COVID-19 has certainly caused a shift in the business world, with a loss of 2.4% expected for most world economies. This currently translates to a GDP loss of $76.69 trillion, a factor that has led to trickle-down effects such as increased legal help for small business owners. Now more than ever, small businesses need to comprehend the various relief guidelines surrounding programs, such as the CARES Act. Increased demand for legal services also comes when small business owners are faced with new remote working contracts and supply chain irregularities. For a recap of these impacts caused by COVID-19, here are some highlights in the review.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Business World?
To comprehend how COVID-19 has impacted the business world, we only start from the basics. Due to COVID-19 being a close contact transmission virus, curbing it requires the adherence of social distance. With this comes fewer visits to places such as restaurants, shopping centers, and workplaces, an aspect that has led to:
- Loss of Revenue: According to Statista Research, businesses in travel areas have incurred losses equivalent to $810.7 billion following restrictions to movements. With people staying at home, companies dealing with fuel storage have felt this impact, resulting in minimal use for fuel storage tank repair services. The medical sector has also not been left behind, with orthodontic clinic services being among the worst hit. Numerous states listed the use of orthodontic services as a need-only service for emergency cases, causing such practitioners to close their premises temporarily.
- Start-Up Depression: With a decline in cash, the business world is currently experiencing a start-up depression. Due to the ongoing pandemic, investors are no longer willing to open up ventures. The decline in consumer habits can be attributed to this, with uncertainties surrounding legal help for small business owners being another factor.
- Revised Finance and Liquidity Outlets: Surviving the current pandemic has meant adopting flexible cash flow operations. Here, businesses have had to take up a stance on whether to retain their workforce or let them go, with 3.2 million Americans reported to have filed for unemployment benefits as of March 2020. With a reduction of consumer purchasing power, businesses have been left without funds for everyday operations. This has seen small business owners relying on cost-friendly avenues of relief, such as the CARES Act. And if the current pandemic is anything to learn from, businesses are now armed with financial contingency plans should another emergency strike. However, this option requires legal help for small business owners, with experts proving useful in navigating the best policies for long-term funding.
- A Shift to the Digital World: To allow for the continuity of work operations, businesses have shifted from a physical workforce to remote working. While this has allowed businesses to navigate losses and connect with their customers and employees at the safety of home, certain difficulties have followed suit. This includes the additional costs linked to infrastructure purchases such as laptops for hundreds of previously lacking employees. Along with this have also been expenses regarding the implementation of safeguards for cybersecurity gaps concerning remote working data.
- Reassessing Supply Chain Demands: With borders closed, business reliance on the availability of locally sourced raw materials has turned out to be a critical point of operation. This has necessitated creating new supply chains, along with new terms for material delivery and better pricing strategies. With this, however, comes a gap in legal counsel. To negate this, businesses have had to increase their legal experts, an area that has often been forgotten due to the laxity of legal help for small business owners.
- Rebranding: A major change in the business environment will often cause a shift of business focus, with the COVID-19 pandemic era being no different. Where small businesses may have been reluctant to incorporate long-term operations models, the pandemic has unearthed better work strategies, an example being digital accessibility for both employees and customers. Resilient strategies are now in place, with different rebranding measures allowing for increased outreach while also considering the benefits of low-cost operations. Linked to the rebranding has also been more legal help, which will enable companies to stay up to date with any policy changes.
- Safety: Safety has been pushed to the forefront, with medical experts such as orthodontic clinic owners switching up their employee safety procedures. Businesses are now adopting personal protective equipment not just for emergencies but also for everyday use to limit the spread of pandemics that could cause a halt to their business operations.
Small Businesses Lawyers: An Overview
With or without a pandemic, a lawyer is an essential part of the business operation that you need. But with the average individual only utilizing legal help for small business owners a handful of times in their course of operation, it is no wonder most companies find themselves with hefty legal costs that would have otherwise been avoided.
So, why do you need a small business lawyer? Apart from needing a small business lawyer to represent you in court when faced with legal trouble, a lawyer can also help you review documents and contracts for everyday operations. This includes employee compensation claims and employment contracts that could end up saving you costly lawsuits from erroneous mistakes.
In addition to this, a small business lawyer will help you in identifying the right business structure based on your current and future goals. This will, in turn, allow you to take advantage of aspects such as legitimate sources of funding. If you also find yourself at a deadlock on compliance matters, getting legal help for small business owners will provide you with a lawyer who understands your company’s operation’s legal framework.
To identify what kind of business lawyer you need, here are some of the specialties to be on the lookout for.
- Contract Lawyer. How many times have you found yourself rushing through to sign documents because you could not comprehend the legal jargon? A small business lawyer will review your contracts, uncovering any obligations that may hold down your business. With this, they will help you determine the right contractor to allow you to safeguard your business interests.
- General Business Lawyer. This kind of lawyer handles general legal matters and is well suited to businesses with various operations under their belt.
- Intellectual Property Lawyer. This is an intellectual property lawyer who deals with trademarks, copyrights, and patents. If, for instance, you own an Amish furniture store with state of the art designs, an intellectual property lawyer will help you secure the proper permits pertaining to the naming and production of these items.
