A common fear of business owners is the risk of the unknown. In essence, you don’t know what you don’t know and this can be terrifying.
To help you mitigate this risk and avoid some of the most common mistakes we see business owners making, we’ve put together this list of ‘Legal Landmines’ in the hope that we can help arm you with the most powerful tool – knowledge, and that you can use this to navigate the murky waters of the commercial world.
Without further ado, here it is – the top things you need to ensure you have (as a minimum) turned your mind to, and (preferably) sought advice on.
1. Brand Protection and Intellectual Property
In this day and age, your brand is We constantly have clients coming to us with issues about other benefiting off or exploiting their brand because they didn’t receive the correct advice or take proper proactive measures to protect their brand and IP from the outset. The worst part of this is that it is such an easy mistake to avoid if you get the right advice on how and why to protect your ideas from the start.
This area can be really tricky. The area of employment law is wrought with complexities that are very easy for employers to come unstuck on. A common area we see issues with is businesses not properly understanding whether they are dealing with ‘employees’ or ‘contractors’ and employers failing to keep abreast of the ever-changing legislation relating to employees (for example, the recent ‘casual conversion’ changes that are crucial for all employers of casual staff to be aware of and which we discuss in further detail here). There are so many simple steps that can be taken to ensure your business has the right processes in place to keep you, your staff and your workplace happy.
3. General Business Contracts
Having a contract in place is one thing. Ensuring it offers adequate protection is quite another. From supplier agreements to website terms and conditions and everything in between – ensuring your contracts reflect your intentions for the agreement is no easy task. We have seen matters that develop into disputes that turn on the inclusion or omission of a single word in the original contract. A base level understanding of the sorts of agreements you need in place, and a strong template library of documents is imperative for any business owner.
4. Dealing with disputes
Obviously, the preference is that you’ll get the right advice from the start and avoid disputes all together but, we get it – these things happen! One of the most devastating things we see is when business owners attempt to deal with disputes themselves and wind up in more trouble than they were in originally. In this area, it is important to consider what resources and processes you have in place for your business to quickly and efficiently resolve disputes. When receiving advice in this area, it’s really important you speak with someone who takes a commercial approach to resolve your dispute, which can help to avoid unnecessary cost and energy associated with litigation.
5. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”
Cashflow is the lifeblood of any company and the biggest problem affecting small businesses in Australia. Many profitable organisations are brought to their knees because they do not have the right internal processes in place to deal with debtors and manage cash flow. Setting up simple systems to ensure you are staying on top of this area before problems arise is one of the most important things you can do to support your business.
6. Business Structure
You wouldn’t build a house on inadequate foundations, so why do the same with your business? Having the right structure in place is crucial to ensuring your businesses success. On top of this, if you have partners in the business, you need to make sure the business is structured correctly around those relationships with the right agreements, such as shareholder agreements and partnership agreements, in place, depending on what is relevant. You need to make sure that putting in place the ‘right structure’ means you think about where your business is at now, and also that you have considered where your business is headed in the future.
So there we have it. A short, sweet, but extremely important list of tips to help put you in the best position to protect and nurture your business.
In future articles, we will take a more in-depth look at some of these areas. In the meantime, to have a chat with us about your current exposure and processes you can put in place to help deal with this, you can schedule a complimentary 15 minutes call with us here.
Aspect Legal is an innovative, proactive and value-driven legal practice, that specialises in helping businesses grow while protecting them from the storms of business.
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