HR & Compliance

Add SBAM offers a full spectrum of human resources services to keep you compliant and help your business run more efficiently and profitably....


Human Resources Solutions

ASE LogoLooking for help with tough HR issues? 

SBAM partner ASE has the answers about hiring, firing, FMLA, ADA and more! Get access to a FREE HR hotline, affordable and cost-effective research consultation services, discounted employee handbooks and workplace posters, and more.


Section 125 Plan, FSA, HSA & HRA Administration

 

KUSHNER & COMPANY LogoLooking for ways to contain health care costs?
With the cost of health insurance continuing to rise, most employers require their employees to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums. SBAM partner Kushner & Co. can help you put a tax-favored, consumer-directed plan in place that benefits you and your employees.

 


COBRA Administration

Personalized, affordable administration for your business. 

If you have 20 or more employees, your company is required by federal law to offer continued health insurance coverage via COBRA and will face huge fines if it's not administered correctly.  Let SBAM help you stay compliant for only $30 per month. 

The Mobile Security Risk

By John Westra, Director of NuWave Government Solutions. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

DANGER!!! Unsecured mobile devices can result in identity theft, data loss and personal embarrassment! Although we may never see a warning label like this on the packaging of our next smart phone or tablet computer, the risk is still very real!

These mobile computing and communication devices are in reality very powerful small computers. Most of these devices have more processing and storage capacity than the first personal computers many of us owned. The response by software vendors has been equally amazing and there are now tens of thousands of mobile applications to choose from; everything from games like Angry Birds to social media, personal development, health management and even mobile banking. In addition to their advanced computing capabilities, these devices come equipped with mobile broadband and/or WiFi communications and GPS functionality that turns them into always-connected, geo-locatable data conduits.

It’s the combination of lots of data, much of it personal in nature, a built-in communications channel to the outside world and the high value of the hardware itself that is turning mobile devices into a prime target for thieves. The worst part is you don’t even have to have your physical device stolen to be robbed!

There is a growing threat from malicious applications or simply poorly written software. These apps can intentionally or by accident, reveal personal and business information such as phone numbers, banking information, health information or whatever other information is stored on the device.

How Risky are Mobile Devices?
To judge the risk you face from this type of data loss, imagine all of the data on your mobile device being printed on sheets of paper and distributed to A) known criminals intent on stealing your identity and any money they can get their hands on or B) the members of your church, business or social club? If the thought of having all of your information distributed like this doesn’t bother you, you probably don’t need to read any further. However, if reading this paragraph made your mouth drop open and created a sudden feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach, read on to find out what you can do to minimize your risks.

Physical Security
This is the easiest and yet most challenging problem for many people to solve. After all, who hasn’t left their cell phone somewhere? Making a point to always put your cell phone back in its case, your pocket or purse is a good habit to keep it from getting lost. Conversely, never set your device down on a public table or counter, where it can be easily forgotten.

Keeping the Snoops Out
All modern mobile devices come with some type of time-out and password “lock” system. Like any other computing platform, you will want to use a password that is random and difficult to guess. If you are using a key-swipe style of password, don’t use an “L” or simple “/” swipe code. The good news is this will deter casual data snoopers. The bad news is it will take a dedicated cyber criminal all of about two minutes to bypass this minor annoyance and access your data.

Password Protection
It’s not just the data that’s on your mobile device that’s at risk if it gets stolen. Most people are now using their mobile devices to access a variety of business and personal online web content. If a criminal gains access to your mobile device and you’ve set up your mobile browser to remember passwords to those sites, it becomes a Pandora’s Box of badness.
To combat this particular risk, we encourage our clients to install a password security management app like LastPass (www.lastpass.com). This was one of the apps we reviewed in a previous article,

Friend Raising -- Getting the People Right Before Raising the Money

Money is the focus of many business meetings and strategic planning sessions. How do we get more sales? How do we fund our growth plans? How do we cover our cash flow? These are just a few of the multitude of money issues that small business owners deal with on a daily basis. As important as the answers to these questions are; there is something more important than FUND raising and that is FRIEND RAISING.

Friend raising can take many forms. For a start-up it is getting those closest to us to buy into our crazy ideas. And for established businesses, networking is a popular and effective technique to open new sales opportunities. But there is so much more to be gained by making new business friends inside and outside your business. The best part is many of these ideas can be done for free.

