Running a business should never be misunderstood as a simple affair. Even if it’s just you, alone, or you and one employee, there’s a lot to handle.
Time management, resource allocation, marketing, communication, so on and so forth. And beneath it all, the question has to be constantly asked: am I compliant with the existing laws and regulations?
Failing to stick to the letter of the law can be disastrous to be business, so we’re going to take a good look at how you make sure you’re taking the straight and narrow path.
#1. Papers, Please
Let’s start with the very beginning, because that’s where a lot of mistakes are made. There are a lot of tax and organisational implications factoring into what kind of business structure you start as.
- A sole trader
- A partnership
- A limited company
- A limited liability partnership
They all have their own advantages and disadvantages and they all have their own regulations you must follow. Limited companies have more paperwork and more administrative and regulatory demands.
When you start your business, make sure you’re carrying out the paperwork and the formation exactly as is demanded. You can choose Your Company Formation online agents and similar services to make sure that you’ve got all the documentation and the other essentials to get your business started and keep those documents on record, too.
Starting a business without forming and registering it is illegal, so don’t think you can simply open your doors and start welcoming customers without it.
#2. Ensure You’re Insured
Business insurance is mandatory; which kinds are mandatory might depend on the risks and liabilities within the business.
Amongst the most commonly necessary insurances are:
- Employer’s liability insurance, which is legally required as soon as you have your first employee, covering the cost of any potential injury or illness in the workplace
- Public liability insurance for customers on your property and
- Buildings insurance for any premises you own, or rent are not mandatory, but it’s a good idea to have them
In some cases, public liability insurance might be required by organisations if you are, for instance, renting space within their building.
There are other more specific kinds of insurance depending on what industry you’re in or whether you require employees to drive. Do your research, find out what is necessary and what is recommended.
#3. Here Comes the Taxman
How you form your business structure might decide some of the details of how your business is taxed, but regardless, making sure you have a thorough understanding of how much you have to pay and an organized approach to filing and paying taxes is essential.
Choosing a tax and accountancy software can help you get to grips with the finances of the business a lot better, but don’t neglect your need for an accountant.
Chartered accountants are more than just bookkeepers, they are fully qualified to give you legal tax advice and to make sure that your business is wholly compliant with tax law.
#4. Avoid the Worker’s Revolution
There’s a lot of employment law to seriously consider, as well. The statutory rights are the most important, so abiding by them comes first.
This includes providing a written contract, an itemised pay slip, the right to holidays and maternity leave, in some cases, and pay meeting the national minimum wage.
But there are other responsibilities an employer has, including maintaining the health and safety of the staff, taking steps to prevent harassment and bullying in the workplace, making the workplace more accessible to any workers with a disability, and so on.
The employer is directly responsible for the employee in a lot of ways, so make sure you brush up on your employment laws. Beyond being legally necessary, most of them are just good practice for creating a better work environment and a happier team.
#5. What’s Yours is Everyone Else’s if You Don’t Protect
What are the most valuable assets and resources in the business? Your property, employees, and equipment are certainly amongst them. But the power of the brand shouldn’t be ignored, either, nor should it be left unprotected.
Your logo, your visual brand, your company name and so forth are all part of your intellectual property. If you fail to protect, it can be stolen from you.
Other businesses can use your logo, your branding, and everything else that helps you stand out in a competitive market. It should be no surprise that this can do a lot of damage to a business’s reputation, brand appeal, and profits.
#6. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Web
The internet is becoming a more and more important part of life for most business owners. It’s fast becoming the primary tool for marketing and brand awareness.
More businesses allow clients and customers to get in touch directly through their websites. More are even offering their services entirely online. As soon as your business is on the web, it is subject to digital business laws.
This includes making sure that all the content on your site, including text and images, are owned by the business or used with the express permission of the third-party who owns them, for instance.
There are a lot of little missteps you can make in digital law, so hiring some legal advice specifically well-versed on the net could help you avoid some nasty fines.
#7. Loose Lips Sink Ships
It’s not applicable to every business, but where your methods are the secret to your success, you want some degree of confidentiality within the organization.
Non-disclosure agreements can ensure that any employees or ex-employees are not legally able to share sensitive information that could damage the business.
Other business owners may go further to include non-compete clauses in contracts that stop past employees from working with competitors, but these are historically much harder to legally enforce.
There are so many intentionally duplicitous and non compliant businesses out there that you might think that the authorities would look more forgivingly on accidental breaches. That’s simply not the case, and the kind of fines that could hit your business could be enough to sink it.
Stay abreast of the law and how it impacts your business, whatever else you do.