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By now, you are familiar with the ongoing story of Alec Baldwin and the shooting accident of the actor in his movie “Rust.” Earlier this month, Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter in Arizona, the state where the incident occurred, and faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted. This is a terrible situation. But it’s also a reminder of the challenges we all face as business owners. Because, as a film producer, Baldwin owns the company. With that great opportunity for profit also comes great work.
These services also extend to all areas of our business.
For example, as a certified public accountant, I have signed tax returns for clients in the past. And, although I have both professional and legal requirements I will fulfill, in the end, a compensation company is the responsibility of the owners of the company. If, like most small businesses, your business is self-owned or perhaps with a partner or two any problems, errors or issues with your tax return will be your responsibility. Even if you don’t know about the deduction (or commission) you are still responsible for it. You can’t blame everything on your accountant. Your signature is on the return. You have to pay – either civilly or criminally – if there is a serious error. So count your returns. Ask questions. Know what you are signing up for before you sign it.
Related: Does Your Business Put You at Risk of Lawsuits?
The same goes for mistakes made by your employees while you are on the job. If an unsuspecting bookkeeper accidentally runs over a puppy on the way to deposit money in the bank or pick up a package during office hours, this will be your problem. If a customer service representative speaks inappropriately to a customer, you will hear about it. If your driver cleans up a parked car, the job is yours. If someone falls in your way, that will be your responsibility. This is why insurance exists. And these claims are becoming less common in the growing judicial environment. So always meet with your insurance advisor and make sure your coverage is right for you.
Unfortunately, being associated with an unpopular actor, a controversial event or a marketing campaign that goes south is also your fault. Pepsi did not expect the backlash it received when the company launched an ad featuring Kendall Jenner, who gave her product to a police officer in protest as a peace offering. Adidas caught fire when it congratulated customers who ran the 2017 Boston Marathon with the words, “Congratulations, you survived the Boston Marathon.” Other brands have been accused of racism, colonialism and other violations due to their unfair marketing campaigns.
But it’s not just the big brands – and their owners – who are suffering the consequences of their actions. There are many small businesses that make these mistakes. And for us, because of our limitations, the consequences are worse.
A Dallas restaurant chain caused controversy when it invested in severance pay for employee benefits. An Italian restaurant owner “sparked outrage” when he posted on Facebook. Another shop owner has been slammed on social media for trying to intimidate a homeless man. There are many other stories of small companies suffering the wrath of Twitter and Facebook for their actions or the actions of their employees – this includes taking positions on social media issues and losing customers as a result or even forced to close because of his.
And there are many other stories of business owners who, by trusting too much, company managers, accountants, employees, finance directors and accountants stole money. Maybe they have insurance. Maybe they didn’t. But no insurance will cover the time lost and the agony of such a loss, let alone the public humiliation of admitting to the world that through your lack of control you have been overtaken. And then there are the small number of small businesses – many of them unaccounted for – who have experienced massive data loss and are facing huge lawsuits from angry customers thanks to their poor network security. caused damage in ransomware attacks. You also need insurance for all of these things.
But the answer isn’t just insurance. It is internal control. It is project management. It is attention and attention to detail and research and involvement in all other things that a business owner must do to reduce their chances of being burdened. Alec Baldwin, unfortunately, didn’t realize that the gun he was using in the make-believe scene contained make-believe bullets. Maybe that’s an honest oversight. But maybe he should have been more diligent. Regardless, he’s the owner of the movie production so he’s on the hook.
As business owners we take risks. Big risk. It is what separates us from the workers. An employee can leave the job at any time and get another job. But a business owner can’t do that. We must do our part and be held accountable both financially and legally for our decisions. Let us never forget it.