If you are a budding entrepreneur or you dream of turning your small business into an empire in the coming years, your main focus may be profit. Every business owner longs for the day they can check the books and see that there’s more money coming in than there is going out. Of course, to succeed, companies have to be profitable, but money is not the sole concern for aspiring moguls. Running a business requires a diverse skill set and the ability to steer a ship in potentially choppy waters. You need to balance the books, but you also need to make sure that you’re operating legally. If you’re planning to

launch a startup

soon or your business is already up and running, hopefully, this guide will help you to ensure that everything is above board.

Employee rights and health and safety

As soon as you even think about hiring a member of staff, you take on a raft of legal responsibilities. Whether you have a team of five or five hundred people, it’s your duty to do everything possible to protect your employees and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. Did you know that in the UK, more than 30 million working days were lost to work-related illness and injury in 2016? It’s not always possible to prevent accidents, but following regulations should stand you in good stead. Make sure you are aware of the legalities involved with running a business premises. Is your office safe? Does the warehouse comply with the latest health and safety policies? Have your employees got access to suitable equipment? Every business is different, and you’ll need to follow guidelines that relate to the type of company you run and the risks associated with an average working day. Construction, for example, is one of the most dangerous industries and this is why employers are required to provide protective equipment and utilise measures to keep employees safe on site. Warning and advice signs should be used to alert people to danger and equipment like a

ladder safety gate

should be made available to prevent falls from height. Every employee should have access to sturdy boots, a hard hat and any additional personal protective equipment required for the job. In addition to providing equipment, it’s important to run regular checks to ensure that any clothing, tools or machinery used by employees meet safety guidelines. An office may seem like a fairly harmless place to be, but there are risks lurking around every corner. As an employer, it’s wise to carry out regular risk assessments to

identify potential hazards

. You should also have policies in place to ensure that issues are addressed quickly. If there’s a spillage, for example, this should be dealt with swiftly to prevent slips, trips, and falls. A good boss should also listen to concerns raised by staff members. If people are taking time off work due to back pain, for example, consider making changes that could remedy the problem such as investing in office chairs with additional lumbar support and adjustable desks.

If you employ people, you should be aware of their rights. It’s a good idea to seek legal counsel when drawing up employment contracts, dealing with potential disputes or considering letting employees go. There are regulations in place, and if you’re not aware of them, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law, even if you weren’t aware that you were doing anything wrong.

Financial regulations

When you launch a new company, you should be aware of restrictions and guidelines related to financial conduct. You will be required to pay taxes, and you have to make money in a legal manner. There are tax deadlines every year. If you

miss the deadline

, you’re likely to incur penalties, including fines. If you’re not an expert when it comes to accounting and you don’t know where to start with paying a tax bill or filing a return, it’s beneficial to seek professional advice. You can pay an accountant to take care of your tax return for you, and this will ensure that any outstanding payments are made on time. If you are planning to take charge of your own taxes, it pays to be organised. Keep detailed accounts and records of transactions and receipts for anything you wish to claim as a business expense.

Copyright and patenting

If you’ve worked incredibly hard to get a business off the ground, the last thing you want is somebody else to profit from your ideas. If you’re selling products, creating brand or product names or marketing a USP, it’ worth looking into

copyrighting and patenting

to protect your company. Before you try and patent an idea, do some research to make sure that your concept is original and you’re not stealing intellectual property from anybody else. If you do think you have the potential to hit the big time, it’s wise to keep your ideas to yourself until the patenting process is complete. If you divulge information and somebody decides to use it to develop their own business plan, there’s nothing to protect you until that patent is granted. Before you go through the process of patenting and copyrighting, do some research to ensure that there is a market for your product. You don’t want to waste time and money on something that isn’t going to sell. See what’s already out there on the shelves, learn more about your competitors and gauge the level of consumer interest using focus groups and surveys.

Running a business isn’t just about making sales and turning over a profit. When you set up a company, there are lots of roles to assume, and it’s imperative that you ensure that everything you do is within legal boundaries. As an employer, you have a duty to protect and respect your employees, and you must make sure that business premises are safe and secure and that you understand the legalities involved in making contracts, hiring and firing and dealing with work-related illness and injury. All businesses are required to adhere to financial regulations, and you may wish to get expert help if you’re not experienced in accounting. As well as protecting your employees and eliminating the risk of lawsuits related to accidents and injuries, consider protecting your ideas and intellectual property.