Guest Post by: Jennifer Motian
Those ready to dive into a new small business have a lot of things to prepare and think about. One thing that is often overlooked is the potential legal pitfalls. A legal issue can shut a business down before the owner even knows how to react. Avoiding these pitfalls to begin with will save immense time and money.
Knowing How to Protect Intellectual Property
Just about every business has this type of property. This includes things such as trademarks, trade secrets, patents, copyrights and domain names. These are what make one business different from the rest. For ensured enduring value of a company, these must be protected and protected early. Not protecting them can result in losing them. Build a portfolio that contains all intellectual property rights and create an agreement that everyone in the business privy to this information must agree to that ensures it is not used outside of the business.
Understand Employment Law
One of the biggest reasons new small businesses get into hot water is because they do not understand employment law. There are a variety of regulations surrounding issues, such as fair pay and various forms of discrimination. The good news is that these issues are easy to avoid when you know what they are and how to properly adhere to them.
Get a Good Lawyer
Most business owners do not have a law degree and this means that they need a lawyer to help them navigate the lingo and regulations. It is important to get a lawyer with the right knowledge. For example, if you are opening a restaurant, a lawyer with knowledge of not only small business, but also with things like food service regulations is very important. You do not want to need the services of two or more lawyers. Find one that can take care of all of your needs.
Keep Customers Happy
This may not sound like a legal issue, but it can be. If you have a number of dissatisfied customers, a class action lawsuit could come into play. This is why it is critical to do everything that you promise and to rectify any issues that impact customers. Faulty services and products can quickly become the death of a business because a class action suit not only takes a big chunk of money, but it can also destroy your business reputation.
Make Sure You Have the Right Licensing
Businesses require different permits and licenses and the ones you need depend on both your business and the state that you live in. It is important to know what your state requires and these permits and licenses need to be obtained before the business opens.
Consider Pre-Employment Screening
Gone are the days of calling a few references to get to know a potential employee. Even small businesses need to be incredibly careful about who they hire to carry out business. In today’s world, things like corporate scandals, security concerns and workplace violence are on the rise and can result in lawsuits. Knowing who you are hiring can help in preventing these issues.
About the Author: Jennifer Motian has been an IP consultant for different small businesses for over 10 years. She is also highly versed in patent sales and how to sell patents.