Many freelancers out there don’t see themselves as proper businesses. But from the second you start charging others for your services, you have to see yourself as one, and failing to do so can be a fatal mistake.
It’s vital to have the right protections in place that will ensure that, in the event of a serious issue, you have the cover you need for your business to survive. A small accident here or an illness there and your potential to earn money could disappear overnight and be replaced by huge legal fees and a massive compensation bill to another party.
With this in mind, here are some of the protections you might need for your freelance business.
Commercial or general liability insurance
Commercial or general liability insurance will cover you in the event you are responsible for accidents to contractors, clients, customers, suppliers, or anyone else that comes into contact with your business. This type of insurance also covers you against equipment damage. It doesn’t matter whether you are a freelance IT consultant, a real estate agent or a web developer – all freelancers should have this liability protection if they want to avoid nasty scenarios destroying your business – and personal finances.
Errors and omissions
In some cases, you might need to consider errors and omissions liability insurance – or E&O insurance. It covers you for any oversights or negligence that you do that might cause harm to your clients. However, if you are working as a freelance doctor, nurse, or another medical profession, you should seek out specialist medical malpractice insurance.
While we are on the subject of healthcare, freelancers should also get health, disability, and life insurance. As a freelancer, you don’t have the benefits of things like sick pay, and if you can’t work, you won’t earn. And if something serious happens – a chronic illness or disability, for example – it could cause severe financial damage. If the accident or illness is someone else’s fault, you might be OK. As hastingsfirm.com point out, it might be that you can claim for medical negligence and personal injury. But, ultimately, these cases can last a long time, and you will still need to cover yourself – disability and health insurance should give you enough to survive until you get your compensation.
Do you drive to work for your business? Perhaps you work as a freelance driver for Uber or Metromile, or one of the other new breed of cab companies. According to Forbes.com, while you might have auto insurance, the chances are that you won’t have the correct level of cover – or liability – if you hit someone. Clearly, this could result in incredibly serious financial implications for you, as any compensation claim made against you will need to be covered by your own money. Your ride-sharing company will be highly unlikely to take any responsibility, and it’s something you will need to face alone.
There are, of course, many different types of insurance out there that can cover your freelance business for any eventuality. Make sure that you investigate all your options and never leave anything to chance.
Every business needs a building to operate out of. Online companies still have an office somewhere, and if they are retail sites, they will have a depot or a warehouse too. Besides, at the very least, the servers need to be stored. One of the responsibilities of every business is to ensure that their facilities are maintained properly. That might mean fixing things when they break, or if you think prophylactically, you can make sure that you attend to something before it reaches the point where it needs repairing. Maintenance is important because a safe building is imperative to the safety of a company’s employees. Also, if there is a serious problem, it could get in the way of running your business itself. Every day that you aren’t able to trade is another day that you will not be making a living.
Building maintenance can also be a big expense. If any parts are necessary, then they will cost money and hiring someone to fix the problem itself will make it more expensive again. It is obviously better to keep costs down in order to maximize profits. Here are five things you can do to save money:
- A simple thing that you can do is to not buy a property but rent one instead. This would mean that the owner, just as in home rentals, would be responsible for any repairs. Many built to purpose office buildings are now all inclusive and offer features that you may find useful such as security services.
- Outside contractors are aware that when you call them, they are a commodity that you need. They are running a business too, and they will take advantage of this dynamic to try to make a profit for themselves. If your company is large enough, you might want to consider retaining your own in-house maintenance department. It does not need to be many people, but if their job is solely to concern themselves with the integrity of your properties, you will save money in the long run.
- Another potential problem with outside contractors is that they may insist on charging you for acquiring whatever parts that may be needed to fix the problem. If you source the materials or components yourself from a company like digsemi, this can save you money as well.
- Sometimes expenses are unavoidable and just have to be met. However, that does not mean that you have to pay whatever the first person quotes for the job. Shop around and find the most cost effective option. If you speak to several different people or companies, then put your business skills to use and negotiate a better price. You could assure them that you would provide them with more business in the future if they offer you a reduced rate.
- If you are fortunate enough to know friends or family who work in the industry, ask them to help you. They will likely offer you a reduced rate from the beginning and you could even pay them in trade if that were an arrangement which interested them.
As an employee, you have certain rights that have to be respected by the people that employ you. That’s true across the country, and you should be aware of what these rights are if you want to stay protected and make sure that you don’t get exploited by your bosses. If you don’t know your rights, you will never be able to properly stand up for yourself.
Everyone who is employed by a business is entitled to a minimum wage. This can vary depending on various things, such as the type of contract, your age and where you’re located. But the fact remains that everyone is entitled to a certain level of payment. You should find out what your minimum wage is, and make sure that you are being paid it. You can’t let yourself get ripped off by an employer who just wants to save a bit of money.
Safety in the Workplace
When a company employs you, it’s up to them to offer you a working environment that is safe to work in. They can’t make you do a task that’s unsafe without providing you with the right gear and equipment to protect you. That’s against the law. And if you do get heard as a result of something like this, head to http://www.hasnerlaw.com/locations/savannah/. That way, you can get compensation for what happened to you, and that will help keep you afloat financially.
