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Getting Legal and Protecting Your Business

Updated: Feb 19

NOTE: This blog post is designed to be used for guidance only. I am not a solicitor and I am not an expert. All business owners should do their own research and seek legal advice when necessary.


Since launching Made in Grimsby back in May 2020, one of the greatest things I’ve witnessed has been a boom in the number of small businesses popping up around Grimsby and Cleethorpes.


As redundancies, furloughs, and a general need to keep ourselves sane have gripped us, it makes sense that so many people are looking for alternative ways to make money.


If you follow Made in Grimsby on social media, you might have seen my recent post about CLP Regulations. If not, I’ll talk about them a bit more later in this post.


This morning, I also came across an article on the BBC website saying the number of at home sellers was concerning the Food Standards Agency, so I wanted to address the overall issue in a blog post.


Business = Exciting


We all acknowledge that starting your own business is bloody exciting. Ordering business cards, pulling together stock – whether that’s purchasing from suppliers, or creating something, and then making our first sale.


The problem is that so many of us get swept up by the adrenaline that comes with the excitement, that we forget to research the “boring stuff”. You know the stuff I mean, the accounting and tax stuff that you’ll panic about at the end of the tax year (I don’t recommend doing that) and the legal side of things.


Getting Legal


It doesn’t matter what your business is, you must do your research into the legalities of the industry.


As a writer, who offers Consultancy services, I require insurance known as Professional Indemnity. This protects me if someone feels that the advice, I have given them has damaged their business. It will help with legal fees and any pay-out costs I might face. Being a writer, Professional Indemnity can also protect me from any problems arising from copyright issues.


As I’m sure you will probably guess, I am not a Solicitor and I have no expertise in the legal side of the business, however, I wanted to highlight a few business types that I’ve been made aware of recently that require specific insurances or to adhere to regulations, etc.


It’s important to remember that these rules and regulations aren’t created to stop you from starting your own business. Yes, they can be a chore. However, they’ve been put in place to not only protect you but also ensure the safety of your customers.


Candles, Wax Melts Etc


Candle and Wax Melt makers are by far, the most common type of business that I have seen pop up in the past 12 months. It makes sense because so many of us love our homes to smell like our favourite scents.


As I stated in my original post on social media, “it is a legal requirement to have the correct labels on each product and having them ensures the safety of your customers.” Getting it right means that your candles and melts aren’t harmful. This is important because customers will essentially be inhaling the scent, so you need to ensure that the fumes aren’t toxic.


The Scent Kitchen sent me the link to a really useful article that goes into a lot of detail about CLP Regulations. However, if like me, you need things in plain English, I found this really useful blog post by Soap Making Magazine that breaks everything down and answers a lot of questions that I think most of us would have, so I recommend giving both of these a read.


Food Businesses


Admittedly, the majority of the food businesses that I have encountered are existing pubs, cafés and restaurants or bakers who have been around for quite some time.


However, according to the BBC “44% of new food businesses started since the first lockdown are home-based.” So, if that’s you, you must register with the local authority before you start selling food. Once you have registered, you are allowed to begin trading whilst you wait for your official food hygiene rating. This is the essential part.


The Food Hygiene Rating goes from 0-5, with the ultimate goal being a 5. Without a rating, customers are unable to seek reliable reassured that they won’t get food poisoning.


Food businesses that don’t register, could face fines.


Children’s Toys


Children’s toys are another popular choice for home-based businesses. However, whether you’re selling pre-made toys from suppliers or hand-making them, there are toy standards that you need to adhere to, before selling them to children.


The Toy (Safety) Regulations 2011 set out a list of requirements such as ensuring that toys include a CE Mark and meet various Toy Safety Standards.


Wider regulations also set out requirements regarding flammability and hygiene, so it is crucial to do your homework. This article from Toy Advice was helpful, however, more in-depth information can be found on the government's website.


Hallmarking


Jewellery-making is a little more specialist than some of the other industries, however, I do know a few Grimsby-based silversmiths, therefore I thought this one was worth mentioning.


To sell anything made from silver, gold, platinum or palladium, the product must feature a hallmark that validates its standard. This is a legal requirement and can only be done by sending the item to the Assay Office. More information can be found on the official Assay Office website.


It is important to also know, that this applies to all jewellery sold in the UK. This means that if you import silver from other countries, it will still need to be hallmarked by the Assay Office.


No matter what industry your business fall into, it is always smart to check any kinds of insurances you might need or regulations that you will need to abide by.

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