Resources

Business Next radio for Wed., Aug. 24: Key legislative issues affecting your small business success

Learn about the key legislative issues affecting your small business success that will be considered by lawmakers in the fall. Interview with Dave Jessup, director of government relations for SBAM, and David Rhoa, owner of Lake Michigan Mailers Inc. in Kalamazoo and chairman of SBAM's Legislative Action Council.

Business Next is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.com Internet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

Missed the broadcast? Listen to the podcast or download the MP3 version at our show page.

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Feds Release New Summary of Benefits and Coverage Rules - 5 Months Late

By Gary Kushner, SPHR, CBP
President and CEO, Kushner & Company

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), among other requirements insurers and health plans are to provide a new “summary of the Summary” Plan Description, known as the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (or, as it was known in the Act, the Uniform Explanation of Coverage), starting on March 23, 2012.  The Act’s purpose was straight-forward and clear: help participants be better able to choose a plan by having all plans provide information in a similar fashion.  Unlike most all other legislation, including the PPACA, the items for an SBC were very specific, as were the formatting and layout.  It was to be no more than four pages long, with a font of no less than 12 point, and had to contain information that would easily fill 10 or more pages under even the best of circumstances (unless your idea of a page was more a museum-sized mural).

In order to assist employers, insurers, and health plans come up with this new participant disclosure, the Act required three federal agencies–the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury–with providing a model of this new four page document by March 23, 2011.

Well, on August 17, 2011, almost five months after the law’s own requirement, the agencies did provide a model notice.  Surprise–they too couldn’t fit all of the required information onto four pages (it took them six).  Even better, they then added one of the items required for this document, a glossary of common plan terms, onto another notice to provide to participants.  So by the end there are more than 10 pages of information for employers, insurers, and plans to distribute.

But wait, there’s more.  Under the proposed rules, as required by the PPACA, in the event there is a material change in the plan benefits or coverages, a new Summary must be provided to participants no later than 60 days before the start of the new changes, typically the next plan year.  For large employers, this won’t be onerous as planning for the upcoming benefit year is usually done well in advance, often six to nine months before the start of the new plan year.  For small and mid-sized employers however, many insurers and stop-loss carriers are not currently providing renewal information and quotes until within 60 days of the new plan year.  This will force all employers and carriers to push for an earlier renewal process in preparation for the new plan year.  For example, for a calendar year plan, an employer will need to make all plan design decisions, including plan and contribution changes, by early to mid-October in order to communicate with employees by no later than November 1st.


Stay tuned.  I expect we’ll see a push for a number of items related to the new SBC.  First will be requests to delay the implementation date since the federal agencies were almost five months late getting employers and carriers the needed model information.  Second, expect to see requests for a safe harbor for small employers in orde

IRS and Common Sense

Granted - IRS and common sense are not two items that generally go together, but in new proposed regulations we think they have it about right.

In the Affordable Care Act there are provisions that allow an employee,whose contribution to their employer’s health insurance plan would be more than 9.5% of family income, to go to the Health Insurance Exchange and get subsidized coverage. 

Do you remember reading that if the employee does that, then the employer gets whacked with a $3,000 per employee penalty?  Do you also remember the immediate reaction from the business community of – "How are we supposed to know our employees family income?"  
 

Setting aside our distaste for the financial penalty included in the law. The Internal Revenue Service heard the questions and concerns and earlier this year said they would develop new rules to make it easier for employers to determine if their health care plans are "affordable" and exempt from the stiff financial penalty. Guess what? They seem to have accomplished that goal. 

Under the law, starting in 2014, employers are liable for an annual $3,000 penalty for those employees whose required health insurance premium contribution for single coverage exceeds 9.5% of family income and the employees are eligible for federal premium subsidies to buy coverage through state insurance exchanges.  However, in new rules proposed Aug. 12, the IRS said it will develop a “safe harbor” where the employer’s offered health insurance plan would be considered affordable as long as the premium contribution for single coverage did not exceed 9.5%of the employee’s’ W-2 wages.

The IRS said it is developing the new safe harbor to give employers more certainty on whether their plans will pass the affordability test.

Questions or comments? Please contact Scott Lyon, Vice President Small Business Services, at (800) 362-5461 or scott.lyon@sbam.org.

Business Next radio for Aug 22, 2011: how to get the most for your health insurance premium dollar

We take a look at what’s going on in the world of health insurance and we tell you how to get the most for your health insurance premium dollar. Interview with SBAM's health insurance expert Scott Lyon. 

Business Next 
is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.comInternet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

Missed the broadcast? Listen to the podcast or download the MP3 version at our show page.

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to become a fan of the "Business Next" Face

Business Next radio for Aug 19, 2011: How communities are doing a better job supporting small business entrepreneurship.

How communities are doing a better job supporting small business entrepreneurship. Interview with Marsha Madle of the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute Entrepreneurial Communities Program.

Business Next 
is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.comInternet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

Missed the broadcast? Listen to the podcast or download the MP3 version at our show page.

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to become a fan of the "Business Next" Facebook page! Got an idea for guests and topics for “Business Next”? Forward to Michael Rogers at michael.rogers@sbam.org or 517-267-2209.

Business Turnaround Strategies

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

Remaining a viable business is tough in this economy. Fundamental challenges include managing cash flow while ensuring that the pipeline of prospects remains full. So how can a business remain viable? Theoretically, the answer is very simple. Just get more sales, manage your overhead costs, provide the best customer service possible, hire the best individuals, and voila, you have nothing to worry about. Practically speaking though, how do you do all that when business development cycles last longer, overhead costs remain the same, and competition is tougher than ever? Following are three Business Turnaround Strategies that can help:

1. Focus on business development: One of your top priorities must be business development. Building and keeping the pipeline full is an important activity that should take up most of your time as a business owner. Not comfortable with cold-calling? Cold-emailing is another strategy that can be effectively used to create new leads. Referrals are nice to have, but allocate a bulk of your time on a regular basis to conduct active solicitation of new business. Strategies could include cold-calling, cold-emailing, or buying appointments or leads through third-parties.

