As a business owner, it is up to you to do everything you possibly can to maintain smooth and efficient business operations and limit the risks involved in doing business. Somewhere in the back of every business owner’s mind is the thought of a possibly potential lawsuit.
In today’s litigious society, even a frivolous lawsuit can cost you a ton of time in court, and lots of money in attorney fees. We’ve highlighted four simple tips any business owner can implement today to limit the possibility of a lawsuit:
1. Restrain Yourself
As a business owner, it’s extremely important to pay attention to your actions and maintain a neutral public image. With the seemingly list of never-ending controversial events and issues in today’s culture, the participation in heated social debate is almost may cause yourself, and even your employees, to participate in a heated social debates where opinions turn aggressive and usually get misconceived.
In some rural areas, fierce marketing and advertising is vital and becomes an ongoing battle among competing businesses. It can’t be denied that competition can be healthy amongst businesses, but taking it too far has it’s dangers. A business owner who practices seemingly dubious advertising tactics, such as making false statements or slanderous claims, can land him/herself in hot water.
Keeping space between questionable affiliates and your business should also be avoided. While you may think that your business may have a great local reputation, an association with a disreputable partner or company who may be involved in some negligent practices may drag you down with them.
2. Take Cyber Security Seriously
With more and more businesses utilizing technology and storing client data on local computers as well as on the cloud, the risk of cyber hacks and breaches are rapidly increasing. We hear about cases of stolen data regularly in news reports among businesses that store large databases of consumer data, but fail to realize that this threat exists for small businesses alike.
A breach of private information can cause severe devastation in the personal lives of your customers. Legal action from clients and vendors can cripple your business and result in an immediate collapse.
All business owners must take certain steps to ensure all servers and computers are protected from these threats such as installing malware protection and antivirus software and by regularly updating your computer’s operating system. Maintain a data backup solution that makes multiple backups of your local data. In the event disaster does occur, a safe copy of all your data
Another preventative measure you can take as a small business owner is to seek help from a cybersecurity company. A reputable cyber security company will keep up with your business operations and ensure that your business’ security is up to date. This is greatly recommended for businesses in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, law, etc.
3. Work With a Good Lawyer.
A very common mistake most small business owners make is the failure to work with an attorney. The services of a lawyer may seem like an inessential and sizable expense, especially in the early stage of a small business, but overlooking the involvement of an experienced lawyer has its repercussions.
If your business operates out of a commercial space, a rental or lease agreement is often required by the property owner or management company. The terms of many lease agreements or contracts are usually too intricate for the average business owner to understand. An experienced attorney can help identify particular issues in a lease agreement, such as automatic rent increases, tenant improvement deductions, dispute procedures, options to renew, etc. A good attorney can also help negotiate the terms of the lease and get your business the best possible deal.
Dealing with contracts is part of running a successful small business. You may have a number of business relationships with vendors, merchants, dealers, etc, that involve some type of contractual commitment or obligation. One small error in a business contract can lead to a massive lawsuit, therefore drafting a bulletproof contract to protect your business should be left to a professional.
It should also be mentioned that standard contracts are generally written to benefit the interests of the person or business that is offering you the contract. These complex contracts should be reviewed in great detail by an expert business contract attorney before signing.
4. Insure Your Business.
The best way to protect yourself and your business from unexpected lawsuits is with a comprehensive business insurance policy. General liability insurance coverage protects your business against third-party claims of bodily injury or damage to someone else’s property. So what’s covered under a general liability insurance policy?
- Bodily injury – Protects you if your business is held legally liable in the case of an injury, such as the classic slip-and-fall scenario, where your client is injured in your place of business.
- Damage to third party property – Protects you if you or an employee causes damage to a customer’s property, such as vehicle, home, personal items, etc.
- Personal injury – Protects you against claims of libel or slander.
- Advertising injury – Protects you in the case your advertising or marketing materials infringe a third-party’s copyright, slogan, etc.
There are many other types of business insurance products that can help protect your small business. Some of these include:
- Commercial auto liability
- Professional liability – E & O
- Product liability
- Workers compensation
- Cyber liability
- Garage liability
Business insurance is the first line of defense for your small business when disaster strikes. An important part of protecting your business is by ensuring your commercial insurance policy is adequate for your particular business.
Business insurance may seem confusing. Our Chicago-based insurance agency can help simplify the process of obtaining a quote by getting to know your unique business and putting together an affordable business insurance package. Don’t put it off any further. Get started today.