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Setting up a business involves complying with a range of legal requirements. Find out which ones apply to you and your new enterprise.
While poor governance can bring serious legal consequences, the law can also protect business owners and managers and help to prevent conflict.
Whether you want to raise finance, join forces with someone else, buy or sell a business, it pays to be aware of the legal implications.
From pay, hours and time off to discipline, grievance and hiring and firing employees, find out about your legal responsibilities as an employer.
Marketing matters. Marketing drives sales for businesses of all sizes by ensuring that customers think of their brand when they want to buy.
Commercial disputes can prove time-consuming, stressful and expensive, but having robust legal agreements can help to prevent them from occurring.
Whether your business owns or rents premises, your legal liabilities can be substantial. Commercial property law is complex, but you can avoid common pitfalls.
With information and sound advice, living up to your legal responsibilities to safeguard your employees, customers and visitors need not be difficult or costly.
As information technology continues to evolve, legislation must also change. It affects everything from data protection and online selling to internet policies for employees.
Intellectual property (IP) isn't solely relevant to larger businesses or those involved in developing innovative new products: all products have IP.
Knowing how and when you plan to sell or relinquish control of your business can help you to make better decisions and achieve the best possible outcome.
From bereavement, wills, inheritance, separation and divorce to selling a house, personal injury and traffic offences, learn more about your personal legal rights.
Finance and business strategy
Corporate finance - buying or merging businesses, or organising substantial corporate financing - can be extremely important for your business and you personally as the owner. Thorough planning and clear objectives are key.
Major activities like these occur relatively infrequently, so in-house teams may have little relevant experience and expertise. Getting the right corporate finance advice is essential.
Corporate finance advice
In most companies, the finance director takes the main responsibility for corporate finance. But the typical finance director may rarely - or never - have been involved with a substantial corporate financing transaction such as buying a business.
If your plans involve corporate finance, you should consider whether your management has the right expertise. You may want to appoint a finance director with previous experience, or to strengthen the board with a suitable non-executive director.
You may also need specialist advice to help you through individual transactions. You may have an existing lawyer who can help with relatively straightforward small-business funding issues - for example, checking the terms of a lease or negotiating to limit the extent of personal guarantees. But more complex transactions are likely to need the involvement of a specialist. Similar considerations apply to your accountant.
Major transactions such as selling your business may also need help from a corporate finance specialist.
Create clear strategic objectives
Having a clear strategy in place is crucial for success. For example, floating your business might be the best option if you want to grow the business by acquisition in the future, but other ways of raising finance can be quicker and more cost-effective ways of raising capital.
You need to think through the company’s objectives and your own personal objectives. For example, if you plan to retire and pass your business to your family, you need to consider issues such as whether your children are really the best people to run the business. You may need legal advice to help you manage conflicts between your personal objectives and responsibilities as a director.
A business plan is essential for any kind of corporate finance activity, from corporate financing to acquisitions or planning your business exit. The plan helps crystallise your thoughts and provide evidence for any backers whose support you need. The further in advance you can plan, the easier it is to make the most of different options, particularly in areas such as tax planning and grooming your business for sale.