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Friday, May 31, 2019

An Overview of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

An Overview of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act is a federal law that allows employees to take significant time off from work to take care of a loved one with an illness, medical problem or condition. The law does not require an employer to pay the employee for the time missed, but allows the employer to substitute accrued paid vacation/sick time for unpaid leave taken during the FMLA, meaning that the employee’s leave cannot be extended beyond the statutory period by using his or her vacation time. The FMLA prohibits employers from enforcing any negative consequences against the employee for exercising his or her rights under the FMLA. These would include termination, cutting back on hours, reducing pay, or diminishing the employee’s title or responsibilities.

The FMLA applies to businesses with more than 50 employees. To qualify, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year and must have worked at least 1250 hours in that year. The law allows the employee to take up to 12 non-consecutive weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for a spouse, parent or child who has a serious medical condition. There is special consideration given to family members caring for ill military service members. The parents, spouses, and children of these individuals are permitted to take up to 26 weeks off each year to care for their loved one. 

The most common use of the law is to allow an employee to take time off work after a child is born, even though most would not call pregnancy a “serious medical condition.” This is commonly referred to as maternity leave. Although it is not customarily exercised, fathers have an equal right to take time off to bond with their children after birth. The FMLA also allows new parents to take time off work immediately after an adoption. Some people use the Family Medical Leave Act to care for family members dealing with mental health issues, including dementia, addiction, or schizophrenia. The law covers any medical condition which require an overnight stay in the hospital, chronic conditions that require treatment at least twice a year, and conditions that incapacitate the affected person for more than three consecutive days. 


Friday, May 17, 2019

An Overview of Common Start-Up Costs

Starting a new business is an exciting time. For serial entrepreneurs, starting a new business is often more routine because they have developed a system from their prior ventures. For those who are just diving into entrepreneurship, understanding how to handle the early stages of the business, such as start-up costs, won’t be so routine. If you have a business idea and you’re considering taking the plunge with a start-up, it is essential to have a good business plan which will provide structure for handling the early stages of the company as well as managing start-up costs. The core start-up costs include:

Legal Fees

When establishing a business plan, many entrepreneurs overlook the cost of legal fees. For many, legal fees are an unwanted expense which results in pursuing subpar legal documents online. Unfortunately for many entrepreneurs, these documents fail to account for the individual needs of the business and entrepreneur, which can result in expensive litigation and exorbitant future business expenses. When establishing a start-up, always consult with a business attorney to ensure that you and your company are protected.

Regulatory Costs

Another often overlooked cost is related to regulatory costs. Depending on your start-up, you may be required to receive certain licensure and permitting from the state, local governments, or professional associations. These costs can quickly build up from a fee standpoint, and failure to satisfy these requirements can result in greater costs as your business may not be able to operate while you wait for the licensure, permit, or other regulatory approval.

Insurance

Insurance protects you and your company from unexpected events that would otherwise cripple the company. Carrying the proper insurance means that your employees are protected, your customers are protected, your business is protected, and you are protected. In addition to potentially being illegal in your area, attempting to skip out on insurance has the potential to sink your company and make you personally liable.

Marketing Expenses

Even if you have the greatest product in the world, no one can buy it if they don’t know it exists. Thus, your business plan should always include a budget for marketing. The avenue you pursue for marketing will be specific to your business, but always take the time to budget for marketing costs.

Employee Expenses

One of the largest expenses for companies around the world is the cost of labor, or the amount it costs them to have employees. When budgeting for employees, you need to be realistic in what you are requiring of each employee when estimating the wage that the employee will require. In addition to an employee’s salary, don’t forget about employee benefits. Underestimating the cost of an employee can cost you thousands in unplanned expenses.

Administrative Costs

An often-overlooked expense is the administrative cost of operating the business. Here, you need to budget for accounting costs, payroll costs if you intend to have employees, and information technology costs. Additionally, some may include the costs of operating a website as an administrative cost, although others may budget their website as a marketing expense.

