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2019

How do you go from small to big, or if not big, then at least bigger?

 

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That question vexes many a small business person. Is it a matter of simply executing a good plan? Yes, but it’s more than that. Is it having a great idea? Partially. A better mousetrap? Maybe, sometimes.

 

But really, it is more than that, and simpler.

 

For any business to scale and get bigger, the journey begins with a single employee. Indeed, if you are going to grow, you need help, period. A great team is what creates a great business.

 

Here’s how to effectively hire that first person:

 

1. Plan: Probably the hardest part for solopreneurs is giving up control. Often it is not that they don't want to share the power, but rather, they just don’t know how. Figuring out what to let go of is a challenge.

 

The secret is to sit down, make a list of those things that you do which mustbe done by you (client acquisition for instance) and which things can and should be done by someone else (sales for example.) Then make a list of what the new person will do.

 

Then figure out how much you can pay the person, what their hours will be, where and how they will work, and what all of their other duties will be. Create a written job description.

 

2. Cast your net: Let your network know you are looking to hire and post the job description on job sites and even local colleges. This will ensure that you get a wide variety of applicants.

 

Learn the best sources for hiring talent, according to Rieva Lesonsky

 

3. Sort: Of course, you want someone with experience and smarts, but think outside the box a bit too. What elseis important to you? Is it skills, personality, connections or what? Pick people to interview who seem great, but who also may intrigue you just because.

 

4. Interview: Look for people who have the skills, smarts, background and experience, and with whom you connect. Ask yourself: Would I like to spend 8 hours a day with them?

 

5. Make it legal: Make sure you have an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. All employers must have one.

 

Next, have your attorney draft an employment contract. Be sure your contract states that the employee is “at-will” – meaning they can be fired at any time for any legal reason – so that there is no implied long-term promise of employment.

 

You also need to set up payroll. Will you do it by hand (the least expensive) or hire a service (the easiest)? How often will you pay them? Also, check with your state labor commission to see what posters you are legally required to hang.

 

6. Fill out the forms: There are plenty of forms you and your new employee must submit:

 

    • Federal law says you must report new employees within 20 days of hiring them. State laws might be shorter.
    • Each employee must fill out Form W-4.
    • If you work in a state with income tax, they need to also fill out a form for state tax withholding.
    • Also, have them fill out a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, certifying they are legally eligible to work in the United Sates.

 

Good luck, it is a lot of work, but it should be worth it.

 

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About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Join Bank of America Merchant Services on Oct. 7 or Oct. 8, 2019, to hear about the latest hiring tactics for small businesses. The educational webinar will focus on hiring and retention best practices in the digital age, and will feature industry expert Rebecca Dodgen, People Operations Leader at Homebase.

 

Session topics will include:

  • Hiring in the digital age
  • Using tools and strategies to retain excellent
    employees
  • Empowering your employees
  • Live Q&A with Homebase

 

Date:

Choose from two times. The same content will be covered in both sessions.

 

  • Monday, October 7 from 3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. ET

 

  • Tuesday, October 8 from 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.ET

 

To register for the Bank of America Merchant Services “Works like a charm” webinar, click here.

For most business owners, retirement is either a subject they welcome or the last thing they want to think about. If you’re looking forward to that day, you’ve probably already started preparing to move on from your business. 

 

Many privately held companies reflect the people who’ve built them. In some cases, the owner is the business.

 

If you conclude that the company is viable without you there to run it, your next step is to get an accurate valuation of its worth. That is essential not just for  sale, but also in consideration of taxes and to help you gauge how much retirement income you might expect. A professional valuation and tax expert can help you look past your emotional attachment to the company, gauge its true value as well as the market for such a business, and arrive at a realistic number.

 

What Are Your Retirement Income Needs?

 

If you are planning on selling your business, you should determine how much income you will need to support your lifestyle and retirement goals, and what portion of that will come from the sale of the business compared with your investments and other assets. Keep in mind, too, that merely matching your current salary in retirement may not be enough if the business has also been paying for things like health insurance, car leases, club memberships and tax preparation – expenses that you will have to cover yourself.

 

Even after receiving a lump sum from a sale, many former business owners can stay involved and earn income by serving on the board of directors or consulting. You might even continue helping out in day-to-day operations in a reduced but vital role such as serving clients who’ve been with the company for years and are used to working with you.

 

If you own an office building or other physical assets, another option for generating retirement income is to retain those assets and lease or rent them back to the business. Such arrangements need to be agreed upon beforehand and spelled out clearly in the formal transfer or sale agreement with the new majority owners.

