Legal issues crucial when forming small business

Entrepreneurs are busy people. They’ve got a ton of things on their mind from marketing and advertising to customer service and phones forever ringing to business appointments — and more.
Unfortunately, legal and technical issues have to be attended to at the same time.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, small businesses need to take some basic steps as they grow.

  1. Set up the proper business structure. There are sole proprietorships, LLCs, S corporations, C corps, and partnerships. Choosing the correct one means learning the advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, as a sole proprietor, the business owner and the business are considered as one in the legal system. If your company is sued, all your personal assets are at risk. Corporate structures and LLCs offer protection of personal assets, although this protection isn’t a guarantee. Talk to a lawyer and accountant about the structure you need.
  2. Set up and follow customer service policies. When you access company websites, especially those that provide services of some sort, you’ll usually see a Terms and Conditions agreement. Included in this agreement are all the specifics for the use of your products or services and the customer’s obligations in that use. If you do not have this policy in writing and a box for a customer to check before a purchase, you are wide open to inclusion in a lawsuit should that customer become a defendant.
  3. Set up accounting and tax systems. Is your business subject to sales/VAT taxes? When must you file your business income tax returns? Do you need to make quarterly payments? Business tax laws are complex. You need a good business accountant–or at the very least, proven accounting software–to keep accurate records and file your taxes on time.
  4. Obtain appropriate and complete contracts with outside vendors. When you use the services of or purchase raw materials from someone outside of your business, demand iron-clad contracts. Never agree to anything with a contractor without a legally-binding agreement with the terms and language set out clearly and properly.
  5. Get the proper documentation on employees. At minimum, before hiring, document and verify past employment. After hiring, document work hours, complaints, responsibilities and attendance issues such as sick days, personal days off, and vacation.
    Be sure to specify, in writing, work expectations – including whether work can be done remotely.

The no-spend challenge
A financial writer set out to spend no extra money for a year.
Michelle McGagh and her husband vowed to pay bills, but not to buy coffee, clothes, or a beer at a pub. They didn’t eat out or even buy gas. Instead she rode her bike everywhere all the time. She spent only $35 on food every week, so she had to plan cheap meals.
What happened? At the end of one year she saved $23,000.
She admits the effort was not easy. She missed having face cream and fresh flowers. She missed socializing with friends at a pub. And they missed her.
On the other hand, she also found new ways to have fun for free and she realized how much money she frittered away. McGagh wrote about her extreme challenge in her book, “The No Spend Year: How you can spend less and live more.”
McGagh’s challenge was extreme–but what if you could spend nothing extra for just one month. Could you save money? Definitely.
According to Bankrate.com, the first thing to do is decide why. It could be to pay off a big bill that is coming or pad your savings account, but the goal should mean something to you.
Next steps:

  • Eliminate any optional expense that comes out of your checking account such as subscriptions. They will take your money next month.
  • Eliminate luxuries and start thinking of some things as luxuries. For example, cable TV. You could get rid of Netflix for $10 a month or cable for $120, or both.
  • Make a barebones food plan and stick to it. No prepared foods. Make your own cookies. This is nearly its own challenge. Can you spend $100 a week or less on food?
  • Cellphone: No extra overages or get rid of the plan, if you can.
  • No restaurants or pubs. Plan some things to do that are free.
    Then count your cash at the end of the month!

Starting a family business has unique problems

Starting a business with a spouse, parents, siblings, children or other family members is not like the typical startup.
According to the Family Firm Institute, family-owned businesses comprise two-thirds of the companies worldwide. However, only 30 percent endure into a second generation, 12 percent to a third, and 3 percent to a fourth.
The typical snare of a family business is putting too much weight on family and not enough on business. Rarely are the qualities of a healthy business entirely compatible with family harmony. When the business is going well, there will be jealousy. When it is going badly, there will be blame.
The earliest stages of a family business are the most ominous. Family members can join the promise of a new venture without clear definitions of their roles, duties, compensation–and, should they become problematic, exit arrangements.
To avoid miscommunication and hard feelings in the future, advises StartupNation.com, always put family business relationships in writing.
While various family members may qualify for similar duties, they must be divided up to avoid conflicts. Significant decisions can be reached together, but disputes over minor procedures impede the overall progress of the business.
The dominant structure of a thriving family business is having one person serve as the ultimate leader of the endeavor. When this leader is resilient and competent, he or she can persevere, stay focused, and proceed with their responsibilities and intentions despite the obstacles and challenges.
These capabilities are especially essential in a family business where professional and personal issues frequently become intertwined.
Leaders of strong family-owned businesses know that setting boundaries among participating family members is critical to continuing success. Precise methods of communication must be installed.
Since business quandaries and differences of opinion are inevitable, consider weekly meetings to assess current progress and plans, air differences, and resolve disputes. Moreover, keep family issues out of the boardroom and office.
Keeping pace with the times is vital to any business, more certainly those with multigenerational roots. Regardless of age, family members must continuously evolve and deliver or risk alienating both employees and customers.
Furthermore, so-called sympathy jobs should not be open as a last resort to children, cousins, or other family members for any reason. Employment must be based on the experience, knowledge, or skills a family business demands.
For leadership and staff positions the business demands, look outside for the qualities family members do not possess.

