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Newark's Larken & Co Solicitors: Getting business off to a good start with that back-to-school feeling

Even though most of us have not been anywhere near a classroom for years, for many, September continues to hold that back-to-school atmosphere, charged with possibility, promise and excitement, writes Lesley Purveur, of Larken & Co.

With the start of a new academic year there is often also a back-to-business feeling in the air, and a renewed motivation to knuckle down and take stock of those aspects of our business that we have been putting off, or simply need to revisit and update.

So, what areas should your business be looking at and re-evaluating to get off to a good start this September?

Lesley Purveur. (41841929)
Lesley Purveur. (41841929)

Collect money owed

In business, cash is king. If you are owed money, tighten your credit control policy. Small businesses are well known for letting customers delay in paying on what they are owed. Sometimes this is because they do not have a collections process while other times they may be embarrassed as this can be an uncomfortable subject.

In the current economic climate, more than ever, it is important for a business to have a tight rein on credit control.

Set aside some time each week, dedicated to recovering what is due, and if debtors won’t pay, implement a clear collections policy and follow through with a solicitor’s letter before action, court proceedings and enforcement.

Review your terms and conditions

The incorporation of terms and conditions into a contract can often dictate its legal position and strengthen a party’s case if a problem occurs. Terms and conditions can be particularly effective in relation to defective goods, late delivery, or a customer going out of business unexpectedly.

Resolve to review your business terms and seek specialist advice to ensure your contractual documentation properly reflects any business concerns, make customers aware of any changes to your terms, particularly if you have been trading with them for some time.

Reviewing and updating existing, or putting in place new terms and conditions or written contracts, allows businesses to stay ahead.

Make business planning a weekly ritual

Business planning will help you take stock of what works and what does not, set new directions and make adjustments where necessary.

Look at what is achievable and do not set unrealistic targets.

If you are tied into a lease, explore key areas for renegotiation. Current times have been tough for both landlords and tenants, and landlords are keen to hold on to good tenants. Make sure trigger dates have been noted in the event that break options need to be exercised or notices served.

Employee issues

Ensure your employees have up-to-date contracts and ideally a staff handbook. Also check that policies are set out clearly, accessible to staff and followed correctly.

This can be particularly important when it comes to dealing with grievance and disciplinary procedures. Do not allow problems to escalate and try to deal with these head-on to avoid frustrations arising.

Make a will and attend to business documentation

For business owners setting time aside to instruct a solicitor to prepare a will is a small price to pay for peace of mind and the possibility of minimising tax.

All shareholder agreements, partnership agreements and incorporation documents should be reviewed and updated where necessary, particularly as any out-of-date agreements can have unfortunate consequences, and potentially lead to deadlock and acrimony.

Businesses need to be able to move forward preserving their finances, and it should be clear about what should happen if an owner dies or otherwise leaves.

Although January is the traditional time for making goals or resolutions, a far greater challenge could be set in kick-starting positive change at this time of the year.

If you treat September as a new start, all things are possible.

For more information, contact Larken & Co Solicitors on 01636 703333 or email Lesley.purveur@larken.co.uk

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