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Why every business should get an annual checkup

No business is stagnant. Just as the market is continually evolving, so, too, is your business. And so is the legal landscape that affects your enterprise.

Most businesses undergo a thorough legal vetting at certain milestones: during formation, while considering a major acquisition, or when restructuring or selling, for example. But every business can benefit from more frequent and regular legal reviews.

What goes into an annual business review?

An annual checkup is the perfect opportunity to conduct a head-to-toe review of the business from a legal perspective. It should involve, at minimum:

  • Looking through the corporate books, meeting minutes, bylaws and other documentation, ensuring that formalities are upheld
  • Analyzing business contracts - including employment and vendor agreements - for gaps or potential liabilities
  • Reviewing standard operating procedures
  • Exploring any financing needs and options for meeting those needs
  • Going over any regulatory updates that may impact your business
  • Strategizing how to address challenges confronting your business
  • Outlining specific steps for improving compliance and minimizing risks

Ideally, at the end of this process, you should come away with a better understanding of your business as a whole - including vulnerabilities and opportunities for improvement.

Beyond the business

An annual review shouldn't be limited to addressing changes in the life of the business. For small businesses - and those that are family-run - it should also address any changes in your life circumstances.

Perhaps you've had a child or gotten a divorce. Maybe your adult children are ready to take the helm. Maybe retirement is just around the corner. Whatever your life situation, it's wise to stop and take inventory. You may need to update your business succession plan - as well as your personal estate plan - to reflect your current circumstances and goals.

Who should conduct this review?

Every business should have a trusted legal advisor who knows the ins and outs of your operation. This attorney should be your go-to for the countless questions that can pop up during day-to-day operations. And, because they understand your business, this attorney should be in a strong position to conduct a thorough annual review.

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