Any entrepreneur will tell you that the day-to-day operation and management of a startup, small business or SME isn’t just a full time job, it’s virtually a marriage. As the owner of a small business, your every thought and action is devoted to the smooth running of your business.
So when litigation rears its ugly head, it can not only be a terribly demoralizing process but an extremely disruptive one. Devising a legal strategy, meeting with legal counsel, attending court hearings and the mountains of paperwork in between can slowly eat away at your free time, pulling your focus away from your business with potentially disastrous consequences.
While there are attorneys with specialist experience in business transactions it’s best to bear in mind that prevention is always the best cure.
Since, as the founder of a startup, your focus is likely to be on keeping up with the everyday running of your businesses, here are some day-to-day tips to help you to avoid litigation without distracting you from your existing obligations.
Value Your Staff
Maintain good relations with your employees. Make sure that you speak to them and treat them with respect and ensure that their opinions are heard and valued. Of course, this is no guarantee against disputes but it will markedly reduce the chances of litigation. If you have a great relationship with your employees they’re unlikely to want to ruin that by litigating.
Know Your Contacts
It’s vitally important that you do your due diligence on all of your suppliers and contractors. One of the surest ways of avoiding litigation is by ensuring that your contacts list is whiter than white. Only do business with reputable companies and individuals with no history of litigation and a proven track record.
Cross The T’s And DoT the I’s!
Your paperwork must be unimpeachable if your business is expected to avoid litigation in the long term. Put your every agreement into writing and ensure that there is no ambiguity or misunderstanding from any parties. It’s very unlikely that anyone will litigate against a document that they understand and are happy with at the time of signing.
Likewise, you should never lend your signature to any document that you do not understand, agree with the intentions of or have any reservations about.
Your every transaction should be documented and dated. This way your protection against hearsay, oral testimony, memory, interpretation or conjecture will be bullet proof.
Make Sure Your Online Presence Is Squeaky Clean
Everything that you post online is an irrevocable document, and every interaction you have on social media is a potential hurdle that can easily trip you up in the litigious sense.
You should ensure that any claims made in your marketing are legitimate and provable, avoiding any misleading or just plain false claims.
Likewise, your social media interactions should be entrusted to specific persons and adhere to a specific social media policy.
While we actively encourage you to interact with customers in as timely a fashion as possible it’s important to be consistent. We all love responding gracefully to praise, but it’s equally important to respond promptly and effectively to complaints to prevent them from escalating.