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5 essential steps to preparing your business for 2017

December 12, 2016

Christmas is just around the corner – many of us take time off during this festive season to spend time with family and friends, and take time to give thanks and reflect on the past year. As we set personal goals and resolutions, it also pays to take time as an business owner to take a step back and review how your business has done in the past year, as well as determine how you want to take your business to new heights in the year ahead.

Here are some quick pointers to help you cover all your bases as you prepare your business for 2017:

1) Revisit your business plan

Some say that you should always be updating your business plan – every month, every week, and every day. This is especially true if your business is in any of the following situations:

  • A new financial period is about to begin. 
  • You need financing.
  • Significant markets change. 
  • New or stronger competitors are looking to your customers for their growth.
  • Your firm develops a new product, technology, service or skill. 
  • You have had a change in management. 
  • Your company has crossed a threshold (e.g. moving out of your home office, reaching $1 million in sales or employing 100 people).
  • Your old plan doesn’t seem to reflect reality anymore. 

When you’re too caught up in the daily grunt, you don’t often have the time to take stock of how your business is doing and revisit the fundamentals. There is no better time than now to do so.    Tweet this

As an business owner, you should already have a business plan that contains the following elements:

  • A summary of your business.
  • A description of your company.
  • A market analysis of your competitors.
  • The structure of your organisation.
  • A description of the products/services you sell.
  • How you’re marketing your business.
  • Financial projections.

Source: Entrepreneur

Make sure you revisit these key elements as you plan for 2017.

 

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2) Stay updated with business trends

As you review your business plan, it is essential to keep in mind industry trends that will affect your business prospects. Keeping up-to-date with relevant news, technologies and business developments is essential to ensure you keep learning as an opportunity. If you have been in your industry for a long time, it is good to step away from familiarity and observe how others are getting things done.

For those in technology, here are 4 trends that are set to grow in 2017:

  1. AI will improve improve consumer experience. Brands have only begun to scratch the surface for applying AI and machine learning to the customer experience. Personalised customer interaction, increased social presence and immediate answers to consumer queries are just a tiny portion of the multitude of ways businesses are using AI to enhance consumer experiences.
  2. More help for cross-browser compatibility. Browsers have begun to step up their game in following W3C specification and (possibly) with better JavaScript libraries, cross-browser compatibility issues may become a thing of the past.
  3. More startups enter the VR arena. Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have trail-blazed and poured billions into this perceptual computer wave – but VR is not just the domain for these mega companies. Be it in psychological therapy, social networking or gaming, the applications of VR are seemingly infinite.
  4. Mobile is still the future. Mobile web brings in more traffic compared to the app, so make sure that your websites are mobile-optimised!Related reading: 7 Online Marketing Tips for Your Small Business

Source: Tech in Asia

3) Plan your sales & marketing strategy

Have you updated your 2017 sales and marketing strategy to align them with your business goals? Read about upcoming marketing trends to help you be more ready vis-à-vis your competitors. For instance, while lesser known marketing trends such as beacon technology is still in its infancy, it shows strong potential to bridge the online and physical shopping experiences and generate more sales.

Related reading: Essential Legal Considerations for Online Marketplaces

When you review your marketing channels and plan your schedule of content, remember to do the following:

  1. Review your website. Ensure that all the information, graphics and links are up to date. Test to ensure that all the links and sequences are working.
  2. Plan ahead for sales opportunities (e.g. Black Friday, Cyber Monday). Planned sales are often more effective than flash sales, since your customers will have an opportunity to get their funds together.
  3. Update all your social media platforms. Remove anything that no longer fits with your brand.
  4. Plan out your editorial calendar if you have a blog. Decide what topics you will cover in the coming months and reach out to guest contributors early.
  5. Update your hashtags. Go through them and see which ones are still effective and research to find some new ones to bring new eyes in. Take advantage of holiday tags. 

Source: Rolling Out

To ensure that you remain up-to-date with industry trends throughout the year, make sure you subscribe to trade journals, engage in forums and discussion boards, scour websites, blogs and news sites, network and talk to your customers.

