Happy New Year!!! No matter what happened in 2020, we made it! The new year is a time for new beginnings and this year is no different. For many, this is the year they fulfill that lifelong dream to start their own business. Whether you are a seasoned business owner or a newbie, operating a successful business does not happen by accident. It involves a significant level of effort from you. Successful businesses are not built on chance and require meticulous planning in every area of your business. As my gift to you this new year (because we cool like that), here is a wholistic view of how to keep your business running successfully year-round.
Start by sending your 1099s/1098s to your vendors or independent contractors, and/or W2s to your employees by January 31st. Staying on top of your tax related duties is pivotal to operating and maintaining a business. Next, conduct your annual meeting and prepare all corporate minutes and records. Also schedule time to meet with your CPA, tax advisor, or accountant.
February – March
Start with paying all personal income taxes both state and federal. Revisit all storage and records/documents retention systems. Some of these documents must be kept for 3-10 years or more. If you are unsatisfied with any of your business professionals such as lawyers, accountants, CPA, insurance agent, now would be the time to make changes and hire new team members.
May – June
Revisit your intellectual property needs including trademark renewals. Revisit employee compensation including health insurance, sick leave and vacation pay. Ensure your personal bank accounts are separated from your business bank accounts. Review your business plan and mission statement. Review all marketing and advertising materials to make sure they are compliant with federal and state laws. Conduct mid-year legal and financial audits for your business.
July - September
These months consist of checking on the structure and foundation of your business. Ensure you have all insurance agreements in place. Determine if your business structure still meets your needs. Research possibly new laws governing your industry. Follow up on all necessary permits and licenses. Revisit your accounting system and see if your IT and technology apps are legal and up to date. Going into the month of September, review all employee handbooks and policies. Conduct an employee compliance audit including payroll. Finally review your litigation strategy (are you prepared for a lawsuit?).
October – December
This is the last quarter. Finish strong with these reminders and to-dos. File all annual reports (if not done already) and shred all unnecessary documents from the past 6 months. Verify you have made proper charitable contributions and gifts. If not, the holidays present a good opportunity to do so. Review all storage and records/documents retention policies and conduct your ACH rule compliance. Perform an audit of all W-9s and W-2s, including verification of addresses, by December 1st. Revisit all contracts such as your leases, client agreements, vendor contracts, etc. Conduct year end legal and financial audits for your business. Pay all federal, state, and local taxes.
I have shared with you my legal calendar so that you can start your year right. If you are a newbie business owner, implementing these things early will give you the right foundation. If you are a seasoned business owner who hasn’t implemented these things or looking for some guidance, then this legal calendar will give you the confidence to start over and be more organized. If you follow these month-by-month tips, your business is bound for a legally sound and successful business year. I would love to hear your success stories as you implement these tips and feel free to share which tip resonated most with you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Augusta Massey is the Founder and Managing Member of Massey & Associates Law Firm, PLLC, where she practices in the firm’s business law, bankruptcy, litigation, and estate planning department, among other areas. While in law school, Ms. Massey served as the Regional Director of the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition for the Southern Region Black Law Students Association, the President of the International Law Students Association, and President of the Association for Trial Lawyers of America. Ms. Massey was also the Champion of the Freshman Moot Court Competition, received a Best Legal Memorandum Award and three CALI Awards for Excellence in Trial Advocacy, Cyber Law and International Business Transactions. Currently, Ms. Massey is President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association, a Nevada State Advisory Committee Member appointed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Top 40 under 40 award recipient of the National Bar Association, and a Judge Pro Tempore in Small Claims Court, Las Vegas, Nevada. To contact Ms. Massey, please visit http://masseylawvegas.com or http://mylegalbestfriend.com.
*Disclaimer: The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials contained herein are for general informational purposes only. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information contained herein without first seeking legal advice from their own counsel. Use of, and access to, this information or any of the links or resources contained herein do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader, user, or browser and author.