After surviving a challenging year where the margin for error was razor-thin for many business owners, many are looking towards 2022 and wondering how to best set their business up for success in the new year. While many of the flashy topics like branding, customer experience, and outreach have been covered ad nauseam, there has been little talk of some of the less obvious but equally important activities that business owners who want to prepare for 2022 should be undertaking.

For any business operators asking the question “how can my business best prepare for 2022” we have compiled a checklist of lesser discussed tasks to ensure a great next year.

End of 2021 Business Checklist:

Annual administrative filings

Do you have all of your required administrative filings in order? Now is a great time to work with your attorney to ensure that all SOS filings, business minutes, and other required documentation is in tip-top shape.

Review your lease

Is your company leasing a space for business operations or staffing? To avoid getting blindsided by additional fees that were not accounted for in the budget, have your attorney review all warehouse, facility, and office lease agreements. This is an essential part of avoiding surprises, re-evaluating space requirements, and renegotiating if your business needs have changed.

Account for upcoming ownership changes

If you think a merger or acquisition might be on the horizon for next year or the year after, the structural planning needs to start immediately. The best way to avoid expensive restructuring with a merger or acquisition is to optimize the shareholder structure and documentation before entering into that process.

Review supplier contracts

The end of the year is the perfect time to review your agreements with suppliers. Not only is negotiating new terms best done well before the contract expires but reviewing the agreements with your attorneys and CPAs allows you to catch if there have been overcharges or deviations from what was agreed upon. You can also take this time to evaluate the business needs for the upcoming year and determine how those agreements might need to change for the relationship to continue being beneficial.

HR exposure

Have your handbooks and company policies been updated to reflect any significant regulatory changes that have been implemented this past year? Do any new policies go into effect next year that can affect how you do business? Are there any areas that might put the company at risk for not being compliant? The federal government has made a significant number of changes impacting everything from minimum wage to what chemicals are allowed to be used in manufacturing; what defines a safe work environment; health concerns. Make sure you are on top of it so you do not find yourself facing a lawsuit that could be costly to fight.

Year-end incentives

Those who work for you are the lifeblood of your business. It is often a great exercise to think about how you can boost morale after a hard year, and reward those who have been great team players or have hit their target metrics. Whether their reward comes in the form of paid time off, flexible schedules, gifts, or monetary incentives, every business owner should think about how to get their people excited to spend another 12 months with the company.

Evaluate your IT

Has your technology helped or limited your company’s operations this past year? If IT has been a barrier to progress or profits, think about how you can make it better, and what legal and administrative requirements are needed to support that change. In addition to looking at the future impact of technology for cost savings, efficiency creation, or revenue generation, make sure the basics are done as well. Back up your data and computers offline in case of a cyber-attack or technical issue. Create redundancies, evaluate security protocols, and think about how you organize your information.

Evaluate your business infrastructure

One of the things that every business owner needs to think about at the end of the year is how their teams are functioning and if there is anything that can be done to better support them. Are there processes that can make everyone’s life easier? Is everyone in the right role given their strengths? Take the opportunity to think through the organizational infrastructure components that form the backbone of your business.

As we think through how to prepare your business for 2022, you will notice that many of the items listed are not the flashy changes that make a big splash. Quite the opposite, one of the most important things business owners can do to prepare for 2022 is to take care of the small things that can have a big impact on their company. If you are a business owner wondering how you can get the most out of 2022, reach out to the team at Hartmann Law Office to examine important aspects that might have a big impact next year.