Starting a small business involves a little creativity, a lot of math, and even more legal knowledge. The great thing about starting a business with a strong legal foundation is that it’s easier to maintain. You won’t run into problems or obstacles at the last minute, or worse, find yourself in legal trouble. Before you let the trusty ship of your brand new business set sail, make sure you’ve thoroughly and comprehensively addressed all the legal needs and requirements necessary for success.
Make Sure You Have Permits and Licenses
Nearly everything you do within your business involves some type of license. Outside of a standard business license, you might require a license for the software that everyone is using. You might need a license for the font you used in your logo, and not having one can create legal problems for you in the event that the creator of the font wants proper compensation. Selling certain products in-store or online may require special permits. Check with a lawyer before you launch anything – even if you wait until the last minute before you launch to get the licenses and permits you need, it certainly beats finding out about them a little too late.
Understand the Difference Between Employees and Contractors
Payroll taxes are very complicated to navigate. Many small businesses simply do not have the time or resources to keep up with large amounts of employees. That’s why independent contractors are so appealing. Before you decide to hire independent contractors, make sure they’re actually independent contractors. The law has some stipulations about what can and cannot be considered contract work – especially if you have control over most aspects of how the work is performed.
Compliance With Workplace Standards
Putting up worker’s rights and safety posters is more than just a formality. The law requires that certain information be posted in a location easily accessible to your employees at all times. Even if they already know pertinent information or have been given copies of pamphlets and signs, you still need to keep some things posted. What you need to post depends on the nature of your business. A construction company and a food service business may have different requirements for the information you’ll need to display. Research industry-specific safety standards and assure your compliance.
Forgetting to Protect Intellectual Property and Proprietary Ideas
Your business was likely founded on some unique concepts. You spotted a need for something in the world and strived to fulfill that need for your potential customers. What happens if someone else starts doing the exact same thing you’re doing? If you haven’t patented or copyrighted the unique aspects of your business, someone else can come along and sweep them out from under you. Protect your name, your logo, and any slogans you use to market your small business. If you’ve invented or revolutionized something, whether it be a product or a process, file to have it registered as yours. If you can prove your ideas or intellectual property were stolen, you’ll have a sense of recourse against shady businesspeople.
Once you think you’re done checking your small business for legal compliance, check again. Things change all the time, and failing to stay abreast can lead to some serious consequences. It may be worthwhile to keep a lawyer on retainer – you’ll be able to stay ahead of the game.
The same could be said when it comes to maintaining your books. Having a dedicated bookkeeping team can help ensure your business stays ahead of any financial troubles. At Enkel, we help small and medium-sized business owners streamline their bookkeeping process, while they focus on growing their business. Whether your company is located in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, or Toronto, we've got your bookkeeping needs covered! Contact us today to learn more.