4) Review your business contracts

You may think that once both parties have signed your legal contracts, they are a done deal and you don’t have to bother with them again. However, legal contracts need to stay living, breathing documents to ensure that they are continually meeting your business needs and the most updated laws and regulations. It is crucial that you review your contracts on a regular basis, especially the following documents:

  • Confidentiality Agreements. These tend to be written generically, and they usually state that you and the other party are exchanging something like “business ideas, concepts, and information” and that anything disclosed that is not public information needs to be keeps confidential until it ends up in the public domain through no fault of the party receiving the confidential information. Make sure you review these documents once a year or so to check whether any changes need to be made.
  • Employment Contracts. Given that employment regulations are regularly updated, you should review Employment Contracts on a yearly basis to incorporate changes to employment law in your jurisdiction and ensure you stay compliant.Related reading: Amendments To the Employment Act: What It Means For Your Business
  • Website Agreements, such as the Website Privacy Policy and Website Terms of Use. You should ensure that what is put up your website reflects your latest privacy practices. If you start storing data that you didn’t previously or you start receiving geo-location info from users, you need to update this accordingly.

Dragon Law’s Managed Accounts provide you a Dragon Law-enabled plan along with
personalised service and advice from a Certified Advisor.

Learn more about Dragon Law Managed Accounts

5) Streamline business processes

As a business, you continuously strive to serve your customers with more speed and efficiency, all while keeping your costs low and prices afforable. Technology has provided us with additional options to optimise and streamline business processes in order to reduce time and resources spent on administration. Today, we term this digitisation and automation.

Related reading: Our CEO’s favourite productivity tools

You can employ the following methodological approach when reviewing your business processes: 

  1. Conduct an industry scan. Research the best practices in the industry for that particular business process.
  2. Determine current-state business processes and collect feedback on ‘as-is’ process flows. Conduct workshops or focus group discussions to review the feedback and discuss improvements to the business processes.
  3. Finally, draft your ‘to-be’ process flows and hold a business process ‘to-be’ workshop before finalising process recommendations.

There are various technology tools that are available to help you do more with less in your business. Legal productivity tool Dragon Law is one of them.

As a Dragon Law subscriber, you get unlimited access to our document library where you can select documents to customise to your specific needs using our easy-to-navigate Q&A interface. Upload, sign, and store your legal documents in the cloud helps you go paperless and reduce the unnecessary administrative burden.

Start a non-obligatory free trial of Dragon Law to experience
increased legal productivity in the cloud.

What tips do you have for fellow business owners as they review their business strategies? Let us know in the comments below!

Choosing The Best Lawyer For Your Business

December 6, 2016


All businesses have legal needs that should be addressed by a qualified lawyer. As a business owner you may need an attorney for the purpose of forming a partnership. A growing business requires a lawyer who can review contracts and leases. You may be involved in a legal dispute that arises from breach of contract.

These are just a few of the scenarios that make it necessary for business owners to find competent lawyers. You can start the process of finding a lawyer through business lawyer referrals and consultations that will help you choose the best lawyer for your legal needs.

Find a trusted advisor for your business.
View Dragon Law’s Advisor Directory

Begin your Search

It is always a good idea to start your search for a lawyer as soon as you can. If you put off your search until you are involved in a lawsuit or when a legal matter has progressively worsened, the situation will become more complicated and costly.

Referrals from Different Sources

  • One of the best sources of referrals is other entrepreneurs. While you may not want to hire an attorney who works with your competitors in the industry, you definitely need a lawyer who is well versed with your type of business. Get in touch with business owners and ask them for recommendations.
  • Local bar associations are organizations that consist of lawyers. Each state has them and they usually provide referrals to their members. People can find bar associations in their area by visiting their national website.
  • Online commercial referral services can also be used to ease the search for a lawyer according to their location and the area of law that they specialize in.
  • If you have previously worked with a lawyer for other legal matters, you can get in touch with them and ask about business lawyers that they can recommend. Lawyers can recommend other professionals who will be able to deal with your business issues. Learn about trademark infringement here.

Lawyers’ Websites

After gathering referrals, go through different lawyers’ websites. Many lawyers have websites that prospective clients can use to gather information about them. Some lawyers are sole proprietors and others are part of firms.

Law firms vary in size, specialists, scope of work and charges. Their websites should provide useful information that will enable you to gain insight into the work they do. You should be able to gather information about the lawyer’s credentials, the cases they work on, testimonials from clients and whether or not the lawyers specialise in particular legal fields.

Consultations

  • People can set aside time to consult a few lawyers and find out more about their expertise. Pick some candidates that you can talk to and narrow down your choices to a manageable number of consultations. The lawyer may charge a consultation fee.
  • Preparing questions beforehand will ensure that you get all the information that you need. Your questions should ideally be based on key aspects of your business and legal needs.
  • A consultation will enable you to determine whether the lawyer has the credentials and experience to help you with your business matters. Ask about their experience in your field, how long they have been practicing and how they communicate with their clients.

