1. Select Trusted Advisors
Have on speed dial a financial and accounting expert, your insurance broker, and a legal and compliance advisor. These experts advise on potential financial, product, and compliance failures and liability as your business grows. The time to select these trusted advisors for the first time is not after you’ve been sued or have received a regulatory investigation notice or fine. While it’s tempting to use online resources to cut costs, using these resources without adequate guidance from qualified professionals can cost you far more later if mistakes are made at the outset in correcting problems with your business structure, financial reporting, taxation, licenses, and other requirements of your business.
2. Establish Core Policies and Procedures
For many startups, documenting policies and procedures can be both time consuming and daunting. However, establishing the fundamental policies and procedures for your business at the beginning will avoid or at least lessen the chaos that will occur when an issue does arise. Core policies may include: financial and accounting policies; human resources policies and standard documentation used in the hiring, review, and termination processes; and compliance related policies and processes to ensure that your business is operated in compliance with laws that govern your business.
3. Select and Protect Your Company Name and Brand
Have a memorable logo or business name? Is it unique? A Google® search is not going to be sufficient to determine whether the name and logo you intend to use is not already being used by another company or individual. Using a name or logo that might be confused with another company could cost you a considerable amount of money if you are sued for trademark infringement, particularly if you have already established brand recognition and have invested in marketing materials that you may have to destroy.
4. Buying Supplies, Software and Services
Yawn. Who wants to read those online terms and conditions when all you want to do is just download that cloud application and use it? Too many times, businesses click past important terms and conditions, which form a binding contract between your business and the product or service provider, only to find out that there are hidden costs, inability to terminate easily, and restrictions on how you thought you would be able to use the product or service.
5. Selling Your Products and Services
On the customer side, you will need to establish clear terms on how you govern the sale of your products and services and be diligent in making sure that each customer reviews and signs your terms prior to the sale.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.