Suggested New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Here’s a quick checklist of some items to consider as you go forward into 2017.  Discuss these with your team of inside and outside advisors.

  1. Entity Issue Clean-up.
    • Type of Entity: Do you need to form a formal company? (Think entity types like corporation, partnership, LLC) Is your current entity the right one and will it be taxed in the best way?  Do you need a new entity for a new business line or asset?
    • Co-Owner Issues: Do you have unresolved issues with your co-owners that don’t have clear solutions, or solutions that are not a part of your written governing documents?
    • Corporate Governance: Have you properly documented all the decisions, ownership, and other significant transactions from 2016? If not, now is the time to make sure these are properly document so there are no questions regarding proper authorization in the future.
  1. Team Goal Setting: If you don’t have written goals for 2017, now is the time to create them.  We suggest putting together a team of inside management and outside advisors.  Your outside advisors should include your CPA and your business attorney.  It’s easier and cheaper to identify and prevent problems than to clean them up later.  Your goals should include:
    • Specific goals with meaningful metrics in the areas of your business most important to you. Your advisors can help with this.
    • Budget review and planning. Your budget supports all your specific goals.
    • Business Value Pathway. You’ve created your business with an end goal in mind – or at least at some point that end goal will come to you.  Typically, that goal includes taking some of the value your hard work has created and putting it in your pocket.  The time to be thinking of how to capture the value of your business is now.  Building that value should be at the heart of your Goal Setting for 2017.
  1. Tax Planning: The filing deadlines of March and April will come faster than you expect.  Make sure you:a.
    • Coordinate with your CPA and/or tax preparer for closing your accounting year and prepare all necessary data for filing your tax returns.
    • While going through this process, make notes and ask questions to you can improve and automate the handling of data during 2017 including expense reporting. Make sure you’re capturing all the business expenses that may be masquerading as personal expenses.
  1. Intellectual Property Audit: What are your intangible assets, and can you clearly identify them?  Intellectual property consists of the intangible assets of patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and information that needs protection by nondisclosure, noncompete, and nonsolicit agreements.  Are these assets protected?  If you can’t identify these assets and whether they are or should be protected, you need to develop a plan to do so.
  1. Insurance Review and Renewal Schedule: Review whether your insurance needs have changed since last year.  Make sure your policy renewals and renewal payments are scheduled and someone is assigned to monitor these important deadlines.
  1. Significant Contract Review: Significant Contracts are those that are used most frequently with your clients, customers, vendors, and suppliers or by which you conduct the greatest item or dollar volume of your business.  Identifying recurring problems traceable to your contracts and contracting process and creating solutions for these problems can save a lot of time and money during the coming year.
  1. Document Retention Policy: Do you know what documents you should keep and how long, and which documents you should and when to get rid of them?  Are you enforcing this policy?  Now is the time to ask these questions and update this policy.
  1. HR Policy Review & Update: Is your HR manual updated for the latest regarding Obamacare and overtime?  Do you have an HR manual?  Does your team need to review best practices for hiring and firing?  Do your key employees have employment contracts or do those contracts need updating?  Setting this cleanup in motion can help you avoid easily preventable problems during 2017.
  1. Policy and Procedure Review: Do you own your business or does your business own you?  How do you tell?  Can you take a two-week vacation, take no calls, come back and find things running smoothly with more business, more money in the bank, and no major issues?  If not, then you need to work on your company’s policies and procedures.  Consult your team to review and improve the policies and procedures you have and prioritize the creation of the ones you don’t have but need.

General Counsel Services

One easy way to take action on this list of resolutions for your business is to consider an Outsourced General Counsel Program like the one offered by Walker Law PC.  This program brings together a team to review the legal aspects of your list and assess what can wait versus what needs to be done first and what can be done easily and inexpensively.  Contact us for more information.

John H. Walker

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