5 Legal Problems to Avoid as a Small Business or Dental Practice Owner

It’s a fact of life, and a fact of business – mistakes happen all the time. But when business mistakes turn into legal problems, they can mean the difference between small business success and failure. Knowing what legal pitfalls to watch out for when running your dental practice can make a huge difference. Take note of five common legal problems that are best to avoid.

  1. Not formalizing your small business structure. If your practice is small, you might think it’s bothersome to complete all the documents of incorporation. However, structuring your entity formally in accordance with the law – regardless of size – can serve as important legal protection. For example, your personal assets could be in jeopardy in the event of a lawsuit, if you haven’t taken steps to separate them from your business, or otherwise taken steps to protect them.
  2. Violating business’ trademarks. If you have been suspected of infringing on an intellectual property right, such as a copyright or trademark, of another business, you open yourself up to a potential financially harmful lawsuit. In some cases, a intellectual property infringement can result in a “cease and desist” order, which means you must halt your business activity. Check with your attorney or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure you’re intellectual property is yours – and yours alone.
  3. Not formalizing contracts. “Handshake deals” are a common practice in business. While they may happen on the golf course, make sure you formalize the contract in writing. In today’s bountiful litigious society, formalized contracts protect you, your dental practice and the third party.
  4. Failing to get legal advice. In an attempt to save money on legal costs, many startups and small dental practices either avoid hiring an attorney or try to get by by crafting their own legal documents. However, every business is unique, and if you enter into agreements that don’t protect you or your businesses’ interests, these actions may end up costing you significantly more had you sought legal council in the first place.
  5. Ignorance of the law. Every small business needs to heed the various laws that envelope the operation of the business and industry. Security laws relating to your investment capital, employee/employer laws, government industry regulations and abiding by intellectual property right laws are some of the areas with which to ensure compliance.

Keep in mind that these five points are intended as legal information, which isn’t the same as legal advice. Every dental practice is unique, so seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for your individual circumstances.