You’ve done it! You are now a business owner. But what’s next? The time and financial investment you have put into making your dream a reality is extremely valuable. So what steps should you be taking to ensure you protect your business? The following steps will help your business operate legal and hassle-free.
What You Say and Do Matters
In today’s world, transparency, authenticity, and honesty are vital for building loyalty with your customer base. Honesty and integrity start with your culture and how you foster that throughout your business’s growth. Developing a clear mission and vision that are supported with core values are important components to building a strong culture. These values should govern your behaviour that filters down to your employees, and impact the customer service and perception of your company. Holding yourself, and your employees accountable to these standards will help ensure a strong culture is built.
In a digital age, your presence on social media platforms is an essential aspect of growth and sustainability. But these can quickly become detrimental if the platforms are not managed effectively. The social channels you utilize to engage with your customers are micro-monitored by millions of web users who will jump at the opportunity to be a whistleblower. Understanding how to develop a strong and loyal culture, while properly managing your brand’s social channels, will help mitigate any issues of what you say or do being held against you.
Get Insurance to Protect Your Business
This may seem like common sense, however, it is something many push aside. The policies included in liability insurance will help provide defense and damages if you, your employees, or your products or services are faced with any legal claims. Before making a decision as to which insurance policy is the right fit for your business, it is important to understand the risks your business could encounter. As your business progresses in its life cycle, you must consider the new risks you will face and reassess your insurance policy to ensure it aligns with your business functions and the industry you are operating within.
Protect Your Files (and Your Ideas!)
Let’s face it, your ideas are invaluable! They are what inspired you to start this venture, and what motivated you to keep going. Ensuring these ideas are protected is crucial. Whether you are backing up your files within a cloud service, or using a local database, taking the time to implement these procedures is extremely important. In addition to ensuring ideas and corporate files are protected, many seem to fall short in another area; properly storing and disposing of confidential employee information. It is vital that you are following legal procedures with collecting, retaining, and securely disposing of the confidential information you are collecting. Failure to do so could lead to you and your business facing some unwanted legal challenges.
Legally Separate Yourself from Your Company
If you are providing goods or services for a chance of profit or loss, you are considered to be operating a business. Many do not recognize that they may be running a “business”, so they have not yet formalized it legally. The way in which you decide how to structure the business you are operating, will determine how assets will be distributed and who owns them.
When you run the business by yourself, without any partners or without the distinct legal entity of a corporation, you are operating as a “sole proprietorship.” This is the simplest and most basic form of an organization. As a sole proprietorship, you and your business are one and the same. All responsibility of debts and other obligations will lie solely on you. Although this identifies a clear disadvantage, there are also benefits to operating as a sole proprietorship. It is affordable to set up and maintain, and provides a large degree of freedom from government and other regulation along with other tax advantages.
When you choose to incorporate under the Business Corporations Act of British Columbia, you become a corporation. Once incorporated, the business is now under operation as a completely separate and distinct legal entity. This means that you can create a new name for this separate entity that will have the ability to take out loans, sue and be sued, and enter into contracts on its own. There is very limited liability as a corporation. No shareholders of a corporation are held personally liable for the debts and obligations beyond the amount paid for its shares. Understanding the structure in which your business operates is an important step to take to ensure you are making smart decisions to legally separate yourself from your assets when pursuing your venture.
Hire a Trusted Lawyer
Last, but of course not least, it is crucial to have trusted legal advice on standby to ensure you are being proactive with the actions you take. Ongoing legal support throughout the growth of your business ensures you are taking the right steps to protect your company and its assets. Should any legal action be taken against you and your business, the correct reaction is crucial. A corporate lawyer that is familiar with your business and understands the environment in which your company operates, will be your best investment.