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Entrepreneurs: Pay attention to these legal issues

When you're the owner of your own business, does the work ever end?

Not really. You probably knew that before you ever opened your drawers, however, so it's no surprise. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for some of the modern legal issues that face the small business owner.

What are the biggest legal issues in business for the entrepreneur? Consider getting some advice in these areas:

  1. Entity formation: You need to decide what type of business you're running, whether it's a sole proprietorship, limited liability corporation or some type of partnership. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks in terms of income, taxes and possible liability. If you've had a fairly loose relationship with your team up until now, it's probably time to change that.
  2. Harassment policies: In the wake of the #MeToo movement and intensive news coverage over cases of racial discrimination, you're doing your business a big disservice if you don't have a clear anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policy in place from the very start. Every member of your team, including partners and employees, needs to know what won't be tolerated.
  3. Copyright and branding: Your name is everything today. Social marketing is one of the top ways that new companies get into the public eye. If you haven't taken steps to trademark the images associated with your brand and copyright any intellectual property, you could come to regret it. Make sure your domain name on the web is also protected.
  4. Data collection policies: If you don't think that this could be a problem, take a look at the furor over what Facebook allowed to happen with data collection. There are lots of changing rules on what's acceptable data to collect from consumers -- and how to go about doing. You need the right permissions in place to mitigate your risks.
  5. Employee checks: To prevent issues with negligent hiring or immigration, make sure that you do basic background checks and collect documentation of your employees' right to work. If you get audited, you'll be glad you did.

While these aren't the only possible legal issues you face as a business owner, they're a great place to start. The best way to head off a serious legal problem is by preparing for it.

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