2. Delegate non-essential tasks: We all like to be do-it yourselvers because it helps us save money. But remember, if you aren’t a plumber by trade, then trying to fix a broken pipe by yourself ends up costing a whole lot more and takes longer than it takes a plumber-by-trade to do it. As a business owner, focus on working on growing the business and let others work on fulfilling the tasks of the business. Put a dollar value on your time and be wise about where you spend it.

3. Leverage technology: Small business owners must take advantage of advanced technology to create efficiency and manage their time better. Some areas where you should consider investing in technology include semi or fully manual order processing, office staff spending too much time on the phone, doing manual data entry from paper to computer, matching data between two systems or between a paper and a computer-based system, etc. etc. Implement these strategies and you will be sure to see a difference in how your business runs, how much new business you generate, and how much efficiency is created over time.

Nipa Shah is president of Online Marketing Simplified, www.jenesysgroup.com.

Business Next radio for Wed. Aug. 17: Entrepreneurship lessons from Michigan's fast-growing small business wine industry.

Entrepreneurship lessons from Michigan's fast-growing small business wine industry. Interview with Linda Jones, Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council.

Business Next 
is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.comInternet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

Missed the broadcast? Listen to the podcast or download the MP3 version at our show page.

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to become a fan of the "Business Next" Facebook page! Got an idea for guests and topics for “Business Next”? Forward to Michael Rogers at michael.rogers@sbam.org or 517-267-2209.

Michigan Location Named America's Most Beautiful Place

From ABC News & "Good Morning America":

Tens of thousands of viewers voted online for this Michigan park, which is one of the nation's best-kept secrets. The hidden gem boasts 64 miles of beaches along Lake Michigan, two islands, 26 inland lakes, more than 50,000 acres of land, and the monumental sand dunes from which it gets its name.

See the original item at ABCNews.com

Just for Fun - Summer Biz Quiz

Please enjoy my annual summertime Biz Quiz.
(Answers at bottom).
 
1. Who are “the two Steves”?
 
A: Steve Forbes and Steve Case
B. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
C. Steve Jobs and Steve Case
D. Steve Strauss and Steve Sax

2. What was the first product ever built by Apple?
 
A: The Apple
B. The Apple 1
C. The Apple Core
D. A Calculator

3. How did the Xerox Machine get its funny name?
 
A: The inventor heard it in a dream
B. The inventor had 2 X’s in his name
C. The inventor wanted to be last in the phone book
D. A professional linguist coined it from Greek words

4. What is the most money ever stolen in a white collar crime?
 
A: $304 million, in a scheme in Holland
B. $2.6 billion, in a copper trading scheme in Japan
C. Approximately $900 million, from a company in the U.S.
D. $1.3 billion in today’s dollars, in Austria-Hungary

5. Henry Ford invented…?
 
A: The $5 dollar work day
B. The 40 hour work week
C. Both A and B
D. Neither A nor B

6. Why is a valuable stock called a “blue chip”?
 
A: For a famous basketball player
B. Because blue chips are worth more in poker
C. For what was, at the time, a rare South American tortilla
D. Because it performs like a ‘chip off the ‘ol block’

7. Who was the first Starbucks franchisee in the U.S.?
 
A: Magic Johnson
B. HR Corporation
C. Howard Schultz
D. There are no American franchisees

8. How many businesses are there in the U.S?
 
A: 4 million
B. 40 million
C. 3 million
D. 30 million

9. Why are the awards for the best billboards called the “Obies”?
 
A: Because Obie Wan-Kenobi was a great Jedi
B. Because the “King of Billboards” was Obie Green
C. They are named after ancient obelisks in Egypt
D. Because Obie is short for Obinski, the inventor of the billboard

10. What is an SBDC?
 
A: A “Superior Business” in the nation’s capital
B. A small business devoid of currency
C. A Small Business Development Center
D. A starter business dba corporate

11. How many McDonald’s are there in the world?
 
A: 3,700
B. About 10,000
C. Around 30,000
D. 129,000

12. How old was Ray Kroc when he invented the McDonald’s franchising system?
 
A: 53
B. 40
C. 19
D. 21

13. In the movie Risky Business, what sort of business did Tom Cruise finally start?

A: A car club
B. An investment club
C. A hot dog stand
D. A prostitution ring  

14. What quote is NOT from Jerry Maguire?

A: “You had me at hello”
B. “Help me help you”
C. “Show me the money!”
D. “Don’t get me started!”

15. What product did Preston Tucker make?

A: A car
B. A cookie
C. A food storage devise
D. A computer

16. What movie does not have a key entrepreneur angle?

A: Citizen Kane
B. Forrest Gump
C. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
D. Casablanca

17. What product did John DeLorean attempt to buy to finance his car company?

A: Heroin
B. Gold
C. Uranium
D. Cocaine

18. The Barbie doll was named after

A: The inventor’s daughter
B. Marilyn Monroe
C. Barbara Stanwyck
D. The inventor

19. What company invented the disposable diaper?

A: Proctor & Gamble
B. Johnson &

Business Next radio: how small employers can take advantage of the new Michigan Jobs Portal

Michigan Economic Development Corporation Talent Acquisition Manager Joe Quick on how small employers can take advantage of the new Michigan Jobs Portal.

Business Next 
is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.comInternet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to become a fan of the "Business Next" Facebook page! Got an idea for guests and topics for “Business Next”? Forward to Michael Rogers at michael.rogers@sbam.org or 517-267-2209.
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