Do-it-yourself Legal Help

I unashamedly recommend Nolo as a source of many no-nonsense titles. Here is a list of ones that I think may be of interest special to you, but on their site you will find free information, books and software, as well as forms that you can download.

Also, given that I recommend bootstrapping your business and raising money (if you have to) from the people you already know, I also am a fan of a book called Investor

s in Your Backyard as the means for doing just that and doing it in an organized and legal fashion.

Legal Forms for Small Business

To avoid hiring a lawyer to draft the legal documents you need in the course of your day-to-day business, you can use the forms is this collection. The way I often work is to use such templates, editing a version and then just run it by my lawyer if I am in doubt.

This is an affordable solution, which provides over 60 legal forms and documents and step-by-step instructions to use them.

The collection of legal and business documents helps you:

  • create contracts to buy, sell, rent or store goods
  • hire employees and consultants
  • protect your trade secrets
  • create non compete agreements
  • prepare an LLC operating agreement
  • borrow and lend money
  • buy a business
  • lease commercial space
  • prepare corporate bylaws
  • record minutes of meetings
  • buy real estate
  • and more

Choose the Right Form for Your Business

LLC or Corporation? will help you make the right choice with plain-English explanations of:

  1. the basics of business entities
  2. how each business entity protects you from personal liability
  3. profits, losses and tax treatment
  4. converting from one type of business entity to another
  5. what to do if you conduct business out of state.

Making the right choice will affect your bottom line in many ways—from what you pay in taxes to your ability to seek money from investors. Buying this will cost a tiny fraction of what professional advisers would charge you and the quality of the information is entirely reliable. The other way to get help on which incorporation route to take is to ask another entrepreneur about it.

LLC Maker

The limited liability company (LLC) has become the most popular business form for smaller, privately held companies throughout the United States. With its tax benefits (the company is not taxed separately from personal taxes), financial flexibility and personal legal protection from business debts, LLCs offer you a safer and more convenient way to structure your business.

Whether you’re already in business or starting a new one, LLC Maker helps you take advantage of these benefits without paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees to lawyers and accountants. LLC Maker puts all the legal and tax information you need right at your fingertips. Use it to:

  • choose a valid name for your LLC in your state
  • generate and file Articles of Organization
  • prepare an Operating Agreement
  • choose important tax options that qualify your LLC for partnership tax treatment

LLC Maker streamlines and simplifies the time-consuming, paperwork-heavy process of creating forms. It also tailors every form and agreement to comply with your state’s laws. And if you’re ever stuck, the program’s comprehensive online help is available every step of the way.

Investors in Your Backyard

Investors in Your Backyard: How to Raise Business Capital from the People You Know: your business is your future, whether you’re starting up or expanding—but banks and other lending institutions aren’t willing to invest in your ‘unproven’ venture. The solution, as I have suggested on the Financing page, is to use friends, family and private investors. For more on this see my Crowdsourcing page.

With Investors in Your Backyard, you get the information, documents and calculators you need to create a solid agreement that works for everyone. Let it take you through the entire process of raising business capital—from developing and pitching a financing plan, to signing the paperwork.

The basic advantage of the book is that you can use the forms to ensure that if you are borrowing money from people that you know, you can make everything clear between you and the lender. This is likely to minimize misunderstandings and other difficulties that might jeopardize the relationship.

The included CD-ROM provides:

  • a loan request letter
  • promissory notes
  • letters of intent
  • stock purchase agreement
  • loan repayment calculators
  • and more.

Written by Asheesh Advani, whose proven methods for raising business capital have made him a pioneer in small business financing.