Legal Basics for Startup Entrepreneurs

Taking the decision to become an entrepreneur can be one of the most exciting experiences any of us can do. You've thrown away the straight jacket of having a boss and you feel that rare feeling which you may even have forgotten, control over your time!

However very soon problems can come about unexpectedly that threaten your peace. The law in the UK tries to create a favourable environment for business people to succeed in, but there are common mistakes, and in this article I will explain the major pitfalls and how you can avoid them! This article was previously published with the fantastic and inspiring Secret Birds movement and you can visit their website here

• Contracts – and please don't be scared I don't mean the 20 page documents written in old style English. I have come across many entrepreneurs who agree work with the shake of a hand or over a short conversation. Whilst this is nice and friendly it does not protect you fully should things go wrong, like not being paid! It's always a good idea to put the terms of your work in writing for the other party to sign. If you're selling your time and services the necessary points to cover are your fees and when you expect to be paid (within 28 days is standard).

• The decision of whether to incorporate a private limited company or work as a sole trader or in partnership if working with others is an important one. Operating as a sole trader or in a partnership gives you more flexibility and less paperwork, but should your enterprise develop debts you would be personally responsible to cover them. Incorporating a company means you will have more paperwork and formalities to do, but because a company has a “separate legal personality” you as a shareholder or director would not be personally responsible for debts should the enterprise struggle or fail.

• These days everything is online and if you have a website especially for your business you will need to publish legal policies
and notices. These include a data protection policy, sometimes called a privacy policy, which complies with the Data Protection Act 1998 informing users what personal data the company gathers and what it uses it for. Similarly you will also need a Cookies policy informing your users what Cookies the website uses (Cookies are small computer files websites use to facilitate a users' experience).

• Connected to this and the first point, if your website sells good and services online you need a terms and conditions contract. This is also the case if you sell goods and services in the real world, but to comply with the Consumer Contract Regulations 2015 online terms and conditions contracts need to be different then real world terms and conditions.

•  Intellectual property law deals with ownership of non-tangible property, which is a fancy way of saying ideas. If you are expressing an original idea (be it written, visual, audio or video) consider claiming copyright by including the c in a circle symbol plus the year. If your business has developed a unique brand and logo consider applying for a trademark preventing anyone else from using that unique brand.

I hope you enjoyed this article of the most common mistakes I see. Above all don't be afraid! Live out your plans but always keep in mind legal implications.

Written by Bruno Rodrigues. If the contents of this article interested you and you wish to discuss it or any other legal issue than please do not hesitate to contact us using the details contained on this website.

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