Small business lawyer’s guide to planning for the new financial year

- July 3, 2023 3 MIN READ
Young female lawyer working on contracts with businessman

In my line of work as a small business lawyer, I regularly talk to business owners about what tasks they have set for themselves to complete at the end of the financial year. Unsurprisingly, they mention their regular payroll and tax obligations; however, a new financial year is also the prime time for taking action on many areas of their business, writes Shalini Nandan-Singh, founder of Love Your Legals.

As a small business owner, the start of a new financial year presents an opportunity to evaluate and plan for success. Among the myriad of tasks that deserve your attention, your small business lawyer can be a valuable partner in ensuring legal compliance, minimising risks and protecting your interests.

This blog post will explore key areas your lawyer wants you to focus on in the new financial year, with tips to implement in your own business.

Reviewing contracts – your shield of protection

Contracts form the foundation of business relationships and safeguard your rights and interests. Begin by reviewing your existing contracts, paying attention to key terms such as payment terms, delivery obligations, termination clauses and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Engage your small business lawyer to ensure your contracts align with your current business needs and comply with the latest legal requirements.

TIP: Create a contract management system to centralise and track all contracts. Consider using contract management software for seamless organisation and alerts for critical dates. However, if that is not in your budget, use a project management system such as Asana to help you manage these dates, or add them to your calendar.

Evaluating supplier contracts – a cost-saving strategy

Supplier contracts are often overlooked, yet they directly impact your bottom line. Assess your supplier contracts to ensure favourable pricing, competitive terms and protection against potential breaches. Engaging your lawyer to negotiate or renegotiate contracts can help you secure more favourable terms and reduce costs.

TIP: Create a spreadsheet to compare supplier contracts, noting key terms such as pricing, delivery times and quality standards. Identify opportunities for negotiation and initiate discussions with suppliers.

Reviewing pricing – maintaining profitability

Pricing is a crucial aspect of any business. Regularly reviewing your pricing strategy ensures you remain competitive and profitable. Collaborate with your lawyer to evaluate pricing structures, ensuring compliance with pricing regulations and addressing any potential antitrust or competition law concerns.

TIP: Analyse your costs, including overheads, labour and raw materials, to determine whether your current pricing covers expenses and generates a reasonable profit margin. Consider market trends and customer preferences when adjusting prices. Reviewing pricing is particularly important during times of inflation.

Setting new goals – charting your course

The new financial year provides an ideal opportunity to set new goals and outline a roadmap for success. Collaborate with your small business lawyer to define strategic objectives that align with your business vision. Identify areas for growth, such as expanding into new markets, launching new products/services, licensing your product or course, creating an affiliate program, or improving operational efficiencies.

TIP: Break down your goals into manageable milestones and set specific timelines for achieving them. Regularly track progress and make adjustments as needed.

Protecting intellectual property (IP) – safeguarding your innovations

Intellectual property, including trade marks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets, can be critical assets for your business. Collaborate with your lawyer to review and protect your IP rights, ensuring your innovations remain secure and exclusive to your business.

TIP: Conduct an audit of your IP assets, identifying any potential gaps in protection. Register trade marks and patents as necessary, and implement confidentiality measures, such as Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), to safeguard trade secrets.

Reviewing data handling practices – safeguarding customer trust

Data protection and privacy have become paramount in today’s digital age. Review your data handling practices to ensure compliance with applicable privacy laws and regulations. Collaborate with your lawyer to develop robust Privacy Policies, secure data storage and establish procedures for handling data breaches.

TIP: Regularly review and update your privacy policy to reflect current legal requirements. Train your staff on data protection practices and ensure they understand their responsibilities regarding customer data.

As you embark on a new financial year, partnering with your small business lawyer can set a solid foundation for success. You can mitigate risks, drive growth and maintain legal compliance by prioritising areas such as contract review, supplier negotiations, pricing evaluations, goal setting, IP protection and data handling practices.

Remember, these tips are meant to be implemented gradually and tailored to your specific business needs. For personalised guidance and expertise on all things small business legals, you can reach out to me for an expert advice session.

This article was first published on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.

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