We’ve had some good new year’s resolutions over the years (some more successful than others). So we know that making resolutions can be helpful and a good challenge. The days of a small business owner also ebb and flow just like the seasons. For our farmer and grower clients, winter is a key time to get all the indoor stuff organized – from tools to legal documents. For our maker or retail clients, it’s a second to breathe after a busy holiday. Our clients who have venue spaces or work in the wedding industry are in their calm before the events begin to take off again (which seems to be earlier every year).
Last year, our new year’s blog outlined setting SMART goals and succeeding in them. Definitely recommend giving it a read because the strategies remain true. But this year, we thought we’d take those strategies and offer a few examples of resolutions you might put those strategies to use when it comes to your business’ legal health.
Business Resolution #1: Refresh Those Contracts.
If you’ve been using the same client contracts or agreements for services since you started, it might be worth taking a look at them and seeing if they’re still reflective of the business you’re running. Your business has likely changed over the years, and your contracts should change with it. Take a look at our recent blog covering five contract clauses you’ll be thankful for if you need some ideas. Or review some of our industry-specific blogposts for businesses like photographers or wedding businesses. And as always, the Trellis Template Library is open 24/7 with bunches of great lawyer-drafted contract templates.
Business Resolution #2: Check your entity type is still the right one.
If it’s been a minute since you talked to a lawyer about the way your business is set up, it might be time to restructure or change. For example, maybe you’ve been a sole proprietorship or general partnership but you are looking for a way you might gain more personal liability protection, like through a Limited Liability Company (LLC). A lawyer will be able to help you understand what the process entails, what makes the most legal sense, and what you need to have in place in order to make the change. And check out our free resource on forming a Pennsylvania LLC in the resource library.
Business Resolution #3: Have an attorney review your legal and other documents
Make sure you have all of your formational documents in the right place, and that they accurately reflect how you are running your business. If you’re an LLC and a lot has changed since you first signed your operating agreement (if you’re wondering what an operating agreement is, check out our blog about them here!), maybe it’s time to amend it or draft some resolutions (a different kind!) to reflect the changes and accurately show that you are running your business separate from yourself. If you started an LLC but do not have an operating agreement, a lawyer can help you draft the right one that best reflects how decisions are made for your business or you can purchase one that meets your needs in the template library.
Business Resolution #4: Make sure your insurance, banking, and accounting are the best reflection of your business and make the most strategic sense.
The worst time to find out your business doesn’t have the right insurance coverage is when you need it. The best time? Before anything happens. So just like legal, be proactive and talk to someone who understands your policy and can make the adjustments that are right for how you’re operating your business now. Similar to insurance, we also recommend speaking with an accountant who can help you keep your finances and tax payments legally and strategically smart. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve created a Thriving Small Business’ Resource List in the resource library that explains just a few of the resources out there to help small businesses in big ways.
Business Resolution #5: Check in regarding your employees
If you have employees, work with your lawyer to help you understand the regulations and laws you need to follow to protect them and yourself, such as new Pennsylvania tipped wage rules or independent contractor vs employee distinctions. Your lawyer may also recommend creating an employee handbook where you can outline expectations and responsibilities for your employees or help you understand when to have them sign a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement and what to include in either. If this is the year you begin to hire employees, check out our free Intro Guide to Onboarding Employees resource in the resource library.
We encourage you to embrace this season (or really any season this works for you!) and lean into that reset. No two businesses have the same legal needs or desires, so talk to a small business lawyer who can help you really understand your unique legal needs and help you get on track. There really is no better time to lean into the seasonality of the winter months and find some peace in making the things you care about run better. And of course, we’re here if you ever need anything. Happy New Year from the Trellis Fam!
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should discuss their specific situation with an attorney.