Sometimes injury numbers don’t tell the story

Organizations with low numbers of on-the-job injuries can be proud of their record.

But number of injuries alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

Safety expert Don Groover, writing in Safety and Health Magazine, points out that, in dangerous situations, luck plays a part.

Groover gives this example: An observer stands below a worker on a high platform. The worker is using a hammer. The hammer falls and misses the observer. There are zero injuries on the job that day but, the fact is, the observer was lucky, not safe. The exposure to danger was still there.

The key is creating a work environment and a safety culture that recognizes exposure, not just injury.

In that example, you could say that the workers were in error, either because of the way the hammer was used or because of the position of the observer. While that might be true, Groover points out that the pool of exposure points is more important.

“A focus on exposures is a radical departure from a focus on hazards or unsafe actions,” Groover writes.

The key is focusing on the factors that cause vulnerability to dangerous situations before the injuries occur or, with luck, don’t occur.

“When a person is exposed, the outcome is out of their control,” Groover says. They could have good luck — or bad.

The significance of safety exposures becomes clearer when seen over time.

Groover gives the example of a worker who climbs on a unit to install a strap on a shipping container. When he steps back, he stumbles and falls five feet. He is uninjured.

He is lucky, and the company has zero injuries but their exposure, when considered across the system, is huge: An employee climbs up twice for each unit loaded. About 25,000 units are loaded per day, equaling 50,000 exposures per day or 18 million exposures per year.

Given this immense number of possible falls, relying on perfect execution each time from employees reveals a much bigger risk than merely calculating injuries per day.

Can I use my home insurance for my home business?

Especially with how easy and inexpensive it is to have access to equipment like printers and copiers now, many small business owners in Cypress, TX are choosing to operate from home in order to save money. A lot of them assume that the homeowner’s policy will cover whatever happens in the home, but unfortunately a lot of the time this will probably not true. A policy that you obtain through InsureUS or another insurance company will have limitations and exceptions, and most policies have rules about how the property will be used. This makes sense because different kinds of ventures carry different kinds of risks, and insurance is about risk assessment.

If you have a physical office space, you may want to talk about property and liability insurance. Some of the most important things to protect are your equipment and records, and you may have some expensive electronics that allow you to work from home. These may include computers, furniture, and other items specifically for your home office.

Liability insurance is also important. If clients come to your home business in Cypress, TX, they could fall and become injured on your property, or become injured in another way. Also, if you are making a product or providing a professional service, you want to be protected from liability if someone becomes injured using your product or taking your professional advice.

The good news is that you may be able to offset some of the costs by claiming them as business expenses. If you have a home business or are thinking about setting one up, call InsureUS today so we can help protect you,

How small businesses can use the gig economy to grow

About one in three workers in America are currently freelancing and this growing gig economy allows small businesses to grow more efficiently by hiring specialists quickly and cheaply, according to Small Business Trends.

An estimated 40 percent of those who work in the gig economy are engaged by small businesses, and those same freelancers are more likely to consider working full time for a smaller company than a larger one in the future.

Many entrepreneurs start their businesses with a small budget and limited access to human capital. It just isn’t feasible to hire full-time experts to provide the skills needed to build things like online infrastructure, branding material, or a social media presence. In these cases, a small business can turn to a freelancer that specializes in these specific tasks but often charges less than an established firm in the industry because they have less overhead and more flexibility with their time, according to CNet. Online services such as UpWork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com allow business owners to connect with freelancers quickly and provide a secure way to track activity.

When searching for a freelance worker to complete a project, such as building a website for your small business, the ability to search among many talented individuals across a variety of factors will allow you to find the perfect match for your situation. Narrow the field by focusing on individuals that have a solidly reviewed track record with a particular kind of project and offer a portfolio of work. From there, sort out whether they prefer to be paid by the hour or completed project and find someone who meets your budget. Once you find a freelancer, there will always be a contract employee on call to help your business grow.

Do You Have Adequate Commercial Coverage if An Employee Gets into an Auto Accident While Working?

Business owners in Cypress, TX may not be aware of the complexities that are involved in commercial and company auto insurance policies that provide coverage to employees if they get into an accident on company time. Even if they are driving their own car, if an employee is involved in a car accident while performing company business, the firm can be held liable for any damages or injuries that are caused. InsureUS is here to help our customers in the greater Cypress, TX area get the comprehensive insurance that they need to protect their business interests.

If, for example, your secretary goes to the bank to make a company deposit in her own vehicle, the company can still be held responsible in the event of an accident. The insurance policy of the involved vehicle will take the primary position, and if the policy is not adequate to cover the costs of the accident, the business’ insurance will be next in line to pay.

Also, it is important to add all employees to the employer’s auto policy, for both company-owned vehicles, leased vehicles, and any auto that is rented for use in company business. These simple and straightforward steps can safeguard the financial health of your company in the event of an unforeseen accident. Does this all sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be! The professional and highly-trained staff and agents at InsureUS are here to help! 