 

Bear in mind that there are very real advantages to beginning to prepare for it now.

 

Taking the time to plot your company’s future can ensure that you leave on your own terms. It also puts you in a better position to retain control, at least during any transition period. So that proceeds from your business -which in many cases are your biggest asset- have the greatest potential to provide you with a strong, steady retirement income.

 

How can you supplement Retirement Income?

If the proceeds from the business (sale of the business, physical assets, etc.) aren’t sufficient to cover retirement expenses, there are proactive steps that can be taken today to help reach the future you want, as well as increase employee satisfaction and retention. The first step is to have a conversation around the various Small Business Retirement Plan offerings to see which benefits best suit your employees, business, and yourself.

 

Small Business Retirement Plan offerings

  1. Small Business 401(k)
  2. SEP IRA
  3. SIMPLE IRA

 

Contact Merrill for assistance in choosing the correct Small Business Retirement Plan for your business.

 

Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.  Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as “MLPF&S” or “Merrill”) makes available certain investment products sponsored, managed, distributed or provided by companies that are affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (“BofA Corp.”). MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.  Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.

 

Investment products:

 

Are Not FDIC Insured

Are Not Bank Guaranteed

May Lose Value

 

© 2019 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.


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I don’t need to tell you that finding and retaining top talent is a challenge in this era of low unemployment. Not only are we small businesses competing for talent against other small businesses, but large corporations as well.

 

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Needless to say, a main way to do it is to offer a good benefits package, and that must include quality healthcare.

 

But offering a good healthcare plan is sometimes easier said than done. As we all know all too well, healthcare costs keep rising, begging the question: How do you keep costs down while still making employees happy and also turning a profit?

 

No small task, that.

 

But it must be done.

 

So, to help you, here are four ways you can reduce your small business healthcare costs.

 

1. Offer a narrower product

 

The essential rule for healthcare costs is that the more options you offer, the more it will cost. As such, it makes sense that narrowing the options in your plan – fewer doctor choices and a tighter network – will help keep costs down.

 

I recently hosted a series of short healthcare podcasts for United Healthcare and one of our shows dealt with this very topic. My guest was a UHC cost specialist, Robert Horton. Robert explained that a narrower network can save an average of 3%, which is not insignificant.

 

2. Offer a high-deductible plan

 

Another option that small business owners utilize quite often is a high deductible plan. A high-deductible healthcare plan (HDHP) is as it sounds – in exchange for lower monthly premiums, the covered employee agrees to pay more out of pocket when the time comes to actually see a doctor. Once the deductible is met for the year, most things are covered; that’s why so many people end up getting expensive tests done late in the calendar year.

 

High deductible plans are good when you have a young and relatively healthy workforce; they care less about the high deductible as they use the coverage lees.

 

While raising the deductible amount is not ideal (none of the ideas are, but that is the state of the system we are in) at least this way you can still offer healthcare coverage.

 

3. Offer a Health Savings Account

 

Health savings accounts are a simple way for small business owners to provide healthcare coverage at a lower cost. HSAs are akin to an IRA or a personal savings account, except that the funds are earmarked for healthcare costs.

 

“A health savings account (HSA) is a pre-tax savings vehicle for people who have high deductible health insurance plans (HDHP) and want to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses. An HSA reduces employees’ out-of-pocket costs and lowers their year-end tax liability. It also reduces employer payroll taxes.”

 

Accordingly, to qualify for an HSA, you must already be enrolled in a HDHP. With an HSA, your payments are tax-free as long as they go towards qualified healthcare associated costs.

 

This type of plan is also really good for the microbusinesses and the self-employed who need more financial flexibility and lower insurance costs. (This is what I use, for example.)

 

4. Offer wellness incentives:

 

Small business owners know what it means to think outside of the box. There is no better way to think outside the box in terms of healthcare-associated costs than by offering wellness incentives.

 

Wellness incentives can be anything ranging from gym membership discounts or incentives for activity like riding a bike to work or bonuses based on proven participation in the wellness programs.

 

A well-designed wellness incentive plan is a win-win for both employers and employees: not only does help employers with healthcare costs (insurance companies look kindly on these sorts of programs), but also, they encourage employees to live well while also promoting a strong company culture.

 

Ultimately, there are many ways for your business to reduce healthcare costs. These are just a few options that might work for your small business.

