It can be a real shame when a business which had great prospects ends up suffering a defeat because it failed to comply with the law. The truth is that the majority of the time, the business owners were not aware that they were breaking the law. It is the fact that it is usually ignorance which makes this so unfortunate – but that does at least mean that there is an easy solution. If you own a business, it is in your interests to get to know the law as well as you can. That way, it is much less likely that you will break it, and that will mean that you can continue to trade for as long as you are able to. In this article, we are going to give you a helping hand by looking at some of the essential laws and regulations which you need to bear in mind. This list might not be exhaustive, but as long as you bear the following in mind, you are on the right track to ensure that your business remains legal as far as possible.
It is surprising how often businesses forget about this first essential consideration. No matter what industry you work in, there are bound to be certain regulations which you need to take on board. It is in your interest to get to know these regulations like the back of your hand, as you can easily be caught out with some of the more minor ones if you are not careful. Some industries will have regulations which are stricter than others, but all businesses are liable to be affected in some way by regulations of some kind or another. Make sure you carry out the necessary research in the early days of opening up your business to make sure that you don’t forget any essential regulations. After that, you should find that you are communicated with whenever a new regulation comes into force. But just in case, try to be a networker within your industry, as this will mean you are more likely to be kept in the loop about any changes which might apply to your business.
It is possible to argue that the most important kind of law which you need to follow is that which protects the customer. Data protection is the perfect example of such a law. This law or set of laws ensures that businesses like yours do everything they can to minimise the risk of their customers’ data being lost, stolen, shown to the wrong person, or held for longer than necessary. It also means that businesses have a duty to ensure that the information they hold is relevant, up-to-date and correct. If it isn’t, the individuals in question have the opportunity legally to change it, without having to pay any money at all and without question. At the moment, businesses have to comply with the Data Protection Act from 1995. However, in 2018, the EU’s directive General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect, and it is a good idea for all businesses to learn what that will mean for them before the change happens.
If there is one way in which you can ensure your business will get into trouble fast, it is by not paying tax, or not paying enough of it. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to do this quite accidentally, and the majority of businesses who do so find that they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong. The problem, more often than not, is not knowing how much is actually owed. This can be difficult to work out, but there is a simple and elegant solution: simply hire an accountant. If you bring a tax accountant on board, they will be able to tell you what kinds of tax your business needs to pay, how much each year you will need to pay, and when the deadline is. Fortunately for you, you will also find that they are adept at helping you to pay less in legal ways, for example by claiming back allowances and expenses. All of this is useful to know if you want to get ahead in business, so make sure that you hire a decent tax accountant as soon as possible. It could save you more money than the amount you spend to hire them.
Choosing a business structure is important, and registering it is even more so, as it tells the government what kind of business you are running. This makes a huge difference to all sorts of aspects of running the business, so you need to make sure that you get it exactly right. It is worth looking into the different structures as soon as possible and seeing which apply to you, as this makes a difference to how much tax you pay, who owns it, how many people you can hire, and many other things besides. What’s more, it is a legal responsibility to decide on a structure and inform the government of it by legally registering your business. If you don’t do that, your business is not recognised, and that can cause many problems further down the line.
All businesses need to keep records, and different types of record need to be kept for different lengths of time. This is another area which it is worth looking into in the early days of your business, as very often you might not automatically keep things which the government expects you to. You might be surprised at what you need to keep records of, and you don’t want to be caught out, so look into it at your earliest convenience, and make sure you abide by it as closely as you can. What’s more, keeping proper records is likely to help you too, as it will ensure that you are able to keep on top of what is happening in your business much more effectively and easily.