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small business, law, legal advice, IT advice

3 things all small businesses need to know about the law!

When you’re running a business or working as a freelancer it’s easy to overlook how the law effects your business. You can form a company or become self-employed without consulting a solicitor, and many of us successfully run our businesses without ever falling foul of the law. However, whether we like it or not, there are things we do need to know about.

Next month (June) at the Bordon Hub we’ll be exploring legal issues in more detail; providing Hub members with everything they need to know to ensure their businesses (and themselves) is compliant.

You can come along too on a free Hub pass! Just register for one of our Bordon Hub meetings here, and choose the ‘It’s my first visit, it’s FREE’ option.

Legal issues small businesses need to be aware of

Without further ado, here are 3 things you need to know about to protect you and your business:

  1. Terms and Conditions

Your Ts and Cs act as a legally binding contract between you and your customers, contractors and suppliers. They set out what the customer can expect from your business, and what they need to do to use your product or services.

Without Terms and Conditions you and your business are vulnerable. Customers may not settle their invoices in an acceptable timeframe; they may request a refund even when they use your product incorrectly; they may allow other people to use your digital services when your services are for one user only; they may even take you to court if they believe you haven’t delivered the product or services they have purchased.

Whatever you do, T&Cs should apply. That doesn’t mean you have to get customers to sign a contract, you just need to signpost customers to them. For example, if your customers access your services online, T&Cs should be on your website and a link or digital copy provided when an order is made.

Chris Hunter from RHW Solicitors in Guildford will be sharing the dos and don’ts of T&Cs at the Hub next month, book this session here. You may find it useful to think about the following so you get the most out of this session (and for setting out your own Terms and Conditions):

  • List all the key commercial terms you are offering your customers
  • Think about what could go wrong and what you would do in each scenario
  • Imagine the worse possible customer and what they might do to damage your business

 

  1. Data protection

All data that you handle and store as part of running your business is your responsibility to protect. Data breaches can have a devastating impact on a small business; disrupting your services, damaging your reputation and potentially involving large fines for non-compliance.

Small businesses are particular vulnerable because although you may not have large volumes of valuable data (for example customer’s financial information), generally your defences are not as robust as larger corporates. Many hackers and cyber criminals are deliberately going after the little guys as they can get access to systems and data quickly and move on to the next.

How do you protect your business and data? Best practices include:

  • Audit all the data your business handles – where is it and what is it, then protect it using the most appropriate security measures
  • Good password hygiene – using strong passwords and reset them regularly
  • Only store essential data – only ask for data that is essential for you to provide your services or fulfil an order. When you know longer need it, destroy it securely

For more advice and practical tips Ben Fielding from IT service provider Blucando will be at the Hub to share all – book this session here.

  1. Protect your employees

It’s not just your customers’ data that is your responsibility to protect. It’s also your employees, suppliers and anyone else. Last year the General Data Protection Regulation came into force, and for the first time many small businesses realised the extent of the data they hold on employees, contractors etc.

Is your business compliant? Ben Fielding will cover off the IT side of GDPR and how to protect IT systems that store personal data, HR expert Rebecca Labram will explore the people side and what documentation you need to have in place to be compliant.

Book her session here.

Remember too that your employees also need to know how to protect your business and avoid non-compliance. Our Hub speakers will be able to help you communicate best practice and develop security and data protection policies and procedures to ensure they are. Come along with your questions to get the most out of these Hub meetings!

You can also post your questions in our members-only Facebook group. This group is for Bordon, Farnham and Guildford Hub members and includes many people with specialist expertise and personal experience of legal issues. If you’re a member and haven’t joined the group yet – click here.

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