Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

June 2015

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Last week, the Supreme Court upheld a significant provision of Obamacare. The Supreme Court confirmed that health insurance tax subsidies will continue to be available in both the state and federally-run Health Insurance Marketplaces. This decision is a huge win for small business owners and employees across the country. What was the case all about and why does it matter to small businesses?

Here are three key facts about Supreme Court decision to quickly understand how the ruling impacts you, your business, and your employees.

1. Supreme Court Says Health Insurance Subsidies Stay

The central issue in the case (King v Burwell) was whether the IRS was allowed to extend health insurance tax subsidies to individual health insurance coverage purchased through the 30-plus federally-run exchanges at

The petitioners (King) argued that the text of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) only allows for subsidies on state-run exchanges, and that the regulations providing for subsidies on the federally-run exchanges exceeded the authority Congress granted to it.

In response, the federal government (Burwell) argued that the ACA intended for subsidies to be paid in all exchanges – regardless if they are operated by the state or federal government.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Burwell. The ruling confirms subsidies will continue to be available through the Health Insurance Marketplaces in all 50 states.

2. Health Insurance Subsidies Provide Significant Savings

The health insurance subsidies provide significant savings to small business owners and employees. In 2014, 87 percent of people who shopped on were eligible for discounts, paying an average of only $82 a month for health insurance.

Most small business employees earn incomes that make them eligible for subsidies (less than $47,000 for an individual in 2015 or $97,000 for a family of four). In fact, most small business employees will pay less for individual coverage than they would for similar insurance coverage through work.

3. Small Businesses Shifting to Individual Health Insurance

So, what does this have to do with your small business? Small businesses need affordable healthcare options, but most cannot afford traditional coverage for employees. As a result, savvy small business owners are pairing individual health insurance with a reimbursement plan. This alternative model of health benefits is sometimes called “defined contribution” health benefits.

With the health insurance subsidies here to stay, experts predict that small businesses will continue to shift employees to the individual market.

As Rick Lindquist, president of Zane Benefits writes, “Small business owners, who are most affected by increasing premiums, now have the certainty needed to help transition themselves and employees to the individual market which we expect to increase to more than 100 million by 2025. We expect small businesses to continue to offer health benefits to employees in the form of monthly allowances.”


With the health insurance subsidies here to stay, small businesses have an opportunity to save money on health insurance. With the majority of small business employees qualifying for subsidies, small business owners can pair a defined contribution health benefits program with individual health insurance for an affordable healthcare solution.

For more information on how the Affordable Care Act impacts your small business, download Zane Benefits’ complimentary eBook.

Christina Merhar is a guest author and Senior Editor for Zane Benefits, the leader in individual health insurance reimbursement for small businesses. Christina has a passion for helping small employers understand the ins and outs health benefits and Human Resources.

Lawsuits are filed against small businesses far too often—many of which are due to easily avoidable human resources mistakes that aren’t seen until it’s too late. Many of these lawsuits involve current or past employees who believe they have some kind of “dirty laundry” on the business, or think they can turn a minor grievance into a major payday. In fact, almost 75 percent of all litigation against corporations today involves employment disputes.Over 40 percent of these lawsuits are filed against smaller employers (15–100 employees).


Employment-related lawsuits are often even more costly for small businesses than consumer lawsuits. The median compensatory award for employment practices liability insurance cases is $218,000. The precautions you take today can prevent a frivolous—and potentially bankrupting—court case tomorrow. Here are four mistakes that can get you into trouble. 

1. Not Running Background Checks on Employees

A first impression is always important, but it’s hardly the only thing on which a job candidate should be judged. Considering the cost of employment-related lawsuits, your small business should do a thorough background check on prospective hires. This includes criminal background checks, calling past employers, and checking references. Doing so can uncover potential employment issues down the road and help you avoid lawsuits.

2. Not Using Employment Agreements

Written employment agreements, as long as they’re professionally drafted, can eliminate any doubts about what is expected in the employee/employer relationship. For example, prospective employees will have no misunderstandings about sick days, their working hours, and even personal use of office equipment since these items can be clearly spelled out in an agreement.

3. Inadequately Documenting Terminations

Employees will come and go even if you have excellent advancement opportunities and work hard to reduce employee turnover. Terminations are part of running a small business, so you must carefully plan for them. Failure to do so could open the door to potential lawsuits from past employees. Document every termination, including the process, reason, and events that led to it. Documenting the termination of an employee minimizes the risk of future claims brought against your business.

