With the latest Heartbleed bug tech breach still on everyone’s minds, small business owners everywhere are heavily taking their online security into consideration. Security means something different to everyone. As with the bug, you can want security in terms of privacy, but you can also want security in terms of protection or confidentiality to the structure of your business. Entrepreneurs put a lot out on the line when they become small business owners. It’s easy for formerly private information to become public, and it can also be easy to mix up your personal affairs with what should be considered business.
Here are the three best ways small business owners can protect their personal assets, intellectual property and their privacy.
Incorporate, or form an LLC
The easiest and most effective way to protect your personal assets is by incorporating your business, or forming an LLC. When you incorporate or create an LLC, you are legally separating yourself from your business, making your small business a sole entity. That means, if you were ever to fall in to debt, and your business owed some serious money, your personal assets (like your car, house, and other outside property) would not be at risk. The only thing that would be at risk would be the business itself. Anyone who starts their own business is taking a big leap of faith and a lot of entrepreneurs like the comfort of knowing that they have formed a corporation or LLC to keep their family and personal affairs separate from their professional affairs.
Get a trademark
Where incorporating will protect your personal assets, filing a trademark will protect your brand. By filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you’re protecting your brand identity by preventing anyone else from using your name, design, or logo. Having your identity all to yourself will help your customers find you and only you. It will also keep your business from getting confused with another similar business that might not have as positive of a reputation as your brand does.
Hire an outside registered agent
Though it varies in every state, most businesses have the option of becoming their own registered agent. If you’re trying to save some money, being your own RA can be a big positive in that regard, though what you’re not getting is the sense of privacy an outside registered agent gives you. RAs receive important legal paperwork or paperwork from the state concerning your business. If your business were ever to be delivered anything you wouldn’t necessarily want your employees or customers to see, such as severance papers, that would be delivered to your RA and you would be notified discreetly. They also help remind your business of upcoming state deadlines, which is another helpful bonus.
The views expressed here are not intended as legal advice, if you have specific legal inquiries or concerns you should contact an attorney.