Entrepreneurs filled with ambition and drive are far more likely to focus on profits and growth rather than the far-less-exciting world of legal liabilities. Although understandable, neglecting to proactively manage risk can expose businesses to damaging lawsuits. Even if your mistakes are unintentional, the fallout can quickly bankrupt your promising venture.
Before you land yourself in a position where you need help from top commercial lawyers, implement these five preventative measures:
Develop and communicate internal policies
Whether you have one employee in a single office or 100 employees scattered across the globe, every business needs to clearly spell out its policies for ethical conduct. Then, it needs to effectively communicate these policies to everyone, from the most junior employees to senior management.
Alongside basic HR rules, these policies might also address some of the following:
- Safety protocols that promote worker wellness
- Quality control measures to ensure customer satisfaction
- Data privacy protections to earn client trust
- Harassment reporting to uphold cultural values
Once developed and communicated, ensure ongoing policy enforcement as this can provide some legal defense if disputes arise later on.
Monitor your compliance obligations
Nearly all businesses operate with the assumption of good faith legal compliance. Basically, they assume honesty and compliance with taxes, trademarks, accessibility, privacy, safety, and other relevant laws. Unfortunately, the legal world is not a “set it and forget it” kind of place.
Regulations and laws change regularly—especially in highly regulated sectors like healthcare, education, transportation, and financial services. Monitoring these changes and adapting to match them can be challenging. Rather than spending an inordinate amount of time trying to understand the evolving regulatory landscape, it’s often better to reach out to legal experts who can guide you toward prompt and complete compliance.
Rely on written agreements
There’s something admirable about having enough trust to make verbal agreements
with consultants, suppliers, designers, and other third-party partners. However, these agreements all too often lead to legal trouble as it’s one person’s word against another.
Instead, ensure you get legally binding contracts before starting a project or partnership. Document the project’s scope, quality expectations, responsibilities, timelines, and compensation to ensure both parties are protected. Lastly, require signatures on the dotted (or solid) line.
Protect yourself with insurance
Regardless of how careful or compliant your daily operations are, something will probably go wrong at some point. That something may be an unexpected accident, employee misconduct, a systems breach, a faulty product, or even a natural disaster.
Regardless of the cause, the effect is often an expensive legal claim. To avoid hampering your growth by paying inflated legal fees, purchase adequate insurance coverage from the get-go. Although there’s a baseline amount of protection that shields your personal assets, businesses and industries vary so much that it helps to discuss appropriate coverage levels with informed brokers. They’ll better know the unique risks of your business model, making them well-equipped to help you optimize costs without compromising protections.
Build an open company culture
Lastly, it’s important to recognize that the majority of employee litigation stems from toxic company culture. When preventable issues like discrimination, harassment, and unsafe working conditions are allowed to fester, they lead to damaging legal and reputational consequences.
To avoid that, promote transparency at every level of your organization. Welcome constructive input from everyone, regardless of seniority level. This will help you identify and resolve concerns early rather than letting them grow into legal nightmares.
It’s important to stay proactive in your approach to risk management. Apply the five tips above, and you can ensure legal liabilities never get the chance to hamper your business growth tomorrow.