You popped the champagne and vowed to get into the gym more often in 2016. As you close the book on 2015, consider making some New Year’s resolutions for your business. Here are some good goals to implement this January for business success in 2016.
- Get Your Deals on Paper.
Doing business on a handshake seems easy — until it isn’t. There’s a reason successful companies document all of their deals with contracts. Written contracts are easier to enforce than oral contracts and, in fact, many states require that contracts for the sale of goods over $500 be in writing to be enforceable. Besides recording the price and payment terms, a contract is also a good place to stick disclaimers, indemnities, warranties, and other provisions that can protect your company if a deal goes bad.
- Take Stock of Your Intellectual Property.
Create a list of all of your intellectual property and strive to update it each January. Jot down new product names, logos, slogans, copyrightable content, and patentable inventions. It helps to create action items and deadlines to register your trademarks and other intellectual property. Having a good list of your IP will help you police infringement and, if you’re looking for an exit, makes a great value-adding diligence item.
- Survey Your Employment Landscape.
If you’ve got employees and independent contractors, you should take some time evaluating their personnel files. Do you have a good record of everything they’ve signed, including NDAs and IP assignment agreements? Have their job functions changed? If so, has this affected their FLSA exemption status? If your employees are hourly, are you keeping good time card records?
- Keep Your Corporation Corporate.
Everyone knows that a corporation is useful for limiting the personal liability of its owners. Many people don’t know that this protection isn’t automatic. Plaintiffs and creditors can still get at your personal assets by asking a court to “pierce the corporate veil.” There are only a few instances where this can happen. Typically, it occurs when the corporation’s owners disregard corporate formalities or comingle money. To minimize the risk of veil piercing, follow some simple steps: (1) keep a separate corporate bank account and never comingle personal money; (2) adopt corporate bylaws (if you haven’t); (3) hold annual shareholder meetings; (4) hold regularly scheduled Board of Directors meetings; and (5) always sign contracts and agreements in the name of the company.
Here’s to a successful 2016 for both you and your business!