Breaking news: we’ve all officially survived 2021. And if that isn’t a reason to celebrate, what is? As a busy entrepreneur, there’s plenty that you have to tackle this year and that’s why the start of the year is the perfect time for you to reflect and plan your business for another exciting year ahead.
Now, this can get overwhelming, but not when you have a business health checklist that prepares you for your legal obligations.
What’s a legal business health checklist and how it can help my business, you ask? That’s a good question.
A legal business health checklist is an effective way to ensure the health of your business and all your legal requirements. Whether you are a start-up, small business owner or a sole trader working from your garage, using a checklist to cover all your essential tasks and planning ahead is a great idea.
Getting organised legally, preparing and planning will help you understand the health of your business so you can start the year on the right foot. You will be able to identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses nice and early, as well as explore each part in depth.
Like many other businesses, if you want your business to thrive this year, using a business checklist will do just that.
In this post, we cover 7 tips you can follow to prepare your business legally for 2022.
1. Review all contracts
The first thing to consider is your contracts with third-party vendors and partners. As part of your business health checklist, this is an important step since more than 86% of businesses have encountered an incident involving third-party vendors disrupting their operations.
So if you don’t want your business to experience any difficulties later on in the year, it is a good idea to ask yourself, “Has anything changed regarding this arrangement? “Do I wish to proceed with the agreement(s) going forward?.
For example, there could be another third-party vendor or partner better aligned with your business needs, so what better time to make this happen than the start of the year.
A review of all your legal documents is also essential so that you can be sure you are complying with recent policy changes, such as those relating to workplace bullying, customer privacy and Covid-19.
The start of the year is also a busy time for your business, particularly if your employees are still on vacation from the New Year. At this time, it’s important to check that you or businesses you contract with don’t have deadlines that fall in this period. If you do, you can look at extending these timeframes or fulfilling the contract early.
2. Review intellectual property licenses
Have you ever considered registering a trademark before, especially if you’re operating with a smaller team? One of the most important things you can do for your business is market your products and services, and registering trademarks is a great way to protect your brand.
It can be costly in the future if you don’t have the right to use your own business name, so why not consider registering a trademark now? There are many risks involved if you don’t register your trademark, including
- Another business could register and legally use your mark
- You could be inadvertently using a registered trademark
- You won’t have legal protection if another business uses your name
Take the time to tick this off your business health checklist and run a free trademark search before the busy year ahead so you can save yourself plenty of future headaches.
3. Ensure you’re operating within government regulations (covid rules)
Whether you’re operating your business from home or your employees are returning to work, it’s important to remember that government regulations about Covid-19 are still in place.
The last thing you want is to be held accountable early in the year is for not ensuring your employees’ health and safety, so make sure that you’re ticking this step of the business health checklist.
The Covid-19 government regulations change daily, and it is important to keep up to date. However, here are some tips you can implement to keep your business legally running:
- Allow employees to work from home, where possible.
- Maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 meters between people
- Regularly advise employees to wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to use a hand sanitiser
- Practice good hygiene
- Make sure workers don’t come to work if they’re sick with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath)
- Regularly clean your workplace
Signs and posters are great to remind everyone about COVID-19 and what they can do to stop it.
4. Consider your company’s finances.
We know that all businesses aim to thrive in 2022. Having a tight grip on your finances from the beginning of the year is not just smart but also a responsible act. Reviewing your businesses finances may include:
- Paying your bills and finances to ensure goodwill
- Chasing any late invoices from suppliers and third parties
- Have a chat with payroll to make sure your staff details are up to date
- Filing your tax returns on time: set a specified deadline every year
- Reviewing your accounts from external suppliers
- Having a look at your end-on-year sales
- Are you running a retail or manufacturing business? Keep a close eye on your stock
5. Review and update workplace policies
Great employees are a vital asset to your business. To best serve their needs, it’s essential to review your policies and benefits regularly. Consider the language you are using in the policies and what policy types you’ll need to reflect your team’s needs.
Suppose there have been any uncomfortable situations regarding workplace benefits or staff behaviour. In that case, the start of the year is a perfect time to review these policies and get everybody on the same page.
For example, it’s important to have a well-communicated Drugs and Alcohol Policy to ensure that your staff is aware of expectations at the various social events in the year where they represent your business.
6. Consider staff requirements
As your business grows, so will the number of your employees. So having a well-planned strategy for your existing staff and potential new employees is an important part of your business health checklist.
With more than 41% of individuals working from home now, your business should consider early on in the year how it will best manage the changing working conditions and maintain the mental health and happiness of all your employees.
Employers have a legal obligation under the various state Workplace Health & Safety Acts to prevent the risk of hazards to their employee’s mental health. Hazards to mental health include high job demands, poor support from management and bullying.
Happy and healthy employees are vital to the success of any business, but it can’t be done if employees are not receiving the proper support. The start of the year is the best time to figure out a plan to maintain the mental health of all your staff members, and here are some ways to tackle this:
- Reducing stigma about mental health—Update your WHS policy to reflect you value of your employees’ wellbeing.
- Providing individual support— Employees have different family situations and living situations, so take to time to understand their individual needs
- Designate time for the team and business bonding— Coffee breaks, lunches and even games over Zoom
- Providing a designated HR specialist or team leader for employees to go to if they need further assistance
By creating an environment that supports the well-being of your employees, you will be making a workplace that allows staff to perform at their best.
7. Conduct audits
Conducting a business audit is something many businesses put off in their business health checklist. We get it, the end of the year can be very busy, and the thought of looking at numbers seems tedious but did you know that it may be a legal requirement for you?
Under the Corporations Act 2001, audits are a legal requirement for businesses that:
- Make an annual turnover of 2.5+ million
- Have total assets worth 12.5+
- Employ over 50+ employees
Even if your business doesn’t fall into one of the categories above, there are many benefits of conducting a business audit.
Whether you choose to conduct an internal audit initiated by your business or an external audit undertaken by a registered auditor independent of your business, it is never too late to get it done.
The benefits of an audit are immense for both small and large businesses, and include:
- Improving business efficiencies— the day to day operations of your business by identifying inefficiencies
- Providing assurances to partners—showing partners the financial health of your business
- Improving business control— identifying procedures for fraud, improving tax planning
- Strengthening the credibility of your business financial record
There is no better way to finish ticking off your business checklist than to ensure that your business is financially healthy.
To ensure that you and your employees tackle this year without a hitch, especially at the beginning of the year, make this checklist a priority and understand your legal obligations so you are well prepared to mitigate any risks.
Take the time now before it gets jam-packed to implement the tips above, so you know that your business will go in the right direction. Once again below are the things to focus on:
- Review all contracts
- Review intellectual property licenses
- Ensure you’re operating within government regulations (Covid rules)
- Consider your company’s finances
- Review and update workplace policies
- Consider staff requirements
- Conduct Audits
Did you enjoy what you just read? Take a look at our Employee Handbook to learn more about how to keep your business legally ready.