Getting The Right Legal Support For Your Business
Legal support services help small business owners achieve their goals with expert advice and skilled representation. It is best to have law support on your team before problems arise so your business is taking the proper preventative measures to avoid legal disputes.
Business law seriously affects how your business runs, from business structuring to contract law, to employment law to tax law and more. The good news is that you don’t have to become a lawyer. To deal with all the issues involved in your business, you just need to be aware of potential issues and then work with your lawyers to make sure you’re on the right side of the law.
If you’re seeking small business legal advice, here are a few of the biggest legal issues small business owners need to know about:
- Pick the right business structure and register it
Before you make that business official, you must first decide on the most suitable business structure for your business, the structure that is most beneficial based on the ownership structure of the business, risks to be involved, limited liability, taxes as well as other statutory requirements. The following options are available when deciding on the right structure to register;
- Sole Proprietorship – Ideal for one individual who is personally responsible for the business debts.
- Limited liability – generally protects personal assets from company debts.
You may also organize as a non-profit (NGO) or form a partnership, but you must make sure you choose a structure that best suits your kind of business.
After you decide on the business structure, choose a suitable business name, check for its availability and then get it registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. With a registered business/company name, you can then open a corporate account and properly start business operations.
- Protection of Your Intellectual Property Is Important
Without a patent, copyright, or trademark, you have little to no recourse if any company “steals” your logo, branding, or business name. Tech companies and e-commerce companies are especially vulnerable to intellectual property issues.
Laws about patents, copyrights, and trademarks protect your businesses’ intellectual property, unique creative output, and branding efforts. Business Lawyers advise that protecting your intellectual property is easier than disputing unfair usage after the fact.
Intellectual property law is inherently complicated, so If you’re interested in protecting your company’s intellectual property, consult with an experienced Lawyer who knows the field, beyond general small business legal advice. A qualified intellectual property lawyer can help you assess whether or not your business has IP assets that warrant formal IP protections.
- Get set up for taxes and obtain the necessary business licenses and permits
Obtain your Tax identification Number and Value Added Tax Number. Also depending on the kind of business/service you render and the location of your business, you may need to obtain some business licenses and permits. For example in Lagos State you require a permit to use a Signboard outside your business location, while for a Money Lending business you require a Money Lenders License. Getting the necessary permits and licenses is important as it keeps you in the right part with the law of the land and enables you focus on growing the business without any disturbance from the authorities.
- Always Keep Personal Funds and Business Funds Separate
It is crucially important to separate yourself and your personal information from your small business. Your small business should have a separate bank account, credit cards, etc.
Your business funds and your personal funds should always be kept clearly distinct and separate to avoid the appearance of commingling. Any commingling can open you up to legal issues. The same goes for using business funds to pay for personal expenses.
- Enter into Binding Contracts where necessary
The basic tenet of contract law is an important one to know when you’re running your own business. The fundamental premise of all contracts is that there cannot be a binding contract unless there has been a “meeting of the minds.” In plain English, this means that both parties should share a core understanding of the contract terms and agree to be bound by those terms. Problems arise in contract interpretation and performance when there is an ambiguous interpretation of the contract terms.
As a business owner, you will often have to enter into contracts with other businesses and people like suppliers, Landlords, customers, creditors, employees. While a few of these may be simple enough to complete with a handshake, most will be sufficiently complicated, long-term, or financially important to require a written contract.
As simple as some types of contracts may be, you must remember that they are legally enforceable. If you fail to keep your end of the bargain, you can be sued and forced to pay damages to the other party or, in some circumstances, to do the things you promised in the contract.
Be clear about what you’re signing, as well as what you’re agreeing to. And while some contracts pulled from online can help give you a starting point, you’re going to want the help of an attorney (on both sides) to make sure everyone understands each other and the duties involved in the contract.
Making sure you both understand and agree to contract terms can help avoid disagreements and costly litigation down the road.
- Privacy Policies Are Crucial to Protect Customers
- It’s Usually Better to Negotiate Versus Litigate
Lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming, and stressful, and in the end, you may not be happy with the outcome. Even if you think you are the wronged party, a judge may not agree with you. Taking a case to court should almost always be the last resort.
Most business lawyers will advise trying to negotiate a settlement agreement rather than litigating a business dispute in court. Alternative dispute methods such as mediation and arbitration can save business owners significant sums of money, as well as valuable hours. They may also offer a way to salvage something out of a business relationship if you so desire, where a court battle is likely to cause irreparable damage.
- Keep the Law on Your Side
When you’re starting or running a small business, it’s important to know the basics of business law that can impact your company. Remember, lack of knowledge is not a defense to an illegal act or regulatory infraction. That’s why it’s important to seek out small business legal advice from someone who is qualified to give it.
It’s best to always consult with a lawyer to provide insight on any legal issues before you commit to a course of action, but this guide can at least give you a sense of some major issues to watch out for.
Finally, I know starting a business can be very exciting and challenging at the same time, but it is well worth it if you are ready to put in the work and also get the basics right from the start.
Team 618 Bees
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, no information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or professional advice from the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer. This post is protected by intellectual property law and regulations. It may however be shared using appropriate sharing tools provided that our authorship is always acknowledged and this Disclaimer Notice attached.