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5 Legal Essentials for your Small Business

By Bianca Reynolds 

Bianca is a lawyer at LegalVision. Throughout her studies, she gained experience in a variety of areas of law including family, commercial, and personal injury. She has a passion for ensuring access to justice in the community and growing small businesses.

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You may be just starting out as a small business owner, or are now setting your sights on expanding and growing your existing business. It’s often the case that legal work is the last thing on your mind – your mind is occupied with fit-outs, capital raising and engaging suppliers. To help you save time, we’ve set out five essential legal needs of every small business owner. These will protect your business and allow you to invest your energy in what really matters – growing your business!

1.Know your Business Structure

Whether you operate an online shoe store or a local café, every business owner needs to know what business structure will work best for their needs and goals. If you are focusing more on long-term operation with no real interest in growing the business, a sole trader structure may be right for you. They are easy to set up and run and are good for businesses looking to having no more than a few people involved in the day-to-day operation. If you want to grow your business within a short time frame and include more people, a company structure may be more beneficial. You may also consider operating your business through a trust structure, which can have tax advantages. There are tax pros and cons with each structure that you will need to speak with your accountant about before making any decisions.

2.A Solid Employment Agreement

You are most likely going to need to hire another person to assist you with your business. A well-drafted, clear employment agreement will cover things like leave entitlements, intellectual property, confidential information, termination and include a non-compete or restraint of trade clause. These are all protections for your business to prevent employees from using your business information for their own gain outside of work and can prevent them from taking your procedures, policies or clients to a competitor. A good employment agreement can be tailored to apply to each new employee you hire and is an essential document to prevent legal actions down the track, such as unfair dismissal claims and actions for breach of contract.

3.Terms and Conditions Tailored to your Business

Whether your business is involved in selling products or services, it is essential that you have clear terms and conditions that set out your relationship with your customers or clients. If you sell products, your T&Cs will cover the following:

  • Payment terms;
  • Delivery;
  • Obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL);
  • Dispute resolution procedures; and
  • Limitations of liability and disclaimers.

If you provide services to clients, your T&Cs will also cover payment terms, dispute resolution procedures, and the ACL but will include a focus on protecting your intellectual property and confidential information and will include indemnities and clear descriptions of the services you are providing. Terms and Conditions will protect your business if any issues arise with the agreement you have with your customers and clients. They ensure you get paid correctly and can prevent further legal action.

4.Online Legals

Many businesses these days have some form of online presence, whether that be through operating entirely online, or by just having a website where you can get in touch if you require services. No matter the extent of your online presence, there are essential legal documents you need to protect to your business. These are a Privacy Policy and Website Terms of Use. A Privacy Policy is between your business and each person you collect personal information from, like name, phone number and email address. It is designed to comply with Australian Privacy Law and states how the information is used, what it is used for and when it will be disclosed to third parties. A Website Terms of Use protects your business’s intellectual property on your website and sets out permissible and prohibited uses of the content you upload. The Terms apply to every visitor to your website.

5.Trademarking

Your business’s name, logo, slogan or character can be used by others without consequence unless you protect them through trade mark registration. You may have a catchy, exciting business name that you don’t want anyone else to be able to use, but if the name isn’t trade marked, it is possible for others to use it too. If others start using your name or logo, then it can impact on your business’s reputation and sales. Some words can’t be trade marked due to their descriptive nature, however, if you have a unique name, logo, slogan or character, it is certainly worth protecting to ensure the financial possibilities for its use are yours and yours alone.


 

Starting with these five legal essentials will assist you and your business. LegalVision can help you with these legal needs and provide you with fixed fee quotes. If you have any questions, let their small business lawyers know on 1300 544 755.

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