There are many aspects of business that small business owners don’t like to deal with. Here are a few resources to make those areas less painful.
There are two necessary components for a strong small business: a strong offense and a strong defense. Your offense is sales, marketing, and customer service. We covered that in Monday’s post on researching your competition.
Yesterday we covered one part of your defensive strategy: protecting your business from disaster. Today we are discussing some of the less-enjoyable but extremely important parts of a small business’s defensive plan: legal, people, and healthcare.
Tips for starting your small business.
Starting a small business can be a confusing thing. Should you be a sole proprietor, corporation, or an LLC? Do you need a license to operate? Should you use cash or accrual accounting? Where do you go for working capital? Do you need a payroll service? What of type of insurance do you need? What about taxes?
While the questions can be overwhelming at times, there are some great resources to help you answer these questions. One set of resources that is particularly helpful, even to established businesses, are the Business Guidebooks put out by Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development. I recommend the Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota to everyone I know who is thinking about starting a business in Minnesota. When my wife was thinking about quitting her day job a few years ago to go freelance, I even told her to get a copy.
Human resources, or as we call them—people, can be one of the most difficult parts of managing a growing small business. From benefits to time cards to handbooks, it’s not exactly what most business owners had in mind when they hang out their shingle. But, having all those in place is what helps a small business attract good people and retain them when the times get tough.
We have a saying in our office: Good contracts make good friends. This means that setting proper expectations on how you are going to treat your employees upfront will help avoid ambiguity or confusion going forward.
To that end, I keep the following books, available from Minnesota DEED for free, at my disposal:
- An Employer’s Guide To Employee Benefits
- An Employer’s Guide To Employment Law Issues In Minnesota
- An Employer’s Guide To Employee Handbooks In Minnesota
If you read those books and realize that you’re in over your head, I recommend talking to your payroll service and your attorney. Many payroll services now offer services from simple HR help to full HR administration. We recently started using a payroll service to help us with some of our HR questions and that has saved our company a lot of time and headache.
As so much of the logistics are still being worked out, there aren’t many sites that give a full picture of what is coming with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).
There are two articles that I’ve found particularly useful when doing my own research.
The first resource is a blog post from the Finance & Commerce. While the post is a summary of a summary, it does a good job of covering some of the most frequently asked questions about MNsure, Minnesota’s new healthcare exchange. If you want to read the actual article linked to in that blog post you’ll need a subscription to the F&C.
The second article is actually a series of posts by Lohse & Kreuter about how the ACA affects Minnesota businesses. If you’re more interested in learning about some of the tax advantages for your small business under Obamacare.