 

What other details do you look out for when searching for a lawyer?

Tell us, we’d like to know!

This a guest contribution submitted by David Wicks. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view! Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.
David Wicks has been a freelance writer for more than 5 years. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. He describes his work as an ongoing opportunity to learn new things and share them with his readers.

How To: Leverage Legal Tech To Strengthen Your Legal Practice

Technology is changing the way that we live and work, and the legal industry is no exception. While the development of legal technology, or legal tech, is racing ahead in jurisdictions such as the United States, countries in Asia are increasingly catching up with the trend. According to Law Technology Today, there are five trends that are driving the growth of legal technology today.

  1. Mobile Applications. With the prevalence of apps for social networking, banking, traveling and other personal activities, it is only a matter of time before professionals will be able to practice law on the go as long as they have a data connection. This will improve client engagement and satisfaction.
  2. Movement To The Cloud. Cloud technology allows firms to save money, time and resources as they no longer have to build their IT infrastructure to a size to handle peak need.
  3. Security. Given the increasing amount of data stored in the cloud, security is a pressing concern for companies. It is crucial for firms to encrypt their data and implement proper processes for the storage of information.
  4. Analytics. Similarly, the increasing amount of data raises demand for software that is able to review a significant number of data points to identify trends that a human lawyer would not be able to.
  5. Artificial Intelligence. AI is set to move current analytic capabilities from descriptive to predictive, for instance by mapping the predispositions of judges to predict rulings.

Source: Legal Technology Today

In his address to the newly admitted advocates and solicitors at the 2016 Mass Call in Singapore, Chief Justice CJ Menon stated that new technologies are ‘poised to reconfigure the way in which legal services are accessed and delivered’. Examples of technology that he cited include Verifi, a computer programme developed by Linklaters that has the capability to sift through UK and European regulatory registers to check client names for banks, and the Term Frame system developed by Pinsent Masons which is able to read and analyse clauses in loan agreements and point lawyers to the correct precedents at each stage of the transaction process.  

In Hong Kong, the legal tech field has been steadily growing, with the fourth annual LegalTech Asia Hong Kong event targeting legal industry professionals with an interest in technology taking place earlier this year and the Law & Technology Centre at the University of Hong Kong established to advance research on the intersection between information technology and law.

Related Reading: The Latest Developments in Legal Technology

So…what exactly is legal tech?

According to a BCG report titled ‘How Legal Technology Will Change the Business of Law (Jan 2016), the legal tech landscape is organised into three broad categories of solutions: 1) Enablers, 2) Support-process solutions, and 3) Substantive law solutions.

Enabler technologies such as cloud storage tools and cybersecurity solutions focus on facilitating the digitisation of processes. Support-process solutions allow processes ranging from customer relationship management to accounting to be managed more efficiently. The third category of substantive law solutions involves the automation of simple or repetitive legal tasks, such as contract drafting and contract analysis, as well as document screening.

Why leverage legal tech?

With the growing narrative of innovation, transformation and disruption, it is no surprise that professionals in many industries view technology as a threat that potentially undermines their livelihoods and will eventually do away with the roles of junior professionals.

However, this does not have to be the case. Law firms can and should leverage legal tech because of its potential to help you prove your firm’s efficiency and productivity, provide better client service and bring you savings.

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1) Improve efficiency, productivity & quality of work

As pointed out in an article published by Thomson Reuters, improving law firm productivity is all about increasing billable work product output without increasing headcount or hours. Given that clients demand from their external lawyers what they demand of all their suppliers – more and better service at a lower cost – the way to go for law firms is to improve efficiency and productivity. According to BCG, partners of big law firms reveal that 30% to50% of tasks involved in supposedly bespoke cases may be automated through tech-based tools.

While artificial intelligence (AI) is often perceived as a threat given the fact that it might eventually replace humans, AI can be your ally. The concept that is central to AI is Deep Learning, where every time a programme or software predicts human behaviour based on previous actions and/or data, that programme or software “learns” how to make better predictions. In fact, there are already several ways in which AI is helping lawyers.

Related Reading: Is Cyber Security About To Get An AI Takeover?

