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Starting a new business can be an exciting yet terrifying time! Where do you start? Who do you speak to? Setting the foundations is key to any successful business - get it wrong and the consequences can be severe. Below is a brief checklist of some of the key issues to consider when starting out on your new venture.
Having a comprehensive business plan is vital to the success of your business. Businesses often fail because they lack direction from the outset. Define clearly what you want your business to achieve and how you intend to achieve this.
Do you want to trade as a sole trader, set up a limited company or operate a partnership? Take legal advice to ensure you choose the most appropriate form of set up. Ensure the correct legal documents are in place.
Banking & raising funds:
In order for your business to thrive it needs strong, well-structured financial roots. From raising cash to organising your bank accounts, you need to ensure that you have a sound financial basis from which to build your business.
Getting paid on time, dealing only with customers who are likely to pay, chasing debts and keeping an eye on your own unpaid bills are all essential parts of running a successful business. Introduce a cash flow system to manage the process.
Keep up to date with filing your tax return and paying the taxes you owe. Missing key deadlines may result in penalties.
Employers have a wide range of responsibilities ranging from legal compliance to finding the right staff, from paying workers on time to keeping them motivated.
Have a standard contract of employment in place from day one for all employees. Make sure that all new employees are entitled to work in this country, or you could face heavy penalties.
Before you sack someone, make them redundant or change their terms and conditions of employment, take legal advice. If you don`t, you could find yourself open to claims. Also warn employees that discrimination, sexual harassment and other illegal acts will not be tolerated. Ensure you have the right policies in place.
Appropriate insurance is vital to any business from a purely pragmatic viewpoint. There are also legal requirements for employers and public liability insurance. If you sell products, product liability insurance will protect you if someone injured by a defect in your product successfully sues you.
Terms and Conditions
If you don`t spell out your terms and conditions of trade (T&Cs), you are asking, in effect, for customers to pay you if and when they feel like it. If they go bust before paying up, you may not be able to reclaim your goods if you do not have Retention of Title provisions. Ensure you have suitable terms and have your customer agree to them.
Read all contracts carefully and make sure you understand the terms and implications before signing. Be clear about your rights and obligations.
If you need premises from which you will run your business there are many legal and practical issues to consider. Be careful when signing lease agreements. Check whether you will be liable to repair and improve the property under the terms of your lease.
Usually the first port of call for many consumers is searching through the Internet for services, whether to deal on line or simply to learn about service providers. Building your own website will enable you to reach new customers and find new suppliers.
Ashan Arif, Partner, Clarkslegal LLP
Tel: 0118 953 3904
"exceptional value for money in today's challenging legal environment" John Mitton, PG Legal
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