No one ever said that starting and running a business was easy. In addition to the day-to-day challenges of keeping your business afloat, you must also contend with the legalities of running a business. There’s a lot to consider, from ensuring that you’re compliant with local, state, and federal regulations to navigating the complexities of contracts. And if you’re not careful, one misstep can land you in hot water—and cost you a lot of money.
Fortunately, this blog post will give you some tips for dealing with the legal aspects of your business. Following these tips can avoid costly mistakes and keep your business on solid footing.
Get Familiar With the Laws That Apply to Your Business
There are all sorts of laws and regulations that businesses have to comply with—from tax laws and employment laws to environmental regulations and zoning laws. Depending on your business type, you may be subject to different sets of rules and regulations. To ensure compliance, you must familiarize yourself with the laws that apply to your business. Not only will this help you avoid problems down the road, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing that your business is operating within the bounds of the law.
If you’re unsure where to start, plenty of resources are available online that can help you get up to speed on the relevant laws and regulations. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good place to start, as they offer information on a wide range of topics related to starting and running a small business. You can also check out your local Chamber of Commerce or seek professional help from an attorney or accountant specializing in small businesses.
Create Contracts and Other Legal Documents
When it comes time to do business with another party, it’s important that you have all of the necessary legal documents in place before any work begins. This will help protect both parties involved and ensure that everyone is clear on their responsibilities. For example, if you’re hiring an independent contractor to work on a project for your business, you’ll want to have a contract outlining the scope of work, payment terms, timeline, etc.
Not sure what kind of contract you need? Again, plenty of resources available online (including templates) can help get you started. Once you’ve created a draft contract, it’s always a good idea to have an experienced commercial attorney review it before anything is finalized. This will help ensure that everything is in order and give you peace of mind knowing that your interests are protected.
Build Strong Relationships With Your Vendors
Your relationships with your vendors can greatly impact your business—both good and bad. That’s why it’s so important to build strong relationships with reliable, honest, and transparent vendors about their pricing and terms upfront. When things go wrong (and they inevitably will at some point), these relationships can make all the difference in getting problems resolved quickly and efficiently—without costing you an arm and a leg in legal fees.
Search for vendors who have experience working with businesses like yours and who come highly recommended by other business owners. Once you’ve found a few vendors who seem like a good fit, reach out and introduce yourself—let them know what your business does and what type of products or services you’re interested in procuring from them. Discuss your budget and expectations upfront so there are no surprises down the road—and be sure to get everything in writing!
Keep Good Records
Last but not least, keeping good records of everything—from your business finances to your correspondence with vendors is important. This will help you track your progress, catch errors, and protect yourself in the event of a dispute. When it comes to financial records, be sure to keep accurate records of all income and expenses. This will not only help you stay on top of your finances, but it will also make tax time a breeze.
When it comes to correspondence, always err on the side of caution and assume that everything you write (email, text, etc.) can and will be used against you in a court of law. So, be sure to only communicate in writing things you would be comfortable making public.
The legal landscape of running a business can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking the time to educate yourself on the relevant laws and regulations and putting some simple systems in place, you can minimize your risk and protect your business—now and in the future.