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At a seminar for small employers, sponsored by the York Regional Chamber of Commerce,  I outlined “Ten Musts for Every Business.” I thought it might be helpful for my readers to review those here. These are really pretty simple rules, but can go a long way to keep you and your business out of trouble.

  1.  Incorporate – Incorporation is inexpensive and can protect your personal asserts.  It also makes it easier to sell your business or get investors.  If you chose to set a limited liability company, you only file one return.
  2. Set up “rules regarding your books – Don’t mix your personal expenses with business expenses.  Have two sets of eyes on the books and your bank accounts.
  3. Put things in writing – Whether providing a quote for a customer, engaging a subcontractor, or entering into a business relationship with your best friend, a writing can protect you.  Yes, I have heard the old adage “my handshake is enough,” but memories fade in the high speed tech world.  Even a simple memo can help sort out any possible disagreements.
  4. Do not badmouth your competitors – Customers and clients do not like it and it could open you up for claims of libel or slander.
  5. Get insurance –  You need more than fire insurance.  Protect yourself from customer claims, cyber attacks, and claims made by other businesses and vendors.
  6. Take time in hiring – Hiring employees is one of the most difficult part of any business.  Like my carpenter friends say “measure twice, cut once,” take the time to identify the right candidate.  Consider drug testing, reference checks and background checks.
  7. Stay on top of social media – There is no question that social media has opened doors for many businesses and in some cases, leveled playing fields.  However, you have to take the time to stay on top of it.  While good things may be said about your business, bad things can be said also.  Customers and clients expect to see current information.
  8. Protect customer and business data – Many of us are using the internet to manage accounts, pay bills, accept payments, and communicate with others.  Take steps to protect this information at all costs.  Providing credit card information on less than reputable sites or opening up emails that you do not recognize, can open the door for folks who can do great damage to your business.
  9. Require folks to keep time records Consider making everyone, including contractors, keep time records.  It could help you if someone claims to have worked overtime or a contractor claims later to be an employee.
  10. Comply with tax and other regulatory authorities – Do not ignore those notices you get from the state or the IRS.  More agencies are taking actions to keep themselves relevant and collect revenue though fines and penalties.