Four New Year’s Resolutions Every Business Should Have to Avoid Legal Drama in 2019
The beginning of the new year often provides exciting opportunities to set goals for change and growth. Each new year, many of us promise ourselves we will get fit, take up a hobby or spend more quality time with our loved ones. Whist many of these new year’s resolutions fail in days or weeks, others set a pattern of positive change in our lives.
According to a Harvard Business Study, the 3% of graduates who made a habit of planning and recording their goals ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to prove whether this Harvard Business Study actually took place – meaning there is a distinct possibility that these figures were merely fabricated by motivational gurus to get us excited about making goals.
Despite the fact that this study is likely to be merely the brainchild of a few Gandhi-inspired individuals, the message behind it is not in itself untrue. Setting and mapping goals is crucial to both personal and business success. With this in mind, we shouldn’t just be making personal resolutions, we should also be setting business goals for the new year.
At Butlers Business Lawyers, we believe that when it comes to business goals, the best place to start is by ensuring your business is legally sound. This prevents legal drama such as fines, claims or theft of intellectual property getting in the way of broader goals surrounding growth and profitability.
Below, we have outlined out top four legal goals to keep your business away from legal drama in 2019:
Legal Drama Resolution #1: Better protection of intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) is one of the most commonly undervalued assets in business. All the hard work you have put in pleasing clients, creating networks, nurturing staff and growing the business are represented by your unique IP. Despite this, many businesses fail to properly protect these assets.
Further to this, every business has closely held secrets for doing business. Despite the importance of these secrets, many businesses aren’t looking carefully at their employee and contractor agreements to ensure they contain appropriate confidentiality clauses.
Our IP goal suggestions:
- Trademark all names, logos and slogans
- Check your agreements to ensure they contain appropriate confidentiality clauses
- If you use or licence IP from a third party, ensure you have the appropriate permissions and the parameters of the arrangement are clear and in writing
Legal Drama Resolution #2: Put it writing!
Contracts are an integral part of every single business. Even if your business operates with no written contracts, it is likely that you have verbal contracts with your employees, contractors, suppliers or clients.
In Australia, verbal contracts are just as enforceable as written contracts. The problem with verbal contracts usually presents when attempting to prove the terms of the arrangement at a later date. As humans, most of us don’t have perfect recall, and, the more time that passes, the hazier the details usually become. On top of this, verbal contracts always come with the risk that one party will deny the existence of the contract or the scope of the terms. When this occurs, it is extremely difficult to disprove.
Our contract goal suggestion:
- Make sure all contracts, agreements and arrangement are in writing and signed by all parties
Legal Drama Resolution #3: Ensure new marketing schemes aren’t misleading
No matter how big or small your business is, marketing plays a vital role in boosting your customer base and increasing profits. Effective marketing allows potential customers and clients see why your product or service is superior to or unique from your competition.
Despite this, you can’t just say or do anything to stand out from the crowd and increase your bottom line. There are laws in place which protect consumers from being misled about the products and services that they are looking to buy. These rules apply to advertising, packaging, information on websites and social media pages as well as testimonials and reviews.
You don’t even need to have intentionally misled a customer to be potentially liable – what matters is the overall impression made by your marketing. The most common types of misleading or false advertising involve the use of fine print qualifications, comparative advertising, bait advertising and environmental claims.
Our marketing scheme suggestions:
- Ensure that any branding, statement, quote or other representation is not misleading or false
- Ensure that your business can meet the demands represented in your advertising
Legal Drama Resolution #4: Protect your assets
Making sure that you have an effective asset protection system established is a key responsibility of any business owner. It is important to make a plan to reduce or eliminate any risk of your assets being exposed to litigation and other pitfalls.
Our asset protection suggestions:
- Understand the liabilities that exist in your contracts
- Get advice about what structures would be best for protecting your business
- Avoid combining your business structures with your personal assets and liabilities
Setting these legal goals early will help protect your business from legal drama throughout the new year and the years to come. Preventing future claims, theft and misuse of your IP prevents waste and provides more space for the business to grow securely.
Looking for an experienced solicitor in Newcastle, Sydney or the Hunter to help your business meet its 2019 legal goals? Call us on (02) 4929 7002, email us or complete an enquiry form.