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Essential business law and considerations for businesses new and old
Owning and operating a business of your own can be a highly rewarding endeavour if done properly, but the underpinnings of a successful business can be extremely hard work to get right.
One of the trickiest and most time-consuming aspects of running a business, no matter how small, can be the legal side of it – but if you want your business to thrive, it’s recommended that you keep up with the latest laws and regulations and understand how it affects your business.
Starting a business
Your business will run more smoothly if you start as you mean to go on, and a large part of this is ensuring that you understand what you’re getting yourself into as regards the legal side of things.
One of your first big choices will be the legal structure or status of the business. The most established options are to run your business as a sole trader, with generally fewer regulatory restrictions but a greater risk to your assets, operate in a partnership, which is in practice similar to sole trading but with one or more additional people sharing the benefit and burden, or enshrine your undertaking in law as a limited company, which forces you to abide by certain rules and regulations but in most cases also grants you a greater degree of protection from the liabilities of the company should disaster strike.
Whatever you decide, make sure you plan well before starting a business.
It will also be necessary to choose the right name for your business, which must comply with certain legal requirements, and make sure that you know about any relevant laws that affect your particular trade.
Depending on the nature of your business, it might also be necessary or at least sensible to set down the terms and conditions under which you trade with other people.
Looking after your employees
Should your business take root and flourish, you might end up with employees working beneath you to complete various tasks.
If you do have employees, it’s important to be aware that in general you are considered responsible for their welfare and safety in the workplace at all times and you must ensure that you are operating within the law.
You’ll need to think about a wide range of legal issues, including health and safety, fair employee treatment and the requirements in place regarding their wages.
Whether you undertake the calculation and payment of business taxes yourself or hire an expert to deal with it for you, ultimately the responsibility of ensuring that it is done properly is yours. Your business and reputation are reliant on you paying the appropriate amount, so don’t take it lightly.
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