Start-ups often choose not to seek help from legal professionals in the first years of trading for a number of reasons. Some believe that they can create contracts and agreements without legal support; others that legal costs are prohibitive for a small business with delicately balanced cash-flow; still more believe that their business can run smoothly without any form of legal framework.
While there is lots of readily available information and support online, business-specific support can be hugely important to the long-term success of a business. In the same way that building a business on solid financial foundations can help it to grow more effectively and sustainably, being proactive in ensuring that a business is watertight from a legal standpoint can avoid costly problems further down the line.
Here are just a few examples:
1. Choosing the right business structure
There are several factors to consider when choosing your company’s legal structure. But getting things right from the very start can make all the difference.
The three main legal structures are sole trader, limited company and a partnership. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks in terms of liability, paying tax and control over business matters.
A solicitor can play an important role in helping you make the right decision for you and any business partners you may have. Their professional advice will take into account your circumstances and the legalities surrounding each option.
2. Intellectual property law
Intellectual property law defines the rules for safeguarding and enforcing your legal rights to your works, such as: inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images. A solicitor can assist you in adequately protecting your ideas from competitors who may try to mimic, steal or replicate your work to pass as their own. Not only this, but they will be able to advise you on precautions to avoid infringing on the legal rights of other brands.
Without legal assistance in this matter, you may lose the valuable assets that make your business unique, or find yourself on the wrong side of IP law, neither of which are positions your business wants to be in.
3. Tax Law
The amount of tax payable by a business is widely dependent on the company’s legal structure. It’s crucial to have a good understanding about tax laws when running a business, and a solicitor can help you understand and address any areas relating to tax and how you should ensure you’re paid up to date to avoid any fines or legal violations. This becomes a more complex and labour intensive process as a business grows, and one that specialist legal professionals are well placed to handle.
4. Employment Law
As an employer it is imperative that you adhere to the rules and regulations surrounding hiring and caring for your staff. Knowing how to handle issues such as parental leave, disciplinary issues and complying with working condition regulations can avoid problems arising – problems that can be far more costly than the it would be to consult a legal professional in the first place.
Employment law covers such a vast number of issues that few employers are able to manage this themselves. In fact, attempting to handle these legalities yourself could end up wasting time, resources and money in-house that amount to significantly more than the cost of employing a solicitor to do the job for you.
You should always obtain business insurance, regardless of what type of businesses you run. However, companies can require very different forms of cover depending on the scale of the enterprise, the type of product or service they sell and countless other factors.
Sound legal advice can go a long way towards helping you determine the right course of action when insuring your business, and ensuring you’re prepared for any problems that may arise.
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