Top 3 Legal Growing Pains for Small to Medium Sized Businesses
Whether you’re a small business just getting started or a small to medium sized business looking to expand, getting things correct early on isn’t easy, particularly when you have a lack of time and resources, but it will save your business time and money in the long run.
What common mistakes are made by employers when hiring?
Some common mistakes made by employers include the following:
1.Conducting Improper Interviews
It’s important to go into an interview with an open mind, you want to be as objective as possible and not focusing on validating any prior judgments you’ve made about the candidates before the interview.
Tip: if you particularly like an applicant think of reasons why they wouldn’t be a good fit and if you think they aren’t a particularly strong applicant think of reasons why they would be a good fit.
2. Hiring Friends and Family;
Hiring friends and family can make for a great business relationship or ruin a personal relationship. Make sure you’re willing to face any consequences if things don’t work out.
3. Not Having an Employment Policy/Office Manual or Properly Drafted Employment Contract/s:
If you don’t have the above documents properly drafted, at best you are creating ambiguity, inefficiency and difficult working conditions for your employees and at worst you could pay many times the cost of drafting these documents in legal fees when facing an unfair dismissal application or other employment dispute.
4. Hiring Staff as an Employee Instead of as a Contractor or Vice Versa:
Hiring staff as a contractor may not be correct depending on your circumstances. Even when hiring correctly, whether your staff are considered a contractor or employee depends on a number of factors and there can be important legal ramifications depending on how the relationship is determined.
Cash is king – what are some cost effective ways to keep cash flowing in my business?
Constantly chasing clients for unpaid invoices can be a costly exercise. To make the process as simple and efficient as possible you can implement the following strategies:
- Ensure the contract or terms and conditions between yourself and your client is appropriately drafted and will cover you in the circumstances should they fail to pay. This could include company director/s entering into a personal guarantee to pay and having clear invoicing/payment expectations and procedures;
- Have an automated invoice system at set periods which corresponds with your terms and conditions documents; nothing gives a client more of an excuse not to pay than failing to deliver invoices/reminders at timely intervals; and
- Ensure you have a lawyer who can draft and deliver a reasonably priced demand letter. Sometimes the highly cost effective threat of legal action is enough to push a client to pay you.
The cost of committing to the above strategies will save your business valuable time and money in the long run. The right lawyer, as part of your support network, can ensure that you have appropriately worded contracts/terms and conditions and prepare demand letters.
I’ve registered my business name but how do I trademark it?
Registering a company or a business name does not automatically register a trademark over the name or allow you to use that name exclusively.
The trademark you wish to register must be distinctive and before applying to register you must search trademark records to ensure that it is available for processing.
Further, it must be used to distinguish goods or services and must not merely describe the goods or services in addition to other prohibitions on registration (misleading, substantially similar to another trademark etc.)
Once you have a distinctive trademark to register you must choose the specific class/es. There are 45 categoriesof goods and services and it’s important that you register your trademark under the correct class/es. For example if you own a hairdressing salon and only register your trademark under one class you might have it registered for the service of cutting hair but not for the sale of shampoo.
There can be costly ramifications for not implementing the abovementioned advice. If you would like assistance with drafting employment or contractor agreements, employment policies, terms and conditions documents, demand letters or trademarking a business name, please call one of our experienced solicitors on (07) 3667 8966.