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Legal essentials you need to know for your business

1 February 2017

It’s a dream for many to start their own business. However, entering into a new venture can be anything but smooth sailing—particularly when there is uncertainty regarding what is required by law. A deep understanding of the legal requirements for new and established businesses is key to growth and prosperity.

We’ve highlighted four legal essentials that every business owner or manager making legal decisions needs to know.

Register your business and office

It is a legal requirement to register your business’ name and location before commencing any business activities. You must register this information with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), and ensure any changes thereafter are communicated. Depending on the type of business, you may need to register for certain taxes. Some of them include an Australian Business Number (ABN), the Goods and Services Tax (GST) a Tax File Number (TFN) and Pay as you go (PAYG). There are other registrations that may also be relevant, such as domain name and trademark. It’s important for all owners and managers to be aware of this to help ensure you properly meet your tax and operational obligations.

Keep up with your financials

Central to understanding business law is remaining up-to-date with your financial records. Not only does this ensure you remain solvent and lawful, it offers additional insight into the company's financial position and performance—which can also be useful for other areas of the business such as sales, marketing and for members of the C-suite. You can do this by working closely with relevant stakeholders who are responsible for the business’ finances to better understand how the numbers are tracking.

It also pays to be aware of any government statements to avoid potential solvency issues. As a legal decision maker, it is essential that you ensure the details on the ASIC's registers are accurate. Late fees apply when these details have not been confirmed within a period of time.

Ensure employee laws are upheld

Aside from more well-known entitlements and employer obligations to employees, such as payroll, superannuation and OH&S, there are significant laws to consider when it comes to employment. In 2014, new privacy principles to the Australian Privacy Act 1988 were enacted, covering how businesses process personal information, use personal information for direct marketing purposes and disclose information to overseas contacts.  Discrimination law, such as anti-workplace bullying, can also be a massive blow to a business if not properly managed. It is imperative that owners and managers are aware of these laws and changes to them. In addition, businesses must ensure they have formal employment agreements in place to maintain employee rights and a high level of workplace satisfaction.

Prepare a risk management plan

It is necessary for any business, large or small, to devise a risk management plan specific to business needs, and then to align it with overall business strategy. Identifying and understanding the potential risks to your business is key; finding ways to minimise their impact is of equal importance. Things to consider include identification of risk, the plan of attack, time frames for implementation, the resources required and where responsibilities lie.

What’s important to bear in mind is that we’ve only just touched the surface here; the law is a highly complex field and requires a breadth of knowledge to be able to execute effective legal decisions. A Master of Business Law can do just that for those wanting to build their legal understanding and apply it in their workplace.

If you are interested in learning more about online postgraduate studies in law, get in touch with one of our expert Student Enrolment Advisors on 1300 589 882.