Maybe you are still wearing all of the hats in start-up mode, and if so, we congratulate you on looking so good for lack of sleep. Or perhaps you have graduated from hiring independent contractors, or 1099 employees to fill in the blanks and need to take on some heavy lifters and bring in the W2’s. It can get tricky and you simply must be aware of some key concepts to protect yourself and your business before proceeding.
- Find out which Federal Employment Laws Apply to Your Business – Department of Labor tool – the “FirstStep Employment Law Advisor” – can help you determine which laws apply to your business and how to ensure you are in compliance.
- State Labor Laws – Each state has its own laws with which you must comply; simply find your State and go through the points.
- Employment Law Guide – You may want to at least familiarize yourself with the information contained in this comprehensive guide describing major employment laws that impact businesses. Designed for those needing “hands-on” information to develop wage, benefit, safety and health, and nondiscrimination policies. Consider it your HR guide.
- 10 Steps to Hiring your First Employee – These 10 easy steps will guide you through what you need to do when you hire your first employee.
Antitrust, bankruptcy, and securities… if you’re already confused on these laws, don’t be. Simply schedule a half an hour each day to read and take note of those topics that pertain to your business and dig deeper on another day. Always consult with a business attorney prior to committing to any understanding if you are not certain.
These laws have to do with protecting the financial interests of small businesses and individual investors. Below are informational references worth gaining an understanding of so that when you scale to the appropriate level, you’ll remember the tools available to protect what you’ve grown.
- Antitrust Laws – Federal Trade Commission – how antitrust laws work. Antitrust laws promote vigorous competition and protect consumers from anticompetitive mergers and business practices.
- Bankruptcy – We hope you’ll never need this section, but if you do, just know that there is always a way back! Some advice to help you avoid bankruptcy, and an explanation of bankruptcy options, the process and the tax consequences.
- Securities Law – If your business sells publicly traded securities, then you will need to comply with certain financial and reporting obligations. These include creating clear Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure documents and complying with Sarbanes-Oxley. This guide from the SEC provides a gateway to information for smaller companies.
Marketing and Advertising Laws
This is always my favorite topic when in the trenches of a start-up, launch or scale-up. Simply put, it means that you are ready to grow; the doors are open for business and you’re ready to pay back your investors. What is not appreciated, however, is that there are legalities involved in this process, and without hiring a marketing and advertising agency, you will need to do a quick study before launching that first Google or Facebook ad. All businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure that any advertising claims are truthful, not deceptive and that your marketing activities don’t break the law.
*The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees and regulates advertising and marketing law in the United States. These laws can potentially impact many areas of your business, including how you label your products, how you conduct email and telemarketing campaigns, any health and environmental claims you may make, as well as how you advertise to children.
Below you will find links to useful FTC resources and guides that can help you understand these laws and how they apply to your business.
- Truth in Advertising and Marketing Claims – Refer to this guide to learn how you can ensure your promotion activities are truthful and not deceptive. Areas covered include using endorsements in your marketing, advertising to children, “Made in the USA” labels and health and environmental claims.
- Industry Guides – The FTC has some rules and compliance guides for specific industries including franchises, real estate, clothing manufacturers, and others. Check out this guide for information on laws that could affect your industry or business type.*
- Telemarketing – The National Do Not Call Registry impacts your telemarketing campaign, learn how to comply.
- Email SPAM – The law is very specific on what email you can send and to whom. Learn more in this guide, for it’s approximately $16,000 per SPAM email if you are found out of compliance.
- Advertising Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Answers to small business owner FAQ’s about marketing and advertising law.
AFEUSA is not an attorney or law firm and we do not provide legal advice. We recognize that some information we may provide might fall within the parameters of legal subject matter, such as a link to a public website that may provide or disclose legal information. However, we do not advise you of your legal rights or seek information on any specific area that would create an attorney-client relationship.
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