We all know that putting up a start-up business is not easy. From conceptualizing and planning to setting things in motion, building your own business empire takes a lot of your time, energy, and effort. It is a physically, mentally, and sometimes even emotionally draining endeavor. Of course, it will be all worth it once it is all done and you start cashing in on all your hard work.
However, your business is not safe. There are legal threats that can put all that you’ve worked for at great risk. Worse, it can even put you at risk as the owner. You may need to be ready to have a lawyer and even a reputable bail bondsman in your network if the need arises.
Legal Threats That Every Business Should Watch Out For
You may think that your small business is safe from legal cases since you are not even a big name in the industry yet. However, small business owners face several challenges that can end in legal battles. The first step in protecting yourself, your business, and your assets is identifying the legal threats to your small business.
1. Copyright Issues
Some small businesses miss researching trademark and copyrights that they may violate before they use certain marketing tools. This can include business logos, catchphrases, images, and business models. Using a logo that has a shadow of similarity with another logo can put you in legal trouble.
You need to watch out for some people who file for patents and copyrights, then look for violators that they can sue.
A trademark lawyer can help you when you launch a new marketing campaign or your logo. A trademark lawyer will help ensure that your logo and campaign catchphrase are available and will not embroil you in legal battles.
2. Licensing Problems
It is not a new problem. Sometimes, in the excitement of starting a new business, permits and licenses may be the last things in your mind. Failing to secure the necessary permits and licenses for the type of services and products you offer can get you costly legal troubles.
Here is a rundown of the basic permits that you should secure to ensure that you won’t have any problems in the future.
- Business License
- Fire Department Permit
- Sign Permit
- State Licenses
- Air and Water Pollution Permit
- Federal Licenses
- Health Department Permits
- Sales Tax License
- County Permits
Now depending on where you live, you may need additional permits and licenses to operate legally. You can consult the government licensing agency in your locality or your lawyer if you have any concerns and questions.
3. Accidents and Liability Cases
Accidents can happen, and a slip and fall case can put everything that you’ve worked for in peril. It can be slippery ice in your storefront that causes a customer to slip and suffer some broken bones. Losing the case will mean having to pay for damages, which may even last for a lifetime, depending on the seriousness of the injury. All the plaintiff needs to do is prove that it was your negligence to take care of your property and keep it safe that caused the accident.
The best way to avoid these costly legal battles is to ensure that your property is well-maintained. When an area is slippery, put up warning signs so that customers will avoid them. Investing in liability insurance is also the best way to protect yourself and your assets from these legal troubles.
4. Accusations of Discrimination
Whether a client or an employee, a person may file for alleged discrimination if that person feels that he or she was not treated fairly because of his or her race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. An example of a possible discrimination case is not hiring people because of their race and religion or creating a hostile and unfriendly work environment for people of color. A discrimination case will not just cost you money but also hurt your reputation. You may end up losing even your most loyal clients and customers.
To avoid this type of legal battles, make sure that everyone in your company is treated equally and fairly. Sponsor a cultural sensitivity training, especially if you also cater to a diverse client base. Hire a diverse staff as well, so that your employees will not feel any discrimination towards them.
5. Customer Information Breach
If you collect sensitive information from your customers, such as credit card information, and those data are hacked, you can be accused of negligence. Protecting your data network can be expensive. However, it will secure not just your customer’s information but some data necessary for running your business as well. An IT expert can help you set up and secure your network to protect the information that you share through the Internet.
Big businesses are not the only ones who are at risk of expensive lawsuits. Small businesses are also exposed to the same kinds of problems. Do not wait until you have a legal problem knocking on your doorsteps. Be proactive in reducing your risks and exposure.