7 Legal Document Templates Your Start-up Needs

It is no secret that launching a business requires some legal documentation.

Andrew Fisher Andrew Fisher
Jul 27 · 5 min read
Who uses paper anymore, anyway??
Thankfully, you don’t need to pass the Bar Exam to get your business started! (Trust us, it’s not a fun exam…)  Online legal document templates can help you get some key processes moving at the click of a button. Best of all, you can often sidestep hiring a lawyer—and save thousand in legal fees. Here’s a look at seven types of legal documents your start-up might need. 

Business Formation Documents

If you’re just starting your business, you may have come across the term “charter.” “Charter” is the generic name for the document that is filed at the state level to legally form your company.  If you’re forming a corporation, the charter is probably called Articles of Incorporation or maybe a Certificate of Incorporation.  If you’re forming an LLC, it’s likely called Articles of Organization. 

Most states offer basic forms or pdf versions of charters on their Secretary of State websites. However, online templates and resources can help you complete these documents with greater ease, and with custom provisions that better protect you as a founder. For example, Startomatic automatically creates custom best-practice versions of these documents based on your specific situation.

Employee Offer Letters

To grow your business, you often have to grow your team. An employee offer letter template can help you do just that. As the name suggests, this template outlines your offers for new prospective employees. An employee offer letter template can save you time on creating the generic content while helping you check all of the boxes on your documentation. Best of all, this document will be just as easy to create for your 1 00th new hire as it is for your first ever employee. 

Shareholders’ Agreement or Operating Agreement

A shareholders’ agreement (for a corporation) or an Operating Agreement (for an LLC) is designed to set the ground rules for the people who actually own a business. While these documents can be very complex, for lots of small businesses with just one or a handful of owners, you might be able to get by without paying a lawyer to custom draft one for you. Instead, you may just need to cover the basics, such as:
  • Intellectual property protections
  • Limitations on the transfer of equity (ownership)
  • Agreements on how management decisions in the company will be made (and who will make them).

While these documents are largely geared towards business with two or more co-owners, even single-member LLCs can benefit from having an Operating Agreement in place. It sets the operational guidelines for your business that other members (owners) will fall under as your company grows. While creating a shareholder or Operating Agreement might sound complicated, online templates make this process straightforward. For instance, Startomatic automates the process of creating best-practices Operating Agreements for both single- and multiple-member LLCs, tailored to your specific state and ownership.

Website Privacy Policy and Terms of Use Template

Maintaining a privacy policy in compliance with different geographic areas, devices, and networks is essential for customer protection. This document helps you avoid legal hangups by disclosing how your company collects and uses customer data.

Your privacy policy goes hand-in-hand with the terms of use for your website. Sometimes called terms and conditions, this agreement outlines your expectations and guidelines that users must abide by on your website. Thankfully, you can find both of these document templates available online—letting you create or update your privacy policy and terms of use at the click of a button (ok, maybe a few clicks!)

Confidentiality Agreements (“NDA”s)

When you start your new business, your head and notebook may be filled with a variety of exciting ideas, plans, and other not-quite-tangible items unique to your thought princess and creative spark. To turn your ideas into reality, you might have to first share them with potential business partners, funders, service providers, employees, and others. So how do you protect your intellectual property?

This is where a confidentiality agreement (also called a non-disclosure agreement or NDA) comes into play. This legal document requires that the individual or business receiving the confidential information will treat it as such, and not disclose it without authorization. These agreements can be easily customized and created with an online confidentiality agreement template.

Cease and Desist Letters

So what happens if someone does steal your company’s intellectual property? Or perhaps they are violating the common law trademark protections you learned about in Starter Law 101: Trademark Basics? In these and other similar situations, the first step for your business is sending a cease and desist letter. This letter essentially says “What you are doing is illegal—stop, or we’ll see you in court.”

Online cease and desist letter templates make creating this formal document quick and easy. Assuming the company decides to “cease and desist” their illegal activity—congratulations, you just saved your start-up thousands in legal fees and possibly a trip to the courtroom. If they continue infringing on your intellectual property or trademark—it might be time to talk to a lawyer

Service Contracts

Meeting and exceeding client expectations can set your start-up on the path towards success. You can take the reins on these customer expectations by providing a detailed service contract. Not only does this help ensure your customers are happy, but it also protects your business from misunderstandings and unfair claims by legally outlining your company’s promises. 

For service businesses, this contract details the parameters of your work—ensuring transparency and clear communication. with an online service contract template, you simply need to enter in the details of your services and let the software do the rest. 

Startomatic: Your LegalZoom and LawDepot Alternative

Startomatic has everything you need to start your business—including a full suite of legal templates. You can even create, review, sign, and submit your business formation documents without leaving our app. Set aside your LegalZoom and LawDepot subscriptions, because Startomatic offers all of this and so much more for just $99 a month. Try us risk-free to get started today!
Startomatic makes it radically easier, faster, and less expensive for starters* to launch and run a company. Starter Flow is your step-by-step guide to plan, brand, and incorporate your new company—complete with automated tasks and practical advice and answers. Learn more
* starter | stär-tər | n.
  1. Someone who acts on the opportunity to create profits using knowledge, skills, and tools.
  2. Like "entrepreneur", but less pretentious—and easier to spell.

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