It is hard to believe we are at the end of 2021 already. It's that time of year when people starting thinking about "out with the old, in with the new". But this doesn't just happen in our personal lives, it happens in our businesses and non-profits as we try to wrap up our 2021 plans and set goals for 2022. To help you do a comprehensive check in with your organization and make sure you are ready to start 2022 on the right foot, we've put together a checklist of key things to consider before the start of the new year.
1. Review your current contracts with vendors and clients. While your contracts may or may not renew at the end of the year, it is still a good time to look over what terms in those agreements. Are there increasing fees from your vendors? Do you need to increase your service fees for your clients? Has there been a change in the services that you require from a vendor? Take a look at your agreements and see if there are any modifications that need to be made.
2. Recordkeeping. If you are incorporated as a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, have you had your annual meeting yet? It is important that each year you hold that annual meeting so that important decisions concerning the company are made and makes sure all members, shareholders, and/or board of directors are on the same page regarding those decisions.
If you have had your annual meeting, make sure that those important decisions are documented in your annual meeting minutes so there is a complete and accurate record of those important decisions being made in order to avoid confusion in the future.
In addition to your annual meeting, you will need to make sure that your annual report with the State of Wisconsin or whatever state you are incorporated in has been filed. If you fail to file this report, at least in the State of Wisconsin, your company will be considered in default and will shortly thereafter be administratively dissolved and will no longer be a legally existing entity. Check the WI Department of Financial Institutions or your state’s business division website to make sure your annual report has been filed.
3. Employees and Independent Contractors. Similar to your client and vendor agreements, you will want to look over the agreements you have with any independent contractors. It is important to look over the terms in which your independent contractors are operating under. Do they meet the standards set by the two different legal tests applicable in the state of Wisconsin? Is it time to renegotiate the fee arrangement? Additionally, you need to make sure you are sending out 1099s to anyone you paid more than $600.
The same thing applies to your employee handbooks. Has there been a new policy you implemented for your employees? Are there different benefits they receive? It is important to look back on 2021 and update your employee handbook to reflect the policies you are currently using because the only thing worse than having no policies is having policies that you don't follow. Additionally, it is important to look ahead to 2022 and document any policies that you plan to introduce at the beginning of 2022 so that the new policies are documented appropriately.
It is also important for your employees to make you aware of any changes to their deductions. Make sure they provide you with a new W-4 form if their situation has changed in 2021.
4. Take Stock of the Year. In addition to the legal review, it is important to look back at 2021 and recall what were some of the struggles your organization faced. Were you able to overcome those struggles? What resources helped you to overcome those struggles? Are there some remaining issues that you would look to resolve in 2022? Are there other goals you would like to accomplish in 2022? What steps do you need to take in order to reach those 2022 goals? It is a great time to look back at what went wrong in 2021 and make a plan for your success in 2022.
5. Celebrate. While it is necessary to take a look back on the year and review your legal documents and take note of what went wrong and how to plan for 2022, it is also just as important that you celebrate and acknowledge how far you've come and what you accomplished in 2021. Was it the first year you started your business? Did you hit one of the goals you set for 2021? Did you hire your first employee? Did you rent your first commercial space? Take time to truly celebrate your accomplishments for 2021 as it will serve as great motivation for continued success in 2022.
We are here to help you navigate your year-end review and to make the process as simple as possible we are offering a great new service called the Athena™ Legal Check-Up. Your legal check-up provides you with the knowledge of what legal risks and opportunities your goals for 2022 create and the confidence and power to manage and take advantage of them. Between now and the end of the year, we are offering our blog readers 15% off. Use the coupon code GIFT to receive your 15% discount on the Legal Check Up.