IANABM (I am not a business major), but...
August 27, 2006 6:32 PM   Subscribe

What books and websites should a non-business-major read to learn about the legal and practical aspects of starting a small business partnership in the US (MD, to be exact)?

An employer I've interned with recently offered me the right to "franchise" their business in my local area -- I set up a business entity with a couple of my co-interns; we license their name and proprietary technology to operate in our home state in exchange for a share of our profits. I don't have a business background, and want to learn what I need to know to evaluate this offer and make a decision about the profitability of such an endeavor. I'm looking for books, websites, etc, that cover the details that go into this -- lawyers and the issues surrounding their care and feeding, estimating overhead costs, market research, finding insurance, working out the legal details of hiring employees/payroll/social security/medicaid/etc, and anything else relevant. Basically, I need a crash-course in small business. Help me, hivemind!
posted by Alterscape to Work & Money (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The SBA is helpful. And I bet your local Chamber of Commerce/City Hall can point you in some right directions.
posted by notyou at 7:34 PM on August 27, 2006

I would check out Nolo Press' Legal Guide For Starting & Running A Small Business. Their guides generally get good reviews, and the publishers have been in the "do it yourself" law-related book business for a while now.
posted by booksherpa at 8:04 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

[note: lack of impartiality as I work here] Entrepreneur.com. Start in the "starting a business" section. We also sell state guides for legal entities on Entrepreneurpress.com.

Look for your local Small Business Development Center. They offer free or low-cost help, and are often on college campuses. SCORE is also a great organization to check out. They offer business mentoring.

And above all, hire a lawyer as soon as you get serious. Look for similar small businesses (or businesspeople you know and admire as mentors) and ask for attorney recommendations. Interview a few before you decide whom to hire.
posted by faunafrailty at 8:59 PM on August 27, 2006

The 'Lectric Law Library is a good place to visit.

Note: I am not a lawyer. However, I recently took a course in corporate law to get my paralegal certificate from an ABA-certified school, and the instructor (who is a lawyer, but obviously not your lawyer) said she finds the site very useful, and nearly all of our homework assignments consisted of downloading forms from that website and filling them out.

And of course, I second what others said about hiring a lawyer who deals in business law.
posted by invisible ink at 9:19 PM on August 27, 2006

i liked a book called "small time operator", but i'm not sure how it compares to others.
posted by lgyre at 9:51 PM on August 27, 2006

I second the NOLO book. Be aware that the SBA is not the friendly information and financing resource that many people seem to think it is. As nearly as I can tell from everybody who has actually dealt with them in the last 5 years, they are primarily in the business of guaranteeing second mortgages.

Since some of the issues in play are regulated on the state level, it is essential that you find someone who knows the state rules and laws. That person might be a lawyer (then again that person might be a small business advocate, or a mentor, or a really business savvy uncle but if you had one of those you wouldn't be posting here now would you...).
posted by ilsa at 9:05 AM on August 28, 2006

I highly recommend the e-Myth books, like this one (subtitle: Why Most Small Business Don't Work and What To Do About It), by Michael Gerber. It has earned 4.5 stars on Amazon, with 200 reviews. It will explode a lot of your preconceived notions about what it means to run a small business.
posted by nancoix at 11:23 AM on August 28, 2006

« Older Advice on Carpet Tile pile?   |   Tribe that link the throat with the soul Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.