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Sole Proprietors: Protecting Your Business and Preventing Lawsuits

Most people want to conduct their businesses in an honest fashion while trying to make a living. However, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed as a sole proprietor since you alone shoulder all of your business’ burdens and responsibilities. It’s because of this reality that you must take time when you first begin working to list all of the problems that often develop and compromise a business. You must then decide how best to prevent any of them from happening to you.                      

The following guidelines can help you avoid making early administrative and financial errors that could cause you significant problems later on.                                                                  

Steps for Safeguarding Your Business and Preventing Honest Errors

  • Open up a separate bank account for your business. Try to fund this account as fully as possible before ever soliciting customers or hiring any employees. Decide how much money must remain in this account for emergency purposes, to pay your bills, and to pay any workers you may hire – whether as independent contractors or employees. Never mix your personal finances with those of your business;

  • Obtain all necessary licenses and business permits. Be sure to meet with your Peachtree City business attorney so you can learn about the many legal requirements and responsibilities placed upon the shoulders of sole proprietors. Also, decide whether or not you’ll need a federal tax Employer Identification Number or if you’ll just operate your business under your own name and use your personal social security number when reporting all of your income and expenses each year. Check to see if you’re required to make quarterly tax payments. (Also, obtain all required state tax permits or ID numbers);

  • Obtain adequate insurance. If you will be hiring actual employees to work on your business premises, you must obtain worker’s compensation insurance. You will also need to decide if you will (or must) offer medical, disability and other forms of insurance to your employees. Ask your insurance broker what types of general liability and other policies you’ll need to operate your business;

  • Workplace safety. Review all information located on the government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website. Remember that you owe it to your employees to create a safe workplace environment. Make sure they know that they must immediately inform you of any injuries they sustain while working for you;

  • Employer guidelines. Review all state and federal (Department of Labor) hiring guidelines and make sure you’re familiar with all of the most common forms of workplace discrimination so you can avoid subjecting anyone to this illegal behavior – and prevent your workers from discriminating against others;

  • Finances. Consider buying software that will help you keep up with all of your debts, payments, payroll and other financial matters. If you can afford one, hire a personal accountant to help you manage all of your business’ financial affairs;

    Keep in regular contact with your lawyer. This professional can help you draft proper contracts and give you practical advice to avoid making common errors made by business owners. You can also find out if there are any ways you can protect your personal assets should you be sued for any reason. Remember, you don’t automatically enjoy the limited liability often extended to those running corporations and partnerships;

  • Create organization checklists for each week/day. Make sure if you hire workers to schedule regular meetings with them and offer necessary training programs. Stay on top of all of your daily administrative tasks. Consider hiring an assistant who can help you with these tasks as your business grows;

  • Consider joining a local organization designed for professionals in your field. This can not only help you learn new proven marketing techniques, it can also help you find mentors and friends who can share their business learning experiences with you as all of you establish yourselves in the local business community.

     

If handled properly and in a timely manner, all of these suggested activities can actually help you carve out the extra time you’ll need for the more enjoyable, creative side of running your business.

To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia