For years you build your business and then someone drags you to court to try and tare it all down. What can a small business owner do? Well, for starters, you can work on reinforcing your legal defences to avoid any potential issues in the first place. Here are some six key tips that will help you secure your business — legally.
Guard Your Trademark
There’s nothing worse than running your own business for years, making a name for yourself, only to find out that there’s yet another company out there claiming a right to your trademark. In fact, this is exactly what happened to the corporate giant McDonald’s — they were barred from using the “Big Mac” trademark in Europe after losing a dispute with the Irish Supermac’s.
Now, apart from being plain embarrassing, losing your brand name is also bad for business. To avoid such a fiasco, make sure you check whether anyone’s already using that trademark with some comprehensive name searches before you even open shop. That way you won’t find yourself in a sticky situation with potential lawsuits and whatnot. Once your research is complete, make sure you register your business accordingly to retain the right to that name for good.
Even if you do everything that’s within your power to remain a law-abiding citizen, accidents can still happen. For instance, a customer may slip inside your store or office complex and sue you for damages. In those and similar cases, you need to ensure that your business is ready to withstand a lengthy trial. In other words, consider getting some insurance! General and limited liability insurance, for example, will protect you in most cases and will cover any legal expenses should a potential lawsuit arise; this is true even for out-of-court settlements with insurance companies and personal injury lawyers.
So, don’t risk losing your entire business and livelihood because of one random trial. Cover yourself with some adequate legal protection ASAP.
Draft Precise Contracts
Drafting a contract is an extremely delicate matter. One wrong phrasing and the whole clause becomes totally ambiguous, potentially rendering the entire contract useless. Consequently, this can cause a whole heap of legal issues; especially so with employee contracts. To avoid this, consider hiring a highly skilled accountant or bookkeeper to do the job for you.
Yet another option is to find some useful legal binding contract templates to help you in the drafting process and create precise and legally accurate documents. Generally, these include employee contracts, NDAs, privacy policies, and more. Get them done right and protect your business from lawyer hair-splitting of any kind.
When doing business with a new contractor, an outside partner, and so on, considers using a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This will help you keep sensitive information such as financial data, product designs, client contacts, etc., secret. What’s more, if you plan on growing your business, you’ll probably get in contact with some investors; make them sign that agreement as well. After your little consultation with them is over, there’s nothing stopping them from sharing all that juicy business information you just told them all about. If anything, your business partners and investors won’t take you seriously if you don’t make them sign one beforehand; it’ll make you look like a complete amateur.
Protect Your Files
You don’t have an obligation solely to your business but to your clients and business partners as well. Therefore, you need to take good care of your data. Focus on improving your safety measures and educate your employees on the proper use of computer hygiene. Updated any and all antivirus programs you may have on your computers and keep regular backups in case of malicious ransomware. Meditate on the use of cloud computing or outsourcing your IT support department to wall yourself from any potential cyberattacks. Be wary, potential data breaches can strain the relationship between you and your business associates and grind your business to a complete halt. Don’t risk going to court.
Always protect your trademark, make everyone sign a contract beforehand, and get insured. That way you can rest assured that your business is safe from any legal harm.