Social media marketing is a proven and established platform for connecting with customers, building a community and generating business. Are you nervous about getting started? Here's what you need to know about building your small business' social media presence.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today launched a new web page and blog dedicated to educating small business owners about the Affordable Care Act. The new tools will serve as a gateway for small business owners connecting them with information provided by SBA’s federal partners responsible for implementing the law, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The Affordable Care Act provides small business owners with access and opportunity to provide affordable health care options for their employees,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. “SBA’s new Affordable Care Act web page and blog will serve as a resource for small business owners who want learn more about how to take advantage of these benefits.”
The Affordable Care Act has many beneficial measures specifically for small businesses, including slowing premium cost growth and increased access to quality, affordable health insurance.
SBA’s new web page, www.sba.gov/healthcare, breaks down the key provisions of the Act based on business size in the following categories: self-employed, fewer than 25 employees, fewer than 50 employees and more than 50 employees.
The web page also provides links to other useful information for small businesses, including a glossary of key health care reform terms, an interactive timeline with dates for when certain reforms will be implemented, a state-by-state breakdown of health care options, and how to learn more about specific tax provisions and regulations. Additional resources will be added as they become available.
The blog, entitled Health Care Business Pulse (www.sba.gov/blog), will provide small business owners with continuous updates about the implementation of the Act. The blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Readers should consult their legal or tax professionals to discuss how specific matters relate to their individual business circumstances.
President Obama recently signed the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which appropriates funds for military activities of the Department of Defense and other national security programs. You may be asking yourself, “Why is the SBA talking about national security” Well, if you’re a small business and are doing business with the government, the NDAA includes a number of provisions that impact you. That’s why we thought it would be beneficial to highlight the top five things small businesses should know about the FY13 NDAA.
- Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Program: Removes the award caps ($6.5M and $4M) from set-asides under the Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Program.(Section 1697)
- Mentor Protégé Program: Establishes a Mentor Protégé Program modeled after the 8(a) Mentor Protégé Program for all small businesses. (Section 1641)
- Surety Bond Limits: Raises the SBA guaranteed surety bond limits from $2 million to $6.5 million, and allows for bonds up to $10 million on federal contracts if the contracting officer certifies that the surety is needed for award of the contract. The increased caps will allow small businesses to compete for more contracting opportunities with limited risk to the taxpayer. (Section 1695)
- Senior Executives: Requires that agency heads ensure members of the Senior Executive Services (Senior Leadership) receive training with respect to Federal acquisition requirements, including training requirements under the Small Business Act. The law also requires that the head of each respective agency take steps to ensure that members of the SES are held accountable to meeting small business contracting goals. (Section 1633)
- Small Business Contracting Requirements Training: Requires the Defense Acquisition University and the Federal Acquisition Institute establish a mandatory course on small business contracting in order for members of the federal acquisition workforce to get certified in contracting. (Section 1622)
The 2012-2013 flu season arrived earlier than usual. As the nation braces for increased flu activity, now is the time to prepare yourself, your business, and your employees. Not only is prevention important for physical health, it may impact your bottom line if your staff are out sick. Here are some tips to help you avoid illness and maintain business continuity.
1. Identify a Workplace Coordinator - This person would be the single point of contact for all issues relating to a flu outbreak and be responsible for reaching out to community health providers and implementing protocols for dealing with ill employees - in advance of any outbreak or impact on the business.
2. Examine Policies for Leave, Telework and Employee Compensation - Obviously this will vary by business, but the emphasis here is on refreshing yourself and your employees about what your company's health care plans cover in the event of sick leave as a result of the flu. You should also re-evaluate leave policies to ensure a flexible non-punitive plan that allows for impacted individuals to stay at home. Employees may also need to stay at home to care for sick children or telework in the event of school closures - so be prepared for this by implementing appropriate teleworking infrastructures in advance.
3. Post signs or host a flu vaccination clinic for employees – the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides free posters and stock content for your employee newsletter that will remind staff about flu vaccinations and other safety precautions. The CDC also recommends holding a flu vaccination clinic for your employees, among other strategies, for ensuring your employees have access to the seasonal flu vaccine. The CDC Flu Toolkit for Businesses provides all of these great resources.
4. Identify Essential Employees, Essential Business Functions, and Other Critical Inputs - Make plans to maintain communication and ensure clear work direction with critical personnel and vendors (and even customers) in the event that the supply chain is broken or other unpredictable disruptions occur.
5. Share your Flu and other Pandemic Plans with Employees and Clearly Communicate Expectations - Consider posting a bi-lingual version of your preparedness plan, leave information, health tips, and other flu awareness resources across all your work locations and online if you operate an Intranet.
6. Prepare Business Continuity Plans - Absenteeism or other work place changes need to be addressed early on so you can maintain business operations. Get tips on common sense measures your business can take from SBA.gov/Prepare.
7. Establish an Emergency Communication Plan - Hopefully your business already has some form of emergency communication plan. If not, document your key business contacts (with back-ups), the chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.
Flu.gov for Businesses
CDC Flu Website
CDC Flu Toolkit for Businesses