We live in the age of the entrepreneur. Almost anyone can start a business in the modern age, and this is an exciting prospect, but it does carry some element of risk and danger.
In this guide, we’re featuring some legal advice for entrepreneurs and business owners on how you can ensure that your business pursuit doesn’t end up getting you into legal trouble.
How Business Decisions and Operations Impact the Law
Your business entity has responsibilities, and if you are behind the business then you definitely share those responsibilities. You can get in serious trouble if you don’t act within the constraints of the law.
Even if your business has limited liabilities, it doesn’t offer complete protection. You may still be found guilty in some situations, for instance, if you have been found to be negligent in your business dealings.
Different types of business have different legal requirements, and you will need to consider clients and customers closely.
Below we’ve listed some tips to get you started.
Fundamental Legal Tips for Entrepreneurs
The law is very complicated, and you need to keep state law in mind, too. However, considering these basics can give you more peace of mind that you aren’t doing anything wrong.
1. Keep Good Records
If there is ever a dispute, or you need to defend yourself in some legal dispute, records will be vital.
This means keeping a paper trail of things like emails, invoices, licensing, and other business-specific records. For things like taxes, you have to keep a lot of the records anyway, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
Not all of us are good at admin, and that isn’t why you become an entrepreneur. However, you can’t ignore vital records about your business.
2. Secure (and Be Cautious with) Data
If you are dealing with data in your business, then you need to be very cautious with it. Take every measure to protect all data and secure people's privacy online and offline.
Leaking customer data such as names and email addresses can cause you some serious problems and lead to fines. If you get hacked and end up with passwords getting exposed, this can be even worse.
3. Consult Law Experts/Legal Professionals as Necessary
Right from the outset you should consult legal professionals and or law experts to get proper legal advice on sensitive matters and to ensure that you are doing things by the book. This is especially true in certain industries, where there can be more legalities to deal with.
For example, any business where you give health advice can be fraught with legal issues. If you give bad advice that someone takes, and this leads to injury or other issues, you might be liable. Also, not being clear on your tax liabilities can attract serious legal problems.
We live in an age where a lot of people are not afraid to sue companies.
4. Learn Industry-Specific Requirements from Peers
It’s possible that there will be certain things you need to consider regarding the industry you are in. A medical startup can lead to you being responsible for peoples’ health in some way, for instance, taking responsibility for patient falls.
Even simple startups that have premises, and businesses like bars and restaurants may need licenses, and could be liable if something happens to anyone visiting. It helps if you can seek some advice from somebody who has worked in the business for a long time.
Similarly, legal representation that has experience in the industry you are operating can be invaluable, even if they are just a sounding board.
Knowing what is required of you is just one of many things you need to work out when you start a business, but this shouldn’t put you off in the world of entrepreneurship.
5. Guard Against Personal Injuries in Your Business Premises
Any physical location or premise, where either your employees or customers spend time, comes with its own set of legal responsibilities. If you run a store, for instance, you need to make sure it is safe at all times. If you are negligent and have wet floors or trip hazards, it might be that customers who get injured have a legal case against you.
Some businesses are low risk, but chances are there are still different safety precautions to consider before opening the doors to the public to guard against accidents. The same case applies to offices, workshops, factories, and many other places of business that injuries can occur if not kept safe. It is your responsibility to make sure it safe.
But how can you mitigate risks in your business premises? Well, it is vital that you do all you can to create a safe environment so that customers or employees don’t sustain preventable injuries. Perform things like electrical tests to ensure that appliances are safe to use.
When all is said and done, there is always the potential for accidents to happen, so the best way to keep yourself protected is to get a good insurance policy for your business and business premises. A comprehensive policy can protect you, and even pay out if someone does sustain an injury and you are found liable for it.
6. Treat All Employees (and Even Customers) Properly
Employment law is a huge and complex area, but you need to understand the gist of it if you are going to run a business with employees.
When you employ people, you may become responsible for their wellbeing when they are within the workplace. Ensure that you are providing them at least the minimum wage and any other state-dictated guides relating to what you must offer employees.
Ultimately, most of this boils down to treating your employees fairly and in a humane way.
Every business carries a certain level of legal risk. Following the aforementioned advice, basic precautions, and getting the right legal protection is vital. Insurance is always advisable as it can ensure that you don’t end up personally liable.
Moreover, getting the right legal advice and representation affords you great peace of mind. It allows you to focus on what you are good at—running your business, rather than having to spend too much time worrying about potential legal ramifications.