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What legal documents do you need for your new business?

Perhaps you have thought about starting a business of your own for years, and the time has finally come to make your dream a reality.

You will need R&D professionals, an IT department, an online presence and much more. What kind of documents should you have?

Your business plan

A business plan provides the essential framework for your new endeavor. It is not actually a legal document, but you will need it if you should require financing or decide to sell your business.

An employment agreement

You will need to create an employment agreement, which you can use to outline company expectations and the obligations required of a new employee. The employment agreement is also an important document to have if a future dispute arises.

A nondisclosure agreement

The nondisclosure agreement is a legal document that all employees should sign as well as any contractors, partners or other individuals who might have access to inside information. This includes your financials, customer lists, new product ideas or any other kind of information that constitutes a confidential relationship.


The memorandum of understanding documents substantive conversations between you and potential business associates, suppliers or others interested in your business. While it might not be legally binding, the MOU is also useful for laying out the parameters for an upcoming project.

Terms of use and privacy policy

When you put up a company website, you should make sure you incorporate a “terms of use” section, which will limit your liability if, for example, there should be errors in content. Visitors can also read the terms to find out what they may or may not do on your site. Furthermore, if you collect personal information from visitors to your website, you must have a privacy policy to outline how such information will be used.

Liability risk management

Reducing the potential for liability must be a primary consideration when you start a business. Many of the documents you need can help to accomplish that goal. Once you have them in place, you can concentrate on building just the kind of company you have been dreaming about.

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