 

Tackle Employee Mental Health Issues and Your Small Business Will Benefit by Chris Brogan

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

The way we communicate and language itself is always in flow. It’s alive. Words and entire methods of talking go in and out of vogue. Slang is naturally an issue because it can change quickly. And almost always, humans. feel like the new generation will be the murderers of clear communication. There are lots of feelings of ageism in both directions. We can’t address communication without considering somewhat generic generational differences.

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What’s changed even more than normal, though, is the velocity of all this.

 

I’m sharing this because it impacts internal and external interactions with your customers, employees, and all of your stakeholders. There are some concrete ways we can embrace some of this change while reinforcing what’s good about the way things typically have been. Let’s look at it all like problems.

 

Problem 1 - No One Teaches This

 

There may or may not be “proper business communication” courses in college, but I’m presuming that if there is it’s not one students are lining up to take. For one, it would be boring. For another, I’d presume it would be years out of date, seeing as language changes all the time.

 

But you can put together a quick “best practices for email” course at work (either in person or even a webcast kind of thing) and help people coming into the company (and refresh existing employees) as to how to better interact. You know, “Subject lines save time” and “How to get someone to answer your questions in fewer emails” and “How not to write an email.”

 

Teach everyone in the company how to start, fill, and stop an email so that it’s useful. Teach how to make and receive a business call, and so on. (If you’re cringing, realize this: it’s much better than the frustration of enduring responses that don’t match the company’s culture.)

 

Problem 2 - We Get Hung Up on the Look and Feel

 

Similar to problem 1, we all have to realize that incoming generations of business professionals were “born and raised” in a mobile-first communications environment. You and I might have been raised by word documents and emails. Newcomers to business started with text messages and tweets. Brief. Simple. And with quickly changing language.

 

If I tell my teenagers something like “One Punch Man needs a new season,” I’ll hear back “ikr” and that’s it. They’ve said, “I know, right?” but that’s not what is actually sent.

 

To the benefit of all parties and around communication, brevity is a great thing. Sending pictures and gifs and emojis is a good thing. It’s not yet all that acceptable in common business interactions, and there probably aren’t all that many legal documents with emoji or memes written into them, but there is a time and a place for them internally.

 

 

Problem 3 - We Hate the Phone

 

“The phone is just a seldom used app... on my phone.” - Gary Gulman

 

Verbal communication has fallen into deep decline, even though it’s still the second most effective way to communicate with another person. There are great times for a phone call. Sales close a lot better with phone support (nothing beats in-person, I know).

 

It’s helpful to teach everyone proper phone etiquette for different types of calls, including internal requests, consensus gathering, and so on. It might also help to train everyone how to use methods other than the phone for interactions. One big drawback to voice communication is that it must be conducted in real time. There are many situations where it’s easier to message someone than to talk via the phone.

 

Problem 4 - Communication Will Forever and Always Be Multi-Channel

 

This has changed and it will never go back: we all use more than one method to reach and interact with people. Think about messaging apps alone. You could text, Skype, Facetime, Slack, or DM someone on any number of social networks. You can use Whatsapp or Signal or Telegram, Line, or WeChat and so on and so on.

 

People now communicate with multiple channels in action. You might send an email, then text a follow up comment, and later switch to the company’s Slack channel to check in with the group. Companies who embrace this method usually get more done (and done faster) compared with those who force formal single-channel methods of interaction. Frustrating as it is (and there are some cool software tools that help mitigate this), this is how people communicate these days.

 

Problem 5 - Only Our Generation is Right

 

I said ageism plays a key role in fixing communications challenges at a company. It’s pretty much the core of all the other problems. Younger people think older people are too formal and stiff. Older people feel that the new generation doesn’t value interaction the same way.

 

Everyone is right and everyone is wrong and none of that matters. Communication is an art more than a straight recipe. There are great parts worth keeping in every communication method. There are parts that aren’t as preferred where people might have to meet in the middle. Every generation has a point of view, but also no generation is all that monolithic, either.

 

The best way to improve communication? Learn to listen more, ask more questions, and work on these “problems.”

 

You don’t, like, have to talk like anyone other than who you are, and it’s always way better to speak in your own diction than to ever try and use modern slang. (Don’t do it. Oh-kerrrr?) (I cringed even writing that.)

 

But DO understand that a much more conversational, visual, brief, and informal communications method is the nature of things. You can’t stay completely rigid and think that anyone finds your company modern or progressive. And yes, you come off as staid and stodgy if you don’t at least attempt to communicate a little less formally these days.

 

It’s not all going to be your cup of kombucha but understand that communication upgrades are business upgrades. If you help your company communicate better internally and externally, everyone benefits.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

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