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The AR Group

You Reap What You Sow

By Blair Rosenthal

Now that spring has finally arrived, it is the time of year for planting flowers and vegetables…and for those of us from farm country, planting crops. ?We at The AR Group also think it is a good time for our clients to think about whether they have also sowed the seeds of success for their businesses. ?As a business owner or HR manager, we encourage you to ponder the following ?seeds? to ensure your business reaps these much needed benefits.

First, let?s touch on people, and more specifically the possibility that you will need to increase your people. ?Do you have the processes in place to easily expand your human capital or will you be scrambling to put these in place when the time comes? ?Whether you are hiring full or part-time employees or engaging independent contractors, without the proper processes in place, you may be forced to cut corners and put yourself at risk.

These processes include items such as:

  • Having employee offer documents in place
  • Being prepared to write job descriptions before you advertise for positions
  • Having current employee files in order
  • Compliance with I-9 requirements
  • An up-to-date and comprehensive employee handbook
  • The ability to to identify when a staffing need can be filled with an independent contractor versus an employee and vice versa
  • The ability to properly classify for FLSA purposes

Second, have you formalized an understanding with your business partners to avoid trouble down the road? ?Specifically, this means having buy-sell provisions in an LLC operating agreement, shareholder agreement, or otherwise that formalize your expectations and understanding regarding transfer of shares around the three ?D?s? (death, disability, and divorce). ?You also need to plan for the contingency of a business partner not living up to his or her end of the bargain by forcing a sale of the partner?s interest at a specified amount for failure to perform employment obligations. ?In other words, have you ensured that you will not have to share your hard-earned profits with a deadbeat partner?

Third, do you have appropriate contract templates in place so that you are not caught flat-footed when the demand for your goods or services hits? ?Do you have sales contracts that protect your business but are fair to your customers? (If they are not fair, then you will likely spend time ?negotiating? rather than ?closing? your deal.) ?Similarly, do you have procurement agreements ready (whether they be for goods or services) so that you can quickly move to fill orders? ?Finally, do you have an appropriate non-disclosure agreement in place so that you can minimize the risk of sharing sensitive information (such as pricing, technology, or an innovation) when you are making a sales call?

Lastly, have you protected your brand or at minimum ensured you are not infringing another?s trademark by doing a trademark search and registering your brand as a trademark? ?You do not want to be in position down the road in which someone else can summarily force you to abandon your brand (and all of the goodwill you have established with that brand) because it turns out you have been infringing on another?s trademark. ?Similarly, you do not want to be in a position where someone else can trade on your market success by offering services under a confusingly-similar brand because you never bothered to apply for a trademark.

 

SMART TIP:

Sow the seeds of success for your business now by ensuring that you have:

  • The appropriate processes in place to expand your human capital needs
  • Buy-sell provisions in place regarding the three ?Ds? and otherwise to ensure that you are not in business with a deadbeat business partner
  • Contract templates for sales, procurement, and non-disclosure
  • Protected your brand via competing trademark searches and registration