3 Reasons Your Company Will Need Legal Assistance

Whether you’re just starting out in the business world or you’ve been running a successful company for a while; there is never a bad time to converse with an expert legal team and make sure you have them waiting in the wings. All entrepreneurs will need specialist legal assistance at some point during their careers. It is sensible to make all the arrangements ahead of time, so you don’t face any delays when it comes to getting the help you require in emergencies. If the lawyers already know the ins and outs of your operation; they will swing into action much faster than they otherwise would have done.

Patent and trademark disputes

It is vital that all entrepreneurs apply for suitable legal cover if they plan to launch a new brand and bring original product designs to the market. If you don’t have trademarks in place for your terms and patents for your concepts; there is a chance another company with more cash could come along and blow you out of the marketplace and cost you a fortune. With that in mind, even with the right protections in place; you could still face issues, and that is why you need a lawyer. If you discover another business infringes on your patents; you’ll want to put an end to that straight away.

Employee dismissal claims

If you employ other workers; there will come a time when you have a dispute with them that you cannot resolve. Perhaps the person was late for work over and over again, and so you decided to fire them. Like it or not, employees have rights, and you can’t always take away their source of income on a whim. So, that person might end up dragging your business through the courts in the hope of reinstating their position or making a compensation claim. If you do not have legal assistance; your operation will stagnate because you will have to take your eyes off the ball.

Road traffic accidents

As a business owner, you never know when you will get a call from a semi truck accident lawyer or someone else in that industry letting you know they plan to make a claim against your firm. You become especially vulnerable to issues like that if your company makes deliveries to customers. If you have drivers on the road all day long, it is only a matter of time before one of them makes a mistake and ends up causing a smash. Without the right legal representatives in your corner, there is a chance you will end up getting a raw deal in the courtroom.

Now you know why it’s so critical to find the right legal specialists to assist your company; it is time to search online, ask associates for recommendations, and sort the wheat from the chaff. Look for law firms that specialize in the business world, and try to select a firm that has lots of other clients in similar positions to you. If you do that; you shouldn’t have too many problems when it comes to making sure you don’t get ripped off in the courtroom.

How to Secure Funding for Your Small Business

Nowadays, it’s common for small businesses to end up in financial struggles. A simple mistake can easily turn into a financial difficulty. Not only that, but it’s also common for business owners to run out of funding for their business development. In such cases, business owners tend to look for outside funding, in order to support their business further and ensure it remains operational.

In today’s business world, there are many funding sources available to small businesses. However, not every funding source is the right one for your current situation. That’s why it’s important to analyze your options properly, in order to determine the best course of action. That being said, here are a few ways to secure funding for your small business.

Apply for a bank loan

Many business owners first go to a bank when in need of funding. Banks are reliable sources of funding and you can always apply for a loan there. You should try out several banks and negotiate the best deal for your business loan. However, you must understand that it takes a bit of time for banks to approve your loan application.

Moreover, if you have a bad credit score, you might be denied a loan altogether or charged with very high interest rates, because you’re technically a risk. In order to avoid that scenario, try to improve your credit score before going to the bank for a loan, in order to avoid any inconveniences.

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Secure funding from an angel investor

Angel investors can be a great source of funding for your small business. They can supply you with the funding needed to fully develop your business and secure its financial stability. Once your business is stable on the market, angel investors will expect 25 to 30% return on investment. However, securing funding from angel investors isn’t easy.

You’ll have to be really passionate about your business and convince the investors that your business can be sustainable and profitable on the market. For that, you’ll need social proof, through market analysis, revenue forecasts and other statistics. If you do your homework right, you’ll be able to convince angel investors to support your endeavor. Also, don’t try angel investors if your agenda is to get rich fast, because they’ll dismiss you outright.

Seek alternative funding

As mentioned before, applying for a loan at the bank may not turn out so well if your credit score is bad. You may want to wait to improve your credit history, but you may not have the time to wait that long. In that case, you can seek out alternative lenders who will supply you with a loan.

