• Business Companion – Free Legal Guidance for SMEs and Start-ups Feb 16, 2021
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    Why Every SME Needs Business Companion

    Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the UK economy. According to the latest Government statistics, the 5.9 million SMEs account for 16.8 million jobs (61% of the total) and 52% of the entire annual business turnover of the country. From brick & mortar shops and E-commerce retailers to builders, restaurants and craft breweries, SME’s are as diverse as they are in number. But running a business or launching a new start up is not easy at the best of times. Factor in the ongoing disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and trading issues linked to Brexit, and 2021 will doubtless be a tough year to keep your business on an even keel or transform a start-up vision into a lucrative operation.

    If you have your own company, or are looking to launch soon, you are already going to have a great deal to contend with in 2021. If your business sells goods or services to consumers, you will naturally be focusing on your business plan - ensuring supply chains are maintained, managing your staff, keeping finances and budgets on track, getting your marketing strategy right and maximising the all-important sales. In a hectic and pressured environment, it can be very challenging to keep on top of the many and ever developing laws and regulations that surround businesses, especially when it comes to trading standards and consumer protection.

    Trading standards and consumer protection laws and regulations mean business must meet certain standards – you must trade fairly and legally, use honest and truthful sales and marketing techniques, have clear pricing and labelling and abide by rules protecting the consumer. Goods and services sold must be of satisfactory quality and unfair terms and conditions hidden in the small print cannot be enforced. Returns, refunds and replacements are also regulated, and there are also obligations not to sell certain products to young people. By following the law you’ll not only look after your customers and have a better business, but you’ll also avoid the costs of formal compliance action that can begin with a visit from Trading Standards Officers.

    While all SMEs would like to have access to an in-house legal team to ensure that they keep on the right side of the law, the truth is that most businesses don’t have the finances to employ someone full or even part time. While getting specialist legal expertise on an ad-hoc basis is sometimes necessary, it is cost-prohibitive for most operations. There is a wealth of information online, but the web has countless sources, millions of statistics and it is littered with factually incorrect and misleading information that could do your business more harm than good. So what to do? Whether you are an existing business owner or just starting up, you can get the right guidance from the outset by using Business Companion.

    Business Companion is a government-backed information website which provides free, impartial and up-to-date legal guidance to help you understand legislation affecting the products you sell or services you deliver. It’ll take you through the basics of how the law sees your business, while their Quick Guides will give you concise and invaluable guidance on all the relevant topics - from fair trading and product safety, to under-age sales, food standards and weights and measures. Need something more comprehensive? The In-Depth Guides will give you the detail you need. You’ll also find great news and updates content and excellent Business In Focus bulletins, including advice for businesses during the pandemic and guidance on the law now we’ve left the EU.

    Whatever stage you are at as a business, make sure you stay on the right side of the law by using Business Companion.

    Business Companion covers trading standards law for England, Scotland and Wales. For guidance on the law in Northern Ireland, please see nibusinessinfo.co.uk.
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