Happy New Year from the team at McKays!

Now that the silly season has passed, it is time to get down to business and put in place goals for a successful 2017.

The New Year is a great time to reflect on the year gone by, but also plan for the year(s) ahead.

Here are our top legal tips to put you in the best possible position to succeed in 2017, and beyond.

1. Have your terms of trade and credit application reviewed
The recent changes regarding unfair contract terms will almost certainly mean your terms of trade and any credit application will need to be updated.

Your terms of trade and credit application form is essential in setting the terms for your dealings with customers and suppliers. A deficiency in either of these documents may see you face difficulties in getting paid for work done, resolving disputes about the quality of work, or even cause issues with the ownership of the equipment/products you are selling.

It is crucial that these documents are up to date, so that you are in the best possible legal position, in the unfortunate event of a dispute arising.

2. Do you have in place a Shareholders or Partnership Agreement with your fellow business owners?
We cannot stress enough the importance of having one of these agreement in place if you have a business partner.
An agreement of this nature can avoid disputes and defuse problems between business partners. For example, if you and your business partner are not getting along, and he or she wants out, an agreement of this type will set out how this process is to work.

If you don’t have a shareholders or partnership agreement, your business partner can essentially set the terms on their buy out, which may not be fair or reasonable in the circumstances, which can lead to a nasty and costly dispute. Then, who is watching your business while you are dealing with the dispute?

3. Have your employee agreements and/or subcontractor’s agreement been recently reviewed?
These agreements need regular reviewing, and updating as necessary. For example, is the position and duties for the particular employee still accurate? Does the agreement comply with current legislation? Do any restraints need to be added, or indeed updated? Does the agreement adequately deal with the business’ policies, which are likely to regularly change?

4. Have you considered trademarking your business name and logo?
Did you know that registration of a company name and/or business name does not give you exclusive use to the name, and that you have limited right to stop others from using that name as a mark for their products and services? If there is value in your business’ name, and logo (which is likely the case), you should be registering these as a trademark to prevent against any potential infringement.

5. Review, and if needed, update your wills and powers of attorney!
All too often we see clients who have not reviewed their will for the past 20 years (if not more). Your personal situation, financial position and your wishes will certainly have changed in this time. Not only that, but tax laws also regularly change, which affect what you can and cannot do with your estate. Certain other entitlements, such as superannuation, may also not be dealt with by your will so it is necessary to get appropriate advice in this regard.

As a general rule, we recommend that you review your will at least once every five (5) years, and update as necessary.

6. Implement a plan for your debt collection, and if necessary, get it under control!
Cash flow is key to any business. If you are not getting paid for the work you do, your business will likely be suffering. You need a plan in place to deal with customers who do not pay you in accordance with your payment terms. For example, do you send out reminder letters, say 7 days after payment was due? What is step 2 to recover the amount? When do you pass the matter onto a lawyer for further help?

There are a number of options to pursue debts, such as issuing a Creditor’s Statutory Demand, entering into a Deed of Acknowledgment of Debt documenting a repayment arrangement, using the Building Constructions and Industry Payments Act regime, or through the Qld Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), or Courts system.

7. Build a circle of trust around you.
Continue to keep your legal advisor, accountant and insurance broker updated with your business to ensure everyone is on the same page about your business’ requirements and if anything needs to be changed. For example, it might be time to update your business structure, now that you have grown significantly, or you might need to update your insurance policies due to recent growth in your business, or undertaking work in a different field. Having a trusted circle of advisors surrounding you, is key to your business’ long term success.

The above are just some of our tips to put you in the best possible position for a prosperous 2017. If you would like further information about any of these tips, or even further legal tips please contact us.