In all likelihood, the simplest way to set up in business as a speech writer
is as a sole trader/proprietor. This has the advantage of requiring little formality,
but probably leaves you exposed with unlimited liability for the debts of your
business and statements and promises you make in the course of your business.
Alternatively you could establish a company or corporation with limited liability
to own and run your business. Companies usually have a separate legal personality
and exist independently from their owners/shareholders. If the company happens
to have more debts or liabilities than it has assets to pay them, then the owners
are not usually required to stand behind the company for those debts other than
to the extent of the amount they agreed to invest in the shares of the company.
The disadvantage is that there is a usually a certain amount of formality around
companies. As well as registering
a company in the first place, there are usually ongoing requirements such
as notifying the relevant registry with changes in the company’s details,
directors, etc and annual requirements for accounts or general returns about
As a company has a separate legal existence from its owners, it can continue
to exist independently of its owners. The death or retirement of a shareholder
can be easily dealt with by transferring the shares. New investors can subscribe
for new shares in the company and new directors/officers can be brought onto
the Board of the company to increase the management skills for the company and
Companies also tend to have a stature with many people in the business community
that sole traders simply do not have. This reputational advantage may lead to
your business gaining customers or a line of credit from suppliers that a sole
trader would struggle to obtain.
The formalities of establishing and maintaining a company may well have a cost
over and above that of a sole trader. However, this cost should be balanced
against the flexibility and status of companies and the protection offered by
Your business name, brand or original creative output is likely to have a value
and the law recognises these rights. If you have a particularly distinctive
name or brand you may want to consider applying for a trade mark in that name
or brand to protect it from use by others in the same kind of business as you.
If you are producing original creative work (such as your speeches), copyright
is likely to be automatically established in that work or speech. You may wish
to consider who owns the copyright in a speech (e.g. you or your customer).
Only the copyright owner is free to use it as they wish or to copy it. Whilst
you don’t usually have to claim copyright in an original work, doing so
doesn’t hurt and can make it clear to the outside world that you claim
Jamie Hunt, Legal Clarity Ltd
The information provided in this article is intended as a general guide
only. It is not exhaustive or tailored to your individual circumstances. You
should seek specific independent legal advice from lawyers qualified in the
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