 Build your board. Every company should have a board. It doesn’t have to be a board of directors that have authority over your organization, but an advisory board can be a very invaluable tool, especially when facing tough decisions. An advisory board will provide an outside perspective to your business and can both encourage and challenge you. When selecting board members, look for people who believe in you and your business. Be selective, not every personal friend should be on your board. Choose people who will bring a different perspective to your business. Often retired professionals in your industry can impart a wealth of information from their years of experience.

 Make friends in your industry. Even competitors can be friends and you never know when you may need to partner with someone on a project or vice versa. Attending trade shows and industry events is a great place to meet new friends and become aware of even more opportunities. Keith Ferrazzi talks about the many techniques for making friends in his book, “Never Eat Alone.” This includes, as the title says, building friends over coffee, lunch and dinner. Spending time together and sharing reality with each other builds friendships. Be honest and expect honesty from others and true friends will emerge.

There are many other friends you can make including mentors and political allies that you will find to be valuable contacts when the need arises.

"If you go out looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
— Zig Ziglar

Nothing is ever free. Making friends is hard work. If you look for friends that can help you but are not willing to reciprocate your friendship may be short lived. You must be the friend that you seek in others. See everyone not as a sales target but a potential friend and you will find many friends and sales opportunities will follow.

Todd A. Luhtanen is a serial entrepreneur, business consultant and founder of Talan SBS a Michigan-based provider of Small Business Services, www.talansbs.com.

Do You Have an AED In Your Small Workplace?

by Tracy Panich, Regional Director of Preparedness and Health and Safety for the Mid Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

On average 500,000 Americans die of cardiac arrest each year. The American Red Cross warns that sudden cardiac arrest occurs most of the time with no prevailing symptoms or warning signs. Statistically, one out of every three American women dies as a result.
The American Red Cross is encouraging CPR training and public access to automated external defibrillators (AED). All businesses, with as little as two employees or more than 1,000 should be prepared for this type of emergency. Approximately 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest incidents occur at work or outside the home.

Businesses Need to be Prepared.
Starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) right away can be beneficial; however, an automated external defibrillator is needed in some cases to return the heart to normal rhythm. The current survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is under seven percent, with CPR alone. If a shock from an AED is delivered in the first minute after a SCA, the survival rate increases even more; up to 86 percent. With widespread access to defibrillators, it is estimated that an additional 50,000 lives could be saved each year in the U.S.

According to a recent survey, one of the main reasons people fail to act in an emergency situation is because they are afraid of doing something wrong. Taking a class at the American Red Cross will help ease these fears and instill confidence. Find a class near your location by going to www.redcross.org.

AEDs are user friendly, light weight portable devices and require minimal maintenance. The American Red Cross:

  • Has taught more than 15 million people how to respond to and prepare for emergencies that occur in their homes, schools, workplaces and communities.
  • Has assisted in placing thousands of AEDs in public buildings nationwide. Some businesses are required to have AEDs available for public use according to state and federal law.
  • Can facilitate the purchase of AEDs or answer questions about AEDs for your business. The American Red Cross makes training your staff easy with many options, your life, the life of a loved one, or coworker may depend on it. For more information visit our website at www.redcross.org.

Finding Balance: Family, Work, Personal Interests, New Ideas for 2011

By Paul Hense, CPA. From the Small Business Association of Michigan’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

I love to spend time with my wife, kids, grandkids, brothers, my farm in Cheboygan, my Boston Whaler, the apple orchard and berry patch, our vineyard, vegetable garden, University of Detroit basketball, making wine, fishing, reading history, traveling, eclectic music , writing articles, my SBAM activities, politics, and hiking, etc. I also have to work, exercise, and pay bills. All of those things are important to me. Obviously they are not all going to be satisfied. They therefore must be prioritized. And at the start of the New Year, trying to prioritize all of these things together with the natural sense that you have to start the year off with a bang can be a challenge!

I think it was Bruce Springsteen who wrote a line in a song that went, “cause tramps like us baby we were born to run.” Bruce may be expressing a universal truth. Some of us were born to race and some to plow-and you can’t interchange them. Maybe entrepreneurs were born to attempt to live three lives at once. Being married to, the child of, sibling to, employee of or any other relationship with self employed people is probably difficult. But it’s never boring.

So what is the solution to balancing business, family and yourself in our hectic world – and satisfying the goal to start the year off with a refreshed and reenergized team, new ideas and a finely-tuned strategic plan? Be creative, use your gifts and personal strengths to positively affect the areas important to you, delegate and realize that you cannot do it all alone!

