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5 important tips to make sure your small business is legally protected

- April 11, 2023 4 MIN READ
Happy confident young female cafe owner

No matter the size or type of small business you run in Australia, it is crucial to understand that everyday decisions need to be made not just with profits in mind, but also considering what is legally necessary, writes lawyer and small business legal expert, Shalini Nandan-Singh.

Running a successful and viable business within the legal confines isn’t easy – laws and regulations are constantly changing, and it takes time, effort and knowledge on behalf of business owners to stay abreast of these changes.

So, implement these tips to protect your hard work and investments legally!

1. Understand the legal structure of your business and choose one that suits your needs

When setting up a business, it is paramount to have a thorough understanding of the available legal structures. Nailing this step from the beginning will save time and stress down the track!

Company, partnership, or sole trader are common legal entities aspiring business owners tend to consider. It is essential to set aside time to research the specific features and regulations in each type of entity or, better yet, engage with an accountant or lawyer to understand which one is right for your business needs.

Every business has different goals, strategies and circumstances, both in the business and personal sense. Make sure you choose a legal structure that will suit your goals now, while also being able to adjust should your business environment change over time.

2. Comply with relevant laws, regulations and licensing requirements

As a small business owner operating in Australia, it is vital to be aware and operate under many laws, including but certainly not limited to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the Privacy Act 1988, and Fair Work Act 2009.

You can protect your business from potential fines and legal consequences by complying with relevant laws, regulations and licensing requirements.

Understanding these pieces of legislation is crucial for business owners to ensure they meet all requirements.

TIP: First-time business owners may not be across all industry laws, regulations and licensing requirements. Engaging a small business lawyer to guide you through this minefield can be money well spent.

3. Consider registering a trade mark to protect your brand and identity

Developing intellectual property is essential for creating a competitive, desirable small business. Registering a trade mark with IP Australia is a smart move to maximise the protection of your intellectual property rights.

Trade marks are an important form of intellectual property protection that creates an exclusive connection between goods and services and their owners. IP Australia has recently developed a free, new tool, TM Checker, to help with the initial trade marking process, and checking in with a small business lawyer is recommended.

Without an official registration in place, you can’t be assured that your brand won’t be copied without consequence by competitors.

reviewing business legals and contracts

4. Ensure comprehensive terms & conditions tailored to your services or product range

As a small business lawyer, I know the importance of having clear, tailored terms and conditions, including service agreements, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), refund policies, and website legals, to ensure your customers receive the highest quality service.

Ensuring you have comprehensive terms and conditions for your services and products is essential to running your small business smoothly with no nasty surprises.

Have you ever encountered a situation where expectations and actual outcomes were different, leaving your customer unhappy or yourself, under a service agreement issue? Appropriate agreements for customers, suppliers and employees manage expectations and are essential to business success. Without these contracts, businesses can face disruptive issues and conflicts.

Preparing these legal documents may seem daunting; however, effective legal templates written by Australian small business lawyers can make the process much easier.

5. Safeguard customer data by having privacy policies in place

Privacy should be paramount to your operations, no matter what industry your business is in. Ensuring customer data is safeguarded is becoming increasingly important, and privacy policies are integral to this process. Privacy policies outline how you, as a business, use and protect the information customers provide. In addition, they are legally-required documents explaining how website cookies, contact forms, and other features handle personal information.

An up-to-date privacy policy will help build trust with customers, so they feel their data is adequately managed and secure. Take the steps now towards protecting your customer’s privacy by ensuring your privacy policies are relevant and clearly communicated on your website for all visitors to read.

You must add the privacy policy to your website, social media platforms, and wherever you collect data and implement the policy terms within your business.

Successful small business owners understand the importance of keeping their legal affairs in order and maintaining compliance with relevant laws. Pursuing these steps is beneficial and essential in protecting your interests and those of your customers, suppliers and employees.

Having your contracts, services agreements and terms properly drafted and in place gives you a solid foundation to build upon, and will save you both stress and potential customer relationship and legal difficulties. Therefore, it makes sense for small business owners to engage a small business lawyer to start their business on the right foot.

I’d love to hear from you as you start your business journey – why not book a ten-minute complimentary chat with me, today.

This article was first published on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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