  • Information Retrieval. While tasks such as sorting through thousands of emails to find incriminating evidence used to be time-consuming, AI-based platforms such as RAVN Systems helps legal professionals automatically organise, discover and summarise information retrieved from legal documents at a much quicker speed than human lawyers could ever achieve.
  • Document Management. AI can be used to analyse documentation for critical information, find errors, or run statistical checks to help firms complete cases with more efficiency.
  • Employee Management. AI-based employee management platforms can reduce the need to have an internal team for compliance issues altogether. An example is ComplianceHR which has created a platform of applications that contain hybridised reasoning methods based off if/then mappings, decision trees, situation sets, multi-value variables, instances and weighted scorings, and more.
  • Document Review. While the document review stage typically involves a team of lawyers going through all the information was was discovered, analysing these results, and performing new searches based on these analyses, this process can be made more efficient by AI-based platforms that are able to run multiple searches and QC checks simultaneously.
  • Case Management. What AI-based case management platforms do is allow lawyers and paralegals to work through the necessary steps of bringing a case to settlement by way of automatic document creation tools and customizable user prompts. This is ideal for legal professionals who are newer to their area of law, and need a subtle guiding hand that will help them reduce the possible margin of error.
  • Search Engine Analytics. Lawyers who know how to properly use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques tend to rank better and receive more new clients

Source: The Huffington Post

Beyond improving the volume of output that your firm produces, tapping technology also improves the quality of your work. Smart software can help you minimise human errors that inevitably arise given the tedium of going through large volumes of documents. Stronger search engine analytics can help you arrive at the results you want more precisely and reliably. With improved efficiency, productivity and quality of work, you are constantly bettering yourself as a law firm.

2) Strengthen your value proposition to your clients

Indeed, consumers are the ones leading the adoption of legal tech as they utilise online services for processes such as preparing wills, standard contracts and small claims. In-house counsel who are engaging law firms are also demanding more.

In order for a law firm to better serve clients as business people, the two key areas to focus on are project management and performance measurement. Offering legal project management that leverages legal technologies can be one way to stand out and differentiate your firm from the rest. Demonstrate to your client that you have a project team that can undertake all the work along the organisational chart, a framework of the work process, proof of delivery on similar projects and projected turnaround – with tech tools that will facilitate parts of the process. After adding value to your client through increased efficiency brought on by technology, you will have to quantify your edge through key performance indicators (KPIs).

Tapping on legal technology can help you offer more with less, and ultimately strengthen your value proposition as a firm.

5 Tips For Improving Customer Loyalty

3) Improve your operating model to attain cost savings

Lawyering is a profession. At the same time, law firms are businesses that need to have a solid revenue model in order to be sustainable. Gone are the days when law firms handled all legal tasks in-house. Legal process outsourcing (LPO) for low-skilled legal work and automation of high-volume standardised tasks has allowed law firms to shave off unnecessary costs. By investing in legal technology, you can achieve economies of scale – once you acquire the technology, the marginal cost of employing the existing tech solution for each new case is marginal.

Related Reading: Bid4Ad: 78% Cost Savings as We Raised our First Million with Dragon Law

How do I leverage legal tech?

Now that we’ve laid out the benefits that legal technology can bring to your firm, the more pressing question is this: How do you go about leveraging legal tech? Business leaders who declare that technology is the future often say that lawyers should learn how to code. Picking up programming is undeniably useful for one’s personal development, yet at the same time a significant investment of time and resources for the legal professional who is already swamped with client emails and contracts to pore over.

According to Oliver Goodenough, Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Legal Innovation at Vermont Law School, we are currently at Legal Tech 2.0, whereby technology goes beyond merely supporting the lawyer, to performing tasks that were previously done by lawyers. For instance, there is E-discovery software that allows the entire process – from collection of evidence to discovery and trial presentation – to be ingested and produced in its original format, and provides full-featured document review platforms that have the ability to annotate and tag documents. Indeed, lawyers have been employing technology in one form or another for years. Legal technology is not new. There are existing technologies that law firms can adopt to improve their legal practice, and lawyers have the choice to compete or collaborate.

A key first step is implementing legal tech solutions within your practice to improve efficiency and cut costs. For instance, there are options to improve the efficiency of your legal research. Legal tech start-ups such as INTELLLEX in Singapore provide smarter search engines that aim to relieve the tedium of legal research and knowledge management. Other ways you can incorporate more efficient tech solutions into your daily processes include the following:

  • Go paperless. Eliminating paper can free up time spent on non-productive tasks, such as searching for documents in file cabinets. Storing documents in the cloud allows everyone in the firm to access files easily and also reduces printing costs.
  • Implement practice management software. Practice management software helps you efficiently keep track of your cases, organise documents, sync calendars and assign tasks.
  • Reduce in-house technology & use a cloud management system. Rather than maintaining multiple servers which can be costly business, put your documents in a cloud management system. While law firms are hesitant to adopt cloud technologies due to security concerns, experts believe that cloud software can be more secure, as documents are continually backed up and encrypted, and only individuals with authorisation can access the data.

