New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

 

5 February 2018
Posted by Omid Komeili

Many business owners across Australia will have already decided on their New Year’s resolutions for 2018. If that is so, then great, read on for a few extras to fit onto your list. If not, here’s a great place to start.

These four New Year’s resolutions will help make your business better, stronger and smarter. 

Review your standard form contracts for unfair contract terms

Most businesses, from Australian start-ups to global industry powerhouses, use standard form contracts to supply goods or provide services to their customers and clients. Adopting standard form contracts is usually seen as a cost effective and time efficient way of doing business. However, have you checked to see if your contracts are enforceable?

Under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) Schedule 2 (the “Australian Consumer Law”), if a term in a standard form consumer contract or small business contract is deemed to be unfair, it will be unenforceable.

Seeking the advice from a lawyer as to whether the contracts you use are caught by the unfair contract terms provisions (which as of November 2017 now apply to small business contracts) and, if they are, whether your terms are likely to be unenforceable is an important step for any business to take in 2018.

Clean up your returns and refunds terms

Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers have a number of statutory rights known as consumer guarantees. These rights cannot be excluded, or in most cases limited, by the supplier of the goods or services.

For example, although it may seem like a logical approach to state, “No Refunds on Sale Items” or “No Refunds on Swimwear”, these statements may be false or misleading representations as to the consumer’s rights and therefore a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.

Key example:

Valve Corporation, a US based technology company operating Steam, a video game distribution platform, were ordered to pay penalties totalling $3million for including false or misleading representation in its returns policies and subscription agreements with its customers. Under Valve’s refunds terms, customers were not entitled to a refund in any circumstances.

Ensure your refunds policy and contracts (B2C and B2B) are Australian Consumer Law compliant.

Conduct a trade marks audit

You may already understand the benefits of registering your trade mark or trade marks. If not, why not read about protecting your brand with trade mark registrations here.

The new year is a perfect time to conduct a trade mark audit of your business. This includes:

– taking a look at your registered trade mark portfolio and determining whether you have been using your trade marks, whether the goods and services you use each trade mark for are adequately covered by the goods and services those trade marks are registered under and whether you are using any of those trade marks in other countries without registration in those countries; and

– taking a look at your unregistered trade marks and determining whether you should apply to register those trade marks in Australia and/or in overseas countries. Unregistered trade marks include any brand names or slogans you use as a badge of origin for your goods and/or services.

Brand protection is integral to any business and is often a business’ most valuable asset. As an example, At the time of writing, The Coca-Cola Company (who we unfortunately do not represent – yet!) has 446 registered trade marks in Australia alone. Their portfolio covers many of their brands, such as Sprite, Fanta and, of course, Coca-Cola across many classes of goods and services.

A robust trade mark portfolio can add significant value to your business (although you probably won’t need as many registered trade marks as Coca-Cola).

Leave the bookkeeping to the professionals

Sometimes you are better off leaving it to the professionals rather than doing it yourself. At Studio Legal, we stress the importance of every business engaging a reliable bookkeeper and a kick-ass accountant.

Engaging the services of a (great) bookkeeper will allow you to focus your time on your core business actives and spend less time looking at the numbers.  They will also ensure you comply with important legal requirements such as paying super to employees on time.

The responsibilities of a bookkeeper include tracking your expenses, managing your receipts and invoices and payroll. If you need a bookkeeper to help your business operate smoothly in 2018, we are more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Studio Legal’s solicitors regularly assist clients with their trade mark and consumer law issues. If you require any assistance, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at hello@studiolegal.com.au, or call us on 03 9521 2128.

DISCLAIMER

The information in this article is of a general nature. It does not constitute formal legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. Please see the full disclaimer in our website terms. Please contact Studio Legal if you are seeking advice about a specific legal matter.