Gurpal Singh offers advice on the importance of having your documents in order.

If your business offers goods and services, not just to the public as in the consumer, but also to other businesses, there’s every chance that you’ll need the drafting of documents to ensure that you’re compliant with your legal and regulatory obligations.

So, for example, most businesses will have to ensure that they’ve got terms and conditions of business, which set out and define the scope nature and extent of what they will carry out for the client.

So for example as a solicitor we will define exactly what work we will do on what basis and for what costs.

Having a terms and conditions can make your life easier and as a lawyer I can assist in the drafting and preparation of terms and conditions.

One of the other documents you might need a solicitor to prepare is an employment contract.

This defines the scope and nature of your obligations to your employer and also deals with your obligations under the law.

Having an employment contract is also very important because it ensures it sets out the relationship between employer and employee, as well as complying with the legal obligations an employer has.

Your business might employ consultants who are deemed to be self-employed and if that is the case then it’s important that you have in place either a service agreement or some form of other agreement, which sets out the relationship between you as the employer and them as a consultant.

A real-life example is that if you have their consultancy agreement one of your consultants could quite easily access your database, take a client list and use that for him or herself. Or worryingly effect the business and its profitability.

I would also recommend that if you didn’t have a consultancy agreement you think very hard about how you protect your information.

So having a consultancy agreement, which perhaps has a data protection clause or some sort of confidentiality or restrictive clause, will help you protect your business.

If you don’t have that then you leave yourself open to that type of exploitation.

Are you a business start up? Then take a look at our latest on tips on debt recovery  and defining your risks, to help you set your business up correctly from the start.

Gurpal Singh offers tips on defining your risks

When starting up a business it’s important that you understand your legal and regulatory obligations.

Some of the things which might apply to your business include understanding what the pensions provisions are, whether the national minimum wage applies, and what, if any, Health and Safety Executive legislation you need to be aware of.

It’s important that you deal with each of those aspects because you could be liable both personally for the actions of your business and of course, if you’re a director in a company, you could also have special duties, sometimes called fiduciary duties, which might also apply.

From the outset it’s important that you instruct a solicitor to advise you and assist you in preparing documents.

There’s a raft of obligations upon you and without legal expertise it’s very difficult to understand that.

So it’s important that you do take legal advice from the start and perhaps on an ongoing basis, to ensure that you’re fully compliant with your obligations.

Are you a business start up? Then take a look at our latest tips on debt recovery  to help you get the right approach to cash flow from the start.

Gurpal Singh offers tips on debt recovery

Even before your business is up and running you need to consider properly what sort of procedures you have in place for debt recovery and debt control.

Ultimately a small business will from time to time have cash flow issues. In order to alleviate those issues you need to ensure that your credit control function is working as efficiently as it can.

One of the things I would suggest is that you have a electronic system which generates automatically on a monthly basis. A report which sets out the debt and the credit position of the business and so this will give you a snapshot of exactly where your business is on a month-to-month basis.

It’s very easy to do and there’s software packages out there and available on the internet which could assist you with that.

Alternatively you could also speak to your accountant who might be able to assist with that type of discussion.

As a start-up one of the important things is getting paid. So when you send out your contract with your terms of business you need to make it clear that the terms of business, specify exactly how many days within which you need to be paid. So for example your terms may say thirty, the opponent business or owner might say sixty. So you need to ensure that yours comes to the top of the pile. So if there’s a 30 60 or 90 scenario you’ll get paid first.

One of the ways to ensure that yours comes first is by sending your terms of business and making specific reference and make it clear when you’re going to be paid.

But also there’s no point saying that without the threat of anything else happening, for example debt recovery or issuing a claim in the county court.

From a lawyer’s point of view though, where debt recovery is really best and most effective is that where you’ve got procedures in place already, so you might not need to see me. However it’s a complicated and sometimes long-winded process, so it’s important that you take specialist advice at the right time for your business to ensure that the cash flow isn’t going to become an epidemic and ultimately affect the viability of your business.