As you can see, there are numerous costs common to start-ups that need to be addressed in the business plan.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Small Business Money Management: Three Healthy Financial Habits

Small business is the cornerstone of the American economy. Despite the press coverage that large companies receive for setting new market capitalization highs, or for causing a stir about where they’re locating their new headquarters, small business as a group is the largest employer in the United States. This means that most people rely on small business for their wellbeing and livelihood. As the owner of a small business, your success is their success.

No matter how good a business idea is, the business may fail without proper financial management. Maximizing a company’s finances requires strong analytical and decision-making abilities. To help reduce some of the stress, below are three healthy financial habits that will help any small business owner:

  1. Keep your Business and Personal Expenses Separate

    For many small business owners, the line between business bank accounts and personal bank accounts is blurred at best. Small business owners frequently use their business credit card to pay for personal goods such as a TV or vacations or tap their personal accounts to pay for business expenses. Commingling bank accounts and spending can create tax issues for you and your business and expose you to personal liability.

    First, being unable to differentiate what was spent on the business from personal goods and services can prove to be a major headache at tax time as you attempt to rectify the accounting. Additionally, the commingling of funds can result in inaccurate financial statements which can create tax liabilities going forward if you or the company were to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

    Second, many owners believe that because the business is a separate corporate entity, such as a limited liability company, they are protected from personal liability. While this is partially true, this legal protection can quickly be undone by a showing that the business’ funds were treated as personal funds. Thus, to protect your business and yourself, ensure that your business and personal expenses are kept separate.

  2. Pay all Bills on Time

    Ensuring that all bills are paid on time will save you time and money in the future. Late payments can result in additional fees including interest, and may even result in damaged credit. This will increase the cost of borrowing and may even make obtaining credit in the future more difficult. Whether you set reminders or use post-it notes around the office, make sure to pay your bills on time.

  3. You don’t Always Need Top of the Line

    When buying new equipment for the business, remember that the top of the line equipment is likely unnecessary. Rather than buy a brand-new truck that will quickly be used and abused by you or your employees, consider a one or two-year-old truck that costs substantially less while providing the same benefit to your business. Similarly, if you’re getting computers for general office use such as email, word processing, and Excel, you won’t need the newest and shiniest ultrabook. By focusing on value and meeting your needs rather than your wants, you can ensure that your business earnings are preserved.


Monday, April 29, 2019

What You Need to Know About Operating a Home-Based Business

Operating a home-based business can result in reduced stress and lower expenses. By combining your home and office into a single location, you can roll out of bed, make breakfast and a cup of coffee, and then walk across the hall to your office to get on with the day – no more commuting to and from work. If you have a family, a home-based business can mean more time with your kids and significant other. In addition to lower stress and more family time, a home-based business can also provide a financial benefit. By combining your home and your office, you’re eliminating the additional cost of leasing office space. Despite the many benefits, home-based businesses aren’t for everyone. For those who believe they will benefit from a home-based business, this post will provide an overview of what you need to know.


Read more . . .


Friday, April 12, 2019

4 Reasons Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Many people are under the misconception that estate plans are only necessary for those with substantial wealth. In fact, estate plans are important for everyone who wants to plan for the future. For those unfamiliar with the concept, an estate plan coordinates the distribution of your assets upon your death. Without an estate plan, your estate (assets) will go through the probate system, regardless of how much or how little you have. There are many reasons that everyone needs an estate plan, but the top reasons are:


Read more . . .


Monday, April 1, 2019

Selling Your Business

The majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses. To understand the impact that small business has, consider the fact that small business generates nearly 60% of all new jobs within the United States. Amazon, Walmart, and other big companies often stand out with their massive revenues and employment numbers, but at the end of the day, the primary drivers behind the economy are small business.