For example, you can apply for bad credit loans. These types of loans have more flexible conditions towards people with bad credit scores. In other words, you won’t be denied a loan and you won’t have to wait too long to actually get a loan. That way, you can use quick cash to fund your business or consolidate your debt to improve both your financial situation and your credit score.

Seek out venture capital

Venture capital (VC) is a funding source similar to angel investors. You’ll still need a good plan and a good idea to convince venture capitalists to support your business financially. The difference is that venture capitalists seek a share of your company, in return for supporting you. What’s more, VCs only support business owners whose ideas have the potential to become lucrative enterprises in a short period of time.

Unlike angel investors, who support owners with passion about their business, venture capitalists are more supportive towards get-rich-fast attitude and ideas. As a matter of fact, venture capitalists expect your business to become very profitable in 3 to 5 years tops. If your business lacks that potential, you won’t be able to convince VCs to support you.

Try crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is yet another alternative funding source for your small business, only with fewer strings attached than angel investors or VCs. Crowdfunding is based on the concept of presenting your idea to your target audience, i.e. the crowd. If the crowd likes your ideas enough, they’ll donate funds to support your business financially. This type of funding can be ideal to fund startup ideas, but it can also be quite beneficial if you’re funding a small business by introducing new product or services features to the crowd.

Crowdfunding works on platforms, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe and others. However, not all platforms have the same conditions and you must research them well before you decide which platform to choose for your crowdfunding campaign. The way it works is you set both the time and fund limit and your audience attempts to reach funding limit before the time runs out.

As mentioned before, there are a lot of funding options made available to finance your business. Which method you choose depends on your business model and needs. Make sure your research various methods well, so that you’re able to pick the best funding source for your small business.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Tackling Your Business’s Waste Problem

With increasing regulations and a growing awareness amongst consumers, every business owner has to seriously consider the environmental impact their work has. In particular, waste is still a significant issue, but one that you can help to decrease dramatically. Here, we’re going to look at some of the greatest sources of waste in all businesses and what you can do to lessen your impact at least a little.

Paper

Paper isn’t being treated as the completely expendable commodity that it once was. This is thanks, in large part, to the growing reliance on IT. More and more businesses are turning to a paperless or near paperless model. By relying more on digital storage and backups, you can reduce the amount of paper your business uses dramatically. Not only does this cut on the costs of buying paper itself, it also saves in terms of printing costs and the storage space necessary to keep all that paper, too.

Power

Many businesses use more electricity than necessary. From vampire electricity wasted by leaving devices on standby to relying on old equipment that is far from energy efficient, you could be driving your power bills sky high. An energy audit service can help you easily see where exactly you’re using the most energy and what to do about it. Investing in question like a genset can help you cut costs, too. Many utility providers are willing to offer discounts on energy, for instance, if companies are willing to use their own genset to supplement their reliance on utilities.

Water

Water-saving faucets and toilets can drastically reduce the amount of water wasted by employees in every bathroom. However, water waste isn’t just about how much water your business uses, but how clean it is when disposed. From businesses with fleets to warehouses and construction crews, water contamination is a serious problem. Oil water separators are more than just an ethical choice, they could be an essential part of making your business compliant with environmental regulations, depending on the industry you’re in. As the business grows, make sure that you’re getting rid of waste water in the cleanest way possible.

Packaging

If you’re in retail, manufacturing, or production of any kind, consider the packaging you offer. Regular product packaging is one of the most widespread sources of plastic and paper waste, but there are eco-friendly packaging options available. You can make it much easier for your customers to recycle or reuse your products. Not only will this help tackle your ecological footprint, but it’s a very visible sign of your company’s dedication to environmentally friendly operation methods. It can be as much a part of the brand, helping to win the goodwill of your consumers.

It’s reasonable to expect that businesses will be legally required to produce less waste as time goes on. Even now, consumers are becoming more mindful of who they support and producing lots of waste can be bad for your image as far as they are concerned. Keep the tips above in mind, as it’s only going to become more important.

You say Acculturation… I say Enculturation: Connecting Employees to Your Culture

Kevin W. Grossman got me thinking about Enculturation with his blog post, “Transformative Conversations And Enculturation.”

