Business Services to stay out of trouble

When you open a business, sometimes it feels like there are always people trying to get more money out of you.  They often talk about how they will drive more business to you and help you find clients.  While getting more [good] clients is important, one thing often overlooked is the need to protect your business and often times, there are additional expenses that you should really consider that can really help keep you out of trouble.

Online Presence

With an online presence, there are often solicitations that come from very risk sources.  Before opening a law office, I knew about the Nigerian scams, but now I find that I get solicitations from Nigeria saying they need to hire me at least once per month.  The first thing I do when I get an inquiry is to determine where the IP Address originates.  If it is from someplace (like Nigeria), I then block that IP address for the future.

Marketing

I have lost count of how many different marketing companies have contacted me to “send quality client leads” to my firm and my word of caution to everyone is that there is no magic bullet to immediately increase your client base and you likely far more effective at marketing your business than adding your business to a database where potential clients may find you.

Financial Services

You need business accounts, and nearly any bank loves to bring in business clients.  You need to ensure that you segregate your business income and expenses from your personal accounts.  This does not mean it needs to be at a different bank, just that you need to ensure you do not do things, such as paying for personal expenses out of your business account.

Merchant Card Services

The decision of accepting credit cards creates additional expenses in card processing fees and the potential for additional clients and better payment results.

One change in recent history is the “liability shift” from banks to the merchants.  Essentially the shift is that if a bank issues a credit card with a chip and the merchant does not run the card with the chip, then as of October 2015, liability for card fraud shifted to the merchant.  This means that every merchant should consider only running credit cards with a chip reader rather than the traditional swipe and sign” method.

Hiring Employees

It does not matter what type of business you are, when you start hiring employees, it can greatly increase your risk.  You need to think about labor laws, payroll, taxes, and risk management.

Some payroll companies, such as ADP,  offer additional services that help manage the issues created in hiring employees beyond just payroll services (including direct deposit), such as Tax Services, Human Resource Management, Time and Attendance tracking, Benefits Administration.  They can offer help with many things, including creating an employee manual.

When you use a Payroll company (or other non-lawyer) for services, like creating an employee manual, they are essentially a DIY (Do it yourself) type of product.  They have created a fill-in-the-blank document and it is up to you to create the manual without any legal advice.

We have written about DIY products before, which you can read here.  If, after you are fully informed of the benefits and drawbacks, you do not mind doing a lot of the work, and feel comfortable doing it, then it may be able to work for you, but I would highly recommend at least having an attorney review your end-result to ensure that it is (1) Completed correctly [there are often errors!]; and (2) Meets all of your needs.  Using a DIY service has the potential of saving yourself money in legal fees, however it also bears risks (including, but not limited to learning that it does not meet your needs and hiring the attorney anyway) that only a lawyer can properly advise of.