Legal Considerations and Regulations

Entrepreneurs typically consult with attorneys for the following services:

  • Determining the legal structure for your business.
  • Protecting your intellectual property to maintain your competitive edge.
  • Protecting your intellectual property within your company.
  • Complying with all federal, state and local regulations.

The following are all the legal structures for doing business:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • C corporation
  • S corporation
  • Limited liability corporation (LLC)

Protecting your intellectual property from within your company

A company should take steps to ensure that employees do not intentionally or inadvertently reveal confidential and proprietary information about the business to competitors. Typical steps include creating written employee agreements and limiting access to proprietary information.

Complying with all federal, state and local regulations

Of critical importance to any company is complying with all federal, state and local regulations, including obtaining all required licenses or permits before beginning operations. Many of these regulations were set up to ensure that all business aspects are accounted for on various tax rolls. Other requirements were established for safety concerns and to prevent undesirable tactics or outcomes.

Regulations for Starting a Business

There are a variety of state, federal and local regulations that can apply to starting a business including everything from obtaining a federal tax identification number to local zoning.

The most common areas of concern for new businesses are:

  • tax registration
  • payroll/income taxes
  • incorporation filing requirement
  • business licenses
  • building permits
  • health regulations
  • environmental regulations

State of Wisconsin

Business Wizard: The Business Wizard will guide you through a series of questions to determine which resources and regulatory entities are needed.
State Licensing and Permitting: Check to determine if your business must obtain a state license, permits, registration.
Business Registration: To do business in Wisconsin as C Corporation, S corporation, Limited Liability Corporation or limited partnership, the business must be registered with the Department of Financial Institutions.
DNR Permit Primer: Department of Workforce Development: For Workers Compensation, Unemployment and Equal Rights requirements.
Department of Revenue: For obtaining a Business Tax Registration and other tax-related permits.

Federal Government

Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) All new business with the exception of sole proprietorships is required to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service.

Local Government

Local municipalities—cities, villages, townships, and counties may have licensing and zoning oversight for existing and new businesses. The business location needs to be zoned for business uses or a conditional use permit may be required. Frequently home-based businesses need a permit.