We all look to January as a fresh start, so here are our top tips for helping your business stay fit and healthy in the year ahead:
Whether you’re thinking of expanding your business, starting to export your products or selling your business and moving on to the next chapter; whatever your goals are for 2018, focus your efforts and if you haven’t already, start to plan how you can maximise your objectives.
Talk to us about your plans and how we can help you. We aim to be a trusted business advisor and we work closely with our colleagues in other teams (such as Real Estate and Employment) and other professionals such as accountants and corporate advisers, to give you free updates and provide training and seminars to offer you a complete service.
Get Your Contracts Into Shape
The majority of claims that fall on the desks of our experienced colleagues in Dispute Resolution, are contract disputes. Clients either have no written terms in place and so argue over what they think should have happened, or the parties clash over the terms of a badly drafted contract that does not adequately reflect the relationship.
With the increasing popularity of internet search engines we find that clients are relying on documents found on the internet in order to save the ‘expense’ of instructing a solicitor in case the fees are too high. Whilst we understand this approach, we cannot stress enough how this can be detrimental to your business. Contractual disputes can take you to court, which anyone who has experienced will confirm is not only financially expensive but also demanding of time and patience.
We recommend that you get your contracts in order at the start of the year so as to be organised and reduce disagreements that may arise along the way. Companies with clear and defined agreements, such as terms and conditions, shareholders’ agreements or service agreements, will come across as being structured and professional. Having a clear set of terms on which you work will go a long way to help avoid uncertainties that will always arise in any thriving business.
Protect your business
The New Year represents a fresh start and can be the perfect opportunity to review your business from an employment perspective. It is essential to have comprehensive and up-to-date contracts of employment in place for staff. For senior employees, you can use the contract as a means to protect your business, including confidentiality provisions, intellectual property protection and post-termination restrictions. These restrictions can limit employees from poaching customers and staff (and even working for a competitor) for a defined period. However, it’s crucial that the clauses are tightly drafted or else you risk being unable to rely on them.
A staff handbook is another area that you may wish to review. As well as assisting with the running of your business (and providing employees with a source of information), a comprehensive and up-to-date staff handbook can protect you from both civil and criminal liabilities. Having written policies in place in areas of risk such as bribery, equal opportunities and whistleblowing is particularly recommended in this regard. We often assist employers with reviewing their current policies to ensure they are up-to-date and reflect best practice, as well as working with employers to develop tailored policies from scratch.