An Introduction to Business Law

Whether someone is thinking of starting a business, is in law school, or just has an academic curiosity, at one time or another they may find themselves asking the question “What is business law?” A basic introduction to business law can help in a variety of situations both personal and professional. Business laws cover a wide breadth of topics that include rules for how business conduct their commerce, rules about the treatment and protection of employees, guidelines for intellectual property, insurance requirements and of course tax requirements.

While many entrepreneurs realize that there will be commerce laws that regulate their business’s sales and purchases, they may not realize that these commerce laws can vary depending on whether or not transactions are made online or in person, and whether or not the transactions are made nationally or internationally. There are even various laws concerning whether commerce involves transporting the goods by sea. Anyone starting a business will want to make a list of every possible type of transaction the business will make, whether consumer facing or not, to get a real picture of the commerce laws they will need to comply with.

There are a plethora of resources for anyone who is considering starting a business and needs an introduction to business law, including information about commercial transactions:

On top of transactional laws, an introduction to business law should include information about laws pertaining to the treatment of employees, intellectual property laws, and insurance requirements for businesses. While budding entrepreneurs may consider that employees will need tax forms, workers’ compensation and insurance benefits, they may not consider the fact that they are responsible for making sure all employees are eligible to work in the United States. Proper background checks can help identify employees without proper documentation, which may prevent Immigration Audits. Intellectual property laws can also impact both your business and employees, as copyright and patent issues may not arise only among competitors, but among employees. Business owners may want to have their employees sign nondisclosure agreements and intellectual property contracts in order to protect company products, and ideas formulated on company time. Many businesses are required to have insurance to cover both the space and employees, but there is also insurance that can assist in protecting those intellectual ideas. On top of these basics, there are plenty of resources for learning about current small business laws:

Many states now have e-filing options that allow entrepreneurs to pursue their business ventures from the comfort of their own homes. The most common types of small businesses that can be filed online are sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, and partnerships. Business laws vary by state, as do the forms that need to be submitted and the tax implications of starting a business, so business owners are advised to review the guidelines for their state thoroughly. Here are some of the state e-filing sites that are available: