How Can Legal Templates Help Small Business Cope During Inflation
Running a small business is a challenge in the best of times, but the third decade of the 21st century has delivered a one-two punch to entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world. Businesses that weathered the COVID-19 pandemic must now confront reemerging inflation and update their agency procedures. Not every enterprise will survive; meeting this challenge will take creativity and the right strategy. PDF legal templates are a surprisingly effective tool that can help many businesses and nonprofit organizations meet the current challenge.
Understand the Power of PDFs
To take full advantage of PDF templates, it helps to learn about how the format evolved, the features that lend versatility, and the security measures that protect you and your customers.
So Many Operating Systems, So Few Standards
The Portable Document Format was born at Adobe Systems in 1992. Adobe co-founder John Warnock sought a way to share documents between computers running Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Macintosh OSs, and UNIX. In this era, Adobe was best known for its PageMaker desktop publishing program and the PostScript page description language. PostScript’s ability to define the elements of a printed page with vectors — mathematical descriptions of points, lines, and curves — served as the foundation of the PDF format.
Adobe released the first PDF version in 1993, along with Acrobat, an application to create and edit documents in the new format. Early adoption of the standard was slow. Acrobat was — and remains — an expensive application. Further, first-generation PDF files were relatively bulky, and much of the world still accessed the internet on slow dial-up modems.
A Boost From the Tax Service
In 1995, the Internal Revenue Service converted its entire library of forms and instruction manuals to PDF, supplying a pivotal boost for the format. The days of ordering arcane forms from the IRS and waiting weeks for mail delivery were gone. November 1996 brought another leap forward. Version 1.2 enabled users to enter and save text in a PDF document — electronic forms had finally arrived.
Meeting Security Challenges
As the Portable Document Format gained capabilities with each revision, file structures became more and more intricate. This development gave cybercriminals many more nooks and crannies to conceal viruses, trojans and malware. Adobe ramped up efforts to detect malware in both its paid Acrobat product and free Acrobat Reader application. The company also worked with Microsoft and Apple to develop defenses in their respective operating systems.
Infecting a computer nearly always involves opening a PDF file with an application. With this harsh reality, users should exercise care in selecting applications for creating and editing PDF files. Adobe issues frequent security patches for its Windows and macOS applications, placing these apps among the safer choices.
PDF’s popularity has also fostered a bevy of free and open-source software options for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Before using any FOSS applications, see how often the developer updates their product. Frequent updates signal a product that receives regular security patches. Using a proven online service, such as PDFSimpli, is another way to lower the risk.
Improving Electronic Signatures
From the beginning, Adobe’s PDF team envisioned the format as a replacement for paper documents, including forms that require signatures. In 1999, with Version 1.3, viable and verifiable signature capability came to the PDF format. While usable, this version came with numerous practical limitations.
Some documents require signatures from two or more parties. With PDFs, signatories may well be on opposite sides of the globe. Therein lies the challenge: Ensure that no changes occur to the document after the first signature. Software developers and the International Organization for Standards have improved signature validation solutions for nearly two decades. The goal for all developers is to achieve deep integration into the PDF, thereby enhancing security.
The Roadmap to Secure Legal Templates
Knotty challenges remain. Some documents, such as inspection forms, must permit a user to add notes to a document and follow up with a digital signature. Food and building inspectors deal with matters of public safety. For these professions, PDF documents must scrupulously reflect the order of notes and signatures while excluding all opportunities for tampering. To cope with the ongoing digital signature challenges for legal forms, the PDF Association formed the PDF Forms Technical Working Group. The TWG’s mission is to replace the hodgepodge of signature applications from Dropbox, DocuSign, Google, and others with a single solution integrated into the PDF core.
PDF Becomes a Worldwide Standard
In 2008, Adobe ceded control of the PDF format to the International Organization for Standards. PDF now lives on as ISO Standard 32000, with Adobe serving as an advisor to the organization’s technical committee.
Keep the Band Together
Refined over nearly three decades, the versatility of PDF templates can help you accomplish numerous business missions. One of those challenges is retaining your workforce. During inflationary times, this task is a supreme test of your leadership ability. With some creativity, you can hang onto the team members you worked hard to recruit and perhaps even enhance morale.
