As the holiday season quickly approaches, it won’t be long before the turkey is roasting (in the Northern hemisphere), or prawns are being shelled (down South), and presents are being opened everywhere. Now’s the time for many entrepreneurs to enjoy a slow down and take a breath. End-of-year deals are dusted, and you can look forward to a new year of growth and improvement.
We’ve gathered here 11 tips and tricks that you may want to focus on in your business during this time.
- Review and reflect on the past year: Take the time to review how your business performed this year. Celebrate the key achievements and identify any areas for improvements to make in the new year. This will help you to better understand the strengths and weaknesses in your business and the strategic roadmap ahead.
- Plan for the future: Use the quieter period to plan for the future of your business. Set down some new goals and objectives, and build a roadmap to achieve them. This will get your business well positioned to hit the ground running in the new year.
- Review and update contracts and licenses: Take a moment to review your contracts and licenses with clients and vendors. You probably spent a considerable amount of time and effort negotiating each agreement. Now is a good opportunity to review each contract for better insights on how they could be improved next time around. Identify liabilities that weren’t visible at drafting, implement operational efficiencies or cost savings— even something as simple as saving money on your lease. All contractual relationships can be managed and negotiated, so don’t shy away from reviewing them. Ask yourself some simple questions of your day-to-day providers. Is my insurance coverage protecting me on all fronts? Do I have a standard dispute resolution strategy across the board? What is my fail-safe plan for major failures in my business? The list goes on. Do it with expert counsel, who can ask the right questions.
One major contract that is often overlooked is the shareholder agreement. If you’ve been ‘winging it’ until now — now is always the best time to put one in place with other shareholders in your business if you haven’t already.
- Conduct an intellectual property audit: Make sure that all of your intellectual property is properly registered and that your contracts accurately assign ownership. Have you registered all the domain names needed for your forthcoming business and its projects? Is all your intellectual property registered and are your contracts assigning it correctly? Do your standard employment contracts cover ensure your business can enjoy the benefit of all of the IP being created?? These questions may seem targeted for a garage start-up, but big players like Google or Microsoft have had “Uh-oh” moments when they realized they had shortcomings in their planning. When was the last time you took inventory? It is always a good time to do an IP audit. You don’t want to find any red herrings in the middle of a financing round or a due diligence process.
- Review data privacy practices: If you handle personal data, make sure that your policies, systems and procedures are fully compliant with laws and regulations governing the handling of personal information. Review your contracts with data providers to ensure that they are meeting their obligations. The coming year will bring forth a significant increase in regulation and penalisation for data breaches across multiple markets. Make sure that your policies are ‘futureproofed’.
- Review and set the “cap table”: Cap tables are that ever-changing part of your business that you always have very clearly in your head, until you don’t. It is fairly easy when the split of ownership goes two or three ways among the founders of a company. But as time goes by, and you enter the wonderful world of equity financing and employee incentive plans, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of who is getting what and in what time. More importantly, understanding the tax and financial implications of the different tools that you use to raise capital or compensate employees is a game changer.
The more informed you are, the more sense your decisions will make. Knowing the implications of using SAFEs, convertible notes, equity financing, ERISA covered incentive plans etc., will not only protect you from any liabilities, but also help you maximize your financial efficiency and have a tighter grip on your taxes. Make sure that your cap table is accurate and up-to-date, and consider whether there are any changes that should be made to the ownership structure of your company.
- Evaluate your business model: Take the time to review and assess your business model. Consider whether there are any changes that could be made to increase efficiency or profitability, and think about ways to adapt to changing market conditions.
- Invest in training and development: Quiet periods are a good opportunity to invest in training and development for your team. This can help to improve skills and knowledge, and keep your team engaged and motivated.
- Focus on marketing and sales: Use the downtime to focus on marketing and sales efforts. This could include updating your website, networking with potential clients, or identifying new market opportunities.
- Take care of administrative tasks: Catch up on any administrative tasks that may have been neglected during busier times. For example, updating financial records, reorganizing office space, or implementing new systems and processes.
- Get organized: Take the time to declutter and organize your office space. This can help to improve productivity and efficiency, and can create a more positive and enjoyable work environment.