you will make thousands of dollars per week simply by stuffing envelopes. Other business opportunities are legitimate but federal and state laws have been enacted to protect purchasers from being misled.

 

What Is a Business Opportunity?

The definition of a business opportunity is spelled out in the Federal Trade Commission’s Business Opportunity Rule (FTC Rule), which applies in all 50 states. In addition, about half of the states have their own business opportunity laws. In those states, if a business opportunity falls within the FTC Rule’s definition, then it must comply with that rule as well as with state law, if state law includes additional, more stringent requirements.

 

Generally, under the FTC Rule, a business opportunity is a commercial arrangement in which:

  1. A seller solicits a prospective purchaser to enter into a new business; and
  2. the prospective purchaser makes a required payment; and
  3. the seller represents (either in writing or orally, and either by an express statement or by implication) that the seller or another named person or persons will do at least one of the following: provide locations for the business to operate; provide outlets, accounts, or customers; or purchase any or all of the goods or services the purchaser produces or provides.

Note: The FTC Business Opportunity Rule does not apply to franchises, which are a different type of business arrangement that typically involves an ongoing relationship between the buyer and the seller, higher upfront costs, and more rules for the buyer to follow in operating the franchise. In contrast, business opportunities do not involve an ongoing relationship, cost less, and do not require buyers to follow the seller’s rules in running the business.

Read More

Attention Small Business Owners: New Overtime Rule Issued by the Department of Labor

At the end of September, the Department of Labor issued a new overtime pay rule that will take effect on January 1, 2020.

According to the Department of Labor, the new rule will make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay. It is important for small businesses with employees to be aware of the changes to avoid violating the rule by misclassifying their employees, which could result in the payment of back overtime, civil or criminal penalties, and damages.

 

The Basics

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay employees overtime pay (1 ½ times their regular hourly rate) for hours worked exceeding 40 hours in a workweek unless the employees are exempt because they are (1) paid a salary (2) of at least a minimum amount and (3) meet certain tests regarding their job duties. Although there are some exceptions, generally, the following tests must be satisfied:

  1. Payment of a salary: For an employee to be exempt from overtime requirements, the employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that will not be reduced based on the quantity or quality of the work performed.
  2. Payment of a minimum salary: The salary must be of a certain minimum amount specified by law.
  3. Duties test: The employee’s primary job duties must fall within the categories of executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, or computer employees. Certain highly compensated employees who meet a more relaxed duties test are also exempt.
Read More