Brentwood Law Blog

Using strategic presentation to protect business concepts

For many entrepreneurs in Tennessee, the thought of starting a business from an original idea is met with great excitement and anticipation for the future. Developing a concept from an idea to an actual product or service requires an immense amount of time and dedication. One of the biggest risks that entrepreneurs face is being able to protect their business concepts from being stolen and replicated. 

Forbes suggests several strategic steps that start-up businesses can incorporate into their processes to better protect their concepts from competitors. These include the following:

  • They should know who their message recipients are. Investors are a powerful tool in building and developing any business concept. However, if sensitive information gets into the wrong hands, an entrepreneur's success can be compromised.
  • They should be careful of the things they say. When pitching a new idea, entrepreneurs should be informative, but avoid revealing critical details that could compromise the confidentiality of their idea. 
  • They should document all communications with potential investors and partners where details about business concepts are discussed. These may be valuable in the future if their idea is compromised and they need evidence to back their claim. 

Successful blended families and stepparent adoption

When a blended family forms, you and your partner begin to forge a new life together with the children from one or both of your previous relationships. The rewards can be tremendous, but there can be challenges as well. With new children comes new rules, new demands and new expectations. If you’re willing to meet those challenges, a blended family can be, well, successfully blended.

Fair warning: the odds are against you. Our country’s divorce stats certainly are sobering. Approximately 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce. The odds of divorce moves to 60 percent for second marriages, unless both partners have kids—then it rises to 70 percent.

Preventing divorce from hurting an investment portfolio

For couples seeking a divorce in Tennessee, rarely does a day go by where they are not met with uncertainty and concern about the future. Often, many critical decisions need to be made within a brief period of time that will greatly affect a couple's future. These decisions range from negotiating child custody agreements to discussing how shared assets, finances and investments will be fairly split between two people. 

Because divorce is rarely planned, couples who prioritize securing their finances and protecting their investments early on, may be much better prepared should their relationship ever come to a close over unreconcilable differences. Even if a relationship is beginning to deteriorate and someone is frantically trying to maintain the investments he or she has worked so hard to acquire, incorporating certain actions into his or her divorce proceedings can help to provide financial security. 

What should you be looking for in an investment partner?

If you are looking for investors to back your company and help you scale your product or service, it is imperative that you look for the right qualities to find a partner who truly understands your vision and is committed to your mission. Whether you are looking for local investors in Tennessee or branching into a national search, understanding the basic qualities that you should require of the investors you select to help you build your business will give you a better chance at seeing a return on your investment.

As you begin the search for reliable and committed investors, Inc. recommends looking for several important qualities. These include the following: 

  • Focus on culture: The best investors will understand your company's culture and their introduction to your organizational structure will feel natural and motivating. When discussing the future of your company with an investor, focus on their potential to thrive as part of your organization's team network.
  • Focus on needs: The process of finding and securing investors will be much more productive and rewarding when you have a firm understanding of the needs you are looking to fill. Focus on the competencies you need help with and look for professionals who can provide mentoring in these areas. 
  • Focus on stability: Does the investor you are considering have a stable firm? Have they showcased their ability to be successful in the past? While risk-taking is important, it is also crucial that you focus your efforts on the investors who have proven results to show.

What is a QDRO? Retirement account division in a divorce

Some of your marital assets are fairly easy to divide during your Tennessee divorce negotiations. However, your spouse's retirement accounts are not as straightforward, with the possibilities of taxes, penalties and other problems looming if things are not done just right. According to FindLaw, one tool often used in these situations is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

The court issues this judgment officially approving the retirement plan division agreement. One of the benefits of the QDRO is that these transfers are not penalized for the early withdrawal. 

What is a 501(c)3 organization?

If you are involved with a Tennessee religious, charitable, educational or scientific organization, your organization could benefit greatly from obtaining 501(c)3 status. As the Foundation Group explains, a 501(c)3 organization is one that receives favorable treatment from the Internal Revenue Service and the state taxing authority.

While nonprofit corporations make up the majority of 501(c)3 organizations, other eligible entities include the following:

  • Unincorporated associations
  • Trusts
  • Foundations

What licenses and permits will you need to do business in TN?

After coming up with a product or service, but before making it available to the public in Tennessee, you will need to apply for all the necessary licenses and permits. Depending on your plans for your company, you may not need many, but certain types of businesses require more than others. Failing to acquire the appropriate licenses and permits could lead to fines and other penalties.

FindLaw explains that in addition to a local operating license, you will probably need to apply for a sales tax license and a federal employer identification number. Your business may also need a zoning or land use permit, a fictitious business name or "doing business as" permit, and a fire department permit. A company run out of a home is not exempt from permits and licenses. In fact, there are often specific requirements for these types of businesses.

The Ins And Outs Of Commercial Leases

Leasing commercial space can be one of the more frustrating aspects of starting, or further developing, a business. A range of considerations – rent, duration, location, design, floor plan, capacity (to name a few) – must be taken into account.  

As they will quickly admit, many business owners and managers are uncertain how to approach setting up an office space, or opening a retail outlet. They don’t know what risks are inherent in commercial leases, or what questions to ask. Working with a qualified attorney can be useful in such matters; the right lawyer will be adept at protecting his or her clients from legal, and financial, liability.

Why does it matter if you are a legal employee of your church?

Even though your Tennessee church is a tax-exempt organization, as its minister, you still have to pay income tax. Whether you are self-employed or an employee of the church may make a difference in what forms you use to pay your taxes, and what your exemptions are. However, you must pay income tax on all of your earnings.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, if you are a minister who has been ordained, licensed or commissioned to perform ministerial services, then for Medicare and Social Security tax purposes the IRS considers you to be self-employed. So, you would pay self-employment taxes on your salary, and on your housing allowance, if you receive one. You would also pay self-employment tax on other sources of income you receive, such as offerings and fees for services such as marriages, baptisms and funerals.

Suggestions for choosing a legal guardian for your children

If you are the parent of young children, you may have already begun thinking about who you would want to care for them if something tragic would ever happen to you. Planning ahead for these types of situations, even if a bit unsettling at times, is certain to provide confidence that if you were ever debilitated in some way, your children would be lovingly cared for by someone you trust and respect. At Fidelis Law, PLLC, we have helped many couples in Tennessee to create estate plans that are legally applicable and customized to meet their needs. 

One of the most important and time-consuming aspects of arranging legal guardianship for your children is determining who will actually be chosen as their caretaker. Fortunately, there are many helpful suggestions you can consider to make your decision a bit easier. According to Baby Center, here are some of the things you should consider:

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