Whether you have found the perfect business idea or always dreamed of starting your own company, there are a few essentials you will need to consider in order to protect yourself and help your business grow.
We’ve set out the “Legal Fundamentals” for you:
Business Structure: Registration and Shareholders’ / Partnerships’ Agreement
The steps to undertake will depend on your chosen business model, eg. Whether you intend to practice as a sole trader, create a partnership or create a limited company. For each business medium, there will be a registration process to undergo, with Companies House and / or HMRC.
If you decide to team up in your business venture, one thing you’ll need is a contract with your business partner. For instance, the law defines a partnership as “the relation which subsists between persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit”. It is therefore very simple to be bound by the legislation on Partnership and without a Partnership Agreement, the applicable law is the Partnership Act 1890. We would therefore recommend that you take the pre-emptive steps to get a contract between you and your business partner(s) rather than being bound by a law that is now 127 years old! If you decide to set up a company limited by shares, we would recommend a Shareholders’ to protect your business and your respective rights and obligations as shareholders.
Getting the right and adequate insurance for your business will be one of the most, if not the most, important fundamental when setting up your business.
Insuring adequately your business from the outset will ensure that you and your business are covered against any claims from customers, suppliers or even your employees, limiting and covering your public liability, employer’s liability and so on.
Start-ups don’t always require renting out premises from day 1. And for a fact, today’s most profitable companies such as Amazon, Apple or Google started off from their funders’ garage. But whether you are thinking of expanding or that you require business premises to carry out your business, we would recommend that you seek legal advice in relation to your commercial lease to avoid surprises as to any increase in rent, requirements for planning permissions or even the condition of the premises.
Protecting your brand:
Starting a business is also building a business around an idea and develop one’s brand and value. A brand is for most customers, the guarantee of that company’s quality, that one has worked hard to develop and establish. In order to protect your business and its brand, we would strongly advise that you take all necessary steps to protect your business’s Intellectual Property Rights: registering trademarks, designs, patents for instance and asserting your ownership against any third party who may want to use, abuse or steal them. By taking steps to protect and register your Intellectual Property Rights, it will be much easier to assert your ownership over these, whenever it will become necessary. Additionally, you will also be able to grant licences to use your Intellectual Property Rights, franchise them or even sell them at a later date.
Service contracts / Terms & Conditions:
Whether you supply goods or services, a contract with your customers and suppliers will be crucial to limit your business’ liability and ensure that all parties are aware of their respective obligations. You do not want to skip this Fundamental and for example, you do not want to be left out without remedies against an unsatisfied or dishonest customer.
Employment Contracts & Pensions:
Finally, if you hire employees, you will require Employment Contracts to comply with Employment Law, your employees’ rights and make sure that your business abides by any statutory obligations. Employment Contracts are also a protection for your business with regard to post-termination restrictive covenants or confidentiality clauses.
Small businesses’ requirements to set up a pension scheme for their employees will also become compulsory from April 2017, don’t forget about it!
If you need further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice.