What are your business goals for the new year? If I’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that you should lean into your hardships because, in many cases, they end up being the biggest blessings in your life. No one ever proclaimed that running a small business was easy, but the hard work and challenges are well worth the effort.
2022 Business Resolutions
Following are seven business resolutions you can make—and keep—in 2022 that will help you build a solid and successful company.
- Start a Business
Yes, you can start a business in 2022! Are you overwhelmed by the enormity of it all? Break it down into smaller steps. Step one (even if you’re starting part-time) is to make sure you take the proper legal steps. (Also, save all your receipts since startup costs are deductible in your first year of business.)
- Choose a structure. Your choice of business structure impacts how you run your business, how you pay taxes, your personal liability, and how you raise money. Starting as a sole proprietor or partnership means accepting total financial and legal responsibility. However, if you decide to form a corporation or limited liability company, you’ll separate the business’s liability from the owner(s).
- EIN. Obtain a Federal Tax ID number or Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. You will use your EIN or Tax ID number on all financial documents. Sole proprietors can use their social security numbers.
- Licenses and permits. Check with your city and county to see what licenses and permits are required for companies in your industry. Required licenses, fees, and permits vary by location.
- Sales permit. Apply for a Sales Tax ID Number (or Seller’s Permit) with your state’s Department of Revenue
- Hire Employees
Will 2022 be the year you hire your first employee? Do you need full-time or part-time help? Finally, will you offer benefits? These are all questions you need to answer before starting the hiring process.
- Payroll taxes. Once you decide to hire employees, you must register with your state’s Department of Revenue and its unemployment services department. You must register for these departments in any state you have employees. All states require employers to contribute to unemployment insurance funds. Employers also must withhold federal income tax and state income tax in the states with income tax. Employers must also withhold and contribute to Social Security and Medicare.
- OSHA. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates working conditions for employees by setting and enforcing safety standards. Check to see what your responsibilities are as an employer.
- Employee handbook. Create an employee handbook and include your company’s policies, procedures, and expectations of your employees.
- Expand to Another State
If you’re considering adding new locations, expanding your company’s presence across state lines can help you reach new markets and boost profits. Before you make the move, you need to:
- Foreign qualification. Legally expanding your business to other states typically does not require starting an entirely new business entity in those states. Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations can operate within other states by applying for foreign qualification, which means registering your company with the state’s Secretary of State office in the states you’re expanding in.
- Registered agent. During the foreign qualification process, your company will be required to appoint a registered agent. A registered agent is a person living in the state or an official registered agent service with the authority to accept service of process (legal documents and government notices) on behalf of the company.
- Taxes. You must register your company with the state’s Department of Revenue to make sure you pay the correct sales tax and payroll taxes for any employees working and living in the state.
- Marketing Goals
Is your marketing strategy still stuck in 2021? Now is the time to revamp your marketing priorities and strategize reaching today’s consumers.
- Website makeover. Consumers leaned into technology hard in the past few years, and they have no patience for websites with poor design or that load slowly. Make it a goal to update your company’s website for easy accessibility across all devices, including desktop and mobile.
- SEO. Are your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategies attracting the traffic you desire? If not, are you optimizing your content and images—that helps drive SEO. Have you claimed your Google My Business profile to improve your ranking? Have you considered adding different keywords to accommodate the proliferation of voice search queries?
- Social commerce. Advertising on social media platforms is a no-brainer. Social commerce (where your brand can sell products directly on social media) is even better. In essence, the whole shopping experience takes place without leaving the social media platform—and the practice is booming.
- Intellectual Property
If you’ve postponed applying for intellectual property rights, you’re putting your business at risk.
- Patents give the company/inventor exclusive rights to an invention for a fixed time. Patents are not renewable, and once the period ends, the invention is in the public domain.
- Copyrights give authors of original works (literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, etc.) infringement protection during the author’s lifetime, plus 70 years.
- Trademarks protect the registered owner from infringement of words, phrases, symbols, and designs (or any combination). Businesses typically trademark company names, logos, fabric designs, apparel designs, and more.
- Change Legal Structure
There are many reasons why companies might decide to change or “convert” legal structures. The owner might want to sell stock or bring on partners. Or the company might want to take advantage of the lower corporate tax rates. Whatever the reason, converting legal structure depends on whether your home state allows conversions of legal entities. In states where conversions are not allowed, the company must dissolve the current entity and form the company as a new entity. Check with the Secretary of State’s office in your state to find out if you can file for conversion or if you must file for dissolution.
- Closing a Business
Unfortunately, many small businesses have closed in the last few years. If this happens to you, it’s crucial to close the business legally, or you can be liable for the company’s activities, taxes, and financial agreements. To shut down a business:
- You must pay off any debts and notify vendors and customers.
- Partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies must follow the dissolution procedures outlined by the state and in the company’s documents. Corporations must have two-thirds consent from the shareholders with voting shares.
- Corporations and LLCs must file “Certificate of Termination/Certificate of Dissolution” or “Articles of Dissolution” with the Secretary of State.
- Remember to cancel all business registrations and permits.
- File business taxes and check the “final return” box on the tax form.
- Corporations file Form 966, Corporate Dissolution or Liquidation
Good luck in the coming year, and let us know how you’re meeting your goals.