There are several legal pitfalls that business owners can fall victim to that can make the difference between a successful business and one that fails. However, with a little foresight and planning you can protect your business and limit your liability.
Firing people. Once, back in the days of the Hawthorne Experiment, it was easy, and employees would thank business owners for having hired them in the first place. Then it became kind of awkward for employers, having new "human resources" rules to follow. But now Donald Trump has made it cool again -- you just sit the underperforming employee down, look them in the eye, and matter of factly tell them "You're fired."
Do you want to get sued just because you said, "you have a great accent, where are you from" to a potential employee? Or because you asked a candidate in a wheelchair how they lost the use of their legs? The law provides equal opportunity protection for everyone, and prohibits discrimination in the workplace for people who fall into specific protected classes. When you're hiring and interviewing, you need to phrase your questions carefully.
As quoted in the Los Angeles Times (March 15, 2010)You can never eliminate that chance of being audited, because a perfect tax return will be suspicious, too (who files perfect taxes?) Company.com has ten ways to reduce your risk of an audit Ė we figure that most small businesses donít have big accounts in the Caymans or Switzerland, and that if youíre reading this you havenít run into significant tax problems in the past. Otherwise you'd know this stuff already.
Taxes can be the death of your business. Or rather, a failure to understand, or a willful underpayment, of taxes can be the death of your business. If you happen to be unlucky enough to get audited, or careless enough to underpay your taxes over a period of years, and you land yourself a $5,500, $20,000 or $150,000 tax liability, there are tax resolution services you can go to for help.
At around 10 p.m CST on April 20th, there was an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, an ultra-deepwater, dynamically positioned, semi-submersible offshore drilling rig. The explosion was caused by a blowout after a gas bubble came up the pipeline, bursting through several seals and barriers. Ordinarily, pressure management systems would prevent this kind of event, but on the Deepwater Horizon, those systems failed. What lessons does the Deepwater Horizon teach small businesses?
Why do big corporations find it so hard to apologize -- and should they be more willing to own up when they screw up? When is being proactive about admitting fault just going to hurt your business?