11 August 2011 6 tips for business owners

By Phillip Briffa, Solicitor

1. Evaluate opportunities

Before embarking on a new venture, starting a new business or adding a new group to your existing business you should test your new opportunity by using an evaluation model.  We see too many people with a business idea, who neglect to undertake basic research and due diligence.  Do not make this mistake.  Preparation is the key to success.

2. Watch out for non-compete restrictions

If you are considering leaving your current job to set up a business in the same industry, you should take care to ensure that you are not in breach of the terms of your employment agreement.  Anything you create while you are still employed may belong to your employer.

3. Protect your assets

Your assets are the lifeblood of your business. It is important that they are adequately protected.  You can protect some assets by registering a trademark, copyright or patent, or registering your assets with the relevant authority, for example, registering your lease with the department of lands, to obtain a greater level of security.  Where registration is not available you may be able to get your lawyers to draft documents proving your ownership.

4. Use non-disclosure agreements

Non-disclosure agreements are contracts entered into between two or more parties, where some or all of the parties agree that certain types of information that pass from one party to the other will remain confidential. Non-disclosure agreements are used for various reasons, including where patent or trade mark protection has not been obtained or is unavailable, and to assist one party to evaluate another party's commercial products. The type of information that can be included under the umbrella of confidential information is virtually unlimited.

5. Incentivise your team

Successful entrepreneurs understand the need to share the rewards and the wealth created by a flourishing business to encourage motivation. Ultimately, the success of the enterprise will depend on the efforts of many people.  There are many ways that you can share the rewards, including issuing shares, offering share options, distributing profits and providing bonuses.

6. Put together a team of trusted professional advisers

There is a tendency for entrepreneurs to put off retaining the services of professional advisers until they have their businesses "on track" or have sufficient funding.  This is a common mistake that can prove costly later on and inhibit business growth.  You cannot be an expert in everything, so develop relationships with accountants, bankers, insurance brokers and lawyers from day one.  In the long run this will save you time and money.  It will assist you by enabling you to focus more of your time on doing what you do best, working on your business. Developing relationships with the right advisers will save you from being bogged down with compliance and governance tasks, as well as giving you access to expert advice which will benefit your business.

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This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

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