5 areas a small business lawyer wants you to review in the new year

- January 2, 2023 3 MIN READ


A new year is an opportunity for many small businesses to start afresh in their business. It is a time for setting new goals, reflecting on business achievements, and taking advantage of the opportunities that 2023 has to offer. However, it’s also time to review your business legals, writes small business lawyer, Shalini Nandan-Singh.

Legal responsibilities aren’t simply ‘set and forget’. The new year is a brilliant time to start on the right track. If you don’t understand your legal responsibilities, it’s time to invest in understanding how to protect your business through effective business legals.

Before you find the year disappearing and reviewing your business legals falls to the bottom of the to-do list, here are the top five areas this small business lawyer recommends you review each year.

1. Review your contracts and policies

Each year, you should do a quick review of your contracts and policies.

On your website, remember to:

  • Update the copyright year on your website.
  • Update your Terms of Use on your website, if required.
  • Check that your Privacy Policy is compliant; if not, update it as required by the Privacy Act (Cth) and the GDPR.
  • Check that your Privacy Policy still reflects your business privacy practices.

For your Service Agreement or business Terms and Conditions:

  • Check your Service Agreements/client contracts reflect your current service offerings and business processes.
  • If your business name or contact details have changed, update your contracts with the correct information.

TIP! If you aren’t sure how to review your service agreements or privacy policy effectively, you can engage a business lawyer to check it for you.

2. Getting paid is important

The new year presents an opportunity to assess your invoicing and payment processes.

  • Does your client agreement clearly state your costs, fee structure, and details of how/when you are paid?
  • Do you regularly have clients defaulting on payment?
  • What process do you have for debtor management, and is this process working for you?
  • Do you have late payment fees, and are they effectively dealt with in your client agreement? You can learn more about managing late payment fees here.

TIP! Small businesses also deserve to get paid for their work. Is it time to learn to stand up for yourself and get paid on time and in full?

3. Working with contractors?

Check if your independent contractor agreements (contracts with virtual assistants, social media managers, website developers, marketing managers, etc.) are due for review or negotiation of services or pricing.

Remember that you can advocate for your business and negotiate a better deal if you’re not happy with your current arrangements.

TIP! Ensure you understand the difference between a contractor and an employee, and engage your team correctly.

4. Are you employing staff?

If your business employs staff, you should know your Single Touch Payroll (STP) requirements, including STP Phase 2, superannuation obligations, PAYG obligations, Fringe Benefit Taxes and other payroll obligations.

If you don’t, you must take the time to understand them NOW.

The new year is also a great time to review staff employment contracts and assess if they’re still relevant and appropriate to your team member and your business.

TIP! Employment obligations can change regularly, including recently announced changes like the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022. Ensure you have a system to keep up to date with employment legislation changes.

5. Questions to ask yourself at the start of 2023

Businesses have a multitude of obligations and commitments they need to meet.

  • Have you registered your business name?
  • Is it time to trademark your business name?
  • Do you have any IP materials due for trademark registration or renewals?
  • Are you considering licensing your products in the next year? Get some advice if you are – it’s a clever way of leveraging your Intellectual Property.
  • Do you have regular reporting requirements? Add these dates to your calendar and plan for them ahead of time. What do you need to do to meet your obligations each year?
  • Are there memberships you need to renew or review in the new year?

TIP! Take a moment at the beginning of the year to set up a system to manage review dates and obligations effectively.

Prioritise your business legals for your new year planning. It can start the year with a strong foundation you can build on throughout the year.

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