- Employment and Labor Lawyer. Suppose you need legal help for small business owners regarding employee safety standards for your business, employee manuals, and any harassment or termination cases. In that case, an employment and labor lawyer is what you need.
- Tax Lawyer. Getting your taxation details in order means understanding tax laws, a factor that is prone to change due to aspects such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Any erroneous or intentional mistakes in taxation are ground enough to seek legal help. But to avoid this, you can always get guidance beforehand to avoid any run-ins with the tax authority.
- Mergers and Acquisition Lawyers. Expanding your business comes with the benefit of reaching more customers or staying afloat when emergencies such as pandemics strike. As a small business owner operating family dentistry, you may choose to branch out to other locales with an already established dentistry scene, resulting in a merger. Such a decision comes with the requirement to attend negotiations with your future business partners. Along with this comes the valuation of assets, back and forth offers, not forgetting revised employee rights. Rather than get lost in such technicalities, a mergers and acquisition lawyer helps you navigate these processes without you ever having to break a sweat.
What Legal Issues Have Arisen During COVID-19?
The onset of COVID-19 has come with legal problems that would not usually have been an issue for everyday business operations. Some of these include:
- Employment Technicalities: With remote working being a necessary measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19, what happens to businesses still adopting in-office operations? This has been the case with essential workers, with convenient health care being the top pick. Others include towing services, with towing safety lacking in most cases. Therefore, it raises the question as to whether businesses are doing enough to protect their workers from exposure to the ongoing pandemic.
- Next comes containment policies at the workplace when an employee tests positive for the virus. What are the legal grounds for containment? Have you also considered the confidentiality clause on whether to disclose the identity of the employee with COVID-19? What about sick pay payout cover? Do contracts cover COVID-19 patients? Last comes the restrictions on travel-based discrimination when your workers arrive from areas with high COVID-19 cases. With these questions, you will likely need legal help for small business owners.
- Supply Chain Concerns: Due to travel restrictions on non-essential commodities, businesses have been faced with delayed supplies. Under normal cases, the delayed consignment may be classified as a breach of contract. But with the ongoing travel technicalities, how should businesses go about the termination of contracts, delayed shipments, and frustrations without inciting a breach of contract?
- Data Confidentiality: By law, businesses are required to protect their worker’s and customer’s information. Remote working has opened up numerous paths for data breaches, with unstable connections and personal gadgets lacking the necessary compliance measures. If faced with such issues, should you seek legal help for small business owners due to remote working concerns?
State Government Implementations
With the federal government spearheading initiatives such as the CARES Act, state governments have also had to step in with implementations to cushion small businesses at the local level.
For instance, Utah has come to the scene with its Small Business Quarantined Employee Grant extended to help struggling local companies. Included in the grant is financing for employees in quarantine to help them pay for everyday bills. The money will also be used to keep small businesses in operation. The sole focus is companies that provide payment to employees in isolation or quarantine for up to 40 hours a week. This period is, however, restricted to two calendar weeks.
The Utah based Small Business Quarantined Employee Grant also comes with eligibility requirements, with the most important being that your business should have 50 employees or fewer. In addition to this, one or more employees must have received a notice to stay in quarantine or isolation due to exposure to the virus or confirmation of a positive COVID-19 test. Due to this, money advanced from the grant can, therefore, only be paid during isolation.
With the state government implementations detailing specific state requirements, legal help for small business owners will be necessary, which the state bar can offer help with. Some of the areas covered include landlord-tenant law when faced with an eviction notice, insurance when dealing with dent removal cost, and financial or bankruptcy claims.
Free Legal Advice Provided to Businesses Owners in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, entities such as the Marquette volunteer legal clinic and the state bar of Wisconsin business law section have offered legal help for small business owners affected by COVID-19. Online consultations will include labor and employment terms, finance and lending, and regulatory compliance with privacy aspects.
Commercial leases and contracts will also be covered, as will insurance claims and coverage. If, for instance, you operate a manufacturing business, you might need to train your newly recruited employees on how to use a burnishing tool to keep up with online demand. In the event of any bodily injury resulting from this, your lawyer can help you navigate any insurance claims detailing employee injury.
However, some exclusions will limit your legal advice sessions, with patent, intellectual property, and trademarks issues being among them. Others include entity selection and formation, litigation, and commercial real estate transactions.
Free Legal Advice Provided to Businesses Owners in Colorado
With 99.5% of Colorado’s companies being small business owned, legal services have also become a crucial part of operations. With this, the state has joined the few select regions offering free legal advice to business owners. Guidance will be provided on landlord versus tenant technicalities, financial aid compliance, and insurance specific matters. If you also find yourself with a trailer rental emergency, you can get help on extending contract terms. To ensure you again navigate employment safety guidelines with ease while offering air conditioning repair contractor services, make it a point to get legal help for small business owners before commencing your work. Getting free legal advice will go a long way in helping you navigate the new normal in your business without putting your employees and customers at risk.
As the world presses on in a COVID-19 era, your business needs to take the top spot. Legal help for small business owners is available to you. Contact organizations and government entities in your community for help.