Rob Siano of White Plains, N.Y., put himself through law school thanks to his rock band Spinning Images. On a typical day, he was sneaking out of court, changing clothes, attending a band meeting, going back to court, playing a show, and going right back to work in the morning.
“I slept on Sundays,” he says.
Although Spinning Images never got its big break, Siano says being both the band's drummer and its business manager taught him how to creatively run and market a business which, in turn, helped him as an entrepreneur in establishing his own law practice. Siano now represents other bands in legal matters and has some wise legal advice for entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they are behind a counter or a drum kit.
Trademark your business name right away. Siano says he has watched too many bands war over identical names. Research the name under which you intend to work, make sure that it's not already the same as—or very close to—anything already established, and then file for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Incorporate and create a contract. Rob started his music corporation at 18, as soon as he was allowed by law. He incorporated under his lawyer-uncle's advice. "He advised me that I should incorporate so I wouldn't have the burden of the tax liability," Spiano says.
Invest in an attorney early. Siano suggests that business owners create a written contract among all principals, one that defines roles and participation. He has seen the lack of one tear up groups—and friendships—more than once. "It's all well and good, you're friends and you're family now," Siano says. "But the minute the dollar becomes involved, you're going to see that maybe your friends aren't your friends."
James O'Brien blogs for numerous clients on topics that include: film, social media, writing, technology, marketing, business, and design. He is a correspondent for Boston University's Research Magazine and for The Commons a journal covering higher-education. He has written extensively as a news correspondent for The Boston Globe. James blogs via Contently.com.