New Year’s Resolutions for Business Owners

Like anyone else, business owners can begin the New Year by vowing to lose weight or revisit their insurance coverage during 2019.  However, you probably should make (and implement) a separate set of resolutions to help your company prosper this year.

Here are some suggestions for your consideration:

  • Turn over your paperwork.  Finish your financial statements and related supporting materials from 2018.  Make hard copies of online files and store them where they’ll be accessible for tax preparation.  Be sure you can locate your appointment book from last year, in order to substantiate business meetings, and that you have recorded odometer readings of vehicles that were used for business in 2018.  Then start new files for your 2019 financials, travel, entertainment, and so forth.
  • Follow through on those forms.  In January, you’ll need to send W-2 forms to employees, reporting their wages, as well as Form 1099 to contractors and other recipients to whom you paid over $600 last year.  If you use a payroll service, follow up to make sure it has the needed information; if you use a software program (such as QuickBooks) to track outside payments, pick up blank 1099 forms at an office supply store for printing the documents you must send.  My office can assist you with meeting these reporting requirements, so let us know if you encounter any obstacles sending these out on time.
  • Execute a buy-sell agreement.  If you don’t already have a formal buy-sell agreement in place, work on getting it done in 2019.  Without such a document, your family may not get full value for your stake in the company in the event of your untimely demise or disability.
  • Update your buy-sell agreement.  A buy-sell agreement often will set a price for the buyout, or a method for arriving at an acceptable amount.  If you already have an agreement in place, review the stated price and draft revisions as necessary.
  • Hold meetings.  If you operate your business as a corporation, you may be required to hold directors’ and shareholders’ meetings at least annually.  The beginning of the year can be an excellent time to hold such meetings, to set formal plans for 2019.  At these meetings, you can update bylaws, cover buy-sell agreements, and generally take care of any outstanding business.  Make sure the meeting’s discussions are well-documented and a record is entered into your corporate minutes.  You will probably want to hold separate meetings for ownership (i.e., shareholders) and employees so that plans for the upcoming year can be effectively determined, then communicated.
  • Review your website.  Update references to appropriate year, remove any mentions to year-end holidays and replace with more timely content.  Review your site’s content, including personnel bios to company announcements, to ensure things are current.

  • Scrutinize your social media presence.  Savvy participation can be a key to future growth.  Do you have accounts with the major social networking sites as well as those that are gaining ground?  Do your website and marketing materials reflect those connections?  You might want to have young employees (or the teenage children or older ones) evaluate your efforts there and make suggestions.

On a related topic, does your company offer products or services that are evaluated on third-party websites (such as Yelp, Angies List, etc.)?  If so, you might want to assign an employee or hire a contractor to monitor such sites and see what people are saying about your firm.  Any negative comments can generally be addressed by online responses and by in-house attention to any revealed problems.

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