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Starting a company isn't just opening the doors, cutting a ribbon, and getting to work. There are a lot of legal i's to dot and t's to cross, and, like any legal process, that can create a slew of paperwork. So how do you figure out which documents are essential and which may only slow your startup down?

Here are five standard legal document your startup will need, and why.

If you haven't noticed, marijuana laws in this country are changing rapidly. Four states have already legalized recreational pot possession, and a slew of others now allow medical marijuana for those with a prescription. And for those with an entrepreneurial mind, changes in the law mean business opportunities.

But just because your state has legalized it today, doesn't mean your weed retailer can open its doors tomorrow. Several states have set up significant barriers to entry into the medical marijuana market, and if you ain't got the dough, you may be out of luck.

International entrepreneurs starting businesses in the U.S. may see a few impediments to immigration removed under a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rule. The International Entrepreneur Rule would grant qualifying foreign nationals temporary immigration relief if their entry into the country "would provide a significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation."

While the Obama administration's proposed rule is not yet final, it also does not require Congressional approval. So to whom would the International Entrepreneur Rule apply and how would it work?

Starting a small business can take many forms: consulting out of your living room, building in your garage, or cutting the ribbon on a storefront. And your small business can exist in many corporate structures: a sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC. In almost all of these iterations, however, there is normally just one owner or a small group of investor-shareholders.

But what if you want to do something different? They say that giving your employees stock options can incentivize them to work harder and smarter for the company, so what happens if you make all of your employees owners? Here's what you need to know about employee-owned businesses:

When to Incorporate When Buying Into a Franchise?

Starting a business involves so many different types of tasks that the business owner, especially in the beginning, has to wear a lot of hats. This is why many people who wish to start a business consider franchising, or purchasing the right to open a branch of an existing business.

Buying into an existent brand that is already successful doesn't eliminate the risks or difficulty of running your own shop, but it certainly limits them a lot. When you do buy into a franchise, keep in mind these critical tips from CorpNet Founder and CEO Nellie Akalp. One of the first questions you have to address is this: when and how should you incorporate as a new franchisee?

Angel Investor David Rose Advises All Startups to Hire a Lawyer

When you start a business, there is a lot to handle and it makes sense to hire a lawyer. But many business people don't do that, thinking they will leave the little details for later, once the big stuff is set up.

That is not a good idea, according to David Rose, who is a successful serial investor and the author of The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business. In a review of Rose's book in Fortune, it is noted that this entrepreneur considers hiring a lawyer an important initial step in starting a business. Let's look at what he says.

3 Tips to Perfect Your Business Plan

So you have an idea and a business plan and you're ready to roll, prepared to knock the socks off investors and rock the world with your innovation. Well, not quite.It's worth taking the time to do a business plan right because it could mean the difference between your new enterprise surviving, thriving, or dying.

A good business plan is detailed, considered, well-written, and realistic. It can serve as your roadmap, attracting investors and talent. Here are three tips, inspired by an Entrepreneur list, on what your plan should include.

There might be fewer cooks in the kitchen at a startup, but that doesn’t mean divvying up the equity pie is any easier. Sure, you could say everyone in the room gets an equal share, but did everyone really contribute equally up to now? And will they in the future?

So how do you allocate equity based on a team member’s actual contributions, rather than their anticipated ones? Luckily, some smart folks have been after this question for a while, and come up with a dynamic equity split system. So how does it work?

Risky Business: Evolution of Marijuana Laws Still Uncertain

The cannabiz is set to boom ... although it is difficult to say when that will happen with states taking very different approaches to marijuana cultivation and consumption. This week, California's San Francisco Bay Area residents will encounter "the nation's first multichannel marketing campaign for [artisanal] pot," reports Mother Jones. Meanwhile medical marijuana was just approved for very limited use in Philadelphia.

All businesses involve risk, and often the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. The marijuana business is no different -- entering the thicket now means more confusion and possible losses but also likely more eventual opportunity for reward. Whether it's worth doing depends on you, your state, and the landscape of its marijuana regulation.

5 Legal Tips for Starting a Third Wave Coffee Shop

Are you watching the third wave of coffee and thinking you need to get in on this business? Third wave coffee simply indicates high quality java production. It's an effort to elevate coffee to more sophisticated territory, treating it like wine and other artisanal items rather than a commodity like corn, and third wave coffee shops are popping up everywhere, each with their unique approach to beans and brewing. But before you decide to surf the third wave, here are five legal tips on opening a business.