Business models often speak in linear terms. They talk of customer funnels and supply chains. Both suggest an organized flow. The reality of running a small store can feel more like being a small boat in the middle of an ocean. You can be pushed and pulled in all directions. You need to keep a constant lookout for trouble arriving from all quarters.
Who could take store owners to court?
Here are some of the people that could seek litigation against you:
- Employees: Make sure you understand and comply with local and federal employment laws.
- Franchisors: If you signed up to a franchise, you would have agreed to certain things in your contract. These contracts can feel stifling at times. However, if you break them, you should be prepared for problems.
- Competitors: When you started, you may have been able to slip under the radar. Now that you have built a name for yourself, you might find you face a lawsuit from someone else who has a business with the same name that objects to your success. Check intellectual property rights when naming your business, designing a logo or copying a good idea you saw elsewhere.
- Authorities: Small stores are subject to all kinds of regulations. They can govern everything from your right to trade to how big your sign can be … from what time you can open to how long you can keep a sandwich in your refrigerator.
- Customers: While you do not sign a contract with walk-in customers, they can take you to court for breaching your responsibilities to them.
Despite the risks, owning a store can be incredibly satisfying. It can also be very profitable. Seek legal help if there are any regulations you do not understand. Business litigation could threaten your profits and satisfaction.