So many of my clients are so “busy” – developing & producing products, marketing, selling, making new connections – they simply forget to establish, and manage the infrastructure of their business. This can be a critical mistake – and financially disastrous.
Having spent 40 years as In House VP General Counsel with Billion $$ companies, Contract Corporate Counsel with Multi-Million $$ companies, and Contract Counsel for start-ups and entrepreneurs – this has always been my first advice to Clients and to focus upon. In simple terms, establish procedures and solid business practices “before” the mess, litigation or claims – which you will then be required to hire lawyers to clean up (no offense intended to my legal colleagues) – at substantial costs and lost time.
Here are some Strategic Business Infrastructure Elements:
Business Plan – Assuming an original was created, has it been reviewed, modified (usually required), and followed? Have you updated, re-considered, re-evaluated the market and your competition? Met your objectives? Modified your objectives?
Financial Controls/Banking – Have you established dual signature requirements from CEO/CFO for significant financial obligations? Established a regular check up with your Personal Banker (i.e., in today’s world hacking accounts and compromised accounts is prevalent)?
Contracts – The old “handshake” is long gone. Are your Contracts in writing, prepared by legal counsel, and enforceable? Have you considered arbitration clauses versus litigation (much more expensive)? Have you considered the ability to recover monies due and owing – even should you succeed in litigation?
Human Resources – One of the most important areas – hiring and firing – always brings in the plaintiff lawyers. Have you an Employee Handbook? Imperative – rules & regulations keeps the structure in place.
Records Maintenance & Record Retention Policy – To many C-Office executives keep every contacts/correspondence/and connections for their entire career. In a litigation proceeding, request for documents will be extensive and possibly destructive. I have seen this occur many, many times. Establish a Policy of 5-7 years, and regulate it through management policies. Have your CPA advise you on Tax Returns and maintenance.
Insurance – Protect your Company, your Officers & Board Members – discuss this at length with your Insurance Agent. An Umbrella policy is often suggested and well useful.
Intellectual Property – Be certain all of your IP is protected and enforceable. It may be expensive to protect and enforce, but that is a decision you make when threatened or exposed.
Information Technology – Your database can be the most important part of your business. Be certain it is secured and maintained on a regular basis by your IT Administrator.
Succession Planning – What happens if your CEO or CFO or whomever gets seriously ill or just leaves your Company? Who takes control? How do you transition the business with little or no delays? Establish a Plan and review it regularly. Find or train new Executives who have the talent and abilities to succeed.
One final comment – remember this – “Everyone is Watching”. Your competition, your clients and all the Government agencies and the class action plaintiff attorneys. Take this advice as only that as it is not intended as legal advice or representation, but is offered to the public – to help you succeed.
© 2016 Law Offices of Steven E. Brunette, All Rights Reserved.