LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — We know the pandemic has hit small businesses especially hard this year, and right now is the time to start making adjustments for 2021.
13 Action News spoke with Andrea Sager, a small business attorney and small business owner herself. She's sharing five free pieces of advice that could save your business some big bucks in the future.
If you're a small business owner, odds are that you're struggling right now. Sager says there are steps you can take right now to improve your economic situation, starting with your setup. Often times, she says you've got to answer the somewhat complex question: are you better off as the sole proprietor of your business or filing to form it into a limited liability company (LLC)?
"If you are sued as a sole proprietor, they can come after your personal assets: so your house, your car, anything you own personally. But, the moment you become an LLC, it stops there because it’s the business that they’re suing. It’s not you as an individual," said Sager.
Next, she recommends you form a financial foundation, which includes always using reliable contracts with clients and a proper payment system.
"Never think that, “Oh, there was a handshake deal. We both know what’s going on.“ Inevitably, there will always be issues, and the contract is there to protect both parties," said Sager.
"Everybody uses PayPal, but what you don’t know is, PayPal will not protect the business if you’re providing a service. Don’t use Cash App, Venmo. If you’re a small business owner, you need to use a reliable platform for a small business. Now, if you’re shipping products, PayPal works. But, if you are a service provider, I suggest something like Stripe.
They are a payment processor and they work with a lot of online businesses. So, if you have an online store or if you provide services online, I’m sure you’ve heard of Stripe. It can easily be integrated with your WordPress website. It’s one of the biggest payment processors out there for online businesses," said Sager.
Third, Sager strongly suggests you protect your intellectual property! Trademarks, copyrights, and patents provide legal protection for your brand, which is arguably your most valuable asset.
"Let’s say there’s a fire and you lose all your products. But, if you have a brand, well guess what, you’re not starting over from scratch because the value's already there. You just have to get these new products in to sell," said Sager.
But, simply putting those protections in place is not enough, which is why Sager says it's equally important to enforce them.
"You have to constantly monitor, look for people that are infringing, and then you have to ensure that you get them to stop using the name," said Sager.
Lastly, Sager says owners should review every aspect of their business at least once a year.
"I tell all my clients, “look, it’s all figure out-able, but if you don’t have the time, it’s not something you can just keep putting off, putting off. These things have to be taken care of," said Sager.