Avoiding unforeseen legal issues - 5 steps for small businesses

Paul Callaghan, Partner at Taylor Wessing, provides some legal tips for small business.

Small business owners are driven by the fundamental success, growth and reputation of their company. The journey from start-up to becoming a small business and beyond brings changes in compliance issues and legal variables that require understanding and attention, to both future-proof and safeguard the company.

Our Tech and the Beanstalk research shows that British small business owners are failing to protect themselves against legal issues, incurring huge losses. Almost a third of small business owners have lost revenue due to legal knowledge gaps, leaving them exposed to an average of up to £10,000 a year in unexpected costs and fines.

With small businesses often reliant on tight margins and a close handle on their bottom line, it is essential that business owners seek professional advice to avoid unexpected revenue losses.

Below are five useful steps to ensure you avoid falling down the rabbit holes of unforeseen legal issues:

Start as you mean to go on

Getting your business off the ground and setting out on a growth path requires you to set the foundations from the outset. Maintaining pace and awareness to ensure there are no ugly frights around the corner will prevent you from taking two steps backwards, particularly in relation to the law.

Protect your property

Whether you are selling, using a service or distributing, it is essential that you have a license. This protects you against someone else using your work, but also prevents your business from infringing anyone else’s rights. Understanding the ownership, protection and exploitation of the license you hold is a useful tip that saves you both time and money.

Safeguard your staff

Legal obligations for recruitment and employment such as contracts, work permits and holiday entitlement, are important and valuable to both the business and employees. Aside from ensuring a shared understanding of the legal formalities, it demonstrates respect and investment in that individual – as well as professionalism.

Don’t be taxed by tax

It is important to ensure your business is always up to date with the constantly changing tax laws and rates. As a small business, it is important that you make the most out of any available reliefs and comply with the relevant laws to prevent you from a shortfall in the longer term.

Reinforce your regulations

Having an understanding of the recent changes to consumer protection law is beneficial in the protection of your customers’ confidentiality and demonstrates a commitment to transparent and caring customer service. Making sure you are fully compliant with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which prevents several issues such as unsolicited direct marketing emails, as well as subscription emails, is another good tip for small businesses.

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