I’ve been busy the last couple of months giving some presentations about legal issues affecting small business, particularly coaching businesses, and preparing legal information products to help people in small business or on their own.
Somewhat discouragingly, (or should that be encouragingly?) I received a message today from a gentleman in his 60s who has been running his business for many years, has a full time staff equivalent of 6 people and a turn-over on average of $4m per year. He said that –
As a small business person you gain experience about what to worry about in contracts, do a lot of business on shaken hands and trust and learn from experience when to be wary.
He said that he doesn’t use legal advice at all! It is great to hear that people are able to continue to do business on trust. As a lawyer, I rarely get to see that side of business because people after they already need help, rather than before you get into trouble.
If we look at prevention for a moment, what are the areas of your business that could do with a quick review?
If you sell goods or services to everyday people instead of other businesses, you have to meet the rules of fair trading. Fair Trading legislation is pretty similar across the country and across the western world. Any Australian fair trading complaints or issues are usually managed by Consumer Affairs in that state or territory. The Australian federal body is the ACCC and the US Federal equivalent is the FTC.
I’m going to write a series of blogs over the next month or so covering some of the key areas of consumer protection law that you should be aware of. If you know about it, you can do something about it. If you don’t know about it, you might be surprised when someone from Consumer Affairs gives you a call and asks you about your legal compliance issues. In the first one, I’ll talk about describing your goods or services and making sure that you are only making promises that you know you can keep.
Until then, I wish you all the best for your holidays and hope that you get to spend them with the people you cherish.