In the early stages of starting a business, entrepreneurs often face many problems, most of which require time and money to evaluate and resolve. That being said, there are certain investments a business owner can make that will save a lot of time and money in the long run – one of which is evaluating what laws are applicable to the business and how to best comply with such laws.
Failure to comply with applicable laws can lead to fines, penalties, corporate liability and even personal liability, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. Noncompliance isn’t the only issue to think through – the interaction between these laws and the potential impacts on your business are also important considerations.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what laws apply to a particular business. In this blog post I attempt to give you a framework to begin to evaluate what laws may apply to your business. Of course, this list is not intended to be exhaustive or a replacement for consulting an experienced business attorney, but I hope that you will find it to be helpful.
Local laws, commonly referred to as ordinances, may be applicable to your business depending on what city, town or municipality it is located in. Ordinances may require certain licenses, permits and real estate requirements. For example, the City of Lancaster recently approved an ordinance which requires businesses with locations within the city limits to register by filling out a form and paying a business registration fee of $35.00. Ordinances can typically be found on a local website or by contacting the municipal office.
State Laws and Regulations
State laws are enacted by the state legislature and may apply to your business by virtue of being organized under the laws of a particular state, or if your business meets certain statutory criteria, such as having a physical location in the state, marketing or conducting other business operations within a state. State laws often point to regulatory bodies to develop specific regulations which further interpret and perhaps enforcement of the laws in a particular area. An example of such a regulatory agency would be the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which issues regulations interpreting the Pennsylvania Liquor Code. The Bureau of Liquor Control and Enforcement within the Pennsylvania State Police then enforces the Liquor Code and PLCB regulations. Continue Reading