Starting a business of your own is going to bring plenty of challenge. It’s going to measure how well you can gauge the market potential of a product or service and how able you are at fulfilling that potential. But it comes with a lot of responsibilities on top of that. Many of those responsibilities come with legal risk. So, let’s look at some of the major legal risks you should take major steps to start avoiding early.
Count Those Beans
It’s not the most exciting part of the business but staying on top of your accounts is easily one of the most important. The first step is to make your personal and private accounts separate. That way it’s a lot easier to justify and tax forms you fill in, to track expenses and incomings properly and account for every single dime. But it’s always worth hiring an accountant for small businesses when those expenses head in too many directions for one person to track. Even if it’s an innocent mistake made because of poor math skills, a tax error can cost the business dearly.
People Problems From Problem People
If you have employees, you must immediately begin considering your legal responsibilities as far as they’re concerned. Weeding out any discriminatory practices in the hiring process is the first step. But then it’s about eliminating suspicion from disciplinary measures and terminations, as well. Your HR policy should state not only acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, but the steps you take to approaching, correcting, and penalizing them.
A crucial bit of practice is for employees to make sure that all meetings and discussions around official business are kept official and, most importantly, recorded. If you have the evidence to back you up in any dispute with employees, you have a much better chance of not being misrepresented. It’s not all about problem employees, either. It’s about being able to provide a safe channel for other employees to talk to you about harassment, discrimination, or other illegal practices from other members of the workplace. Failing to protect your employees is failing a legal duty.
Risk And No Reward
You have to protect them from more than harmful influences in the workplace. You have to protect them from the workplace and the dangers of the job, as well. There are some risks that extend across all workplaces that need to be a concern. Fire safety, electrical risks, air quality, slips, trips, and falls are all examples. But you need a closer look at the dangers unique to your workplace. If you work in a top story office, then you should secure your stairways with safety swing gates.
If you work with heavy machinery, then you should have a full safety protocol including regular training and personal protective equipment for every piece of equipment. Even if you’re working in an office, you should have a policy of allowing for breaks from the desk and provide ergonomic furniture to fight the risk of repetitive strain injury. You can consult employees about potential dangers they’re concerned about in the workplace but at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to recognize and rectify those risks.
Handling A Little Competition
It’s not so much a legal risk, but the last point worth addressing is about the legal steps you can take to deal with potential competition. Competition is healthy and expected in any industry. However, when competitors get an unfair edge over you, that’s when you need to be concerned. For instance, if ex-employees walk out with a list of clients they can contact and try poach for their own startup or another competitor, that’s unacceptable. That’s your time and money spent into finding those leads. You can protect them by enforcing non-compete clauses on your employees.
You also need to protect your brand. You might have spent years building a brand image that local business owners trust, complete with logo and visual styling. If you don’t legally protect them as intellectual property, however, a new startup can use the exact same. When they do, they have the potential to steal leads that might have otherwise gone to you and their sub-par services might, in turn, reflect badly on your brand.
Business law is complicated and if you’re not feeling like you’re grasping it well, then you need to look at legal advice from people who show experience and success within your industry. Similarly, it’s a good idea to ‘lawyer up’ anytime that potential danger comes your way. Even if you’re certain you’re in the right and you’re correct about it, the finesse of an experienced legal eagle can help you settle a dispute with the weight of those credentials.