Employing Youth

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Each June, millions of youth begin their search for a summer job. Before hiring any summertime help, it’s a good idea to be aware of the Federal and State laws governing youth in the workplace. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) youth employment provisions are designed to protect young workers by limiting the types of jobs and the number of hours they may work, based on the age of the minor. The following provisions apply to nonagricultural occupations:

18 Years of Age. Once a youth reaches 18, the Federal child labor provisions no longer apply to them – they can work any job for any number of hours.

16 & 17 Years of Age. Under the FLSA 16- and 17-year olds may work on any day for any number of hours. However, individual states may limit the hours or the times of day that anyone under the age of 18 may work. Also, all youth under the age of 18 are prohibited from working any non-farm jobs deemed hazardous.

14 & 15 Years of Age. 14 and 15-year-olds may work:

  • Non-school hours;
  • 3 hours on a school day;
  • 18 hours in a school week;
  • 8 hours on non-school day;
  • 40 hours in a non-school week; and
  • Between 7 a.m to 7 p.m. (except June 1-Labor Day when hours are extended to 9 p.m.)

If you are about to hire a youth and need assistance building a summertime schedule that follows the youth employment provisions, contact us.

Community Involvement is Crucial for Growth

volunteer

As a busy small business owner, you may think it’d be nice to be more involved with your community, but you just don’t have the time. However, several studies have found that it’s imperative for you to make the time for community involvement if you want to be competitive.

Community involvement gets your name out there and attracts the attention of potential customers who’ll be inclined to think of you positively. Businesses can do a lot of good for communities, such as sponsoring events, offering free community meeting spaces, or volunteering for community improvement projects. Consumers want businesses to contribute to their communities and are willing to reward those that do.

Community involvement is good for your employees, too. Surveys have found that employees who can contribute to society or the environment while they’re working are twice as satisfied with their jobs as those who can’t. Also, volunteer work can hone and add skills to your employees’ repertoires and increase teamwork.

So what are the steps to building a meaningful community involvement program? First, take a look around. What does your community need help with? What problems are your neighbors experiencing? Is there a high unemployment rate? Are school programs being cut due to lack of funding? Is the animal shelter overfull and underfunded? See what’s needed and what you feel compelled to help with.

Now that you have a few causes in mind, consider what your organization can offer. The key is to find a cause and a contribution that fits with your business. For example, it would send a mixed message if you ran a fitness center and sponsored an eating contest. However, if your fitness center sponsored a 5K run-walk event for a local charity, that’d be a perfect fit. You may want to poll your employees to find out what causes or contributions they’d like to make. Chances are some of your employees already volunteer or donate to community causes in some way.

If you’re unsure how your business can contribute, contact the charity or organization you’re interested in helping – they’ll most certainly have a list of ways you can help.

Delegation is Crucial for Small Business Owners – Part 2

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Last month we focused on the concept of delegation, why it is so important to delegate, and why it can be so difficult to delegate. This article continues the discussion of this important management tactic.

What should you delegate? You should delegate tasks that:

  • Are repeated
  • Are non-essential
  • Don’t have short deadlines
  • Can be better accomplished by someone else

Remember not to delegate tasks that are a mismatch for your employees’ skill sets and to always handle work that is confidential to the company.

To whom should you delegate? The key to deciding to delegate to whom is done through matching the right task to the appropriate person. Learn the current workload, skills and work style of your employees and you’ll then have a much clearer picture of what tasks to allocate to whom. Look for employees who are interested in learning new skills or who want to enhance the skills they already possess. Delegation is also an excellent way to prepare an employee for a promotion or to fill in gaps in his/her current skill set.

How should you delegate? Good delegation requires time and commitment from you. The first step is to clearly define the tasks you’re delegating and communicate them to your employees. Be sure to state why the task needs to be done, the desired outcome and the timeline in which it needs to be completed. Remember to allow different methods and working styles for the task. After all, you’re handing over the responsibility, so you cannot expect an employee to do the task the exact same way you would have done it yourself.

Delegation, when carried out correctly, will give you the room you need to concentrate on growing your business. It’ll also develop your team’s skills and engage them more in your business. As a leader, your time needs to be spent in high-level, strategic tasks, and not in low-level details. You’ll be hobbling your own business if you don’t delegate! Contact us if you need to delegate any of your financial tasks to us!

Delegation is Crucial for Small Business Owners – Part 1

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Many small business owners start out their business doing everything themselves. However, as a company grows, it becomes vitally important to delegate tasks in order to keep it growing, while also allowing you to have a life outside of your business.