According to a recent survey by SmallBizTrends, 85 percent of small and medium business owners are worried about the effects of rising prices on their companies; with 44 percent reporting, that they’re “very” concerned. Meanwhile, 75 percent say that rising prices have had a significant negative effect on their company in the last 12 months. With inflation squeezing margins, hiking your employees’ compensation package is out of the question. Nonetheless, you can take non-monetary steps that markedly improve the workplace experience. A good place to start is staggering work shifts to help your employees avoid rush hour traffic snarls. Trimming commuting time effectively shortens your employees’ workday with no expenditure or productive loss for your business.
Redefine Working Relationships
In the United States, during the last period of high inflation in the 1970s and early 1980s, construction companies often felt the pinch. A key concern was retaining top engineering talent as inflation squeezed margins. Numerous firms reached a creative solution: allow their engineers to start consultant practices, and then pay for their professional services on a spot basis.
In many cases, this arrangement was a win/win for both construction firms and engineers. Builders trimmed costs, while veteran engineers relished a break from routine with fresh professional challenges. If this solution is a good fit for your business, PDF consultant agreement templates can help jumpstart the transition.
Tread Carefully With Contract Workers
While a consultancy arrangement typically works well for professionals with licenses or certifications, many business owners wonder if altering a worker’s status from W-2 employee to 1099 contract worker is a possible cost-saving option. This move is fraught with regulatory peril. State workers’ compensation agencies closely scrutinize these efforts. If your state agency rules that your contract workers are still employees, your business will face fines and retroactive workers’ comp premiums.
To lawfully transition an employee to independent contractor status, the nature of the worker’s job must also substantially change. If some of your employees wish to work from home, control their hours and take on quarterly tax payments, this arrangement may be a sufficiently dramatic alteration to pass legal muster. Working through the possibilities with a legal professional, as well as well-prepared legal templates, can head off law-related headaches down the road. If your lawyer approves and your workers are on board, PDF employment contract templates can help you finalize the agreement.
Termination letters are no fun to send and far less enjoyable to receive. Nonetheless, circumstances may force this action upon you.You should review your letter with your business’s attorney to ensure that you respect your worker’s rights and avoid violating federal or state employment regulations. Where appropriate, your letter should spell out severance pay details and specify your willingness to provide references.
Double Down on Customer Service
The businesses that survive in an inflationary climate will be the ones that maintain customer loyalty. One of the best moves your business can make is to take a top-to-bottom look at every aspect of customer service. This effort should involve every member of your team, from the executive committee to your newest part-time hire. Whether your business involves e-commerce or brick-and-more you can likely can up your customer service game.
Go the Extra Mile With E-commerce Welcome Kits
Many e-commerce businesses issue discount coupons to first-time customers, but a handful of savvy online enterprises have begun offering a next-level incentive: virtual welcome kits. Welcome kits work particularly well for businesses that offer services on a subscription basis. These businesses typically use these kits to explain how to wring the most value out of their subscription.
Creating a top-notch welcome kit naturally takes a substantial time investment from your team, but the payoff is substantial. Once assembled, emailing a virtual welcome kit requires no distribution expense. Relatively few enterprises make this customer service effort, so building a welcome kit makes a highly positive first impression.
Many commercial services can take advantage of PDF templates for some of the kit’s material. A PDF user manual template can shave hours off of this tedious but vital task. A PDF questionnaire form can help your business tailor services to your new customer.
Aim for Best-in-Class Refund Policies
With inflation running and a possible recession looming, every competitive edge matters. Refund procedures are one seemingly mundane area where many small businesses drop the ball. Make a point of surveying your competitor’s agency procedures and learning their return and refund policies. Ensure that your policy is the most customer-friendly in your market or region.
Generous return policies build confidence in consumers and give your sales staff an automatic leg up. This is a clear example of a business’s need for legal templates; a PDF template can serve as a model for a policy that passes legal muster while remaining clear and concise for customers.
Update Your Business Plan and Legal Templates
The COVID-19 pandemic and government actions forced some changes upon nearly every business. Surging inflation now dictates still more course corrections. In the tumult of the pandemic response, you may have been too busy stamping out brushfires to spend time revising your business plan and addressing any deep-rooted business concerns. If so, it’s time to quit shooting from the hip and develop a real plan for the crucial months ahead.
