I talk with other entrepreneurs all the time, and we are continually amazed by how many people we see doing things that are ethically and sometimes legally big no-nos. While I’m not a legal expert, most of these things are pretty darn common sense (you’d think, at least). Here are 5 things that no self-employed small business owner (or anyone, really) should ever, ever do:
- Coordinate with other businesses in your industry on prices for all of your products- Did you hear about the yogurt cartel in France? The reality is, there are a few anti-trust laws that prohibit various kinds of business practices that discourage free trade and can hurt consumers. The Federal Trade Commission can and does enforce the anti-trust laws on the books. Price fixing can seem like small potatoes, but it’s just NOT ok. From the FTC website:
A plain agreement among competitors to fix prices is almost always illegal, whether prices are fixed at a minimum, maximum, or within some range. Illegal price fixing occurs whenever two or more competitors agree to take actions that have the effect of raising, lowering or stabilizing the price of any product or service without any legitimate justification.
So any Facebook conversation telling other doulas how much to charge? Ahem.
- Stealing copy from websites- Plagiarism is not ok, OK? No matter what you think, you can’t lift explanations, descriptions, or any other chunks of writing from other websites. If you’re wondering if your work has been lifted, here are some helpful instructions on how to find the thieves and what kind of actions to take. And if you’re tempted to commit this sin, you could lose your website or worse
- Think registering your website is all that’s needed to name a business- Each state is different, but you need to find out what the rules are where you live for using and filing a name that’s not the same as your own personal legal name. You may have to go to the Secretary of State office in your state to find out what laws and regulations exist.
- Use Facebook instead of an actual website- OK, so there are no legal issues here that I know of, but, while I know it’s easy to set up a Facebook page and harder to make a website, you really need a website. Facebook pages have too many limitations and are far too unwieldy to use as the online home for your business. Get a website!
Those were the 5 I could think of for now. Do you have any I missed? Share them below!