1. Sign a partner agreement. Even if you and your business partner have known each other for years and are on the same page, you’ll still want to put an agreement in place. The reason to do this is protect the business you’re working so hard to build. For example, if one of you needs to get out of the business because of something unexpected (illness, disability, death), then you want to have a plan for how that partner’s share of the business will be handled. The agreement also lays out the roles and responsibilities of each partner, which can avoid a big argument down the road. And if there is a disagreement at some point, your partner agreement can be a lifesaver if it includes a good framework for conflict resolution.
  2. Choose the best type of entity. Are you going to form an LLC or a corporation? Each one offers different pros and cons, so make sure you’re choosing the right one for your particular situation. An LLC is somewhat less formal of an entity. It has a simpler setup and allows you to share profits and losses more easily. However, it’s more expensive in Illinois. Formal incorporation is less flexible, but might be a better option if you have investors.
  3. Protect your ideas. “Intellectual property” is your ideas, designs, names, etc. You want to make sure you have ownership of your intellectual property, and at the same time that someone else doesn’t already own something similar that could cause a problem. You also want to make sure you have agreements in place so that individuals or other companies that you work with can’t steal your work.
  4. Get insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance is required for most businesses in Illinois and failing to get workers’ compensation insurance is a felony. Illinois law protects workers who are injured on the job, regardless of whose fault it is. If you end up on the hook for a case and you don’t have insurance, it could bankrupt you. There are other types of insurance you may need, as well, depending on the type of business you’re in.
  5. Be a good boss. Treat your employees the way you would want to be treated. Understand your obligations when it comes to employees, both legally and ethically. Investing in your workforce can really pay off.


Feeling overwhelmed? There are Illinois attorneys who focus their entire practice on helping people start businesses. We only recommend those who have tons of experience and a track record of success.  Give us a call or fill out the form to the right.  We’d be happy to provide a free consultation.

Written by Michael Helfand