Legal Mistakes New Small Business Owners Make

New small business owners have a lot on their plates already with building up a company.

Legal issues are often the last matters they want to address, but that could prove disastrous further down the line for new small business owners, if they continually put them off.  

You didn't create a shareholders agreement. What will you do if one of your shareholders wants to leave the company, or if they die, get divorced, want to push the company in a different direction, or want to sell the company? A shareholder agreement would guide you on how to act if any of these situations arose. Without such an agreement, the situation may get tense and challenging. An experienced attorney could help you draft a shareholder agreement.

On a similar note, you may have failed to set up the right legal structure for you business.  You may have made the mistake of not incorporating. This mistake can really hurt a new small business down the line when you want to find investors or when one of the founding owners wants to leave the business. This could also really hurt the business when it comes to personal liability. If a customer or employee were to sue, you could be held liable. Incorporating your company would protect owners from personal liability.

Not protecting your businesses' intellectual property is a big mistake a lot of new small business owners make. New businesses should take the time to file trademarks, patents and copyrights to protect their companies. Additionally, businesses should do their due diligence to ensure that their new business does not infringe on a competitor's business. Hiring an attorney to do a search for you could save your business from future lawsuits. It's important to know your competition and do a significant amount of research on the business field you're entering.

Another mistake may be that you didn't save money for professional resources. Oftentimes, professional resources are an invaluable source for new small businesses. A lot of new businesses are stingy when it comes to paying for resources they believe they could do themselves, despite not having expertise in that area. Some examples of these areas include legal matters, accounting, human resources and even website designers. Saving a couple thousand dollars in your budget for these expenses could, in the long run, save you time and money. Learning to hire outside and delegate work that doesn't lend itself to your strengths lets you focus on your strong points and grow your business more effectively.

Paying a small amount for advice from a human resources professional is especially important because many new small businesses don't develop policies for employee conduct and it could hurt them if they ever get sued by former employees. These HR guidelines will lay out your company's policies, standards, and objectives. It will outline recruitment, termination, compensation, benefits, and employee relations. Plus, employees feel more comfortable knowing  there is a guideline of expectations in place.


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