Adapted from Naked Technologist

Learn more about The Cloud:

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Beyond adopting legal tech tools to improve efficiency and cut costs within your law firm, there are an increasing number of tech companies – both legal tech and otherwise – that offer opportunities for collaboration with law firms. Legal tech is a growing field and investors are increasingly backing new legal tech ventures.

Yet, even though legal information and legal services may be available online, lawyers still play a key role in providing legal advice that is tailored to the needs of the client. Strategic alliances between tech companies and law firms can provide clients with a more comprehensive solution than relying solely on one or the other.

Where does Dragon Law come in?

We believe in providing the best for our clients. This is why we recently launched the Dragon Law Partner Programme, where law firms can come on board and harness our platform to better serve clients all around.

What’s in for businesses?

Businesses pay a monthly subscription fee (for a minimum of 12 months) for access to our platform, in which they can create, e-sign and store legal documents. Naturally, these clients have business questions that range from simple queries and document reviews to more complex assistance like licence applications to comply with regulatory requirements.

View our Managed Account Plans

What’s in for partners?

As a partner who is certified to use the Dragon Law software, you can log in to your client’s account to amend their documents directly. We will also invite you to take on new clients. Growing the number of clients you have on Dragon Law grows your status level and benefits. This means greater cost savings that you can use to grow your business or pass on to your clients. You will also secure a listing on our website that provides information about your Dragon Law enabled plans to potential clients. Being known as a law firm that leverages technology for greater efficiency strengthens your brand.

Clients aside, on a lawyer-to-lawyer level (our team comprises former lawyers who understand the profession well!), the Dragon Law team is also excited about how harnessing technology can make lawyering interesting again. Lawyers spend a lot of time on repetitive, non-chargeable tasks and business development, and not enough on fee-earning. In fact, only two-thirds of a lawyer’s time is spent generating fee income. By encouraging your clients to use technology like the Dragon Law platform to solve their routine legal problems, you can free up your time to do higher-value, chargeable work. On top of making your practice more profitable, it makes lawyering more interesting!

Learn More about the Dragon Law Partner Programme

Questions? Get in touch with Ryanne, our Global Head of Partnerships, at ryanne.lai@dragonlaw.io

The Comprehensive Guide to Building a Legally-Healthy Business (SME Edition)

December 5, 2016

We know that running a small business is a challenging task for any entrepreneur. Small businesses are perpetually stretched, with limited time, manpower and resources. We recently published a post on the top pain points that small businesses face and how to deal with them.

In this Comprehensive Guide to Building a Legally-Healthy Business (SME Edition), we give you the lowdown on the key legal documents and resources that your small business should have in place to deal with these 8 pain points!

1. MANAGING CASH FLOW

Customers who make late payments can hinder efficient cash flow and pose a headache, especially for small businesses with low cash reserves. The good news is that small business owners can alleviate the problem by putting in place legal documents that optimise their cash flow. Top tips include negotiating payment dates to align inflows with outflows, reducing your payment term to encourage customers to make payment earlier, and putting in place recurring payment methods to encourage your customers to pay on time.

Document Used for
Purchase Order This is a standard document or template that your customers or clients can use to order goods or services from your business. When you accept the Purchase Order, a binding contract is formed.
Invoice An Invoice is a document you can send to a customer requiring payment for goods or services that you have provided or will provide. It acts as a bill and a proof of a transaction.
Late Payment Letters These are a useful and affordable way of chasing up overdue invoices by prompting a customer to pay the overdue amount.  Depending on the original agreement, you might be able to set a certain number of days before you start charging interest.
Letter Accepting Payments in Installments If your customer does not dispute that money is owed and is willing to make arrangements for the debt to be repaid, you can consider a Letter Accepting Payments in Instalments. Such a letter allows the debtor to pay off the debt with regular fixed instalments.

Resources for optimising cash flow

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 Learn more about how you can use key legal documents to ensure you receive payment on time and optimise your cash flow.