I realize that’s easier said than done. Here are a few things I’ve done to help achieve balance in my life:

1. Your business provides your family with its sustenance. In the current economic situation, having a source of income is a blessing, and in order to maintain the business, you must attend to it. Make sure your family understands that. Have a family meeting to discuss your need to be attentive to the business. Don’t assume they understand. You are important in their lives and they would like more of your time. Not having as much of your time as they would like might be easier for them if they understood everything you have on your plate and adjust expectations to avoid disappointment.

2. Include family time in your priorities. I have been in business for 38 years. At the end of the day, week, year – your family will be by your side long after a demanding customer is forgotten. My kids eventually understood my dilemma when they faced adult responsibilities. I think it’s important to let your family know you love them and that providing for them is the driving force in your business.

3. As you start the New Year, ask the people you consider family and friends what they would like from you. You make business commitments everyday and you honor them. Honor your commitment to friends and family. Take it as seriously as you take your delivery dates and meeting commitments. Your rewards may be greater.

4. Then there is you. What feeds your soul? Take a day off and think about that. In order for me to be happy, I have to grow things. Some people need to hunt. What blows your hair back? Do it. You work hard. You deserve it. If you love work, you are lucky. But that is still only one aspect of your life.

Life is difficult. Being a responsible adult is complicated. Delegate what you can. Take care of your physical and emotional health. Give as much of yourself as you can to the people who love you. After you have done all that, take a deep breath and go back to work.

Paul Hense is a Grand Rapids-based CPA and long-time SBAM member and supporter.

The University of Michigan is Open for Business

By Daryl Weinert (from the Small Business Association of Michigan’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine)

Recently, economists from the University of Michigan gave us all a rare piece of good news – Michigan will see positive job growth in 2011 for the first time in over a decade. At the same time, they asserted that challenges remain. One critical challenge is how to connect the state’s universities to the needs of the business community. At the University of Michigan, we’ve created The Business Engagement Center (BEC) – a new mechanism to help companies find solutions to real-world business challenges. 

Essentially, the BEC serves as a “matchmaker,” helping companies navigate the complex structure of the university to find resources for their business. One resource is student projects. When Adaptive Materials – an Ann Arbor-based fuel cell manufacturer – needed help with defining a new commercial market strategy for its fuel cell systems, the BEC matched the company to the Ross School of Business’s Multidisciplinary Action Program. This seven-week program pairs first year MBA students with companies seeking solutions to a variety of business challenges. The team was able to conduct research on the market, compile a list of customer contacts, and assemble a pitch for use in future sales campaigns. Additionally, the team delivered the tools to help company executives evaluate and prioritize new inquiries for other uses for their products.

Another critical resource is talent. Recently, the BEC helped North American Bancard – a Troy-based credit card payment solutions provider- sponsor a ‘Hackathon’ – a 48-hour mobile device application creation contest. Through their sponsorship, the company was able to increase their visibility specifically to a targeted group of students and establish a pipeline program for students to participate in internships and independent study courses. The university has also experimented with several small company programs building on its research strength. EcoMotors, an Allen Park-based developer of clean, efficient and lightweight propulsion systems, participated in the university’s Small Company Innovation Program. This cost-sharing research collaboration allows companies to leverage U-M research expertise by partnering to tackle relevant technical challenges (the university provides matching funds of up to $30,000). The BEC also helps to connect companies with university collaborators in pursuing federal or state research grants such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding.

The university has also launched a small company career fair to expose students to job opportunities at smaller, high growth companies within the state of Michigan. Known as the MPowered Career Fair, nearly 100 organizations attended in 2010. Companies that attend the career fair can also apply for the Small Company Internship Program, which offers university cost sharing to hire students for a 12 week summer internship.

The University of Michigan has never before been so ready for collaboration. With programs designed to unlock the entrepreneurial aspirations of our students, with our Technology Transfer office spinning out companies and commercializing ideas at an increasing pace, and with new interfaces like the Business Engagement Center, U-M is open for business as never before. The BEC is designed to help companies find talent, explore research partnerships, educate professional staff, identify technologies, engage with students, and consult with faculty. Make a date with the Business Engagement Center: www.bec.umich.edu.

Daryl Weinert is Executive Director of the University of Michigan’s Business Engagement Center.
RSS
First182183184185186187188189190191