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5 key pieces of legal advice for new businesses

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3. Write your terms and conditions

Even if you’re doing business with friends or business associates, youll need to get an agreed set of standard terms and conditions of business written up to give your company the amount of protection it needs.

Make sure these have been signed or agreed by your staff and customers, and get them checked regularly by a legal expert because the law evolves quickly.

4. Think about the structure of the business

Get the structure of the business right from the start and make sure it provides you with the legal protection and tax advantage you need. Dont make the common startup mistake of assuming that a limited company is the only trading model available. You could consider being a sole trader, a partnership or a limited liability partnership instead.

If you need to, get some advice on the pros and cons of each model and which one is right for you in your circumstances. Also, be sure to review this decision as the business grows. The most appropriate structure for your business may change later down the line. Use this resource to help you understand the difference between different trading models.

5. Undertake employment properly

At some point, as your business grows, you’re likely to need to take on employees. When you reach that stage, do it properly: draw up written contracts which clearly define roles, expectations and mutual responsibilities for each new staff member and keep counter signed copies safe.

Its not uncommon for a startup to initially start out by employing friends. This can be useful at the start but if things go wrong, it can be surprising how quickly a friendship can disintegrate, so make sure the business is protected.

Establishing your business in the marketplace if vital, so with a million things to do as a business owner, the idea of adding legal considerations on to your list may seem daunting.

However these considerations won’t take long to implement – try to set a few hours aside early on to ensure you have these important considerations in place from the start.

Marie Dancer is a managing partner at Richard Nelson LLP.

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