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On New Year’s Day, I hiked throughout the Cedar Creek Preserve in northeast Florida. I enjoyed the peaceful views of the saltwater marshes and the pine needle-covered pathways as I walked through a cathedral of pine trees. I had to protect myself from biting insects and watch for rattlesnakes along the way. 

Later, it struck me that the entire hike could be seen as a microcosm of the New Year we have just entered. We know that the New Year will include beautiful moments, times of frustration, and times of danger. However, we can plan and prepare for any unexpected events, and make sure we take the time to recognize the beautiful moments.

As you start down the road in the New Year, think about what you or your business want to accomplish over the next 12 months and how you plan to reach your goals without letting unexpected events stop you. There is some truth to the fact that if you envision what you want to accomplish, you are more likely to attain your goals. 

With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider for business owners.

What New Business Owners Need to Think About in the New Year

If you want to start a new business, make sure you develop a comprehensive business plan that addresses:

  • The type of legal entity the business will be; you may need to consult with an accountant or lawyer on the type of legal entity that is best for your situation.
  • Funding for success and creating a budget; you should develop a good relationship with a local banker and a local accountant who assist small businesses.
  • Developing a distinct brand and creating a marketing plan.
  • Personnel issues such as employment policies and making sure you have a safe working environment. 
  • Insurance — such as general liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, and any specialized insurance for your type of business (i.e. malpractice insurance, advertising injury).
  • Supply sources and distribution logistics for businesses that are selling products in commerce.
  • Protection of trade secrets and original documented concepts through non-disclosure agreements, non-compete agreements, and confidentiality agreements with employees, investors, and/or partners.

These are just a few items that you need to consider. The Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida is a great resource for new business owners, so take the time to visit their website. If you live in another state, search for organizations like SCORE, the SBA, and local organizations in your community that assist small businesses.

What Current Business Owners Need to Think About in the New Year

If you are already operating a business, consider how you want to improve it and develop goals for the year. Take time to review the following issues:

  • Do you need to update any employee policies that address pandemic-related issues?
  • Do you need to review all of your insurance policies to make sure you have sufficient coverage for your business and employees (i.e. workers compensation, general commercial liability, advertising injury)?
  • Are all of your trademarks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office?
  • Do you have policies in place to make sure employees are not committing copyright or trademark infringement?
  • Do you have emergency procedures in place in case you are forced to shut down due to unexpected events (i.e. storms, fire, pandemic)?
  • Should you develop more than one supply source for any products you order from out of state or overseas in case that supply source dries up unexpectedly?
  • Do you need to review all of your contracts with vendors and clients to make sure they are up to date?
  • In the past year, did you invent a new product or method that should be protected by a patent?

I could write many more tips, but this is just a reminder of a few items that you should consider each year as you maneuver your business down the road to success.  

One last tip: take time to get out and enjoy nature. Hike through a state or national park, ride a bike, sail a boat or go kayaking, swim in the ocean, go snow skiing — or whatever your preferred outdoor experience is. The time away from the stress of work will do wonders for your attitude.  

Good luck in 2021! The Intellectual Property team at Marks Gray hopes you experience good health and success this year.


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