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Mar 10, 2016

Most aspects of running a business involve legal issues of some kind. Legal compliance is very important if your business is going to be successful. Failure to implement appropriate legal strategies can cause you stress and could, in fact, lead to business failure.

There are appropriate legal services available from competent solicitors in most cities, towns and regions in Australia, however you should be talking to a commercial solicitor, not a family court solicitor or a personal property solicitor, for business related matters.

In the first instance, it’s important that you’ve used the right entity for your business, whether it be a sole trader, partnership, trust or company.

A solicitor can explain the differences to you. You also need to tell the solicitor what you intend to do in your business. For example, if you intend to do significant amounts of research and development that is going to cost in excess of $20,000 per annum, perhaps you should be incorporating a company. However you need to look at the cost. Incorporating a company will cost you more money than just setting up as a sole trader and applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN). On a positive note, a company can give you significant advantages when it comes to securing some government grants and also claiming research and development expenditure for a tax rebate.

Most businesses develop Intellectual Property (IP) and yet most businesses fail to adequately protect the IP within the business. Have a discussion with your solicitor relative to IP.

Other issues which can involve ensuring you get legal advice are:
• leasing premises
• employment of staff
• engagement contracts
• service agreements – such as your terms and conditions and your Retention of Title agreements
• how you might comply with the Personal Property Securities Act and the registration requirements on the Personal Property Securities Register

The items mentioned are only a very small sample of the range of activities on which a commercial solicitor could advise you.

I believe it’s important that business owners have one or two meetings per annum with a commercial solicitor, to review what’s happening in your business and to find out from your solicitor if there have been any recent laws, cases or decisions that might affect your business operations. Indeed, I believe that every business should be having an annual legal check-up, whereby you can get this type of advice, at least once a year.

To be successful in business, you need to be aware of a range of business issues and, if you’re not an expert in any of those areas, you need to identify an individual or a firm that can deliver the services to you in a manner that you understand so that you can implement their advice.

Sometimes, you might not even realise that you need the advice at the time it was given to you, however you’d be very happy that you received the advice once you realise the consequences.

One of those key areas is legal advice. Many small/medium enterprise operators ignore legal advice to their detriment in operating their businesses.

ESS Small Business presented 2 webinars with 2 commercial solicitors:
• Legal Essentials for Australian Small Businesses – guest presenter Dean Woodbridge, Executive Lawyer, Clinch Long Letherbarrow Lawyers in Sydney
• Legal Issues for SMEs – guest presenter Matthew Karakoulakis, Commercial Solicitor, AMK Law in Melbourne

Click here to view these webinars, free of charge.

Whilst you are on the ESS Small Business’ website, why not have a look at the offerings from a wide range of business people who are able to assist small/medium enterprises?


Peter Towers
Managing Director