Business owners must balance the ingenuity that comes with a new business idea with the more mundane tasks that help keep a business running. Finding this balance is no easy task and often requires reaching out to other individuals. This can include partners, contractors, or third parties. Whatever the need for a business relationship, it is important for business owners to prepare not just for this type of collaboration but also for the fact that any relationship can come with the risk of conflict.
There are many different strategies that can help to mitigate the risk of a dispute. Three effective options that work in almost any market include the following.
#1: Have a clear business culture.
Employment, partner, and shareholder disputes are common issues within the business world. One way to reduce this risk is to have a clear culture within the organization. This can help to better ensure that those who are coming to the table have similar goals while still allowing you the flexibility to bring in individuals with unique ideas for achieving that goal.
One way to help make sure this culture is clear is to write it down … which is a great segway into the next tip.
#2: Do not underestimate the power of paperwork.
Document, document, document. Want a clear outline of your company culture? Draft policies that spell out your expectations. Want to hire a great innovator or hard worker? Get an employment agreement. Looking to collaborate with another business or hire in a third party to focus on a specific project? Draft a contract to outline the expectations.
These are just a few examples of the many situations that benefit from proper legal documentation. These documents do more than just provide protection in the event of a legal dispute — they can reduce the risk of a legal dispute in the first place. This is because there are negotiations and discussions that go into putting together these documents that can better ensure both parties on the same page before you move forward with the arrangement.
#3: Get intellectual property protections.
Intellectual property (IP) is often the spine of the business. Without safeguarding trademarks, copyrights, and patentable inventions competitors can steal the vary things that give your business structure and make it unique.
Part of the IP protection process often involves registration. This makes it clear to competitors that certain IP is yours and can deter attempts to lean into your market.
Those who find themselves in the midst of a dispute have options. If the dispute escalates it is often wise to reach out to legal counsel to discuss these options and better ensure you safeguard your business’ interests while navigating towards a resolution.