Everybody loves a small business. Politicians are constantly touting the importance of small business to the strength of the economy. Customers are encouraged to “shop small”. Other small businesses and small business owners are prone to sharing their stories of success and encouraging others to take up the small business banner. Basking in this warm, sunshiney glow of small business optimism, you’d be forgiven that nothing could ever go wrong, and everything is going to be perfect on your small business adventure.
But, this is reality. And while the aforementioned groups may have good reason to be optimistic about small business and entrepreneurship in general, it is important to remember that through naiveté, missteps, or even just sheer bad luck, bad things can happen to even those of us with the best intentions. That’s why it is crucial to take steps to protect yourself, and your business. Here are a few things you should do to make sure you are properly protected.
Watch Your Words
As an entrepreneur, co-founder, or anyone who has business related interactions with people on the internet, it’s important to be aware that at any given time, there is an infinite number of people who can see what words you put out there – and the internet doesn’t forget. Whether it’s on your blog posts, social media posts, advertising, newsletters, etc., be aware of both the eyes and potential eyes that might see what you are saying. Don’t be libelous or slanderous, and in general, don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t be willing to say in person.
Many small businesses start out as a sole proprietorship. This is fine for getting started, but once your business gets going (or from the start if you can afford it), consider becoming a corporation or an LLC (limited liability corporation). The reason being, as a sole proprietorship, your assets and your business’s assets are one and the same in the eyes of the government. Becoming a corporation or an LLC provides a layer or protection from your personal finances in case you, for instance, get sued.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll quickly learn that you just can’t do everything yourself. Especially where it comes to specialized areas that you can’t possibly be expected to have expertise in, make sure you find professionals who can help you out and provide advice and guidance. In particular, make sure you have a lawyer and an accountant. These two professionals are going to be crucial for making sure you are doing everything you need to in order to not violate any laws, or get hit with unexpected taxes and fees.
We’d all like to think that we don’t need insurance, but when the unexpected times come up that we need it, boy are we glad it’s there. And that’s the thing about insurance, it’s always to cover you in the event of the unexpected, so you’re naturally never going to think you need it. But in the same way that you wouldn’t drive a car without insurance, you shouldn’t run a business without insurance. At the very least, consider a professional liability policy in case somebody gets hurt at your business. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also want to consider other policies, like errors and omissions for contracts, property insurance, or business interruption insurance.
We’d all like to think that everything will go right in our businesses, just like we’d like to think that about our lives. But the reality is, sometimes it rains, and when it does, you’ll be glad you have an umbrella with you. It’s better to be prepared, so you know how to act and what to do when something does go wrong. Or put more simply, it’s better to be safe than sorry.