What is delegation? Delegation is the handing off of a responsibility and authority. In order to effectively delegate, business owners and managers must pair the right task with the right, properly trained person. They should set performance expectations, give the person authority to make decisions, and leave feedback.

Why should you delegate? Delegation has several benefits to you, your employees and your business.

Benefits to you:

  • Frees up your time to focus on the important aspects of your business
  • Reduces stress
  • Enhances trust with your employees
  • Delegated tasks may be better suited to someone else's skill-set, so the task may be completed better than if you did it yourself
  • Develops a successor to take over your job, so you can focus on growing your business

Benefits to your employees:

  • Develops employee skills and advances their own careers
  • Increases confidence, productivity, morale and career satisfaction
  • Makes them feel more involved in the business and increases commitment to the company

Benefits to your company:

  • Saves money and time
  • Increases teamwork
  • Boosts productivity
  • Increases efficiency
  • Raises workers' skill levels, which will boost a company's long-term success

Why is it difficult to delegate? Many business owners and managers have difficulty delegating work to their employees. There are many reasons for this, although they typically fall into these categories:

  • Control. For those who find delegation difficult because they are too controlling, they usually feel that they’re the only ones who are capable of doing the tasks correctly. These managers must remember that their job is to guide the business instead and that an employee can be trained to do a task. A leader should focus only on specific tasks that guide and grow the business.
  • Lack of trust. Managers who don’t trust their employees need to carefully evaluate their team members. Why did you hire your team in the first place? Why did you stop trusting them? Can this lack of trust be rebuilt? Do you need to do more training to develop their skills?
  • Time management. Business owners and managers who avoid delegation may feel that it’s quicker to do the task themselves than it is to train someone to do it properly. This logic has several flaws. For a task that occurs regularly, taking extra time to train someone will pay off in the long run. And without delegation, you create an environment of dependency. If employees aren’t able to carry out particular tasks and make decisions on their own, they’ll become disengaged and dissatisfied.

New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners

resolutionAt Padgett Business Services, we’re excited about the beginning of a new year and the sense of promise it brings. As a small business owner, it’s an excellent idea to write down a solid list of business resolutions for the coming year. Here is a list of resolutions that entrepreneurs would be wise to make – and keep – throughout the new year.

Be Positive, Always – In every endeavor, assume success rather than failure. As simple as this sounds, it’s a critical posture to take. As the leader of your enterprise, it’s up to you to set a positive tone and example for your team. Establishing a company culture of optimism will help you weather the inevitable setbacks and discouragements along the way. Lastly, don’t be afraid to let go of an employee that is bringing you and your company down.

Make it a Priority to Prioritize – Time is the most valuable resource to your business, so spend it wisely on the tasks most vital to your company’s ongoing success. Whenever possible, automate what you can by taking advantage of technology!

Focus on Customers First – Keeping your customers foremost in mind will help you make the kinds of decisions that lead to success, positive change and future growth. It’s also time to review your customer list and determine if fees need to be adjusted or perhaps a client needs to be fired.

Be Persistent, Tenacious and Committed – Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that these qualities often trump someone else’s superior education, higher intelligence or better financing. Remember, a successful business is worth fighting for!

Recognize the Choices You Have – Identify your choices and actively strive to create more. Having a range of options to choose from can eliminate feelings of constraint that may lead to fear, discouragement or despair. Do your research on suppliers, vendors and customers so you understand your options.

Make Tough Choices When Necessary – As the leader of your company, making big decisions is what you do. Decisive leadership, as long as it comes from a position of respect and fairness, earns respect every time, both from within and outside your organization.

Seek Out Mentors – It’s important to seek out the opinions, ideas and perspectives of others whose experiences are greater or different than your own. Don’t overlook opportunities to help mentor others as well – you’ll learn from those relationships, too. Building strong networks will pay off in the end.

Focusing your efforts on the things that are truly important to the success of your enterprise is easier when you have a trusted partner to assist you with handling the details. Contact us to help you reach your resolutions.

Are You Paying Yourself Enough?

pay checkAs the owner of an S corporation, you’re probably aware that there’s a tax advantage to drawing money out of the corporation as a distribution rather than as wages. The reason is simple. Unlike wages, distributions you take out to the extent of basis in your corporate stock aren’t taxable.

Although you, as a shareholder-employee of an S corporation, have flexibility in choosing whether to receive salary payments or cash distributions, the discretion is not unlimited. The lRS can recharacterize distributions as wages if compensation isn’t reasonable. How much compensation is “reasonable”? There’s no simple formula, but in Publication 535, Business Expenses, the IRS lists several factors in determining reasonable compensation.

