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. 

Lansing’s Old Town Commercial Association: Working with SBAM to Focus the Power of Small Business

In November of 2008, the Small Business Association of Michigan launched a new initiative to actively seek out regional and statewide business organizations who shared our vision in moving toward an entrepreneurial economy. Lansing’s Old Town Commercial Association was one of the first to see value in partnering with SBAM. We sat down with OTCA’s Executive Director, Brittney Hoszkiw, to talk about our partnership.

Old Town Commercial Association

Businesses that join the Old Town Commercial Association have a passion for and are committed to preserving Lansing’s only historical commercial district and influencing economic development. With a mutual goal of developing a more vibrant community, the actions of Old Town Commercial Association’s 100+ members are bringing real results.
“Members of the Old Town Commercial Association are automatically members of the Small Business Association of Michigan,” shared Hoszkiw. “Together, we work for the betterment of the Old Town neighborhood – and that’s made possible by these types of partnerships.” Focus had the opportunity to talk with Hoszkiw about Old Town’s partnership with SBAM:

Focus: What is the value of SBAM to Old Town?

Hoszkiw: For us, the different benefits that SBAM offers are often times thought to be available only through larger organizations. When our members, 50 percent of whom have one to three employees, realize what they have access to through their Old Town membership and consequently a membership in SBAM, they are thrilled. This partnership is a good example of a value-add situation where you’re providing extremely small businesses the tools to be successful. When working with a staff of one to two people, that value is exponential.

Focus: Why are partnerships important?

Hoszkiw: To improve Old Town and the Lansing region as whole, we need to look at partnering with other organizations and find ways to achieve the mutual goal of a more vibrant entrepreneurial community. Our partnership with SBAM, for example, has allowed us to work toward that goal by giving a small organization like ours the tools needed to strengthen our member businesses.

Learn more about the Old Town Commercial Association at www.iloveoldtown.org. For more information on SBAM’s strategic partnerships, contact Pierre LaVoie at pierre.lavoie@sbam.org.

Balancing Life and Social Media Usage

By Nipa Shah, president of Online Marketing Simplified. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

As if it wasn’t difficult enough to balance work-life and family, now we have to balance work-life, family, and social networking. We are constantly “twitching” to share where we are, what we are doing, what we plan to do, etc. to our network.

But all this sharing is creating havoc in many lives. People are getting fired for posting inappropriate information. We hear of robberies stemming from status updates announcing vacation plans. And although reports about Facebook causing divorces and death announcements made online through Twitter may be laughable to some of us, the reality is that this is the world we live in today.

As business owners, we find ourselves in even more of a quandary. Do we focus on growing the business or do we spend time online, building larger networks to grow our visibility and branding?

Well, ideally, businesses should rely on marketing professionals to manage their social properties so that it can be done right and done in a comprehensive manner to generate the desired results. However, as a business owner, if you are in a chicken or an egg situation of whether to invest the money or the time doing it yourself, here are some baby steps to help you get started:

  • Create your personalized profile on no more than two or three social networks. I recommend two. You can choose from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube.
  • Download Twitter and Facebook on your smart-phone (I assume you have a smart-phone. If not, get one pronto).
  • Until you get into the habit of it, put down a recurring event on your calendar to post at least once or twice a day on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Make your posts count. It’s okay to announce, “I’m at Starbucks” of course. But what’s the value of it? Why not post “Going to Starbucks to meet a prospective client” or “Getting coffee to wake me up before I get to work, anyone else feel like I do” is so much more interactive and enables engagement from others.
  • Create Google alerts for news items that are interesting and relevant to your business. Post those with a comment and you benefit by sharing ready-to-use content with others.
  • If sharing photos and videos, use the many tools that are available to do this sharing across multiple platforms through one single post.
  • Stay connected regularly through smartphones to maintain the momentum.
Out of sight is out of mind when it comes to online marketing. Social networking is here to stay. Sooner or later, you’ll have to get familiar and engaged online. But it doesn’t have to be at the expense of family and business. Leverage smart-phones, apps, and other tools to remain connected without sacrificing too much of your family or business time.

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.
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