Small businesses start up all of the time. Every day, hundreds of new businesses register or open their doors. Unfortunately, most of these businesses fail within the first two years. Sometimes, this is because their owners have gone into it without careful planning and consideration. Or perhaps because they haven’t got the money to spend to make it work.
Often, it’s because they fail to market their business correctly and no one ever finds out about their fantastic products or ideas. But, sometimes, it’s because they aren’t adequately protected. A third of small businesses fall victim to online crime, others have their ideas stolen, and some find themselves facing costly legal actions. Here are five key ways to protect your business so that it can grow and move forward.
Most small businesses have a website and use machinery and other equipment. These need regular updates. Most of us have been guilty of ignoring updates on our phones for a while but doing this with your business can be dangerous. Without updating your software, you expose yourself to online threats and crime. Updates often contain security patches which protect them. Anything that connects to the internet needs updating regularly.
Get Legal Advice
Your small business can find itself facing legal threats every step of the way. The best way to avoid these is to seek advice from a law firm. Learn as much as you can about rules, regulations and laws. Ask for help and protection when you need it and get your lawyer to read through any contracts and agreements before you sign anything. You may also want to hire an accountant to help you to ensure you don’t breach any tax laws or make any mistakes with your money, which can also be costly.
Copyrights and Patents
One of the areas that small businesses get into the most trouble is either having their ideas stolen or being accused of stealing from others. The only way to avoid this is copyrighting and patenting what you can. If you’ve invented a product, you can apply for a patent. When it comes to copyright, it can get a little confusing, so speak to your lawyer for help. But, generally to copyright something it must be tangible. So, you can’t copyright an idea or a way of doing business, but you can copyright branding and designs.
Protect Your Reputation
When you first start out, building a solid reputation is essential to your success. As you grow, protecting that reputation is just as important. Even the largest and most popular companies can lose money and support because they send a stupid tweet or make an offensive advert. Their reputation takes a big hit.
Protecting your reputation takes a huge dose of common sense. Don’t post to social media without giving it some thought. Don’t send an email without proofreading. Think about all of your ideas very carefully and watch how you behave and present yourself publicly, both on and offline.
Protect Your Property
Protecting your property sounds obvious, but we all make silly mistakes. Lock your doors, install alarms, get your equipment tested, take out an insurance policy and use that common sense again.