Auditing Your Licensing Portfolio – Does it Matter?

Nobody applies much scrutiny to their internal licensing processes until something goes wrong.  After all, who wants to elevate licensing to the top of the “Problem List” for a growing company?  Everyone just expects that it gets done…timely and accurately.  But those of you researching new licenses for new products/services or a new company acquisition know that it’s not as easy as everyone assumes.  And the time allowed is often compressed.  Those are conditions that work to engineer mistakes and oversights.

The reality is that EVERY company has gaps in their licensing portfolio.  It just happens over time due to company business shifts, rule changes, and initial licensing mistakes.  So, in light of these factors, wouldn’t it make sense to investigate your compliance every so often before the local authorities clamp down with threats, fines, or embarrassing closure notices?  Uhhh, I think so.  Those are costs and distractions that nobody needs.

Investigating your license compliance can be a slippery slope if done incorrectly.  So the first step is to have a plan on how to proceed.  Here’s an easy one – hire an expert to lead you through it cheaply, efficiently, and honestly.  The risk of mistakes can get transferred to them and they will be able to get it done more quickly than you most likely.  They’ll ask the right questions and won’t have the internal bias that got you in a pickle in the first place.

However, you may possess the internal prowess to handle this without expert help.  Still, it means you have to devote sufficient time to accurately determining your business activities and to investigate the current rules surrounding those activities.  That’s a lot of sideways energy, phone calls, reading, and confirmation.  So employ a database that can do the research for you.  Selfishly I’d love for you to use mine, but use something rather than Lucy Lately, the two-weeks-tenure Licensing Clerk at your local municipality.  I’m sure you want more practiced advice than that.

Once you’ve decided the outsource vs. in-house question, just get on it.  Start with the more tricky revenue-oriented municipalities and then expand to the lower risk licenses.  When you find the gaps, solve them according to your plan.  Ask the licensing authorities for any interpretations you need and make sure to let them know that you are simply trying to do the right thing.  Then you’re on the road to repair…so long as Lucy Lately didn’t answer the phone.

About The Author

Doug Starr has served as Business Licenses, LLC’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing since joining the firm in 2011. Doug has more than 18 years of senior management experience in start-ups, with the last 11 years focused on sales tax and business licensing solutions. He has specialized in general management, sales, marketing, & streamlining operations for service businesses. Prior to joining Business Licenses, LLC, Doug was the Managing Partner for TaxConnex, a sales and use tax compliance start up, helping to grow them into the premier provider of sales tax compliance services for the SMB market. Doug also served as Director of Sales and Marketing for the indirect tax arm of Thomson Reuters’ Corporate Software and Services Division.

Doug is a graduate of California State University at Fullerton, and is a graduate of numerous executive, sales and marketing advanced education programs from Darden School of Business, McCombs School of Business, and the Mihaylo College of Business. He is also involved in a variety of community service initiatives, including Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, High Tech Ambassadors, Radical Mentoring, and The Best Imaginable College Experience.