Assimilating employees into the corporate culture is an important part of the onboarding process and something that should continue to ensure all employees feel connected to the organization.

culutreWhat do we mean by enculturation though? Is that like brain washing? Well, not exactly.

Enculturation and acculturation are terms that are used in sociology and social anthropology to explain different processes of absorption of cultural traits by the people. Both processes help in explaining socialization on individuals in a society

  • Enculturation is learning one’s own culture, a process that is influenced strongly by home and family.
  • Acculturation, on the other hand, is learning aspects of a culture other than one’s own – particularly those aspects which will enable the individual to survive in that culture.

HR pro Jennifer Miller defines acculturation as the adaptation of an individual to the cultural expectations of a surrounding society. According to this definition of enculturation, influences that shape an individual’s cultural adaptation in the workplace include supervisors, peers and ethical standards of the industry.

Why is this important? Because, successful enculturation leads to competence in language, values and behavioral protocol, resulting in greater workplace harmony.

Acculturation is often used synonymously with enculturation. Regardless of which term you use, it should be part of your onboarding process because the return on investment is earlier and more rapid productivity of the new employee and improved long term employee satisfaction and retention.

Technologist Chuck Ros suggests organizations that want to reap the benefits of quickening employees to effectiveness while maximizing the new employee’s satisfaction (and longevity as a result) would be well advised to construct an acculturation system that measures, engages, and immerses. Ros distinguishes between transactional onboarding and acculturation onboarding.

Transactional Onboarding utilizes the automation of the onboarding business process to transition a new employee into their new role; automating the federal W-4, I-9, and state tax forms are examples of business rules and forms best automated through transactional onboarding. Return on investment is realized through making the process more efficient, eliminating costs in handling forms and data, eliminating latency and errors in data, and minimizing risk in the compliance-sensitive area of hiring.

Acculturation Onboarding, or simply Acculturation, as quickening the new employee to effectiveness. Acculturation is sometimes also known as socialization, and is touted by many vendors as the singular approach to onboarding, despite the fact that acculturation is appropriate to a subset of employers who might be interested in a strategic onboarding initiative. Return on investment for acculturation is realized through earlier and more rapid productivity of the new employee and improved long term employee satisfaction and retention.

So, how do you enculturate your new employees and your workforce?

Is Employee Healthcare on Your Radar?

healthcare_pricingWith the cost of healthcare rising by the second, offering your employees a healthcare plan can sometimes put an unnecessary strain on your company’s budget.

But, on the flip side of the healthcare coin, when employees are covered, it usually results in a less stressful, worry-free work environment.

If you’re on the fence about offering your employees health coverage, here are just a few benefits that might sway your decision:

Attract the Best Candidates

Although offering your employees healthcare coverage does mean more out-of-pocket expenses for your company, it also helps attract the best possible employees.

According to the Census Bureau, more than half the U.S. population had health insurance coverage provided by their employer in 2011.

This means that if your company doesn’t offer coverage, qualified employees might just look elsewhere for work.

Not only does employment-based health insurance help your company retain its top employees, it also helps attract the best candidates in the workforce when it comes time to hire.

Ensure the Wellness of the Workplace

There’s a ton of debate about the importance of employment-based healthcare, but the cost of healthcare always seems to overshadow its long-term benefits, especially in the workplace. When employees are healthy, they’re more productive, which is great for your company.

In addition, when your employees have health insurance that includes preventative coverage like regular physicals, it ensures the well-being of the entire workplace. This means your staff is less likely to take sick days or prolonged absences due to health issues.

So, when you are choosing a health insurance plan for your company, keep in mind the importance of workplace wellness.

Tax Credits

The government wants your company to provide its employees with health insurance just as much as you do, so that’s why they’re offering health insurance tax credits to qualifying businesses.

If your company has 25 or fewer full-time employees, their wages are less than $50,000 a year, and you pay at least half of their insurance premiums, you could save a lot of money on your taxes.

