Preparing for Year-End in an Economic Downturn: What You Should Know, What You Should Do

The end of the calendar year offers an ideal opportunity for most businesses and individuals to measure their performance over the previous 12 months and conduct a thorough assessment of their operations, internal controls, strategic initiatives, and short- and long-term objectives.

This is particularly true for many of us who typically postpone much-needed analysis and planning in order to focus on day-to-day operations and ongoing personal pressures. The crises of recent months—including bank failures, staggering federal bailouts and tremendous economic uncertainties, as well as natural disasters and political turmoil—have demonstrated the extreme volatility in our economy and the effects of these events on our professional and personal lives. It is easy to understand how immediate concerns can draw our attention from what appear to be less pressing matters. Unfortunately, resolving today's real problems often takes precedence over preparing for tomorrow's possibilities.

Successful companies and their owners understand, however, that prudent strategic planning can go a long way toward providing the flexibility and nimbleness necessary to achieve success in a fast-moving business climate, as well as in an unpredictable environment. By knowing your business inside and out, taking action to shore up or avoid potential contingent liabilities, and preparing for the future, business leaders can effectively manage what is expected and provide a cushion for the unexpected—whether that comes in the form of a global economic downturn or new competition for your share of the local market.

The Much Shelist Legal Check-Up is a comprehensive, questionnaire-based tool that challenges companies and individuals to assess their business, financial and legal affairs. I have asked several of my Much Shelist partners who contributed to the Legal Check-Up to identify some of the key issues that our clients should be aware of and assess as 2008 draws to a close—each from the perspective of their own areas of legal concentration.

To receive a complimentary copy of the Much Shelist Legal Check-Up, please e-mail or contact your Much Shelist attorney.

Mitchell S. Roth, Managing Partner and principal in the firm's Business & Finance group, advises a wide range of clients, including entrepreneurs, closely held businesses and public companies involved in manufacturing, distribution, investment banking, private equity, financial services, real estate development, technology and other industries. He can be reached at 312.521.2477 or

This article contains material of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Under professional rules, this content may be regarded as attorney advertising.