Obey the law. This business basic will prevent unnecessary fines, preserve your company’s reputation, and keep you and your colleagues out of jail. It intercepts what might otherwise have been some really bad days.
Although you might be surprised that I am including this in my series on business basics, the sad reality is that you don’t have to look far to find ample evidence that way too many businesses somehow overlook this one. These businesses come in all sizes from all sectors of the economy. For these companies, this business basic was simply ignored. I won’t even take the time to name names. Suffice it to say you don’t want to be among them.
Here are some guidelines on how you and your organization can ensure that you are following the law. Of course, exactly how these guidelines will apply and what that looks like will be different for every company. It’s up to you to do the research on them, seek legal counsel when needed, and apply these guidelines to your business situation:
- Keep good books. Follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Conduct regular financial audits.
- Never directly or remotely, ask employees or clients to do anything that would violate the law.
- Know what regulations apply to your industry (think ADA, OSHA, EEOC, IRS, SEC, and many others). Follow them.
- Maintain proper documentation. That means that the documentation will satisfy the business needs. It also means that the documentation will sustain you should it ever be subpoenaed for a litigation matter.
- Have a system in place for regular legal review of products, services, standard operating procedures, best practices, hiring and firing, and public relations.
Following the law might sometimes be costly and time consuming. Doing the right thing often is. However, you can rest assured that it is far better than the alternatives.