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4 tough questions to ask before expanding to a new location

Is business going so well that you’re thinking about adding another location? If this is the case, congratulations! But before you start planning the ribbon-cutting ceremony, take a step back and ask yourself some tough questions about whether a new location will grow your company — or stretch it too thin. Here are four to get you started: 1. What’s driving your interest in another location? It’s important to articulate specifically how the new location will help your business move toward its long-term goals. Expanding simply because the time seems right isn’t a compelling enough reason to take on the risk. 2....

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Fine-tuning your company’s compensation strategy

As a business evolves, so must its compensation strategy. Hopefully, your company is growing — perhaps adding employees or promoting staff members who are key to your success. But other things can spur the need to fine-tune your compensation strategy as well, such as economic changes or the rise of an intense competitor. A goal for many businesses is to provide equitable compensation. Do your research One aspect of equitable compensation is external equity; in other words, making sure compensation is in alignment with industry or regional norms. The U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics have a wealth of...

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Reminder: Small Businesses Can Qualify for Health Care Tax Credit

Overview of Eligibility Requirements for Small Employers The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is designed to encourage small businesses and small tax-exempt employers to offer health insurance coverage to their employees. The credit can be worth up to 50% of the amount a small business contributes toward employees' premiums (35% for tax-exempt small employers). In general, an employer may be eligible for the credit if it: Had fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees; Paid an average wage of less than $52,000 a year; Paid at least half of its employees' premium costs; and Paid premiums on behalf of employees enrolled in a qualified health plan...

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USCIS Releases Updated Form I-9 Handbook for Employers

Provides Guidance on Completing and Retaining Form I-9 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released an updated M-274, Handbook for Employers, which provides guidance for complying with the requirements of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Updated Handbook Among other things, the updated handbook provides information and answers on the following topics: Completing Form I-9; Retaining Form I-9; Unlawful discrimination and penalties for prohibited practices; and Acceptable documents for verifying employment authorization and identity.   Click here to access the updated handbook....

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Listening to your customers by tracking lost sales

“Sorry, we don’t carry that item.” Or perhaps, “No, that’s not part of our service package.” How many times a year do your salespeople utter these words or ones like them? The specific number is critical because, if you don’t know it, you could be losing out on profit potential. Although you have to focus on your strengths and not get too far afield, your customers may be crying out for a new product or service. And among the best ways to hear them is to track lost sales data and decipher the message. 3 steps to success A successful lost sales tracking...

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Make sure your company is prepared for any disaster

What could stop your company from operating for a day, a month or a year? A flood or fire? Perhaps a key supplier shuts down temporarily or permanently. Or maybe a hacker or technical problem crashes your website or you suddenly lose power. Whatever the potential cause might be, every business needs a disaster recovery plan. Distinctive threats Get started by brainstorming as many scenarios as possible that could devastate your business. The operative word there is “your.” Every company faces distinctive threats related to its size, location(s), and products or services. There are some constants to consider, however. Seek out alternative suppliers...

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Reminder: Issuer MLR Rebates Due to Plan Sponsors by Sept. 30

Overview of Employer Responsibilities for Handling Rebates   The Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rules under Health Care Reform require an issuer to provide rebates if its medical loss ratio (the amount of health insurance premiums spent on health care and activities to improve health care quality) falls short of the applicable standard during a reporting year. Each year's rebates must be provided by issuers to policyholders (typically the employer that sponsors the plan) by September 30 of the following year. Employer Distribution The MLR rules provide that issuers must pay any rebates owed to persons covered under a group health plan to the...

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DOL Seeks Input on Federal Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay Exemptions

Employers Can Submit Comments through September 25, 2017 The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a request for information (RFI) seeking input on its 2016 final rule which adjusted the salary thresholds for executive, administrative, and professional employees to be exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. What Was in the 2016 Final Rule? The 2016 final rule updated the federal minimum wage and overtime pay exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees by: Raising the salary threshold from $455 a week to $913 per week (or $47,476 annually) for a full-year worker; Setting the highly compensated employee total annual compensation level...

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Why business owners should regularly upgrade their accounting software

Many business owners buy accounting software and, even if the installation goes well, eventually grow frustrated when they don’t get the return on investment they’d expected. There’s a simple reason for this: Stuff changes. Technological improvements are occurring at a breakneck speed. So yesterday’s cutting-edge system can quickly become today’s sluggishly performing albatross. And this isn’t the only reason to regularly upgrade your accounting software. Here are two more to consider. 1. Cleaning up You’ve probably heard that old tech adage, “garbage in, garbage out.” The “garbage” referred to is bad data. If inaccurate or garbled information goes into your system, the reports...

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Seasonal business? Optimize your operating cycle

Every business has some degree of ups and downs during the year. But cash flow fluctuations are much more intense for seasonal businesses. So, if your company defines itself as such, it’s important to optimize your operating cycle to anticipate and minimize shortfalls. A high-growth example To illustrate: Consider a manufacturer and distributor of lawn-and-garden products such as topsoil, potting soil and ground cover. Its customers are lawn-and-garden retailers, hardware stores and mass merchants. The company’s operating cycle starts when customers place orders in the fall — nine months ahead of its peak selling season. So the business begins amassing product in the...

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