Having a small business is a dream come true for many people, and it is important to protect that dream once you have it. Many small business owners come to lawyers for guidance on what to do in certain situations and legal trouble. Many more business owners hire lawyers immediately for preventative measures and business growth advice. This is a great decision, because there are many small business lawyers in Austin who have been through this experience time and time again, and already know what to look out for.

Like we said, having a small business is a dream, and unfortunately there are many different things that will try to get in the way of that. Small business lawyers are there to make sure nothing does. If you have a small business or are thinking of starting one, here are the legal concerns that small business lawyers often keep in mind.

Licensing

Local governments have different requirements for being able to obtain a business license or permit to run your business. If you sell something like food or labor, this can get even trickier as there are many different laws that not only you have to be in accordance with, but your employees do also. Make sure that both you, your business, and all of your employees have the licenses and permits necessary. In this case, just the smallest mistake can cost a lot. The cost to obtain certain licenses may seem like a lot to small business owners who have already spent so much on keeping their business afloat, but the fees for not having them are big, and the audits searching for them are often. This is something that can easily be avoided by talking to your local government or lawyer and paying the price.

Data theft

Unfortunately there is a great number of ways in which your data or intellectual property can be stolen. Of course, there’s always the nightmare of someone breaking into your company and stealing, but leaks happen most often because of the company’s own employees. And believe it or not, immediately accusing an employee of theft is not always the best route to take. In situations like these where data gets stolen, it is especially important to seek guidance on what to do from a professional first.

Along with employees and contractors being able to steal your secrets, in the 21st century, sometimes storing things in the cloud can be a gamble too. You might have received an email before from a social media platform or some other type of software that you use letting you know of a company-wide breach. Unfortunately this is becoming more and more common. Internet database companies are in a constant fight with hackers to upgrade their technology in order for it to be protected. If you’re planning on storing any of your information online (which you likely are– even through things such as email or google drive!) make sure to review their policies and voice any concerns you may have.

Discrimination/harassment charges

Charges on the basis of discrimination or harassment are something to be taken extremely seriously. If your company faces one of these charges, not only do you suffer with whatever happens within the case, but there is also a chance that your company’s reputation will be ruined forever if the situation is not handled well.

There are many different things you can do to emphasize that you take these charges seriously and do not discriminate on the basis or ethnicity, gender, and other factors as a company. First, you’ll want to make sure that you have an amazing HR department that knows how to handle these situations and make everyone feel heard and safe. If an employee feels like they can go to the HR department, that is a great first step.

Next, you’ll want to have clear documentation on each employee as proof that you do not discriminate based on ethnicity, race, gender, etc. And lastly, holding meeting and trainings on anti-harassment and discrimination lets everyone who works for your business know that you take these things seriously, and they should too.

Dissatisfied customers

There is an endless number of reasons that a customer will find to sue your business. There likely are all sorts of horror stories in your field of people who sued a business for something that sounded ridiculous, but then settled, and in effect destroyed that business. For the most part, depending on your type of business, your lawyer will easily be able to lay out specific concerns that customers might have. For example, if you run an escape room, lawyers will see the potential for anxiety and injury coming and suggest that all your customers sign a waiver to prevent lawsuit.

But in cases where lawsuits are actually threatened, they tend to be for things that had a very slim chance of happening. It’s entirely possible that whatever you get sued for, no one had any idea could even happen. This is a reason why you need a great lawyer who can handle anything on your side.

Tax litigation

Taxes can become quite tricky and monumental to organize the more you start to earn and grow as a business. Every year that you grow and the laws change, it seems that another thing gets added to your plate to sort out with your taxes. Many business lawyers know exactly how to handle this, and love doing it. Finding a lawyer that is also an experienced accountant as some business lawyers are is a great decision for tax litigation issues. Even if you aren’t paying for their accounting service, these lawyers can’t help but bring their great knowledge of taxes into play.

Some other concerns

At the end of the day, there are a lot of thing that can go wrong with a business, especially when it starts growing into something bigger. Depending on the type of business you have, here are a few other concerns that may also be important for you to be aware of:

  • legal disputes with competitors
  • legal disputes with contractors
  • immigration audits
  • copyright, trademark, and patent issues
  • employee termination
  • overtime disputes
  • non-disclosure agreement issues

Getting a lawyer for your small business is a great first step to take in expanding your company.

Hollister Legal offers corporate and transactional, tax planning and consulting, immigration and visas, and business and startup services.