Social security payments should be paid by both the employer and the employee. Each should pay 6.2% of your income towards this. That money will then help you to be more financially secure later in life when you reach retirement age. If your employer is not paying into this pot, then they are breaking the law, and you should look further into it. You have a right to these social security payments, and you shouldn’t accept any excuses from your employer if they’re not being paid.
Protection Against Discrimination
Discrimination is against the law, and if you feel like you have been subjected to it in the workplace, you are within your rights to take legal action. Talk to a lawyer and see what they tell you. There is no reason to roll over and accept this kind of thing anymore. It could be discrimination related to religion, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation or many other things. No form of discrimination is legal, and you are protected from it.
Whistleblowers are people who report concerns about a business to the press. They could be uncovering misdeeds or criminality. If the release of this information is helpful and positive, you will not be sacked because you will be protected by employment laws. Whistleblowers are responsible for all kinds of positive work, and they’re very important in society, so it’s a good thing that they can be protected in this way. It means you can speak out without fear of punishment. You can find out more about whistleblowing at https://www.financierworldwide.com/whistleblowing-in-the-us.
The political climate is changing and people are beginning to notice that the police necessarily aren’t on their side all of the time. That’s not to say that they’re not necessarily good people. However, when they believe a crime has taken place, many have trouble not turning it into an ‘us vs. them’ thing. That’s why there are rights to protect yourself from the police and knowing them can be a lot of help.
If you’re not committing any crimes and grabbing the attention of the police, it’s likely that you’re only going to get in an encounter with them if there is probable cause for them to suspect that you have committed a crime. Proving that probable cause is essential. If they can’t, then even if you’re later in trouble for having contraband, then a possession lawyer could help you avoid a charge entirely. Probable cause includes things like smelling contraband, speeding, traffic violations and other indications that you are committing a crime.
Your right to consent (or not)
In every case, unless you are provided with a warrant, you should not consent to a search. Consenting to a search throws probable cause out the window. Unless they have a warrant, you don’t have to consent to a search. Even if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t consent. Saying ‘no’ can prevent a search altogether in a lot of cases. Searches can also damage your property and waste a lot of your time. The most important thing to consider, however, is that you never know what they will find if you consent to a search. Even if you think you’re fine, you can’t be 100% sure of it.
Your right to silence
You have a right to refuse to answer any question a police officer asks you in certain situations. If they have you pulled over the road and they ask for your license and registration, it’s a good idea to cooperate simply to keep things going smoothly. If you’re being detained or under arrest, make sure that the officer confirms it. When they do, you can inform them that you’re invoking your rights and that you want to talk to a lawyer. It’s not enough to simply be silent.
Your Miranda rights
This is one that people get confused. You can get out of a charge if you can prove a lack of probable cause. But you can’t do that, as some might imagine, if you weren’t read your Miranda rights when being questioned. You only get read your Miranda rights when you’re under arrest and being questioned for a crime. Both those prerequisites need to be true in order to have your rights read to you. Don’t wait for them to read those rights, either. Invoke and exercise your right to silence if you’re being detained or arrested first and foremost.
Understanding your rights, where they apply, when they don’t, and when to get help, is essential. If police are searching, inquiring, or arresting you, they’re not on your side and you need to protect yourself.
There are a lot of things that make up the day to day functions of a business. A lot of the time these things tend to work pretty automatically. Unless there are some issues preventing it, you can usually rely on your staff to show up on time and stay until the end of the contracted hours. Outside of a serious disaster, you can genuinely assume that the equipment in your business is going to work correctly. These kinds of things can be taken for granted not only because of they generally work without issue but also because, in the event that something does go wrong, it’s not usually going to be such a serious problem. An employee being late for work might be an inconvenience, but it’s not going to bring your business grinding to a halt. Faulty equipment can get in the way of productivity, but it’s not going to cause many long term issues unless the fault is particularly extensive. However, there is one thing that makes up a significant part of your business on a day to day basis that you should never, ever neglect to think about: health and safety. There is no excuse for ignoring workplace safety. Luckily, there are some simple ways to make sure that safety is always a high priority in your business. Here are just a few of them.
Picture From Wikimedia
There should always be clear standards of safety set out in your business that should always be adhered to. Different industries, of course, have different standards to meet based on the levels of risk involved. Engineering and construction sites, for example, have much more stringent standards to meet that are set out by the ASSE. However, no matter what kind of industry you’re working within, there should be specific standards set so that your employees are always fully aware of how they should behave and what they should expect of you and the workplace.
A workplace is only as safe as the people within it. You should make an effort to provide as much safety training to your staff as possible so that you can make sure that there’s no chance of a lack of information leading to an accident or injury. You can’t prevent one-hundred percent of accidents, but by arming your staff with the maximum amount of information possible, you can greatly reduce that number. Don’t assume that a single training session is enough either. Make sure that safety refresher courses are often at least annually so that your staff is always up to date on both standards and best working practices.
Picture From Pixabay
Don’t assume that, just because your workplace meets the correct standards and your staff has been adequately trained, that it means that your business is automatically safe. You should still be as vigilant as possible, and encourage your staff to do the same, to make sure that no accidents occur. This includes everything from making sure that workspaces are tidy and there are no trailing wires, to monitoring and maintaining equipment at regular intervals. This vigilance might involve a little extra effort, but that is still preferable to the kinds of problems that an accident can cause.