Knowing how the law affects your business is crucial to long-term success.

We’ve seen many different methods in which “start-up information” is delivered to entrepreneurs. Some articles are technical, giving you a step-by-step process in how to go from an intangible idea to a tangible business. Other content speaks to strategies that business owners can implement in their own ventures. 

What Goodlawyer wants to bring to the table is an all-in-one document that ties together all of the legal concepts that have an impact on your start-up. The legal landscape can dramatically influence your business for the better (and the worse too, if you’re not careful) so we want to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot.

DISCLAIMER: This article and any articles linked below were prepared for our audience by the team at Goodlaywer. These articles were created for informational use only. The information contained within these articles is not to be treated as legal advice. Every business will have its own unique circumstances and should consult a legal professional about their situation in detail.

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The Legal Roadmap

Instead of brushing off dusty legal textbooks or Googling arcane case law, we’re going to take a different approach to legal education. We’re going to look at it from the perspective of a “Day 1 Entrepreneur” instead.

You (our reader) might fit this description of a Day 1 Entrepreneur: Maybe you have a great new idea and you’re ready to put it to the test. Maybe you realize there’s a bunch of logistical questions that you don’t have the answers to. Maybe some of the problems you’re facing are eating up valuable time or stopping you from working on your business altogether.

Day 1 Entrepreneurs should focus on four main legal topics that should be at the forefront of any new venture. Becoming fluent in the law – and how it affects your business – is critical to navigating these issues when they arise. What better way to navigate the legal landscape than with a trusty and all-encompassing Roadmap? We want to get our members informed enough to readily identify and recognize important legal issues as they emerge in relation to their business.

Unsure how to get started? Business Link clients get an exclusive promotion for free legal advice. Book your first advice session with Goodlawyer for free using promo code BUSINESSLINK ($39 value).

Topic 1: Business Law

Business law plays an important role no matter what stage your business is in. It comes in before your venture is even off the ground to determine how your business looks, throughout various peaks and valleys, all the way to exploring founder exit strategies. It can dictate what responsibilities you have to consider, how to protect yourself from risk and liability, how you’ll expand your business, and the list goes on. From our experience, best practice is to be aware of these implications right from the very start.

If you’re new to this area, we recommend you check out some additional content in the following order: 

(Small) Business Law and Why It Matters

There’s a lot you need to consider when you start your business. This piece explains what areas of the law will affect start-ups and provides tips on incorporation.

To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate?

Is your business at the right time to incorporate? What’s the big deal in creating a company vs. going at it alone? Our guest contributors at True North Accounting weigh in.

Incorporation First Steps: Articles 101

Want to take the plunge? Understanding what Articles of Incorporation and creating your own is essential to understanding corporate law and its direct impacts on your business.

Legal 101
Legal 101
Examining Shareholder Agreements

Having strong, fair, and predictable relationships between your company’s shareholders can be the difference between long-term growth and short-term collapse.

Founderproofing Basics

It’s a tough topic to talk about, which makes it even more important. As your company grows, you or some members of the founding team may leave and you have to protect the company from any conflicts.

Corporate Taxes and Getting Started with the CRA

A two-for-one! Every day, customers ask our Good Lawyers what the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating their business would be. Corporations pay taxes that are completely different from other business types.

Topic 2: Intellectual Property

It’s a broad topic to broach, but the key to making intellectual property (IP) law work for your business is knowing what part of the law applies where and when. IP applies to more than just tech companies; it has a big impact on a variety of crucial aspects like your company brand, creative works, potential secret sauce recipes, and more.

We recommend going through the first post and then picking whatever topic you’re interested in.

Intellectual Property Law and Why It Matters

Understanding intellectual property is critical to running a start-up or small business. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most confusing and commonly misunderstood areas of the law.

Copyrights, a Primer

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) defines copyright as the exclusive legal right to produce, reproduce, publish or perform an original literary, artistic, dramatic, or musical work.

Legal 101
Legal 101
Trademarks, a Primer

A trademark is very important to a company. The golden arches and McDonald’s, the check with Nike. Find out how to get started and what you can’t trademark!

Patents, a Primer

Designed an invention that’s going to revolutionize the world? Make sure you check if someone’s trying to do the same thing you are and protect your idea!

Trade Secrets and Industrial Designs

While trade secrets and industrial designs aren’t as prevalent in intellectual property law, they may be areas of your business. Check out the information from the federal government or book a call with one of our IP Lawyers to find out more.

Topic 3: Employment Law

For the entrepreneur, employment law marks an exciting milestone in their business. The demands of your business are so high, you need to start bringing in some extra help. Considerations around this area can be broken up into a couple of categories.

We recommend you walk through the content below in order:

Employees or Independent Contractors?

When you’re getting extra help for your business, it’s important to consider how involved you want the help to be. There are pros and cons to both, so get informed enough to make the right decision for your company.

What’s Up with Employment Standard Codes?

If you’ve made the decision to hire employees, that’s great! The law has a bit to say on what your responsibilities are as an employer. It’s different between the provinces, but there are lots in common too.

Legal 101
Legal 101
Ins and Outs of Employment Agreements

The relationship you have with your employees is governed by what’s set out in their employment agreements. You’ll want to be clear about the extent of their duties and what’s going to happen if it doesn’t work out.

Termination without Cause and Wrongful Dismissal

Sometimes the employee/employer relationship fizzles out. In the event that an employee leaves your company, you’ll want to handle the termination proceedings efficiently and within the boundaries of the law.

Topic 4: Contracts

Contracts are the way in which the first three Legal 101 topics materialize, and they come in all forms, shapes, and sizes. They’re generally understood as “enforceable promises”, so they add a level of certainty and trust between parties that don’t know each other very well. Certainty and trust are two cornerstones to any successful business relationship. Contracts can be used to:

  • Prevent a party from doing something: “Don’t steal my business idea and set up a rival company!”
  • Guarantee that a party does something: “Ship me 100 gallons of ice cream for this price and on this date!”, and
  • To otherwise plan out relationships between the signors of said contract: “I am now your personal masseuse, sign here and here so you can’t sue me if I injure you!”

There’s a lot to cover in contracts law, so we made a Roadmap inside of a Roadmap. Check out Goodlawyer’s Ultimate Contract Law Guide. We go into all of the hum-drum legal principles, the different kinds of contracts you should be looking out for, best practices, and pitfalls to watch out for!

The End of the Roadmap (for now!)

A heartfelt congratulations if you’ve gone through all of the content in the Roadmap – it was a lot to take in!

Alternatively, if you scrolled down to the end of the page to see if there was anything more than just a massive pile of legal resources – respectable, we get it. It still deserves congratulations because the fact that you opened up this post is a testament that you’re serious about your start-up. 

Like the businesses you are all cultivating, this Roadmap will be constantly updated as new content is added as we shed more light on the legal needs that entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. This post is up to date as of September 2021.

Other Resources

Meeting Minute Template(s)

At Goodlawyer, we often get two related questions from company owners: What are meeting minutes, and where can I get a template of them?

What are Lawyer Lookups?

Finding a lawyer lookup service can be intimidating when you don’t know where to look. Many government websites are of poor quality and can be confusing to read. Check this one out instead!

Legal Terms Every Entrepreneur Should Know

There are plenty of documents to sign, agreements to draft, policies to prepare, and unfortunately, not everything is written out in simplified language. Our legal experts have assembled this quick-reference glossary for you to familiarize yourself with the legal terms you’re likely to encounter.

Legal 101

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