Legal Issues Impacting Small Business Owners: When to Get Help

Author: Elena Stewart

Businesses owners, including those who work within the pharmacy industry, often face situations in which legal advice becomes useful. Getting the right legal advice can be pricey, but it can save a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long term. There are some situations where getting good advice is more crucial than others. Here are some resources and tips to consider when facing legal situations.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Debt Collection

When you own a pharmacy, trying to collect money owed by customers can be stressful, especially since cash is vital for your business and the debtor is in financial distress. Operating in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, there are a few steps you can take to mitigate the damage. These include:

  • Communicating early and keeping the lines of contact open
  • Logging and filing all documents
  • Working out an arrangement while staying flexible and firm

If you need to escalate the situation, you can choose to use a collection agency or contact a lawyer.

Customer Contracts

While you don’t legally need an attorney to write a contract, The Zebra points out that between 36% and 53% of small businesses are sued annually, and that statistic is sobering. Verbal contracts are valid between two parties in some states, but proving their existence is always difficult. If your business needs contracts for suppliers, jobs, or even sales, it’s wise to work with a legal firm to create boilerplate customer contracts that protect your business against potential liability and losses. 

Tax Audit 

Even if you keep meticulous records, you are still at risk of being audited — and the IRS has been ramping up small business audits, according to Bloomberg. To avoid audits, business owners need to: 

  • Not be gratuitous with deductions, especially those they classify as miscellaneous
  • Accurately report income
  • Separate business and personal expenses

However, if you are tapped for an audit, make sure you have excellent documentation and consult an attorney because tax law is complicated. An experienced attorney may be able to better anticipate potential issues.

Choosing a Business Structure

When you’re deciding to become a partnership, an LLC, a single-owner business, or a corporation, a lawyer can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each so that you can avoid the pitfalls. For example, Massachusetts is one of 44 states that has a state-level corporate income tax, but some structures incur a self-employment tax. To understand which is the best option for your business, consult an attorney before signing any binding agreements. 

Internet Security Breaches

Worldwide, more than 20% of the world’s organizations have fallen victim to a cyberattack. This is particularly startling when you consider just how much more connected things are than in years past. Your business may be liable if it didn’t properly secure customer data in the first place, for example, or if a third-party vendor was breached and there was no due diligence performed during the vendor research process. Even though your company has the necessary disclaimers, such as a privacy policy, it won’t negate the need for you to contact and retain legal counsel.

Protect Yourself and Your Business

The idea of needing a lawyer to handle a tricky situation can be stressful, whether you work in the pharmacy industry or elsewhere. However, the good news is that in some cases, a simple consultation with an experienced attorney to guide you through things like customer contracts and audits is all you need.