2. HIRING & RETAINING STAFF

SMEs face challenges hiring and retaining staff, with high manpower costs and competition from more established companies that can offer more attractive remuneration packages. First up, make your company a more attractive proposition to both existing employees and potential recruits by putting in place compensation options that encourage long service. And when you are thinking about whether and who to hire, another tip is to consider hiring freelance consultants (otherwise known as independent contractors) instead of taking on a full-time employee for fixed term projects!

Document Used for
Employment Contract Once your candidate has accepted the offer of employment, put together the Employment Contract to regulate the relationship between the employer and employee in order to minimise potential disputes. The document is useful if you want to dissuade certain new hires from leaving your company too soon, disclosing confidential information about your business, or going to work for a competitor.
Consultancy Agreement A Consultancy Agreement is a document designed to regulate the relationship between a company and an independent consultant who is not an employee of the company. A well-drafted Consultancy Agreement will set out the scope of the work that the consultant will provide, and protects the business by letting the consultant know the extent of his or her powers and responsibilities.
Share Vesting Agreement A Share Vesting Agreement is a contract granting an individual or company the right to purchase shares. By allowing employees or other consultants to earn equity in a company over time, you can reward your employees for their performance while incentivising them to remain with the business. Vesting is a great way to encourage long service to the company as you can specify when each of the shares is released to the employee.
Option to Purchase Shares An Option to Purchase Shares is an offer from a company to a certain individual with an option to purchase from the company a pre-determined number of shares in that company at a pre-determined price. As there is no upfront cost to the option-holder upon receiving the Option to Purchase Shares, your company can attract employees and incentivise existing employees or shareholders.

Resources for growing your team
Unsure what employment laws you have to comply with when taking on board that new hire?

Download a free eBook to learn how you can avoid pitfalls by navigating through areas of employment law.
Singapore Version      Hong Kong Version

Want to keep your employees happy and motivated? Check out this post on our blog for tips on incentivising employees without burning a hole in your pocket.

3. DEALING WITH CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS

People often say that the customer is king, and for good reason. Mismatched expectations or a lapse in service quality may alienate your customers and hurt your ability to maintain and grow your customer base. Put in place documentation that helps you align expectations with your clients on all fronts, including pre-, during and post-delivery of the goods and services!

Document Used for
Letter of Intent (Memorandum of Understanding) A Letter of Intent (Memorandum of Understanding) is a non-binding document to summarise the result of negotiations between two parties in order to facilitate the future formation of a contract. By setting down a record of the progress of initial negotiations, parties can focus on issues that need resolution.
Sale of Goods Agreement This is a contract for the sale and purchase of goods that sets out the exact nature of the goods, as well as price and payment terms. As the product may pass through the hands of international manufacturers and distributors before it reaches its final destination, the agreement must be clearly written to ensure careful consideration of the sale and delivery risks.
Supply of Services Agreement This is a contract between a supplier and a customer for the provision of a specified service that documents the key terms of how that service will be carried out. As you may be dependent on the customer to perform certain tasks in order for you to perform your obligations, set out your terms and conditions in this agreement to make sure that both parties are in complete agreement so that you can build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Resources for building a relationship with your customers

Growing your small business is very much about growing your customer base, by keeping your existing customers happy while acquiring new customers. Check out this post for tips on how to maintain your customer relationships and build loyalty by making your customers feel understood and valued!

4. MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE

In a time where competition is no longer local but now global, businesses have to go online in order to reach a broader customer base. Websites are a key touchpoint of any business, even if you do not use your website as a platform for the sale of goods or services. Make sure you have these key legal documents in place to manage the relationship between your business and your web developer as well as website users.

Document Used for
Website Design and Development Agreement Business owners often hire freelancers or other third parties to build or redesign their websites. Make sure you have in place this contract to set out the nature and ownership of the website as well as service expectations so that your company can focus on its business and the contractor can focus on the website.
Website Privacy Policy This is a statement you place on your website laying out how your business will collect, use, and manage a user’s personal data. By clarifying the scope of use of such personal data, you can avoid future disputes concerning data privacy infringement.
Website Terms of Use A Website Terms of Use structures the relationship between you as a website operator and your website users by setting out each party’s rights and obligations. They are made available on your website for users to read and, by continuing to use the site, users accept these terms.


Resources for online marketing & running an online business

Want to know how to make the most of your marketing dollar? Check out this post for tips that include identifying your target market and increasing website traffic through search engine optimisation (SEO).

Looking to take your business online? Download our free eBook Online Business: How To Set Up & Protect Your Online Business (Hong Kong) and Online Business: How To Set Up & Protect Your Online Business (Singapore) and read more about the key documents you will need to protect your online business and build a successful online enterprise.