There are a number of concrete steps you can take to make it more likely that the compensation you earn will be considered “reasonable” and minimize the potential for IRS reclassification of distributions. As in most tax situations, planning ahead avoids problems later. Contact us if you’d like to discuss this or any other aspect of your compensation strategy.

Protecting Your Small Business Against Cybercrime

lockHow secure is your small business data? Did you know that nearly half of all cybercrime attacks target small businesses? The threat is real, and must be taken seriously! Your business records should be protected from unauthorized access and internal controls should be put in place to protect sensitive data from outside thieves. The financial health of your business could be seriously undermined if personal or proprietary information is compromised.

So what can you do to help mitigate your risk against a cyber-attack or security breach? Data security includes all aspects of your business. Review your administrative practices, facility protection, computer security, personnel and information systems. Below are steps that you can take to better protect your business.

  • Invest in a firewall, antivirus, malware, and spyware detection software.
  • Perform routine backups to make it easier to continue working in the event of a cyber-attack.
  • Consider an automated back-up system or even backing up to a third party to build in redundancies.
  • Require strong passwords (numbers, symbols, uppercase & lowercase letters) on all computers and
    software programs and change them every 60-90 days.
  • Store data in secure systems and encrypt information when transmitting across networks.
  • Ensure that email containing sensitive data is encrypted and secure while being sent or received.
  • Provide periodic training to update your staff on any changes and to ensure compliance.
  • Complete a risk assessment to identify risk and potential impacts of unauthorized access.

It’s almost impossible to completely safeguard against these type of attacks, so consider creating a plan
outlining steps to take should you become a victim of any data breach or theft. You may also consider
purchasing insurance that protects you against any losses from crime or fraud. Putting safeguards in place
will not only protect the sensitive information of your small business, but it will also enhance customer
confidence and trust. For a further discussion, contact us today!

Employer Contribution to Employee Education

graduation_cap_moneyDo you have an employee who you’d like to see further their education? It may not be as tough as you think
to help them meet that goal. Employers may give up to $5,250. This includes education assistance that’s
employer-provided for graduate level courses, like programs normally pursued by an individual seeking an education leading to a law, business, medical, or other advanced academic or professional degree.
A written plan must provide guidelines for the assistance, which must be publicized to all of your employees, and must meet a number of conditions. These include nondiscrimination requirements, meaning it can’t benefit highly compensated employees. For more information on educational assistance benefits, contact us today.

How You Can Achieve Success Starting a Small Business

are you readyStarting a new business is a daunting task. Various studies have cited a failure rate of 50% for new businesses within their first year. With such a high-risk factor, prospective business owners need to do their research before launching their enterprise. Here are some helpful tips for those considering a new business.

Play to your strengths. Focus on what you do best and use other resources to cover areas you’re lacking in. For example, if you’re strong in marketing, but lack financial knowledge, don’t try to do both – both are likely to suffer. Instead, concentrate your efforts on marketing and outsource your finances to another employee or a professional service, such as Padgett.

This piece of advice applies not only to your role in the business, but also to the business itself. Focus on what your business does best and focus on attracting customers who need that specific service.

Have a marketing plan. You may have the best product or service out there, but if no one knows what you’re offering or why they should choose your business over your competitors, it may be difficult for your business to be profitable. Marketing plans can sound intimidating, but they’re simply the documentation and planning of your goals to help advertise your company.

Spend your money carefully. For business success, your funds need to go towards either creating profits or decreasing costs. Carefully consider every purchase before committing, and assess what it’ll bring to the company now. For example, while you may have plans that’ll eventually require the best graphics program, the middle-range product will do just fine in the meantime. Keep in mind that technology is constantly changing, so it’s probably best to save the money on the graphics package for now until you absolutely need a better program.

Contact your local Padgett Office today so that we can help your small business succeed!

Harriet Tubman to Grace New $20 Bill

harriet tubman photoHarriet Tubman, the leader of the Underground Railroad that brought slaves to freedom before the Emancipation Proclamation, will be the new face on the $20 bill, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew also announced plans for new images on the reverse of the $10 bill and the $5 bill honoring other leaders of the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements. However, Alexander Hamilton will remain on the face of the $10 bill.

The new $10 bill will feature an image of the historic march for suffrage that ended on the steps of the Treasury Department and honor the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement—Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul. The front of the new $10 note will maintain Hamilton’s portrait.

Photo by MDGovpics

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