Startup Legal Advice

How to Start a Business

When starting up a business, you need to consider legal liability, tax issues, and overall business operation questions. A good startup business lawyer can provide legal tips and tax planning strategies during your company formation process.

There are many potential pitfalls when starting a business in Oregon or Washington, so it’s important to get solid legal advice to start your business on the right foot.

Starting a business often means more questions than answers. Will you do it alone or with partners? Do you need a business license? Are you leasing space or using a virtual office? Will you have more than one location? Do you need to hire employees right away or can you do everything yourself at first?

Working with a business attorney can help you plan for success.

James M. Hillas can help you create a comprehensive startup business plan, including:

  • Strategic, cost-effective business planning
  • Business entity selection and formation
  • LLCs and S-corporations
  • Registered agent service for Oregon business entities
  • Drafting and negotiating contracts
  • Risk management
  • Partnership and shareholder dispute resolution
  • Contract and lease enforcement
  • Governing documents
    • Operating agreements
    • Bylaws
    • Partnership agreements
    • Shareholder agreements
    • Buy-sell agreements
    • Risk Management Planning

Developing a Startup Business Plan

One of the key steps in starting a small business is charting a path to success.

Startup business planning forces you to question assumptions and think realistically about costs. Working with a skilled startup business lawyer helps integrate your business strategies and communicate them clearly to lenders, partners, and employees.

Business Entity Selection and Formation

One of the first issues in starting a business is identifying the right business structure. If you are the only owner, a sole proprietorship is simple to operate but offers no liability protection for you or your assets.

Most startup businesses should consider organizing as a limited liability company (LLC) or a subchapter-S corporation (S-Corp).

LLCs are popular because they are easy to set up and protect personal assets, but they may not be the best choice for tax purposes. S-Corps provide solid liability protection and may allow owners to reduce their payroll tax liability, but have more paperwork and reduced flexibility.

Unlike LLCs and S Corps, which are “pass-through” entities where business profits or losses are addressed on the owner’s individual tax returns, C corporations (C Corps) pay business income taxes before distributing profits to owners. Despite the “double tax” whammy, C corps may result in overall tax savings due to potentially larger write-offs.

There is no “one size fits all” entity choice, so talk with an experienced business attorney about what’s right for your business.

Multiple Business Owners

Business entity selection and formation is a critical step in starting a business.

If the business has more than one owner, it’s important to establish a business partnership agreement governing decision making, dispute resolution, and how owners can transfer their ownership rights.

Partnerships and Shareholders

A 50/50 partnership sounds great on the surface, but can result in gridlock if partners can’t agree on key decisions.

An effective partnership agreement allocates responsibilities among partners and has “deadlock-busting” provisions to resolve disputes. Likewise, a partnership agreement should have buy/sell provisions for how to value ownership interests and keep the business viable if an owner wants (or needs) to sell his or her portion of the company.

Legal Documents

A business lawyer advising startups drafts internal legal documents.

For example, LLCs are governed by an operating agreement. Corporations have bylaws instead. Both entities also should have a buy/sell agreement. Carefully drafted documents help manage risk and make it easier for the business to grow and succeed.

Startup Legal Advice from James M. Hillas, P.C.

Starting a business can seem overwhelming because there are lots of questions to answer and decisions to make. Working with an experienced business attorney will help manage risk and keep your business out of trouble.

Starting your business off right is important for setting yourself up for success down the line.

Get started on your business today with expert legal advice from James M. Hillas!


NOTE: This site is designed for general informational purposes only. The information contained in this site is not intended to be, and should not be construed as legal advice or the creation of an attorney/client relationship. An attorney/client relationship will not be created without the express written consent of James M. Hillas, P.C.

As a small business owner I take comfort in knowing that I have Jim in my corner when dealing with legal matters that pertain not only to my business but also my personal life. Jim has always been very responsive to my needs and has a wide range of knowledge in dealing with my company, my employees and my professional colleagues. I highly recommend Jim as legal counsel for any small business owner.

-Tom Reap, AmCheck of Portland

In the crowded world of legal 'experts', Jim clearly stands out as someone who is both personable yet professional, genuinely takes an interest in his clients and their respective situations, exhibits a strong work ethic and offers up a solution-based approach to any/all legal challenges.

-Nancy Evans

Jim is a valued business advisor and key part of my team of experts at EVO Solutions. He brings great experience and wisdom across a spectrum of legal and business issues. Jim's style is personable while quickly getting to the matter at hand, which consistently saves me both time and money. I deeply trust Jim's counsel and frequently recommend him to friends/colleagues. He is great to work with!

-Tom Flynn, EVO Solutions, LLC

I found Jim to have a very high level of integrity and honesty as well as a demeanor that made it much easier to work through the difficult issues I was facing. I have watched him grow in his acumen and expertise over the years and would not think twice about calling on him or recommending him.

-Thom Walters

I have worked together with Jim Hillas on a couple matters and have discussed many others with him. Jim is, in my opinion, the best type of lawyer. He combines comprehensive knowledge of corporate transactional and litigation law with extensive experience and unbeatable personal service. I highly recommend him.

-Chris Brooks, Brooks Estate Law PC

Jim advised me while I was setting up my first business. He reviewed some contracts for 'gotchas', advised me of good practices and pitfalls, and helped with some of the paperwork. He also set up my will. I found him to be articulate and careful and overall I was well served by getting his advice.

-Ken Millard, Aries Engineering, Inc

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