Pledging to fight the flab in 2017?


Why getting your business in shape should also be top of your New Year’s resolutions

‘Right, it’s January, time to get a grip.’

If such a thought hasn’t crossed your mind, then I applaud you. But for most of us, the arrival of January is the spur we need to shake off bad habits, adopt new ones and generally get our lives back in order.

Whether it’s giving up smoking, alcohol or chocolate – or getting to the gym more often ­–most of us are pledging to turn over a new leaf in some way, right about now.

While it might sound a little twee, and rumour has it that more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken, I actually think this annual prompt has an important part to play.

This is as true for businesses as it is for personal lives. Yet company owners often don’t take that valuable time to reflect, as they’re too busy dealing with the here and now.

If you do nothing else…

Ensuring your tax planning is optimised is a must. This may be the last thing you want to hear as you battle with preparing your documentation for the 31 January and 1 April tax return and year-end deadlines. But taking a little time amidst this furore to consider the bigger picture for 2017/18 could, quite literally, pay dividends.

January is a very good time to reconsider how you structure your company, to ensure it is as efficient and economically viable as possible, including maximising your tax efficiency. ‘Who are or should be your company directors?’, ‘what pay, pension and dividend arrangements are most appropriate for your business going forward?’, ‘when is the best time to incur costs or make investments?’, and ‘are you VAT registered and, if not, should you be?’.

If you’re not sure of the answers to any or all of the above, it’s probably time for a chat with your lawyer and accountant.

Greenhousing your growth

2017 represents unprecedented possibility for businesses in Hull and the East Riding. The positive profile being created by Hull City of Culture 2017 is resulting in a wave of confidence and inward investment which can only be positive for anyone doing business in the area.

However, just like all bright young things, it’s important to create a safe and nurturing environment for your business, to ensure it achieves its potential.

As your company grows, so does its complexity – and its liabilities for everything from employees to suppliers and customers.

A good starting point for controlling these is to take a fresh look at your structures and policies, to make sure they are up-to-date and robust enough to protect you against all eventualities.

A few more questions to ask yourself 

  • Do you have a clause in your contracts allowing you to charge interest on late payments?
  • Do you have ‘limit of liability’ clauses in your client contracts to protect you against being penalised for failures by your suppliers to supply their goods or services on time?

If you don’t have either of the above – or it’s a while since you’ve reviewed your company policies, contracts, and terms and conditions I would highly recommend doing so.

Making sure you make it happen

There is one, simple step you can take to ensure you’re on the right track, and give yourself a better chance of sticking to those New Year’s resolutions.

Creating a ‘Diary of Deadlines’ at the start of the year will provide you with the focus you need to anticipate opportunities and issues affecting your business.

Things that need to be in your diary include accounts filing deadlines, tax returns and payments, VAT returns and contract fulfilment milestones – as well as external developments that could change the goal posts for you, like the Spring Budget and the Autumn Statement.

Because you won’t be the only business owner making New Year’s resolutions, it’s vitally important that you get ahead of the game and your competitors, and this is one way of doing that.

If this blog has raised questions for you, why not get in touch with me via (01482) 974484 or 07885 462255, or email I offer a free, initial no obligation legal consultation which could help set you on the right path for 2017 and beyond.

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