4. Ignoring Relevant Employment Laws

Failure to follow basic, relevant employment laws could be much worse than just a lawsuit. You could face fines and even lose your license. Federal and state employment laws are nothing to ignore; make sure you thoroughly understand and comply with all of them. This can include everything from overtime pay to working hours to vacation time and even discrimination. While a happy employee might not mind you breaking the rules, a terminated or disgruntled employee may report you and file his own lawsuit against you.

Protect Your Small Business

Improving human resources management in your small business is critical in many ways. Adhering to all necessary policies, procedures, and laws enables you to reduce your risk for lawsuits, whether coming from employees or other businesses. Even if a lawsuit occurs, following these steps can reduce their severity and hopefully build enough evidence to dismiss the lawsuit.

MJ Management Solutions helps you put the policies and procedures in place to protect your small business from lawsuits. Schedule a consultation online or call 480.924.6101 to learn more about safeguarding your business from legal troubles today.

This article first appeared at M.J. Management Solutions, Inc.

MJ Management Solutions, Inc., is a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive.

Evaluating health benefits is not as simple as it used to be. Ten or fifteen years ago, small business health benefit options were pretty simple: purchase a group health insurance plan. But today, the market has changed. There are new health insurance options available which leaves executives asking, “Which type of health benefits is the best fit for our small business?”

The first step in understanding health benefits is to understand the options available on the market today, then assess how the two main options align with the business’s goals.

Types of Health Benefits

As small business executives assess health benefits, there are generally two core types of health benefits to evaluate: group health insurance and employer-funded individual health insurance. Let’s take a look at how each works.

Traditional Group Health Insurance Plan

Most executives are familiar with how a group health insurance plan works; the business selects and purchases a policy to cover eligible employees and dependents. Generally, both the business and employees contribute to the premium costs. Group health insurance plans can be purchased through an insurance professional, and new options are available the SHOP Marketplace.

A traditional group health insurance plan might be the right fit if:

  • The small business qualifies for Small Business Health Care Tax Credits.
  • Employees do not have individual health insurance coverage and/or do not qualify for premium tax credits on the individual market.

A group health insurance plan might not be the right fit if:

  • The business needs fiscal predictability year to year.
  • The business has limited administrative resources to administer the plan.
  • Employees have diverse health and financial needs.
  • Employees already have individual health insurance coverage and/or qualify for premium tax credits on the individual market.
  • Individual health insurance premiums are less expensive (or provide better doctor networks) than comparable group health insurance.

Employer-Funded Individual Health Insurance

A newer approach to small business health benefits is employer-funded individual health insurance. What does this mean? Simply that the business contributes to employees’ individual health insurance instead of purchasing a group health insurance plan.

With this type of health benefits, the employer sets up a formal, tax-advantaged reimbursement plan. Employees purchase any individual health insurance policy and are reimbursed by the plan, up to their allowance amount. (Tip: Under the Affordable Care Act, this type of arrangement is still allowed as long as the reimbursement plan meets certain rules and requirements.)

Employer-funded individual health insurance might be the right fit if:

  • The business needs a fixed-cost benefits program.
  • The business needs a health benefits plan that is easy to administer.
  • Employees have diverse health and financial needs.
  • Employees already have individual health insurance coverage and/or qualify for premium tax credits on the individual market.

Employer-funded individual health insurance might not be the right fit if:

  • Group health insurance premiums are less expensive (or provide better networks) than comparable individual health insurance.
  • The small business qualifies for Small Business Health Care Tax Credits.

What is the Best Fit?

If the choice isn’t obvious, a simple cost analysis can help clarify the right health benefits fit, as will asking these questions:

  • Who will the health benefits cover?
  • What is our budget?
  • What do employees value most?
  • Who will manage the health benefits program?
  • What are our goals?


Evaluating small business health benefits does not have to be daunting. First, understand the options available in today’s market, and compare costs with a cost analysis. Then, assess the business’s needs by asking a few simple questions.

Christina Merhar is a guest author and Senior Editor for Zane Benefits, the leader in individual health insurance reimbursement for small businesses. She has a passion for helping small employers understand the ins and outs health benefits and Human Resources.