A business plan converts platitudes into achievable goals with accountability standards for every member of your team; helping ease any business concerns that might be brewing. Before committing to a plan, it’s worthwhile to solicit suggestions throughout your company. During this development process, PDF business plans and legal templates can save your organization enormous amounts of time and solidify agency procedures.
With business and legal templates, you can choose the communication style and format best suited to your team. A well-organized proposal will in turn generate more relevant feedback from your team members. When it’s time to finalize the plan, you will have a roadmap with achievable benchmarks for every employee.
Choose Your Legal Template or Form
We offer free online legal contracts and forms for any type of business needs.
Use legal forms to create contracts; using a contract form is a cost-saving solution that eliminates any potential for misunderstanding and saves time by eliminating the need to draft an entire document from scratch, which can be costly.
There are many different types of legal templates, such as:
Real Estate Purchase Agreements or Lease Agreements
Use PDF Simpli’s pre-made templates are available to select from standard contracts, like the ones found in commercial transactions, or customize them to suit your needs. We even provide samples for popular topics such as Real Estate, Employment, Insurance, and Non-Compete Agreements. Answer a few simple questions to create your document in just a few moments. Perfect for Nonprofit organizations and Small & Medium Businesses.
What are the benefits of using a legal template to create a Non-Compete Agreement?
A non-compete agreement is a legal contract that prevents your employees from working for a competitor or other commercial services. It’s also known as a “non-solicitation clause,” and it can be used to protect trade secrets or confidential information. The main purpose of this type of contract is to prevent former employees from taking their knowledge and skills with them when they leave your company and setting penalty amounts in case of a bridge of contract.
These agreements are a common part of employment contracts. They can be used to protect an employer’s trade secrets, prevent employees from poaching clients or customers, and even ensure that former employees don’t use their knowledge of the company for personal gain; all very important matters in these times of economic uncertainty.
Such crucial documents can be time-consuming and over budget for many business owners. Use PDF Simpli’s Non-Compete Agreement Template to draft a legally compliant document in minutes! The electronic signing process is easy, convenient, and most importantly secure. Make unlimited revisions and copies at any point in the future. Sign online, share and reprint anytime you want!
Don’t Scrimp on Your Marketingcommercial services
With pressure to cut costs, your marketing budget may seem like an obvious target. Think again. While inflation indeed presents challenges, this period also opens opportunities. Businesses that keep their names and products in front of the public will lead the way out of this phase and gain market share.
If your business is among the few that can avoid price hikes, make this stability the centerpiece of your marketing. If circumstances force you to raise prices, some creativity may save the day.
Consider Promotional Giveaways
For any consumer, the most attractive price is free — with inflation adding an exclamation point. If your business offers an appropriate product or service, a promotional giveaway may excite your current customer base and even attract newcomers. If your business has a social media presence, you can promote a contest or drawing with practically zero additional cost in marketing expenditure.
With promotions of this type, it’s imperative to abide by federal, state, and municipal regulations. PDF legal templates can help you spell out your obligations to your winning contestants. If you feature your winners in any promotion, including social media, taking advantage of a PDF release form template will head off legal headaches down the road.
Reward Loyal Customers
Retaining customers — always a vital goal — becomes mission-critical with inflationary pressure. If you have assembled a robust email list with your business, strategic discounts for your best customers may keep them in the fold. Brick-and-mortar businesses should consider customer loyalty plans. This program can take the traditional approach, a punch card for each purchase, or include additional rewards for referrals on social media.
Hone Your Sales Pitches
Many marketing pros argue that the ideal sales pitch should be concise enough to deliver during an elevator ride. If your business’s sales pitches now fall short of that standard, consider using some PDF elevator pitch templates for inspiration.
Drawing Business Success With Business and Legal Templates
Inflationary times demand resourcefulness from business owners and every team member. In business, time is money. The time-saving value of PDF templates — for both legal forms and other missions — make these versatile documents an essential utensil in your business toolbox.
Isabel Landrau is a staff writer at WorkSimpli. Her background in Business Operations motivates her to improve access to legal advice in underserved groups, especially in areas like business formation...
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