One of the most important aspects to think about from a legal point of view is the vulnerabilities that could be hiding in the tiny cracks of your business. Here are some actionable steps to carry out to make sure that your business is fully protected.
Brand protection is paramount for a flourishing business – you don’t want to spend all your resources growing your business for it not to be properly protected. Not protecting your brand opens your business up to significant risk. When you weigh the cost of brand protection against the cost of dealing with a brand dispute, it’s a no-brainer.
If your business name hasn’t already been trademarked, you could accidentally be infringing on someone else’s trademark. If there are trademarked names similar/identical to your business name within the same industry, you could be forced to rebrand at some stage in the future. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
- Check the UK trademark register to find out if there are any similar business names trading in the same industry as you. You can check it here – www.gov.uk/search-for-trademark
- If there aren’t any similar trademarks, add trademarking to your to-do list. Nothing is stopping someone else from coming along, trademarking your business name, and forcing you to spend loads of time and money on a rebrand.
Having a website for your business is a brilliant asset. It can essentially act as your ‘shop window’ if you don’t have a physical office/premises. Remember, it’s also essential that your website is legally compliant. There are certain things that your website must have, otherwise, you’re susceptible to risk, damaged reputation and even fines.
- A cookies consent banner is another GDPR requirement and must pop up every time someone visits your website, even if they’ve accepted cookies the last time they visited your website.
Now, we know how important contracts are, every solicitor could go on about this until the sun comes up. What are some contract vulnerabilities you could be facing?
- Simply not having the proper contracts in place to fit, cover and protect your business opens you up to risk. Look at your business from a legal perspective and figure out which contracts you need to have in place. Some of the basics are customer terms and conditions and employment contracts.
- We always talk about the importance of customer T+Cs. These are there to ensure you receive payment, help with refunds and limit how much you can be sued in a worst-case scenario.
- Do you have employees? It’s a legal requirement for you to give them a written statement of work (employment contract) the day they begin – if you don’t have these contracts in place, get this drafted and signed swiftly.
Data Protection and GDPR
This is incredibly important, and you need to be aware of your business’s obligations surrounding this. Non-compliance with data protection regulations could land you hefty fines through the door. Here’s what to be aware of:
- You need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as you will collect personal data. This is a fee you pay annually. If you don’t do this, you could be fined. If you haven’t registered, do it now.
- To make sure you aren’t opening yourself up to any data protection weaknesses or vulnerabilities, nominating a person in your business responsible for data protection is a good idea. Also, think carefully about who needs to access customer personal data and restrict those who don’t. Add to your to-do list to encrypt, and password-protect personal data, particularly when laptops/mobile devices are taken off premises that could get lost or stolen.
- When becoming aware of a data breach, ensure you report this to the ICO without delay, definitely no more than 72 hours later!
- Marketing emails should only be sent when customers have provided consent to such contact, AND this consent can be withdrawn at any time; you will need to heed their request so as not to fall foul of the ICO.
Keeping on top of your legal vulnerabilities is extremely important to reduce business risk as you scale and grow. If, after reading this, you feel like you could benefit from some one-to-one advice, please take advantage of our free 15-minute legal advice calls, where you can ask any legal questions relating to your business. You can book a slot here: calendly.com/jamiesonlaw/15min