As you counted down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s unlikely you were thinking about legal best practices for the new year (not even we were doing that!). But now that the holidays have ended it’s a great time for you, particularly if you’re a small business or start-up, to reflect on your current processes and policies, and ensure that your operations are legally watertight.
To help you do that our experts at Victor Legal have pulled together our best legal tips for small business owners and start-ups in 2024. Together we can safeguard your company and keep you doing what you do best.
In this article – Legal Tips for Small Businesses and Start-ups in 2024
- What constitutes a small business or a start-up?
- Why bother implementing legal best practice?
- Legal tips for small business owners and start-ups
a. Conduct regular legal check-ups
b. Conduct maintenance checks on employment contracts and workplace conditions
c. Conduct compliance checks against new laws
d. Consult professionals for more legal tips for small business owners
Legal Tips for Small Businesses and Start-ups in 2024
What constitutes a small business or a start-up?
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In fact, there are more than 473,000 small businesses across Queensland. 97% of businesses in Queensland fall under the definition of ‘small business’ and they employ around 42% of all private sector workers.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a small business as one with less than 20 employees, while the Australian Taxation Office defines it as a business with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million.
There are also a huge number of start-ups every year. The Queensland Government defines a start-up as ‘a new high-growth potential business, developing innovative products and services, with a globally scalable market’. In 2022 start-ups in Queensland were worth more than $13.2 billion in combined enterprise value. And that’s only grown over the past year.
Why bother implementing legal best practice?
When it comes to legal best practice you might be thinking, ‘We obey the law. Everything else is superfluous’. Obeying the law is of course the highest priority. Should you fail to comply with the law, you and/or your business may be subject to heavy penalties and could even be shut down.
But beyond basic compliance, striving for legal best practice will help your business to stay up to date should the laws change. It can also help to minimise the risk of business disputes and litigation. Furthermore, it can bolster your company’s reputation and be a valuable tool for attracting quality employees and clients. Do what your competitors are not, and you are likely to reap the benefits.
The more proactive you are with your legal documents and procedures, the better position you’ll be in to focus on growing your core business in 2024.
Legal tips for small business owners and start-ups
Read on for a list of legal best practices and legal tips that could help your small business or start-up in the new year.
1. Conduct regular legal check-ups
Just as a medical check-up can screen for any issues with your personal health, a legal check-up can monitor for issues with your current policies and procedures. As a small business owner or start-up founder, your expertise no doubt lies in the business’s operations – not the legal requirements. And that’s where a legal check-up with our expert team can help bridge any gaps.
By engaging a legal expert to conduct a general business check-up, you can rest easy knowing that any legal problems will be remedied, and your risks reduced. A legal health check-up can assess areas such as protecting your intellectual property, obligations under the various business structures, business contract adherence, your personal liability, warranty compliance and the company’s responsibilities under consumer law. It can also help you to plan ahead as the company changes and grows.
You should conduct this review once a year, and during any times of big change.
2. Conduct maintenance checks on employment contracts and workplace conditions
Employees can be a company’s greatest asset. But when things go wrong, it can cost an employer greatly in terms of time, money and emotional turmoil. To ensure that you are complying with all employer obligations in Queensland and to minimise the risk of employment disputes, you should ensure that all of your employment contracts and workplace policies are legally sound.
There are various pieces of legislation in place that ensure employees are given fair and equitable pay, safe and reasonable working conditions and are protected from discrimination. We have discussed some of the safety and labour requirements within the construction industry in previous blogs.
The Fair Work National Workplace Relations System ensures that employees are provided minimum entitlements. These include annual leave and maximum weekly hours, awards for specific roles and industries, a national minimum wage and protection from unfair dismissal. It is important to note that an employment contract cannot offer less entitlements than these legal minimums. The National Employment Standards are set out in the Fair Work Act 2009.
By going beyond the minimum and opting for best practice in terms of employment law, this may give your business the edge when vying for quality talent. Not only will you be more likely to attract more experienced employees, but you may also increase productivity levels and engagement, reduce turnover and minimise the risk of employment disputes.
3. Conduct compliance checks against new laws
Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to the law. As an employer, you have an obligation to ensure that your business complies with all rules and regulations, including new pieces of legislation and amendments. The court’s interpretations of legislation may also evolve as new case decisions teach us how to better apply the law practically.
As your business grows and changes, this may also mean you have additional obligations under the law. Conducting regular reviews to ensure your business is compliant with any new or amended laws is essential.
4. Consult professionals for more legal tips for small business owners
As a small business owner or start-up founder, your expertise is in running your business – not understanding and interpreting complex legislation. This is a task that can be worth outsourcing to a professional.
When it comes to your legal obligations, you have to ask yourself if the risk is worth it. As boutique Brisbane lawyers experienced in commercial litigation and dispute resolution, we have a wealth of legal tips for small business owners. Get in touch today and let’s make sure that 2024 is your best year yet!