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Everyone wants to live the dream: work for yourself and make a million dollars. There are thousands of entrepreneurs struggling to achieve this goal each and every day, but only a select few reach the million-dollar mark. The good news? That small group is growing each year, with an increasing number of “solopreneurs” making millions.

What’s their secret? What business skills does it take to be part of this elite group of million-dollar one-person businesses? Before we delve into that question, let’s take a look at some stats that will light a fire under you.

Success Rates of Solo Businesses

With advancements in technology and the interconnected world created by social media, it’s easier than ever to work for yourself. This growing trend is evident in an article posted on Forbes that shows a rise in the number of solo businesses reaching multimillion-dollar annual revenues.

  • 29,494 companies reached the $1 million to $2.49 million group in 2012, which is a 10 percent increase over 2011.
  • 1,900 businesses were reported to be in the $2.5 million to $4.99 million range the same year, which also shows a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
  • 386 solopreneurs made it to the $5 million mark in 2012, an increase of five percent from 2011.

There’s also been an increase in solo businesses reaching six-figure yearly revenues. In fact, 1.7 million of them made at least $100 thousand in 2012, as compared to 1.6 million in 2011.

Business Skills of Successful Solopreneurs

With success rates like these, it’s not impossible to have a piece of the pie. With hard work, dedication, and sufficient planning, anything can happen. Take a look at these five business skills you need to create a million-dollar one-person business.

  1. Planning. Strategizing is the first step toward that million-dollar mark. Once you have a profitable idea, devise a plan of action that includes product/service lifecycle innovation, marketing, promotion, daily operations, and anything else your business entails. Be sure your plan is realistic with time and budget restrictions.
  2. Sales and Marketing. Since you’re in business for yourself, you have to handle all aspects of both sales and marketing if you plan on gaining clients. Fortunately, our uber-connected world makes this process much easier. Blogging is a great way to generate leads. In fact, research shows that 70 percent of consumers prefer learning about a product or service through a blog rather than a sales ad.
  3. Communication. Solopreneurs have to be excellent communicators, since they’re the only ones representing their products/services. Take sufficient time to inform and educate your market by providing useful information—through blog posts and social media—and offer your expert advice when possible.
  4. Flexibility. As the sole owner and operator of your business, you wear many hats. Be flexible about what you’re willing to do to succeed. Remember, things don’t always go as planned: Sometimes they go better than planned. Rolling with the entrepreneurial punches makes you much more productive.
  5. Focus. While you’re flexible in the daily grind, don’t lose focus on your ultimate goals. Keep your buyer persona in mind to make sure that what you do speaks to your target audience in a way that is effective and fruitful.

The glamorous world of successful solopreneurship may seem out of reach, but in actuality, it’s completely attainable. With the business skills listed above and a little help from a professional, you can be on your way to a multimillion-dollar solo business.

Baby Boomers are one of five generations you’re likely to have in your small business—alongside the TraditionalistsGeneration XGeneration Y, and Generation Z employees. Catering to all of these generations isn’t easy; it requires you to tailor your policies and management practices to suit the needs of each group. Baby Boomers, who are likely in leadership roles within your company, aren’t retiring just yet. It’s in your best interest to accommodate their needs just as much as the younger generations.

Who Are the Baby Boomers?

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are the largest living generation and most likely dominate the higher-level positions in your small business. Common traits of Baby Boomers include being:

  • Work-centric: By and large, they’re workaholics who define themselves by their professional accomplishments. They believe younger generations should pay their dues, and may criticize them for a lack of work ethic and commitment to the company.
  • Goal-oriented: Baby Boomers thrive on achievements, are dedicated to the company for which they work, and are extremely focused on getting ahead in their careers. They want to know they’re making a difference and like to take on challenging projects.
  • Independent: Baby Boomers are confident and self-reliant. After growing up in an era of reform where they questioned authority systems, they welcome confrontation and don’t shy away from challenging established practices within the company.
  • Competitive: Since they equate their self-worth with their position and work accomplishments, competition is high among Baby Boomers. They believe in a hierarchical structure, and may fault younger generations for trends towards workplace flexibility.

Baby Boomers are similar to Traditionalists because they believe in hierarchal structure and rankism, and may have a hard time adjusting to workplace flexibility trends. The idea of change is not easily accepted. If there’s already an established system that appears to be working, you’ll find Baby Boomers very reluctant to change it. They value “face time” and frown upon the “work from anywhere” mentality of younger workers.

