New Year’s Resolutions for Business Owners

Like anyone else, business owners can begin the New Year by vowing to lose weight and revisit their insurance coverages during 2015. However, you probably should make (and implement) a separate set of resolutions to help your company prosper this year.

Here are some suggestions you can consider: 

  • Turn over your paperwork. Finish your financial statements and related supporting materials from 2014. Make hard copies of online files and store them where they’ll be accessible for tax return preparation. Be sure you can locate your 2014 appointment book, in order to substantiate business meetings, and that you have recorded odometer readings of vehicles that were used for business in 2014. Then start new files for your 2015 financials, travel, entertainment, and so on.
  • Follow through on the 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 to track outside payments, pick up blank 1099 forms at an office supply store for printing the documents you must send.

Our office can help if you run into obstacles sending these required forms on time.

  • Execute a buy-sell agreement. If you don’t already have a formal buy-sell in place, work on getting it done in 2015. Without a buy-sell, your family may not get full value for your stake in the company in case of your death or disability.
  • Update your buy-sell. A buy-sell often will set a price for the buyout, or a method for arriving at an acceptable amount. If you  already have a buy-sell in place, check on the stated price and revise it, if 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 2015. At these meetings, you can update bylaws, cover buy-sell agreements, and generally take care of business. Make sure the meeting’s discussions are well-documented and a record is entered into your corporate minutes.

If relevant, hold your directors’ meeting first, so you’ll be prepared to answer questions at the shareholders’ meeting. In any event, you also might want to hold a meeting for employees, to tell them your plans for the year ahead and boost their enthusiasm.

  • Review your website. Change all 2014 references to 2015. Remove any references to year-end holidays and replace with more timely materials. Go over all the content on your site, from personnel bios to company news, to be sure everything is up to date.
  • Scrutinize your social media presence. Savvy participation can be a key to future growth. Do you have accounts at the major networks 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 of 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? 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 be addressed by online responses and by in-house attention to any revealed problems.

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