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Is your small business exposed to these damaging legal pitfalls?

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Small businesses require employees who wear many hats and are multi-skilled. While a lot of the day-to-day operations can be learnt on the job or outsourced to friends or family, it’s prudent to turn to the professionals for your legal services.

A 2017 SmartCompany survey found 75 per cent of SMEs outsource their legal work, with these services covering everything from recruitment to dismissal, copyright and contractual agreements.

Legal issues aren’t a small detail when it comes to keeping business practices above board. When these issues aren’t dealt with appropriately, from beginning to end, small and medium business owners risk losing not only time and money, but their business reputation.

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Knowing your employment responsibilities

The responsibilities of small business owners increase when they start employing staff. These range from ensuring your employees receive the appropriate training, and supervision, to paying the correct award rate and providing a safe work environment to hiring and firing in the appropriate, legal way.

Each of these responsibilities can benefit from the help of a professional with expert knowledge in these areas. For example, an employment lawyer should be your go to whenever you’re unsure about asking someone to leave your team. Also, consider having them run their eyes over a contract before it’s signed to minimise any tricky issues later down the track.

Staying across all the finer legal details can be a cumbersome task, especially when things start to change. A recent decision by Australia’s Federal Court could have a significant impact on small businesses who employ casual workers, but how will SME owners know if this impacts them?

Small business owners need to pay attention to these cases, but without a legal background they might not know how to protect themselves.

When big business comes knocking

It’s not only employment related issues small business owners need to be mindful of. When intellectual property lawyer and director at Hitch Advisory Olivia Hitchens spoke with SmartCompany earlier this month she said she’d seen an increase in the number of big businesses challenging small businesses over copyright and intellectual property disputes.

Picture a ‘David versus Goliath’ battle where Goliath has the support and resources of a large enterprise and a team of lawyers to ensure any whiff of a copyright breach is stamped out, putting David in the precarious position of changing his business or branding in a short time frame or risk going under.

Getting it right from the start

There are ways to protect yourself if things go awry, but with so many moving parts to owning and managing a business, seeking additional help can minimise any risks and give SME owners the chance to be successful.

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