Starting any business means a lot of decision making and we know that sometimes it can be hard to prioritise or even know where to begin. Here we need to know things needed to start a business. Startups are exciting propositions and we get you are keen to launch. In this post though, we urge you to begin by putting in place 3 key legal considerations to set a solid foundation on which everything else can be built. We always love to hear your thoughts so don’t forget to leave a comment at the end.
Of the hundreds of bits of knowledge, creative ideas, game plans and instinctual decisions you will weave together to start your company, there’s a common thread that sometimes thwarts a new owner’s best intentions. Though laws and legislation for a business should be at the very foundation of a fledgeling enterprise, legalities frequently get left on a to-do list pushed into the far corner of your desk.
Why are business legal services strongly recommended as you embark on your latest endeavour? Well, if you consider only the following 3 points, keep in mind that the devil’s in the details, and your decisions will have a long-term impact on your business. In our do-it-yourself culture, there are certain situations in which we must still rely on the experts. Protection for the company you will be sinking your heart and savings into is certainly one of these.
1. Creating Your Business Name
Choosing a name may seem an easy step, however, it can be one of the most crucial decisions you make. Not only should it be memorable, but also distinctive in order to be easy to protect and brand. Keep it simple, and to the point, but not so basic that it will be difficult to trademark; as in “Tin Cans” or the like.
Additionally, make sure a domain name is available to match your company name, or at least its primary intention! Your website is going to be an essential piece of the puzzle; if the company name you like doesn’t have a corresponding domain open, consider shifting it around to one that is. Don’t settle for a .net if your .com is taken. If you select a domain name that someone is already using on the web, you’re asking for trouble – either by stepping on their toes or losing customers who find their company instead of yours.
Check the Companies House Register to make sure the name is not already in use; your choice cannot be the same or even too similar (using punctuation marks or changing word sequence to attempt to stand apart is not going to make the grade). You must separately trademark your brand, and again ensure it is not already in use. Names may not contain sensitive or offensive expressions, and gaining government approval can take a few months.
2. Choosing Your Location
Before writing a cheque and signing on the dotted line, there are several things to consider as you select a commercial space for let. Most importantly, is the location a good choice for your type of enterprise? If you want to thrive on walk-in traffic, a central area near other shops may be ideal. However, if you are primarily an appointments-only concern, or engaged in manufacturing, paying the higher price for a busy street location is probably a poor choice.
Determine whether the property is appropriately zoned to operate your particular business. What are the landlord’s obligations (for England and Wales, or Scotland)? Research whether there are any restrictions on hours of business operation or noise levels which might be produced from your trade. Conversely, are there neighbourhood noises which might disturb your operations or the comfort of your customers?
Commercial leases are binding documents, for which a proper legal review is vital before signing. There are many aspects to this type of contract that could become a sore point down the road. And, you may not realise that most terms are negotiable. Additionally, you’ll want to be certain your lease includes a clear definition of the specific intended use of the property and clear procedures for early termination or renewal. Learn your tenant responsibilities to the property owner and your employees.
3. Maintaining Electronic Privacy
The issue of protecting your employee and customer privacy is an important one and at the forefront of global news today. Your hard-won credibility can rapidly deflate if there is a mere hint of any type of security breach within your company. There are legalities you need to be well aware of, which govern electronic communications and data storage.
The graph below shows data breaches the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) prosecuted for in the last year. Take a look at just how easy it is to allow sensitive and confidential information to fall into the wrong hands.
Business laws regarding privacy are defined in this guide to PECR (the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations). These rules deal with security of your communication services, customer’s IP and traffic data, and the marketing calls, texts, faxes and emails with which you engage your clients.
Working in conjunction with PECR is the Data Protection Act. This law deems that customer personal information must be processed fairly and legally, for limited reasons, is relevant and not excessive, kept up to date, not held longer than needed to complete the functions for which it was intentionally offered, and that it is securely stored and not transferred out of the UK without defined protections in place. Additionally, you must divulge the data you have stored whenever a customer enquires.