Operating an online marketplace? Check out this post on our blog for essential legal considerations for online marketplaces.

5. RISING COSTS & COMPETITION

It can be a challenge to run a business in hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore, given the high overheads and strong competition. Sometimes, businesses may need to take loans to tide over a financially challenging period. Depending on who you take the loan from – another business, a shareholder, a director or a sister company – you will need different kinds of Loan Agreements to set out the terms of conditions for the loan and repayment.

Another tip – one way to beat the rising cost of office rental is to work from co-working spaces or share your office space with a fellow small business!

Document Used for
Commercial Loan Agreement If other businesses are interested in helping you tide over a financially challenging period, use this document to set out the terms and conditions for the loan. This agreement can help both parties more closely monitor the condition of the loan, thereby enhancing the borrower/lender relationship because it promotes more frequent communications between the parties.
Loan from Director or Shareholder It is crucial to distinguish between money paid into a company as capital (e.g. to subscribe for shares), and money lent to a company as debt (i.e. a loan). A Loan from Director or Shareholder is an agreement for use when a director or shareholder lends money to their company. By drawing up a Loan from Director or Shareholder, the director or shareholder becomes a creditor of the company. Upon liquidation this debt will be repaid before the shareholders of the company get back the capital they invested into the company.
Intragroup Loan Agreement An Intragroup Loan Agreement records the terms on which one party (the lender) lends money to another party (the borrower) which is within the same group of companies, e.g. from a parent company to a subsidiary or between two subsidiaries of the same parent company. It is suitable for any group company member that wants to draft the basic terms of the arrangement in order to avoid any potential misunderstanding regarding the loan that may otherwise occur if there is no formal record beyond accounting entries.
Term Sheet If your source of funding is private investors such as venture capital firms or angel investors, they will typically ask for a Term Sheet. This is a preliminary document that will include the key terms of an investment in a company, including the agreed-upon valuation of the business, the proposed capitalisation table, the key financial and legal terms, and the rights of the company and the investors.
Co-working Space Application Form and Terms of Use For smaller businesses, sharing an office space is a practical way to minimise costs while maximising access to office facilities. If you want to let another business use your spare office space, then a Co-working Space Application Form and Terms of Use sets out the terms under which you will work together.

Resources for raising funds

  Simply need more funds to grow your business? Check out this post to learn about the Singapore government grants that cater to small businesses.

Want to know what’s on the mind of investors when they’re deciding whether to invest? Check out insights from investors, entrepreneurs and lawyers from our Legal Startup Academy session on Early Stage Funding.

Intending to raise funds via a Convertible Note? Check out this post on our blog to learn how the Convertible Note mechanism works as well as the relevant documents that you need.

6. PROTECTING IDEAS & COMMERCIAL ASSETS

Beyond the goods and services that you provide to your customers, one of the most valuable assets that you have as a business are your ideas and intellectual property (IP). Whenever your business develops intangible human creations, ensure that you secure your IP rights in order to protect your creations. This way, you can even monetise your IP in the future, by licensing your trade mark to another company to expand into new markets or transferring the trade mark of a business or product line when you sell it to another company.

Document Used for
Trade Mark License Agreement This agreement allows the owner of the trade mark (the licensor) to give approval to another person (the licensee) to use the trade mark. Licensing can help a company expand into new markets effectively while lending the licensee an established name and reputation as well as provide lucrative income for trade mark owners.
Trade Mark Assignment If you are selling a business or a product line, you may need to transfer the trade mark that is associated with it. A Trade Mark Assignment provides a record of ownership and allows the trade mark owner to transfer the owner’s rights, title, and interest in a trade mark or service mark in a way that protects the rights of all parties.
Confidentiality Agreement (or Non-disclosure Agreement) Your business has information that should remain private, such as customer database, financial information, or new business ideas. An NDA is your first line of defence to protecting this information. This legal document creates a confidential relationship between your business and any contractors, employees, and other business partners who might get a behind-the-scenes look at your operations.

Resources for protecting your brand

Download the FREE eBook

Just designed a logo that you want to protect?

Download our free eBook to learn about what you need for a successful application, how to maintain your trade mark and maximise its value globally.

Confused about the differences between the various types of IP? Check out this post on our blog to find out what the various types are and what you need to qualify for IP protection.

Want to whether your latest invention qualifies for IP protection? Learn about the key considerations in this interview with an IP lawyer.

