Businesses are run on documents. Documents are the heart of all business processes. Documents and businesses are synonymous with one another. If you need to run your business successfully, here are some of the most important documents that you need.
|Founders Agreement||Before a business starts operations, the Founder’s Agreement should be in place. Disputes among founders and co-founders are common, and they become complicated and messy if there is no clear understanding of initial equity splits, who brought what property/skills to the partnership and who owns initial IP, etc.|
|Business Licenses||When planning to start a business, you might need to get permission from your legislature, that would help in the operations of the said businesses. This also protects your business in the long run.|
|Partnership Agreements||Starting a business is often easier when you do it with a partner, with whom you can share responsibilities and split the initial costs. Having a partnership agreement will help you to define terms like duration of the partnership, contribution, division of labor and authority, how new partners can be added, transfer of partnerships in case of death or accident.|
|Technology Assignment Agreement||This agreement protects the proprietary technology. This form assigns the IP rights for any technology developed for the business to the business.|
|Intellectual Property (IP) Assignment Agreement||Intellectual Property is often the most important part of the value inherent. This is why it is important to assign that value among founders/co-founders/investors right at the beginning. Read here to know more about Intellectual Property.|
There are two types of Assignment agreements – the technology assignment agreement that assigns the startup any intellectual property that you developed before the company started. The developers may retain the individual intellectual property rights under certain circumstances or they may even sell the rights for equity or cash (to the founders.)
The second one is the invention assignment agreement that assigns the company ownership of any relevant intellectual property developed by the employees after the company has started. This agreement is between the founders, and employees and it typically includes a confidentiality agreement and an invention assignment agreement.
|Non-disclosure agreements||These documents identify confidential information and state the disclosure terms and conditions. Non-disclosure agreements or NDAs are especially important when you need to protect sensitive information that cannot be leaked to the general public, like financial plans or data. Anyone who requires access to such information needs to sign these confidentiality agreements. The NDAs help protect the business, and it also prevents your current workforce, contractors, advisors and even vendors from reaching out to your competitors and taking the sensitive/confidential information with them.|
|Employee Agreements and Offer Letters||These documents are a standard, once the organization reaches a particular strength or any employee dispute comes into the front. The employee contracts define the roles and responsibilities and also help protect the right of the employees. These documents also ensure that your business’ interests are safeguarded in case of disagreement. |
The Offer Letter is provided by the company to a potential employee and provides key terms of the prospective employee’s employment.
The Employee Agreement specifies the terms and conditions of employment of an employee in the organization. It can be used for different types of employment – part-time, freelance, fixed term, full-time, etc. (Please note that this document is best not used for contractors. For contractors, a Service Agreement can be drafted and sent instead.)
|Business Plan Documents||While these may not come under the criteria of legal documents, it is necessary to keep business plan documents handy. These documents also act as a roadmap for the business itself, guiding business decisions accordingly. It also helps when seeking financial help or when planning to sell the business. These documents can be a one-pager or even consist of 100 pages, as long as it provides absolute clarity on the scale, roadmap, and opportunities of the organization.|
|Financial documents like income statements, balance sheets, and even payrolls||Being aware of whether you are financially stable or spiraling towards bankruptcy is critical in determining your success. To be able to track and measure this, it is important to maintain financial records. For small and medium-sized (SMBs) businesses, these documents usually include the following – |
1. Income statements
2. Balance sheets
3. Bank statements
4. Payroll reports (will be talking about this more later)
5. Receipt records
These financial records will help you understand your workforce better. Usually, these documents are prepared annually.
|Business Insurance documents||In the event of a disaster (including this pandemic), the insurance coverage comes into play. However, while some insurances cover earthquakes and pandemics, others only cover things like fire, theft, vandalism, etc. Always keep your policy details and number with you. You can also include Worker’s Compensation Insurance here to safeguard your employees. Further insurances like Errors and Omission Insurance helps you to mitigate potential liabilities especially if you are held liable for millions of dollars in damages.|
|Investor Rights Agreement (IRA)||These documents comprise information like inspection rights, right of the first offer, etc. Investors would like a document that defines their sense of ‘rights’ that their investment would bring, even when the business and stakeholders are small and medium scale businesses. When the business and the stakeholders are still small, investors would like some documents that define their sense of ‘rights’ that their investment would bring them.|
|Shareholder Agreement||Regardless of whether your business is an SMB or an enterprise, the Shareholder Agreement remains one of the most crucial documents that you can ever have. This document would outline the relationship between shareholders and also establish their rights and obligations towards the business. It will also outline shares, profits, etc. If this contract is missing and should a dispute arise, companies will need to depend on documents like Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association, which is narrowly drafted. In certain circumstances, if required, the Shareholder’s Agreement will also serve to protect the investment done in the business, by them.|
|Indemnification Agreement||When SMBs have a B2B structure, they require an Indemnification Agreement, primarily if their product is being handled or sold by third parties. This transfers the liability of the product to the person or body handling the product. It is best to consult a lawyer or your legal team before drawing up this agreement.|
|Liability Release Forms||There are multiple versions of this document. However, it is still important to draw up a Liability Release form, especially if some third party (like contractors or your vendors) is using your B2B product.|
|Meeting minutes||Some of the legislatures require companies to document what occurs at any major meeting. They need to keep an official account of what transpired, including decisions made and actions taken. This helps in settling disputes about what happened. The meeting minutes document needs to be detailed enough to serve as the company’s institutional memory.|
|Liquidation Agreement||This document is between the partners in any business. The Liquidation Agreement ends the partnership or sets terms on how to continue while winding up the business.|
|Software Development Agreement|
(Note: This might be conditional, based on the type of business you have)
|If your business is into software development, this agreement will outline the relationship the company has with the developer. This agreement also defines the roadmap. The developer also agrees to transfer the IP (Intellectual Property) back to you once the software has been completed. |
The Software Development Agreement is said to set the scope of the project, the payment and will also address confidentiality terms. However, you might need to create brand new agreements for each new software.
|Return and Refund Policy (Note: This might be conditional, based on the type of business you have)||Return and refund policy dictates the terms of any refund or return on the product, which is offered on an eCommerce or a website. It is important to include specific terms like by when the product can be returned, and what type of refund will be provided.|
The Age of Documents
Whether you are a big corporation, SMB or even a freelancer, having the right documents at the right place can be of a huge advantage, especially during disputes. These documents are designed to safeguard your business even before you get a foothold in the market.
While registered legal professionals can help you draft documents and ensure they are compliant to your legislature, Revv provides a single platform for both parties to collaborate and work together and manage all your documents in an orderly fashion. It also comes with pre-designed templates to help you get started. Sign up for Revv free plan to experience a frictionless document management process.