Ultimately, your Baby Boomer employees take their careers very seriously. After all, the position they’re in right now is likely the one in which they’ll retire.

What Baby Boomers Expect From Management

Baby Boomers expect respect—not only for their work, but for their personal lives as well. Your Baby Boomer employees also treasure tenure. They expect you to show some level of respect for those who have worked for the company for an extended period of time.

Your Baby Boomers value recognition above all else. When they’re recognized for their contributions to your company, they feel valued and appreciated and will work even harder for your company.

Tips to Manage Baby Boomers

Managing Baby Boomers is similar to Traditionalists in the way that they both put significant value in their jobs. They’re both dedicated to their work and are willing to sacrifice their personal lives to succeed professionally. Tap into the talents of the baby boomers in your small business by:

  • Recognizing their professional achievements personally as well as publicly.
  • Listening to a Baby Boomer employee’s ideas and suggestions. Show them that you appreciate their individual contribution to the company, embrace their ideas, and implement them if you can.
  • Understanding their state of mind. Baby Boomers suffer from a conflict. They struggle to compete as individuals, but also strive to be an integral component of the team. Show your appreciation for their work in both aspects so that they don’t have mixed feelings or feel as though they must sacrifice one or the other to succeed.

Baby Boomer Attributes

  • Confidence in tasks
  • Emphasize team-building
  • Seek collaborative, group decision-making
  • Avoid conflict
  • Adaptive
  • Goal-oriented
  • Focus on individual choices and freedom

Since your Baby Boomer employees likely handle most of your higher-level operations—or oversee a majority of your staff—it’s imperative that you manage them effectively. Keeping them happy needs to be a priority, as high turnover of your senior positions will have a detrimental impact on your business.

Learn more about reducing turnover for all generations of your workforce by getting your copy of Practical Tools to Manage Costly Employee Turnover today.

This article first appeared at M.J. Management Solutions, Inc.

MJ Management Solutions, Inc., is a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive.

Running a small business is a tough job. Not only do you need to keep your eye on every aspect of your business, you also need to develop a wide breadth of knowledge in areas covered by multiple specialists in larger organizations. Is it any wonder entrepreneurs struggle to maintain their small business blog with regular insightful content?

One of the best tools to keep you on top of your blogging game is an editorial calendar. It helps grow your small business blog, improve the effectiveness of your articles, maintain a consistent schedule of new material, and—most importantly—attracts and retains clients.

What is an editorial calendar?

We’re so glad you asked. Simply put, an editorial calendar is a bird’s eye view of your plan for blogging.

An editorial calendar isn’t just a list of blog ideas, however. An effective editorial calendar contains the following:

  • Submission date
  • Blog title/topic
  • Target keywords or keyphrases
  • Key points to cover in your blog article
  • Offer or call to action (CTA)
  • Links to additional blogs or information
  • Image/Video URLs
  • Post URL
  • Details for external blog submissions
  • Responsible individual

In fact, the more information your editorial calendar contains, the more valuable it is as a lead generation tool.

How does an editorial calendar expand my small business?

Good question! For entrepreneurs, an editorial calendar seems like a huge amount of extra work (aka headache). Don’t let that stop you. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Plus, you don’t want to miss the many benefits an editorial calendar provides to all aspects of your business, such as:

  • Providing a place to store article ideas
  • Ensuring a plan is in place when you’re ready to hit “start”
  • Holding you accountable to a consistent schedule of updates (We already know regular blogging drives traffic to your website.)
  • Helping you visualize your blogging strategy
  • Keeping focused on content that meets the needs of your buyer persona
  • Building trust and credibility with your reader
  • Generating leads
  • Acquiring new clients without having to endure excruciatingly painful networking events

As if that’s not enough to convince you to use an editorial calendar, as your small business blogging efforts grow, it provides another benefit—it makes sharing your blog articles and driving even more traffic to your website, incredible easy. You have everything another writer needs to post your blog content to their website.

Not only is the editorial calendar a great tool that improves your blogging efforts, it’s the tool every small business owner wants in their arsenal to grow their business.

Ready to get your blog on? Gather your free copy of an editorial calendar today.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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