If you have a family business or personal business that you’ve built up, you are likely one of these economic drivers. For many families and individuals, the business becomes an identity. Family businesses in particular are susceptible to acting as an identity for that family. Thus, for many small business owners planning for retirement, the question of what to do with the small business is a major stressor. For a family business, the transfer of control and ownership from one generation to the next can be incredibly complicated and strenuous. If it’s not a family business, then the question is primarily how to effectuate the sale and estate planning repercussions. The following sections will give an overview of general considerations for family-owned businesses and then general concerns relating to the sale of a business.


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Characteristics (and Red Flags) to Look for When Buying a Business

According to Merriam-Webster, an entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Being an entrepreneur means taking financial risk for economic profit, it doesn’t mean building a completely new business. For those with an entrepreneurial spirit who don’t have the latest and greatest idea for an app or new technology, acquiring and improving an existing business is just as entrepreneurial as starting a new company. When buying a business, there are several characteristics that you need to look for, as well as a few red flags.


Read more . . .


Friday, March 15, 2019

Removing a Trustee

Trustees are responsible for administering a trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In some instances, multiple trustees may administer a trust as co-trustees. Occasionally, issues arise causing the beneficiaries of a trust or the co-trustees to pursue removal of a trustee. These issues could be general unhappiness with trust accounting or failure of the trustee or co-trustee to provide information when requested. In short, the grantor (creator) of the trust, co-trustees, the trust beneficiaries,  and the  probate court have the ability to remove a trustee


Read more . . .


Friday, March 1, 2019

The Value of Goodwill and Your Brand

When valuing a business, there are two primary assets that are considered. These are tangible assets and intangible assets. Tangible assets are physical assets such as real estate, equipment, inventory, etc. Conversely, intangible assets are not physical in nature and include intellectual property, brand recognition, and goodwill. Despite being intangible assets, brand recognition and goodwill are intrinsically tied to the value of a business.

Brand recognition is the value of someone recognizing your brand. A brand may include certain characteristics of the goods, logos, slogans, etc. For example, the Chevrolet badge is commonly referred to as the “bowtie” and carries with it certain preconceptions. Similarly, Ford’s emblem is known as the “blue oval.” For anyone who is a truck enthusiast, they will know that aside from styling differences, they may discount the value of a vehicle based on the brand. The primary issue with brand value is in the name itself – the value of the brand. Identifying what a brand is worth is a mix of psychology, sociology, economics, and field research. Interbrand publishes an annual “Most Valuable Global Brands” list which uses three key elements to create a complex valuation: financial forecasting of the future revenue associated with the brand, the role of the brand as a percentage of overall revenue, and brand strength which includes metrics such as awareness and loyalty.

For 2018, the five most valuable brands are:

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Amazon
  4. Microsoft
  5. Coca Cola

Read more . . .


Monday, February 25, 2019

An Overview of Retirement Plan Options

Retirement planning is essential given ever-increasing life expectancies in the United States. Unfortunately, many Americans fail to save adequate amounts to make it through retirement. Often, individuals believe that they will be fine on Social Security. However, Social Security is only designed to compensate for 40% of your income; Social Security is designed to be an income supplement rather than a sole income source. To make matters worse, workers tend to overestimate how late into their life they will be able to work. Inadequate savings and an inability to work produce an exceptionally stressful retirement. Remember, it’s never too late to start saving.


Read more . . .


Friday, February 15, 2019

Buying A House After Bankruptcy

It is no secret that filing for bankruptcy can harm your credit. However, compared to simply letting your accounts go past due for months on end, bankruptcy may actually be better for your credit over the long term because there are no repeated “dings” on your credit score. Getting the bankruptcy finished allows you to start fresh and begin to rebuild your credit rating.

Your credit score is closely examined when you enter the home buying process, which means  that filing for bankruptcy may affect your ability to purchase a home in the future. Even if your credit score is not significantly harmed,  a bankruptcy discharge will remain on your credit report for up to ten years. That type of history can make lenders nervous about your creditworthiness.  Nonetheless, it is possible to purchase a house after bankruptcy, but it may take some additional time and extra steps.


Read more . . .


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