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Protect yourself as a business owner

  • Blog
  • 31 March 2016

As small business owners, we are faced with many issues and people vying for our time, and it can often feel as though there is no time left after the day-to-day operations of our enterprises. It pays to step back occasionally and remember that, as owners, we have a series of rights and obligations that, if ignored, could make our operations less efficient, or even could land us in trouble. So how can we best protect ourselves?

Artist or designer in office

Put in place a payment and refund policy

Not only does this ensure legal compliance and make your customers feel valued, but it also helps you to avoid being taken advantage of. For example, the Sale of Goods Act guarantees that any goods or services sold to a customer in the course of trade must be fit for purpose and match any description given. If not, then the customer is entitled to a refund.

However, a popular myth is that consumers have the right to a refund if they are simply unhappy with goods or services which are otherwise not faulty. This is not true, although most companies offer returns as an act of good will. Ironing out your policy in this regard avoids customer discontent further down the line.

Promote good industrial relations

Making an effort to practise good industrial relations in your business can pay dividends in the long run. Some small business owners simply assimilate business legal documents from various sources online. Not only is this less efficient, as our employees are the greatest asset we have, but it may also be illegal.

Employers are legally obligated to provide workers with written terms of employment within two months of the start date. These terms should outline the grievance and disciplinary procedures of your company. Likewise, instituting a robust contract is a worthwhile investment for a number of reasons.

It pays to avoid time-consuming employment tribunals, and drawing up a contract will further your understanding of the law as it relates to key issues such as unfair dismissal. Your business also benefits from a system through which you can retain good talent without being forced to hold onto new starters who fail to make the grade.

Employment law templates can be found on the FSB site. By ensuring that everyone is on the same page from the outset, your employees know what is expected of them and can work with you to achieve your shared goals.

Know your duties and responsibilities

Business legislation is constantly changing, and there are severe penalties for not keeping your operation up to date. For example, all business owners have the right to refuse service, but care is required to ensure that your actions are not discriminatory. You are entitled to refuse service for safety concerns or with regard to a disruptive customer. But refusal on the basis of ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexuality is illegal.

Best judgement is required from you and from your team, and should the issue ever go to court, you will be required to present a clear and compelling case. We publish regular online legal information bulletins for members to help them stay abreast of the latest legislative changes.

Carefully researching your rights and responsibilities can seem daunting, but we have plenty of resources to help our members.

Legal Protection Scheme from FSB

Legal protection covers various scenarios and ensures you and your business are covered

Find out more