How much? Well, for example, say you pay $50,000 toward your employees’ health care premiums in a year. The government will actually give you a 15% tax credit, which saves you $7,500 on your taxes. And, the best part is, the more you contribute, the bigger the credit!

Few Considerations….

Before you sign your employees up for healthcare coverage, there are some things to consider that could drastically change the type of coverage you choose as well as the costs involved:

• Type of Work – The type of business you run has everything to do with your healthcare decision. If you run a business that’s considered “high risk” by the insurance company, like an industrial or manufacturing business or anything that involves heavy machinery, your company’s premiums could skyrocket.

• The Workforce – You also need to take the age and health of your current employees into consideration. If you have an older workforce or any of your employees smoke or have preexisting medical conditions, it could make the healthcare coverage process a headache.

• Part-Time vs. Full-Time – Are the majority of your employees part-time or full-time? If the answer is part-time, then it might not be worth the investment because part-time employees aren’t likely to stay with your company for an extended period of time.

By keeping in mind the benefits and considerations above, you’ll have an easier time coming to a healthcare coverage decision.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including personal health and small business.

Swiss Taxation Issues You Should be Aware of as the Owner of an LLC

Enjoying healthy tax breaks are one of the most prominent reasons for forming an LLC, a Limited Liability Company. The tax breaks afforded to LLCs differ around the world so before you start to explore your tax break options, in fact, before you even start the process of forming a limited liability company, you should familiarise yourself with the tax breaks that are afforded to LLCs in the country in which your company is registered.

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This means information that specifically affects your company in the country in which your LLC is registered and not general information, for as many businesspeople have found out, there are often unexpected surprises awaiting those that form an LLC without having a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of doing so.

Forming a Swiss LLC

Many businesspeople have found it advantageous to form a limited liability in Switzerland, and not only because of its reputation for being rather tax friendly to companies, but also because of its transparency – according to the 2012 Corruption Perception Index Switzerland ranks favourably as the sixth least corrupt country – and the fact that Switzerland has signed a wealth of double taxation treaties with regional economic powerhouses, and many up and coming economies, around the world.

Taxation in Switzerland

Like most countries, the taxation system in Switzerland is that of a classical corporate tax system, however, unlike in many other countries Swiss tax is levied on three levels: the national level (federal taxes), the cantonal level (cantonal taxes) and the communal level (communal taxes). This isn’t as complex as it might initially sound, though it’s advisable to have a consultancy firm on hand like co-handels zentrum to assist with matters concerning taxation on all levels, national, cantonal and communal.

Swiss taxes are among the lowest throughout Europe, which has, as mentioned above, made it appealing to foreign businesspeople looking to take advantage of low taxation rates – corporate taxes are 16-25% and individual rates 5-20%.  However, it’s important to note that the largest portion of tax is levied at the canton and communal (municipal) levels, and that each canton has its own tax laws which are voted upon by the population in each canton.

Furthermore, companies are taxed in the canton in which they’re based, or where it carries out its business activities, which means that any businessperson looking to form a company in Switzerland should take note of this and register their company accordingly. This is yet another reason to work with a consultancy firm with strong experience in taxation for companies of all varieties including limited liability companies.

Corporate tax services in Switzerland

If you are planning to form a limited liability company in Switzerland, or have already formed one, you are advised to consult with a consultancy firm that offers a broad range of taxation services, moreover, as many consultancy firms are able to arrange company formations and provide taxation assistance, these are the consultancy firms that will prove most advantageous to have by your side.

One of the most common tax related services that consultancy firms provide is that of double tax treaties and treaty abuse and although Switzerland has entered into double taxation treaties with over 60 countries, including most of Western Europe, the need for assistance with this aspect of Swiss taxation is common amongst foreigners who have formed limited liability companies in Switzerland.

Seeing that limited liability companies are not taxed but rather the owners of the LLC, many foreign businesspeople who form limited liability companies in Switzerland require assistance with individual taxation issues and that’s another reason to have a consultancy firm on hand to assist with issues pertaining to taxation.

