After more than thirty years of advising clients I am still surprised when bright, successful business leaders call with a problem that could have been minimized with a little planning, but has now mushroomed into a huge liability that threatens the very existence of the business.
It’s understandable that many ambitious small to medium size business leaders are so busy developing visionary plans to grow their business, break into new markets and take on new challenges, that they don’t have time to do something very important, planning for the downside risk.
As Dwight D. Eisenhower, famously said “in planning for the battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.
As experienced lawyers we can deliver more value by providing advice to allow you and your employees to identify potential problems before they happen, rather than trying to save the day with some last minute legal maneuvers or an aggressive litigation strategy after you’ve hit that iceberg.
Here is a formula for successful planning: You should try to meet at least annually with your trusted business advisors to leverage their knowledge:
• Are the types of coverages and liability limits adequate for this year and next year?
• Deductibles and attachment points appropriate?
• Have you started new business lines or taken on new markets and risks?
• Do you need privacy or data loss coverage to protect against data breaches?
• Do you need business interruption insurance coverage?
• Is your current corporate structure adequate now and in the near future?
• Are you expanding your business next year – what challenges might you encounter?
• Do your sales contracts need a refresh for terms and conditions, allocating risk and accessing insurance coverage from vendors?
• Any planning or successorship issues?
• Do you anticipate financing or access to capital issues in the near term?
• Competition law concerns?
• What about wage and hour or employment issues?
• State and federal tax concerns – how will new federal guidelines impact your business?
• Employee withholding, revolving debt, tax planning under new regulations?
• General tax planning consistent with growth objectives?
• How can you better manage cash flow?
One area that often can be neglected by smaller businesses is employee relations and compliance training, particularly when you don’t have a human resources (“HR”) manager. Providing training can avoid legal issues and improve employee engagement.
If you can’t afford an in-house HR manager, outsourcing options are available. You can also outsource safety training, receivables and debt collection for distributors, vendors and customers.
Think of these meetings as a well-visit for your business. Just like a wellness visit to your doctor to keep you healthy, these planning meetings can keep your business healthy, growing and out of trouble.
If you would like to know more or just want to discuss your business and risk planning process, we can help. Please give us a call at Sutter O’Connell. Your first annual wellness visit is on us.