With each new year, budding entrepreneurs look to turn their vision into a business. These startups are often overflowing with tremendous ideas, energy and optimism — but don’t always have a roadmap for the legal aspects involved in starting a business. In the flurry of drumming up new customers, getting ready for a website launch and being in the market, it’s all too easy to put off some of the less glamorous, more administrative aspects of running a company. Which you will find out is equally important to all other aspects of your new business.
Yes, company filings and regulations are not the most exciting parts of your startup. Yet they’re critical to the health of your business and personal finances. Here’s a quick rundown of some administrative aspects you need to consider for your startup or small business. Of course, depending on your situation and type of business, hiring a tax accountant and/or good attorney with specific experience in your industry can go a long way toward helping you steer clear of trouble.
Before you start printing out business cards, make sure that great new name you thought of isn’t infringing on the rights of an already existing business. In most cases, you don’t need an attorney for this task, as you can walk into any Registrar General Department Regional Office or call their office to request for a name search that will tell you if the name is available in Ghana.
Register your business now. Each company structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your specific circumstances. Three popular options are: the LLC (great for small businesses that want legal protection, but minimal formality), Sole Proprietorship (great for small businesses that is fully owned by one person), or an NGO (for companies who plan to seek funding from grants, sponsorships and charity etc / Social Enterprises also fall under this). Find information about cost and requirements here: http://rgd.gov.gh/index.php/services/business-registration/
Your legal obligations as an employer begin as soon as you hire your first employee. You should spend time researching and reading the Employee (Labour) Laws to fully understand your obligations for these (and other) procedures: payroll and withholding taxes, self-employment taxes, anti-discrimination laws, annual leave and holidays, workers’ compensation rules, and wage and hour requirements. The links below provide good resource on labour laws in Ghana:
Depending on your business type, you may be required to have one or more business licenses or permits to operate. Such licenses include: Zoning and Land Use Permits, Sales Tax License, Health Department Permits, FDA (Food and Drugs Board), Construction Permits, Securities and Exchange Licenses, Bank of Ghana Licenses and other occupational or professional licenses. So, depending on the type of business you are into, do the due research and get all your legal permits before operating.
Yes you own the business, but accepting cash and using it straight away will do you lots of harm in the long run. It is always advisable to separate your business credit from your personal finance. To begin building your business credit, you should open a bank account in the name of your company, and the account should show a fluid cash flow meaning deposits going in and payments being made to service providers and workers consistently. This will make your company authentic and appeal to investors, it will also make you credit worthy to apply for business loans.
No matter how busy you are with your startup, set aside some time to address these matters and take your legal obligations seriously. Getting your legal ducks in a row right from the start will help you avoid any pitfalls down the road, and will help you scale your business successfully as you grow.
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