Moreover, although federal tax is calculated by income, cantonal and communal tax are calculated by the individual’s residence, their assets as well as their income, which can make ascertaining how much tax should be paid difficult, so once again foreign businesspeople are advised to seek assistance from a consultancy firm to assist with any issues pertaining to Swiss taxation.

Take note of these important taxation considerations regarding limited liability company formation in Switzerland and definitely don’t overlook the importance of forming a company and dealing with taxation issues with the assistance of a consultancy firm.

Author Bio:

Zoe George is a freelance writer for CO-Handelszentrum GmbH on www.co-handelszentrum.com, a company in Switzerland that is dedicated to helping clients in dealing with concerns relating to IT, process optimisation, commercial strategy development and more.

What Positions Can I Realistically Outsource?

Companies are on a constant quest to find ways to cut expenses and improve productivity.  However, cutting the wrong expenses can be counterproductive, and in some cases, detrimental.  So, what do you cut when your bottom line is on the line?  One option is outsourcing. Savvy businesses are finding they can recruit top talent and drastically reduce costs by hiring independent contractors.  For one, employers do not have to provide independent contractors with benefits such as paid leave and healthcare. Companies also only pay for time used. For instance, let’s say your company would like to work on boosting public relations efforts, but there is not enough “newsworthy” happenings to justify hiring a full time employee.  Outsourcing to a public relations firm or freelancer gives you the flexibility to employ their services as needed, rather than paying one person a salary with benefits.  And, in some cases, outsourced workers can be paid as 1099 contractors, saving your company the time and cost of submitting payroll taxes for them. Another advantage to outsourcing is you are gaining an outsider’s perspective.  Often, when a contract employee begins working with a company, they can objectively identify obstacles and opportunities management and staff may not see.

Once you decide outsourcing is a possibility, the next step is to determine which positions or duties can realistically be contracted out.  Ultimately, this will depend on your company structure; however, there are a few key core activities you can examine first to help you get started.

Outsource

Information Technology (IT)

We all know IT is a must-have for every company. The complexity of your system is driven by your core business needs.  In many cases, small businesses in particular, can outsource most, if not all, of their IT needs. Cloud providers and related services offer affordable options to help protect and secure your data, eliminating the need to maintain and store it on-site.  Depending on the infrastructure, you may need to still maintain some in-house staff, just fewer.  Outsourced IT companies are competing for business, therefore, their pricing has become more attractive.  According to an October article in CIO, “Heading into 2014, IT outsourcing service providers will be hard at work stealing business from their competitors – and having theirs stolen as well.”

Sales & Research

Sales efforts are one of the most popular tasks to outsource.  Many companies are reaping the benefits of contracting with call centers to help develop leads, manage outbound sales campaigns and conduct market research.  Call centers can work in conjunction with your inside sales staff to help drive results. One obstacle for sales staff is having to take time to develop leads and research. When a call center performs the legwork, your sales representatives are prepared with solid leads and good market research, thus increasing the likelihood of converting a prospect into a customer.

Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations

Fear of cost is one of the main reasons companies tend to handle these duties in-house.  While larger agencies can be pricey, there are a number of smaller firms and even freelancers who are willing to tailor their pricing to accommodate your budget.  Remember, most of the really good professionals in this field specialize.  Graphic designers are graphic designers.  While they can write, many are not copywriters.  And, while some copywriters may be able to work their way around InDesign, they are generally not artists. These are all very specialized skill sets, which is why outsourcing to an agency can prove beneficial.  Agencies tend to have dedicated talent in each of these areas. You get the “results’ of hiring four employees without the significant cost.

Payroll/Benefits

Many companies are finding they can outsource much of their human resources (HR) efforts.  While you probably want to maintain an in-house manager, a good outsourced HR provider can eliminate the need to staff a large department.  From payroll and benefits to recruiting and employment screenings, there are companies who can manage it all for you at an affordable price.

Taking time to examine your business structure and identify areas and tasks that  can be outsources is the first step.  Just like employee, be sure to research providers to find the right “fit”.  Then, don’t be afraid to give it a try.  You will likely be amazed at the money you save and wonder why you didn’t consider it sooner!

Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.