Opening a new business involves plenty of challenges. But while encountering obstacles can happen at any time, you can use effective strategies to prevent them from occurring. If you’re more worried about releasing your first product rather than thinking about possible lawsuits, you need to change that mindset.
Lawsuits can drain your finances and harm your reputation, so as a responsible new business owner, you need to do everything you can to prevent them. Below are six ways to do just that.
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Learn about legal requirements
The first and most important thing to do is research the trademarks, patents, and copyrights that you might need. Trademarks refer to the business’s visibility through designs, words, and symbols. On the other hand, patents provide inventors the right to own the components, principles, and mechanisms of their work or products.
Before naming your business, branding your company, or starting selling products, be sure you’re not infringing on other intellectual property rights. To get such information you need, you can check out the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online database.
Put agreements into writing
Signed agreements are undeniably a life-saver if your business is at risk of disputes or clarifying your rights. Make it a habit to document and secure every agreement you have with customers, employees, or partners.
Put everything in writing to avoid litigation, especially if it’s about employment agreements. Doing so will allow you and the other party to understand the terms and expectations clearly. You can also create an official employee handbook indicating your training requirements and policies on discrimination and harassment situations. Other formal documents to secure include supplier and general sales contracts, licensing agreements, product-related records, financial agreements, and leases.
Don’t forget about insurance
Having the right insurance is an effective way to shield your business from a lawsuit or minimize its financial impact. For instance, you can acquire commercial auto insurance to get you covered in case of driving-related incidents. Depending on the coverage, it can also protect you from negligence and personal injury claims related to your business.
Another important coverage to consider is professional liability insurance, which is essential if you provide professional services or advice to customers. This insurance protects you from the costs of any lawsuit filed by a customer due to errors or problems in your offerings. Seek professional advice to determine the right insurance your business needs. Doing this will protect you from expensive lawsuits.
Enforce sound employment practices
Running a business doesn’t just require you to take care of your clients. You should also ensure your employing the right practices in the workplace. Federal and state laws may vary, but they are generally implemented to protect the employees’ privacy rights and discrimination or workplace harassment.
Learn about your state’s laws and enforce policies that abide by them. From workplace conditions to the hiring process, make sure that employment practices are well observed. By running a business that complies with laws, you are more likely to also retain your employees for longer.
Be transparent with customers or clients
No matter what industry you’re part of or what products you’re offering, it is always essential to be transparent with your customers. Do not attempt to trick them into believing they’re getting a better purchase. If you want to stay in business for a very long time, being honest is a great practice.
Transparency should be applied in the material or ingredients you utilize, your business practices, as well as your cancellation and refund policies. According to the Federal Trade Commission, every ad released to the public should not be misleading and truthful. Or if necessary, it must be backed by scientific evidence.
Hire a competent lawyer
If someone is qualified to give you the best and right advice regarding business laws, it’s them. Having a reputable lawyer by your side can advise you on the best strategies and steps to avoid getting sued by clients or customers. Opt for a professional who’s familiar with your area’s local customs and laws.
Seeking other business owners’ recommendations is the best and easiest way to find a great lawyer to hire. Or you can talk to the organizations that your business belongs to. Just be sure the lawyer has experience working with businesses similar to yours to ensure you’ll be informed about the legal requirements and insurances you might need.
As a business owner, you should always take all the necessary precautions to protect your company from any lawsuits. After all, being sued won’t just impact your finances but also your reputation. By following the above-mentioned steps, you are effectively putting your business in a position where legal actions are less likely to happen.