Whether you’re new to the entrepreneur game and starting up your first company, or are a seasoned professional with years of experience, running your own business is no easy task.
As the owner of a business, you are responsible for doing everything you can to limit the risk to your company and keep everything running smoothly. There are a number of potential risks to your business including the threat of competition, customer complaints, cybercrime, health and safety, and having the right insurance in place.
To keep your business moving in the right direction, we’ve shared our top tips and expert advice for protecting your business from risks:
1. Make your terms and conditions clear
When your clients and customers purchase products or services from your business, they are entering into a contract with you. It is important that you clearly set out how you do business and what your terms and conditions are so that they know exactly what to expect and where they stand when using your business.
Include your full terms and conditions on your website and make them easy for all customers to find. They should provide your customers with details of your payment policies, returns information, complaints procedure and any other vital information.
Make sure your terms and conditions are written clearly, in simple, non-technical language, and are easy to follow. This will let your customers know you are a user-friendly business and will help to build strong customer relationships.
2. Choose the right accountant
A good accountant can make a big difference to any business, and whether you are just starting out or have a growing business, an accountant can offer vital professional advice. One of the best ways to choose your accountant is through recommendations from other businesses or friends that have used them in the past. If that isn’t a possibility, then have a look at the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Some small businesses consider handling the books themselves in a bid to save money, but a good accountant is likely to save you more than their fees by making sure you aren’t paying too much in taxes. Having a good accountant will also save you a lot of time as they will handle all your books for you, leaving you the time to focus on growing your business.
Speak with your accountant about becoming VAT registered and whether it would be worthwhile for your business. Businesses with a turnover of more than £77,000 must be VAT registered, but it can be beneficial for smaller businesses to register as well.
3. Protect your business’s Intellectual Property
Every business will have some Intellectual Property (IP), usually in the form of the business name or logo. Intellectual Property is basically anything that doesn’t have a physical substance. It is important for all businesses to protect their Intellectual Property so that others cannot use it without your permission and harm your business.
Your Intellectual Property can be protected by using Copyrights and Trademarks, which legally stops your competitors from using similar names and designs to that of your business.
Copyrights will protect creative pieces of work such as books and videos and gives you exclusive use of these. Trademarks will protect any words or symbols that represent your business or services.
4. Get the right insurance
No matter what type of business you are running, having the correct insurance in place is vital to protecting yourself, your customers and your business. Some types of business insurance are legal requirements for all businesses, while others are optional but can provide value depending on the nature of your business.
If you run a business that is customer facing, you should have public liability insurance to protect any members of the public that visit your business or use your services. If your business has employees of any kind, even short term or part-time, then you must have employer’s liability insurance in place.
Having the right insurance in place for your business can protect you in case something goes wrong, many types of business insurance will protect you from having to pay out compensation claims and costly legal bills.
5. Focus on your cyber-security
Many businesses fall victim to cybercrime in the UK, and it is a very real risk to many companies, but there are a few ways you can protect your business from cybercriminals. Make sure all computers within your business are kept up to date with the latest operating systems, as the likes of Microsoft, Google and Apple are always releasing new versions with new security features.
You should also ensure all your business’s data is backed up and protected adequately, especially if you hold data on your customers as you have a legal obligation to keep this protected.
Take some time to properly evaluate the online security of your business by reviewing all the computers on your network, checking they are running the latest operating systems and that their firewall and anti-virus technologies are all up to date.