When you first start up a business, it can often be surprising how much there is to do that you had not yet considered. It is unlikely that many people will have thought of everything that needs to be done. And a lot of new business owners will quickly become stressed early on. A willingness to succeed will come in handy at this point, as will putting in the effort to research as thoroughly as possible. Probably one of the most imperative actions to take at this early stage is to learn how to keep your business in line with the law. This comes down to two main factors. Firstly, protecting your business from various potential legal threats. And secondly, ensuring that you are following all relevant legal procedures. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.
First Things First: Protect Yourself
Running a business is, in many respects, a relatively risky thing to do. There are a lot of possible pitfalls, particularly when it comes to the legal side of running a business. Before you get into anything else, it is a good idea to learn how to best protect yourself and your business. From this place of protection, you will feel much more able to run your business with confidence.
One of the most important aspects to protecting yourself is ensuring that you have professional legal protection on your side. Really, no business of any size can do without this. You should find a decent attorney whom you can trust, as this alone can save your business in the worst case scenario. If you do need to defend yourself or make a case for your business, then using a professional legal discovery team might be a sound idea. They should be able to help you collate any necessary evidence and make a case which is more likely to win.
But protection is not just about those worse-case scenarios. There are also plenty of ways in which you should be protecting your business on a daily basis. Many of these also eke into your daily personal life in subtle ways.
Be Careful About Your Actions
There are countless horror stories regarding businesses tanking having said or done something stupid. A particularly sage piece of advice is to think of your business like an individual. When your business is engaging with the world, make all the same efforts to save face that an individual would. If you act as though the business itself is capable of embarrassment, you will be less likely to do something you’ll regret. New business owners are often surprised at just how careful they have to be around what they say or do. You need to be doing everything you can to ensure that you do not offend anyone. This can be much harder than it seems to accomplish. Another side to this is not doing business with people or organisations you would rather not be associated with. Similarly, be careful not to make a deal of any possible conflicts of interest. These alone can be hugely scandalous, and ultimately damaging for your business.
Keep The Business Separate From The Personal
After all, there is only a certain amount you can really do to protect your business out there in the real world. If anything particularly disastrous happens, your main concern will be limiting the damage. This is why keeping your business separate from your personal life is so important. The main way to do this is by having a trust own the business. Most business owners are sole proprietors. This makes sense in most respects, but it does mean that you are personally vulnerable if your business is ever being sued. Having it owned by a trust, however, places some distance between you and your business. This makes it much more likely that you can keep your own personal assets safe in any situation that may arise. The value of that should be clear. It is also a wise move to keep your business finances and personal finances as separate as possible. This could be achieved perhaps through the act of incorporating.
Something that a lot of business owners wonder about in the early days is insurance. There is a lot of debate regarding whether or not it is worth it. The truth: it is an affordable way to put a layer of protection around your business. The main kind of insurance you want to consider here is liability insurance. This can save you if someone, for example, trips up on your business’ property. These accidents can happen at any time, so it should be clear how essential this insurance really is. If your business is large, you might also want to think about directors and officers liability insurance. This helps to protect the director’s own personal assets, if the worst should happen.
Follow Procedures When Dismissing Someone
For most employees, being fired is the worst possible outcome to any situation. It is easy to see, therefore, that emotion can run high in this kind of situation. You might be surprised to discover how many people quickly take their employer to court over a minor infraction. In this kind of situation, it is a good idea to follow all legal procedures to the letter. Never be tempted to skirt around any particular code of practice. The slightest thing done wrong could mean serious upheavals for your business in the long run. Dismissing an employee can be a minefield, so make sure you take your time with it and get it right.
Avoiding Copyright Infringement
One of the other most common legal issues is copyright infringement. It might seem that this is a simple matter to avoid. However, it is surprising how easy it can be to infringe copyright accidentally. With any new ideas ventured within the business, be certain to check and double-check them. This is the only way to be sure that you are not encroaching on any other business’ intellectual property.