In today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I want to follow up on the topic from last week's blog and email newsletter. Last week I talked about the different kinds of business disputes that end up in court. In today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I want to talk about the different ways your small business can avoid ending up in court to begin with. There are different practices that every small business can engage in and avoid a world of hurt, and even if you do end up in court, you will be in a much better position for a successful outcome. So, in today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I'm talking about how to avoid business disputes in Oklahoma.
Here are five (5) ways to avoid business disputes in Oklahoma:
1. Get It in Writing
The first way to avoid a business dispute in Oklahoma is to get it in writing. Small business owners make agreements and contracts with different parties on a regular basis. Many small business owners enter into contracts with vendors, contractors, manufacturers, agents, distributors, and others as part of the day-to-day running of a business. For the sake of convenience, personal relationships, or other reasons might lead a small business owner to rely on a verbal agreement to keep a business running. However, a verbal agreement might not protect you if something happens by surprise, or worse, something bad happens, and the other party breaks a promise. This means it's vital that all your contracts and agreements are in writing, even if you have a great relationship with the other party. A written contract or agreement will help you resolve conflicts that are unexpected and preserve the relationship with the other party. Even when you have a written contract or agreement in place, you may still have a dispute, and parties may disagree as to the meaning of the contract. Also occasionally, parties will knowingly and willfully breach the terms of an agreement. If you make it a habit to have all your contracts and agreements in writing, you will reduce the frequency and complexity of many business disputes you could potentially be involved in.
2. Every Small Business Needs an Internal Governing Agreement
The second way to avoid a business dispute in Oklahoma is to make sure your small business has an internal governing agreement. This means that if you have an LLC, you need to have an operating agreement. If you have a corporation, you need to have bylaws and possibly a shareholders' agreement. If you're a partnership, you need a partnership agreement. Unless you're the sole owner and operator of your business, you need one of these agreements depending on your business structure. Even if you're a single-member LLC, having an operating agreement in place can help avoid problems when you want to add a “partner” to the business (and that includes a minority owner who only owns 5% membership interest). These agreements should outline the responsibilities and benefits of each member or manager of the business. Some of the issues that need to be addressed in an internal governing agreement are how a new person can become a co-owner or partner in the business, how to sell an interest in your business, and the level of control other owners can have in the business.
3. Follow Employment Laws and Train Your Employees
The third way to avoid a business dispute in Oklahoma is to follow employment laws and train your employees. A very common kind of business dispute, even for small businesses, is a lawsuit originating from issues with employees or related to some kind of employment related issue. Both the federal and state government have enacted laws relating to employment matters. How much you pay your employees, how much time off you can give your employees, workplace safety issues, and anti-discrimination laws are just a smattering of employment related issues you can face as a small business owner with employees. In addition, your employees are “agents” of your business, and employee behavior that violates established workplace regulations or requirements can put your business at risk. To minimize that risk, its important to provide training to your employees so that your employees know what is and is not acceptable so far as their conduct is concerned. You also need to train your employees so that they will understand safety requirements, and how to handle on the job injuries.
4. Don't Over-Promise
The fourth way to avoid a business dispute in Oklahoma is not to over-promise. Even though you should make every effort to get your contracts and agreements in writing, a verbal agreement can operate as a contract under many circumstances. For this reason, you need to be careful in promising outcomes to clients and customers. Don't tell a customer that a job will be completed in a week if you're not absolutely sure you can have it done by then. It's far better to keep customers' expectations within reason and over-deliver rather than failing to deliver on a lofty promise and end up in court.
5. Get Ahead of Problems
The fifth way to avoid a business dispute in Oklahoma is to get ahead of problems. While you might be surprised by some legal issues, if you're conscious and aware of what's going on in your business, you'll likely know if trouble is coming. Businesses can spare themselves a lot of hassle and save money by addressing issues early on before they become a huge problem that's out of control. Even the most trivial issue, if not addressed, can lead to a costly court battle. Also, while not every business problem can be resolved in an early settlement, sometimes putting your ego aside and learning to compromise is a more economical solution as it will help you avoid going to court.
Thinking about starting a small business? Or maybe your business is having issues with contracts, leases, business partners, collection issues, or experiencing other barriers to growth? Please contact me at [email protected] to schedule a FREE strategy session.
For more information about Liberty Legal Solutions, LLC, please visit our website at http://www.libertylegalok.com/