Protecting your small business
As a small business operator, it is important you protect your interests when you deal with other businesses. Here are some steps to keep your business safe.
- Ask questions when dealing with other businesses
- Monitor companies you deal with
- Review loan and credit contracts
- Manage and resolve disputes
- Get trusted business advice
Before you deal with another business, ask them for their Australian Company Number, Australian Business Number and any licence or authority they hold to operate in certain industries.
Verify the information about the companies, businesses or licences by checking ASIC’s registers and other government agencies. ASIC’s registers can help you:
- confirm if the company is registered and identify the officeholders
- confirm the business name and who holds the name
- check whether a company or person is banned or disqualified from managing companies, being involved in financial services or in the credit industry
- check whether a company or person has entered an enforceable undertaking.
If people are managing a legitimate business they should have no concerns answering your questions.
Find out more questions you can ask on our Dealing with businesses and companies info sheet 26.
Monitor other companies by registering with our free Company Alert service. This service will automatically notify you if documents are lodged relating to the company you nominate.
The categories of documents you can include are:
- internal administration documents
- debt documents
- deregistration documents
- financial documents.
When you sign a contract for a business loan or credit you should check the terms to make sure they are fair. Terms can be unfair if they cause a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations or if they are detrimental to you and beneficial to the lender. Find out more about unfair contract terms.
Consider getting legal advice if you don’t understand any terms in your contract.
ASIC is responsible for unfair contract terms law in financial products and services.
Visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s website for guidance on unfair contract terms in advertising, franchising, independent contracting or leasing contracts.
If you find yourself in a dispute with a customer, supplier, business partner, employee or Government agency there are things you can do. The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has a simple five-step process to resolving business disputes.
Other Government services that can help resolve disputes are:
- Fair Work Ombudsman – For employee disputes
- Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) – For complaints about financial services
- Small Business Commissioner or Ombudsman – State-based business dispute resolution
If your dispute is about bad debts read our tips on small business debt recovery.
If you suspect the business you are dealing with has rebirthed their company to avoid paying debts you can report their illegal phoenix activity.
If you require more assistance, seek help from a trusted professional business adviser (accountant or lawyer). Business.gov.au has tips on where to find advice for your business.