How to Manage Legal Compliance Issues in Startups

Preeti Karna Preeti Karna
Mar 22, 2022 4 min read
How to Manage Legal Compliance Issues in Startups
The article is contributed by Mr. Dhiresh, (Co-Founder & C.E.O.), Neem Tree Agro Solutions.

The fresh wave of Startups and young Entrepreneurs has started in India, which has resulted in the average age of Entrepreneurs in India to keep reducing by every passing day. Youngsters have stepped up for these initiatives with sheer will and confidence. Therefore, the enthusiasm may be high but industry experience is nearly non-existent. This makes managing legal compliance a strenuous task to carry out.

Startup word is usually more related to freshly churned out ideas and innovative discoveries and less towards legal bindings, security and proper documentation. Due to lack of resources or maybe just deficiency of proper knowledge, they tend to skip the legal compliance issues. Ideal model should be framed in such a way that it compliments the entire process keeping the legal compliance as the premise, because the lack of it confines you and causes scaling issues, which isn't good for any startup that is looking to grow and expand exponentially.

On the other hand, even after learning about proper legal compliance techniques it is tough to maintain regulatory compliance such as reporting the GST and seed licensing returns, which prove to be too expensive for a startup. Furthermore, as India is a Union of States, compliance varies from state to state, particularly in the agriculture industry, which is a subject of state government rather than the Union government.

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One of the first things that comes to mind is that you need to get yourself a lawyer in case something goes south, one needs to consider the monetary license which one has access to. Due to likely issues with money it is sensible to look at certain online facilities available which helps startups get through initial blues, they can be vague and generic but might help you in gaining some knowledge alongside with a different perspective.

Certain skills, such as verifying the term sheet, are perfected over time. Legal compliances also play a huge role during the fundraising process. So, the first and most important step is to keep your documentation and paperwork in order if you are looking for funding. You should follow all legal rules and regulations set forth by the government and stay up to date with them.

Lack of human resources is a very pertinent problem among all the newly emerged startups, due to which they often lack in getting things updated, but you need to keep in mind that you should cover all the moral, ethical and legal grounds. Knowing your obligations as an employer, such as adhering with all necessary labor laws, is a crucial part of beginning a business. This involves obeying salary payment, provident fund, and gratuity rules, as well as workplace sexual harassment, maternity benefits, and other policies. If your company is registered with the Startup India programme, you can sign a self-declaration and be exempted from inspection for the first year from the date of incorporation or partnership registration for some laws.

Internal legal agreement is also an essential part of the legal compliances. It is an arrangement if there are more than one founder, and if somebody decides to leave or join, they should do it in a complete legal manner which is in full agreement of the other founders. Another agreement that plays an important role is the Intellectual property agreement. This agreement should include confidentiality responsibilities for the company's information, as well as a current assignment to the company of any intellectual property that the person has developed or may develop in the future (while working with the company).

The lack of proper licensing can also lead to difficulty in running your Startup. As stated earlier, each state may have its own set of licenses and even different industries adhere to different rules set by the state governments or government declared regulatory committees, such as, Import-Export laws, FDI Policy, SEBI/RBI regulations, etc.

Approval of financial accounts, declaration of dividends, appointment of auditors, and other special business agendas are on the AGM's regular business agenda. The AGM must be held in the jurisdiction of the company's registered office. The first annual general meeting (AGM) must be convened within nine months of the end of the first financial year. In the event of a subsequent AGM, it must be convened within six months of the financial year's end. Every year, there shall be one AGM, with a maximum gap of 15 months between two AGMs.

Ignoring these difficulties can impede your fundraising efforts, and certain litigations may be brought against your company. When someone invests in your vision, he will look to see how solid your legal foundation is. Your balance sheets must be kept up to date, and your transactions must be clean and traceable. Since resources are limited, it is not an easy task but if you work on it properly, the rest of the process will go smoothly.

Startup India has taken several noteworthy steps to make the startup process easier. Under the several schemes introduced by the government, it can be seen that they want the number of startups to go up and want the youth to come up with exciting ideas. This shift that is being carried out will result in increased employment, better economy, people becoming independent and many other positive effects. On the other hand, the government needs to work more to reduce the legalities that exclusively apply to startups. This will be a big relief for new startups, as well as a motivator for others.

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