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7 policies and documents essential to every small business

AllBusiness.com logo AllBusiness.com 5/5/2016 Miranda Marquit

<span style="font-size:13px;">You don&rsquo;t want to be caught short when it comes to the documents and policies required to run your business right.&nbsp;</span> © mnirat - Fotolia.com You don’t want to be caught short when it comes to the documents and policies required to run your business right.  Businesses today run on a sea of paperwork. You need to provide the right policies and documents to ensure that everyone involved knows the expectations associated with the business. The right policies and documents also protect your business. 

You don’t want to be caught short when it comes to the documents and policies required to run your business right. Click through to see seven policies and documents your business needs, and the tools that can help you create them quickly and inexpensively.

1. Contracts

<span style="font-size:13px;">When you offer a product or service, you often need a refund policy. Creating a refund policy that is fair and that people trust is an important part of running a successful business.</span> © Rob Daly/Getty Images When you offer a product or service, you often need a refund policy. Creating a refund policy that is fair and that people trust is an important part of running a successful business. It’s a good idea to create a contract when you enter agreement with someone else. In some cases, a simple email laying out the terms of your agreement is enough. This has worked well for me in the past, but I’m making the move toward using more formal freelance contracts. Many of my clients have their own agreements, and I am happy to sign those (after reading them carefully), but I also want my own version.

Whether you enter a partnership, work with tenants, provide consulting or freelancing services, or have any other business arrangement, a contract is a good idea. You can find contract templates online at a number of sites like RocketLawyer and LegalZoom. I also like the instructions for creating your own freelance template on WikiHow.

2. Refund Policy

<span style="font-size:13px;">Creating a refund policy that is fair and that people trust is an important part of running a successful business.&nbsp;</span> © Adrees Latif/Reuters Creating a refund policy that is fair and that people trust is an important part of running a successful business.  When you offer a product or service, you often need a refund policy. Creating a refund policy that is fair and that people trust is an important part of running a successful business. You can use a refund policy generator from sites like Spaces to help you put together something professional and that provides peace of mind to your customers.

3. Privacy Policy

<span style="font-size:13px;">A privacy policy is important if you plan to collect information from website visitors and from customers in other ways.</span> © Allison Michael Orenstein/Getty Images A privacy policy is important if you plan to collect information from website visitors and from customers in other ways. Do you have a privacy policy? A privacy policy is important if you plan to collect information from website visitors and from customers in other ways. You can look at other sites’ privacy policies to help you figure out the best way to go about creating this policy. Understanding best practices is essential when putting together your privacy policy. You can also get help with sample privacy policies from the Better Business Bureau.

4. Non-Disclosure Agreement

<span style="font-size:13px;">The&nbsp;non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a document your business needs if you plan to work with others who might get access to your proprietary data and products that you want to keep private.</span> © Don Klumpp/Getty Images The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a document your business needs if you plan to work with others who might get access to your proprietary data and products that you want to keep private. The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a document your business needs if you plan to work with others who might get access to your proprietary data and products that you want to keep private. I’ve signed a lot of NDAs in my time, and having one is vital if you want to reduce the chances that someone else will take your secret sauce and sell it to the highest bidder. NOLO offers a solid, basic NDA template you can use in your business.

5. Business Plan

The right business plan not only gives you direction, but it&rsquo;s one of the documents your business needs if you want to convince someone to fund your business. © Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images The right business plan not only gives you direction, but it’s one of the documents your business needs if you want to convince someone to fund your business. Make sure that you know where you’re headed with this document. The right business plan not only gives you direction, but it’s one of the documents your business needs if you want to convince someone to fund your business. Your business plan is an important document, and you should understand what to include your business plan and how to construct it if you want to present a professional and viable front.

6. Various HR-Related Policies

<span style="font-size:13px;">Do you have all the necessary HR-related policies that outline what is expected of employees?</span> © Corbis Do you have all the necessary HR-related policies that outline what is expected of employees? Do you have all the necessary HR-related policies that outline what is expected of employees? These types of policies include:

  • Sexual harrassment policy
  • Social media policy
  • Media relations policy
  • Anti-discrimination policy
  • Compensation and benefits policies (including leave)
  • Disciplinary policy

The SBA offers useful information on how to create these policies (and other policies) as part of an employee handbook. Some of these policies are required by law, and it makes sense to take a look at what is required in your state and by the federal government.

7. Non-Compete Document

<span style="font-size:13px;">Carefully think of how someone competing against you, or stealing your workers, could affect your business.&nbsp;</span> © Anne Rippy/Getty Images Carefully think of how someone competing against you, or stealing your workers, could affect your business.  As a freelancer, a non-compete is something that I’ve signed only on the rarest of occasions. However, there may be some situations that warrant this document. Carefully think of how someone competing against you, or stealing your workers, could affect your business. You might require a non-compete for three, five, or seven years (or some other term). The Society for Human Resource Management provides a useful and helpful non-compete template.

There might be other policies and documentsThe post 7 Important Policies and Documents That Are Essential to Every Small Business appeared first on AllBusiness.com. your business needs, so consider your situation, and do your best to create the right paperwork for your protection.

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