Protect Your Micro-Entrepreneurial Business from Liability and Legal Issues
Every micro-entrepreneurial business should protect itself against potential legal problems and liability issues. No matter how diligent you are as a businessperson, potential legal problems are a reality you have to guard against in today’s world. Also, you can certainly try to produce a good product or provide a good service, but you need to take preventative measures to avoid pitfalls with liability.
How you take necessary precautions can prevent a potential problem from a disgruntled client.
Here are some points to keep in mind to minimize or avoid any legal issues that may come your way:
Get advice now (before you need to). Have a consultation with an attorney familiar with business issues if you’re concerned about your business. If you can’t get referred to one, you can find an attorney at sites such as FindLaw and AttorneyFind.
Check with your association. If you’re a member with a professional or trade association, check with the people familiar with legal issues facing your particular industry or niche. Some associations even provide guidance and/or a legal hotline for its members.
You can find associations either with your favorite search engine or you can consult the “Encyclopedia of Associations” (published by Gale) in the reference section of a well-stocked library.
Have your documents and agreements reviewed. Whatever agreements you use in your business, having an attorney review and critique them is a smart decision. Your attorney can tell you if you have any vulnerability in your terms of agreement.
Review your marketing. Honest and realistic marketing communication will keep you out of trouble (or at the very least keep legal hassles to a minimum).
Take the time to ensure that your marketing isn’t communicating anything inappropriate or that you’re making promises that your products or services can’t keep. Carefully peruse your materials to verify that nothing in your ads, sales letters, or other forms of communication could be misleading, either purposely or accidentally.
If you’re short on cash, consider signing up for a prepaid legal plan. For a relatively small monthly fee, you can sign up and have access to lawyers that you can speak with and also have other services, such as document review or legal writing on your behalf.
Many prepaid legal plans are available, and you can find many of the more prominent ones through resources such as the American Prepaid Legal Services Institute.
Check rules with third-party sources. If you’re working with third-party sources to meet clients, sell products, and so on, find out what their rules are and check out their recommendations for best practices.
No matter whether the third-party sources you use are about products (such as eBay or Etsy) or about services (such as Elance or Odesk), they have plenty of experience and information about what are good practices (and what are not).
Use your common sense. Don’t forget your common sense. If you act with integrity and regularly communicate with customers, vendors, prospects, and others with honesty about your products and services, you should be able to keep legal risks to a minimum.