7. TIME MANAGEMENT

As a business owner, you wear multiple hats and it often seem like the things you should do to improve operations and grow your business is never ending. Given that businesses these days are all about automation, efficiency and productivity, there’s no prizes for guessing what the solution is for your challenge of time management. Technology can help you eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline operations so that you can devote your time to what really grows your business. Think social media management tools such as Hootsuite to manage your online marketing efforts and online payroll software such as Gpayroll, Talenox and HReasily to manage your HR needs more affordably and efficiently.

And when it comes to legal, the Dragon Law web app enables fast production of custom documentation which will help your business improve efficiency, accuracy and compliance.

As a Dragon Law subscriber, you can:

  • Access any of our 500 existing business documents and customise them to your specific needs, and
  • Draft legal documents without any legal knowledge using our simple Q&A interface
  • Use our cloud software to store all your legal documentation in a simple and easy-to-navigate space
  • Choose to automate any of your frequently used documents and save a few hours each week
  • Save time on sourcing and evaluating law firms – we recommend you to a trusted one in our network

8. DEALING WITH REGULATION & STAYING UP-TO-DATE

It is important that you stay up-to-date with the latest updates to laws, acts, and regulation that may impact the way you run your business. This isn’t something that can be solved with a single legal document, but rather requires you to ensure that your legal documents are constantly updated to reflect the latest regulatory changes. This is what we provide on our Dragon Law web app – a comprehensive suite of legal documents that are constantly kept up-to-date amidst an evolving regulatory climate.

Beyond legal documents, businesses sometimes simply need trusted legal advice when deciding whether to make the next strategic step to launch a new product or enter a new market. This is why we recently launched Dragon Law Managed Accounts, where we partner with established law firms with expertise in a range of industries to provide Dragon Law-enabled legal services for your organisation.

What goes into a Dragon Law-enabled plan?

  • Business compliance: Manage risk by having your business model or operation documents reviewed on regulatory compliance
  • Dragon Law subscription: Create unlimited legal and business documents on Dragon Law for the running of your day-to-day business
  • Review documents: Have your documents reviewed by experienced lawyers and amended to fit your specific business purpose

View our list of Certified Advisors – Dragon Law Managed Account

Resources for staying up-to-date with regulatory requirements

→ Trawling the Internet for the latest regulatory requirements that your business needs to stay compliant with can be tedious, and you can’t always be sure that what you find is the most updated regulation or piece of legislation. Check out our eBook library for our Does The Law Matter? series for the lowdown on what you need to know to navigate key legal requirements!

The 4 Things You Must Consider Before Outsourcing Payroll

November 28, 2016

As your company grows and payroll management becomes difficult and time-consuming, outsourcing your payroll process to an external vendor might seem like a solution. Most third-party payroll vendors help to take care of the nitty-gritty details of payroll – from calculating overtime hours and allowances, to taking into account legislative changes and amending the payroll calculations accordingly.

However, before you decide to outsource your payroll function, there are a few long-term results and consequences you must consider:

1) Losing control

When you enter a contractual agreement with an outsourced payroll vendor, you are bound by their terms and conditions. This means that they get to decide how to to store your employee and payroll data, as well as the services rendered to your organisation. Furthermore, the security of your company’s confidential and sensitive information now lies in their hands.

 

2) A bottleneck when accessing data

As your company’s data now resides on an external party’s server, this creates an additional layer of communication when you attempt to retrieve information. For one, your outsourced payroll vendor might charge you a service fee for extracting the data that you require. Secondly, they might not act as promptly as you require.

3) Lack of company familiarity and identity

In the absence of an in-house Payroll Manager, you will naturally point your employees to a client service agent in times of dispute. Depending on your service level agreement with the vendor, your employees may have to deal with a different client service representative each time. This is not ideal and may create frustration among your employees when they have to repeat their issues each time.

4) Higher cost

Not all the services provided by outsourced payroll vendors will be suitable for your size of company. At times, you might end up paying more than what you really need – budget that you will much rather spend on growing your business.

While outsourcing payroll management may sound like the easiest way to resolving your payroll woes, it is not the only solution. Instead, take time to do your due research and consider other options such as adopting payroll software. One such example is Gpayroll who provides a similar framework as an outsourced payroll vendor – end-to-end payroll processing software at an affordable price. Remember, make the right payroll decision that is the best fit for your company!

Also read: Our CEO’s favourite productivty tools:

This a guest contribution submitted by Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll. Follow on Facebook