If you are a business owner in the greater Cypress area and have questions about your commercial insurance, stop by and see us! Our helpful and knowledgeable agents can help to ensure that you have all of the commercial and vehicle coverage that you need to protect your company.

Can a Solo Entrepreneur get Commercial Insurance?

People who own their own businesses and have no other employees working for them may think that they don’t need to invest in commercial insurance. The truth is, though, that having commercial insurance is of the utmost value regardless of how many employees a business employs. Even if it is just a solo entrepreneur, having insurance protection is going to be incredibly important. 

Why is commercial insurance important for a solo entrepreneur? 

Just the same as any other type of business, a solo entrepreneur can get into trouble with slander, especially in today’s age and time with social media. With the right insurance policy, though, a business owner can rest assured that he or she will have coverage in the event that a lawsuit is brought against the company. 

Having commercial insurance is also important because it can provide income protection in the event that something was to happen to the company. Take for example the company endures a loss of important documents due to fire and is unable to operate for a period of 30 days. How will the business owner make money during this period of time? With the right insurance coverage, it becomes possible to take advantage of income protection, thus allowing the business to stay afloat even during and after a disaster takes place. 

For those who own their own business, it is highly recommended to consider the many benefits that go along with having commercial insurance. If you have questions about this type of insurance, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact an insurance agent with InsureUS serving the Cypress, TX area. 

Does a Home Business Need Commercial Insurance?

When it comes to home businesses, there really is nothing better than being able to work from the comfort of your own house. You can sleep in and set your own hours as well as work in your pajamas. What many people who own a home business fail to realize, though, is that business insurance should be invested in. Did you know that if someone comes to your home and is injured while you are conducting business functions that your home insurance may not cover the claim? This is why you need commercial insurance. Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of insuring your home business. 

Expanding Your Home Insurance

Many times, it is possible to expand your home insurance by adding on business insurance as a rider. In doing this, you will receive additional coverage in the event that a claim has to be made that relates to a function involving your business.  

There Is Much to be Covered

You may not realize it, but there is a lot to insure when it comes to home business. From document protection to funds being taken from your business bank account, you want to make sure all of your bases are covered. With commercial business insurance, you can have peace of mind in knowing your home business is properly covered. 

If you own a home business and you don’t have commercial insurance, you will definitely want to speak with a qualified agent who provides insurance in the Cypress, TX area. Contact InsureUS today to learn more about the benefits of insuring your home business with commercial insurance coverage. 

What is a Business Owner Package (BOP), and How Can One Help You?

If you are a business owner, you know how important comprehensive coverage can be to protect your interests. Properly insuring any business requires different types of coverage that may be found in separate policies. In order to fully protect your business, it may be necessary to carry a different policy for each type of coverage which can be less than convenient. With a Business Owner Package (BOP) many lines can be bundled together which can save you money as well as help you to keep your insurance streamlined. InsureUS has the necessary experience and expertise to help you protect your business. If you are in the greater Cypress, TX area we are here to work with you to ensure that you have the coverage you need.

What Exactly is a BOP?

This bundle of commercial coverage is perfect for small businesses that are looking to save money. The package generally includes Commercial Property Insurance and General Liability Coverage, bundled together. There is no coverage for business or commercial vehicles in these packages, and a separate vehicle policy will be necessary. This package covers lawsuits brought by third-party interests, catastrophic loss, such as fire damage, and third party property damage. Some BOPs also include Business Interruption Coverage which is vital for small businesses. Our agents can work with you to ensure that you have the comprehensive coverage you need.

Please give our agency a call today at (281) 640-8888 to schedule an appointment with one of our business specialists who can review your current coverage and help to streamline your policies to make your insurance work best for you. InsureUS is here to help you with a BOP and all of your other insurance needs in the greater Cypress, TX area. 

Small business risk: Fire ranks high

Going into business is heavy with financial risk but, once in business, natural disasters or unforeseen problems can create catastrophe.
Fire ranks high as a potentially devastating risk for business.
More than 75 percent of companies that experience a serious fire go out of business within three years of reopening, according to Phoenix Fire Protection.
Proper insurance can cushion destruction of assets and business interruption costs, but it won’t stem loss of customers, employees and data.
Of these three risks, data loss may be the easiest to mitigate.

* Daily off-site backups are key. On-site backups may seem sufficient unless a fire begins on the weekend or a holiday.

* Check backups regularly.

* Make sure at least two people know how to retrieve backups.

Make a pre-fire or disaster plan: Some of the questions you can ask:

* How can you protect IT equipment from fire or other disasters? If you can’t protect equipment, how will you replace it after the emergency?

* How will you retrieve data? Who will do it?

* Where will you operate? Will you need a generator for electricity? If so, where will you get the fuel to power the generator?

* What are the steps you will take to replace inventory? Is it necessary or possible to insure inventory? What is the worst-case scenario if it isn’t insured?