We live in a society where people are ready to sue at the drop of a hat. No matter how great your product or service is, there is always someone scheming and plotting his or her next big payday at your company’s expense. Our goal as entrepreneurs and small business owners is to stay one step ahead by implementing policies and procedures in our businesses to minimize the chances of being sued. Let me share with you four simple ways for your small business to stay out of court while stretching a dollar to save:
- Put everything in writing. I cannot overstate this enough. It doesn’t matter whether your business is service or product oriented, you need to get in the habit of putting every sale or joint venture in writing. By having well prepared contracts in place, you can eliminate any misunderstandings that may arise. You can get sample contracts that can be modified from websites such as Nolo.com, Legalzoom.com, Allbusiness.com, and other websites for a small fee ($10-$20). This small fee can definitely help you stay out of court while stretching a dollar to save.
- Get good legal advice. It is always better to be safe than sorry especially when money is involved. If you are uncertain about whether the information you add to a contract or the terms and conditions of a joint venture agreement are legal, it is imperative that you seek out good, sound legal advice. Consult with other small business owners for attorney referrals or consult websites such as sba.gov, or entrepreneur.com and others for guidance on selecting an attorney. You may think that you can’t afford an attorney but ask yourself this: Can you afford not to have one?
- Make sure you are properly insured. Whatever business you are in, you need to be properly insured. Whether it’s general liability or errors and omissions insurance, make sure that you have what you need before you need it. Consult with your local chamber of commerce , other entrepreneurs, your insurance agent, or Google to find good insurance brokers and rates.
- Create a refund/cancellation policy. Always let customers know how they can receive a refund or cancel a service. Whether it’s posting your refund policy on your website, printing it on the back of your receipts, including it in contracts, or posting it in your business, this small step helps customers feel comfortable buying from your business and builds trust. Take a look at refund policies from companies such as Amazon.com or Walmart for help creating your refund or cancellation policy.
By following these four simple tips, you can reduce your chances of being sued while stretching your dollar. Some people are always looking for opportunities to sue but don’t help them out. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.