January is a month surrounded with many stigmas. For many it’s a month of new beginnings and a fresh start. Usually instigated by those resolutions. For others it is the single most terrifying month in the year.

For many entrepreneurs it is the month that followed festive chaos… the month where customers are in hibernation when it comes to both new business and payment.

Then for a lucky few it is the month that will set the tone for the remainder of the year – super exciting! So, the question is – how do the lucky few make this positive mind shift?

From a legal perspective we have a few suggestions:

  1. There is time for true reflection not procrastination!

Although most businesses attend to strategy ad budget planning towards the end of the year, it is crucial that finalisation only takes place in January. Naturally this is not an absolute statement, but I have personally found that this is very useful. The festive break does wonders in refocusing us. In addition a tangible clarity tends to set in, which is very useful in calculated decision – making.

During this time a business can reflect on what worked and what didn’t and why. So, some crucial time to go back to the basics, i.e. where are we and is this where we want to be. It’s also a time to measure and compare. For example, how did we perform financially? Why? How is the staff morale? Why? Which suppliers’ added value and which ones did not.

This diagnostic exercise is crucial from a legal perspective. This is where we identify and assess risk. Entrepreneurs need to know their businesses. They say, knowledge is power. This cannot be truer here. Knowing your business means that you know whether change is required. In addition it means that risk can be identified and limited. Importantly it is not an exercise that entrepreneurs should embark on alone. The input of a professional in the relevant field is crucial in my view.

  1. There is more time, for action driven planning not for deferment!

Once risk and required changes have been identified, it is important to carefully plan the manner and timeline for addressing these items.

These changes may include revision of agreements, changing the structure of the business or may even be operational in nature. Regardless of the nature it is crucial to prioritise.

In addition, I have found that we often forget that successful business is not just about the people and product or service on offer but also about doing something only when the time is right. This is sometimes difficult to identify. For this reason it is crucial to consider all facets of the impact the changes will have including without limitation, financial, tax, staff morale and client perception.

Again, it is key to obtain the input of professionals and where appropriate your team, when deciding on your implementation strategy and timeline.

  1. Ready, steady – go!

This in my view, is here where dedicated follow through is crucial, irrelevant of the timeline of implementation.

Once implementation starts, it is important to ensure that you commit enough energy to the process. Without this, people may lose trust in the process. In addition, you need to understand the ramifications and content of all affected changes. Key people in the business (in addition to the owner / leader) should also be identified and committed to the process.

Implementation may practically entail implementing the new agreements, new company structure or HR processes.

Without effective follow through risk will not be limited as was the purpose of the entire exercise. This may compromise the success of the business.

We firmly believe that prevention is better than cure! So, when you start or why don’t you start your new year new challenge process? Contact us! We are the preferred law firm for entrepreneurs. For more information about our business assessments, please visit: http://www.schoemanlaw.co.za/get-your-very-own-legal-goalkeeper/

About The Author

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw

I founded the firm Schoemanlaw Inc in 2007 aged 24 and am the Managing Director of the firm. I am an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, as well as a Conveyancer , Notary Public and Mediator. I obtained my LLB degree cum laude and successfully completed my LLM degree (dissertation) in commercial law and B-BBEE at the University of the Free State. In addition I obtained my postgraduate diploma in financial planning (CFP) at the University of Stellenbosch. An abstract of my LLM dissertation was published in the Journal for Estate Planning in 2006 and is regularly published in De Rebus (the SA attorneys’ journal) as well as Without Prejudice and Polity.org (legalbriefs). I also write regularly for various online publications such as Spice for Life and other mainstream publications such as The Entrepreneur Magazine, Personal Finance Magazine and have a regular slot on SAfm’s The Law Report with Karen Key. For more information visit http://www.schoemanlaw.co.za/about-us/

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