What Small Businesses Should Know About Tariffs

August 13, 2018

By Peter J. Cazamias, SBA –

Recently the United States Government announced several new tariff increases. The U.S. Department of Commerce implemented tariffs on steel and aluminum imports for national security reasons. Separately, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced tariffs to combat unfair trade practices on certain Chinese goods. Additional tariffs on a larger list of goods from China are expected in the future.

Small businesses should become familiar with what imported products are impacted, to make informed business decisions as tariffs could increase the total cost of certain imported goods.

What are tariffs?

Tariffs are a taxes, levies, or duties on a particular category of imports. These fees are charged as a percentage of the price of an imported good paid for by a U.S. buyer. These charges are collected by U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents at all U.S. ports of entry.

How can I obtain a tariff waiver on my foreign purchases?

U.S. businesses may request that individual imported products be excluded from the new tariff charges, and U.S. producers may also comment on why certain exclusions should be denied. The Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have separate application procedures based on the actions taken by their organizations. Decisions are case by case and require separate, individual applications for each item to be imported.  (more…)

Labor Law Postings: 5 Things to Know When You Have Remote Workers

August 6, 2018

By ComplyRight –

Remote WorkerIf you find employment laws confusing, you’re not alone. The 2018 National Small Business Compliance Pulse Survey, sponsored by ComplyRight, revealed that small business employers continue to be troubled by the increasing complexities of employment laws. According to the study, managing federal, state and local laws is the top concern among employers.

Employment laws are confusing. And one example is how labor law postings impact remote workers. You probably know you have to display current federal and state postings (and in some cases, city or county). But what about telecommuters? How are these employees supposed to receive this information?

When you have employees who work remotely, here are 5 things you should know about posting compliance for labor laws.

1) Remote employees must have access to postings

By law, you’re required to provide mandatory notices to all employees. Although the regulations don’t specify the format (paper or electronic), you’re responsible for communicating the same information to your home-based workers as those on-site.  (more…)

5 HR Snafus That Could Sink Your Business

July 30, 2018

By Jennifer Lobb –

business personFor many small business owners, HR is a complicated web of internal and external policy, law, regulation, and documentation. Neatly packed into the HR box is an array of considerations and tasks that govern the relationships between your business and those you hire (or fire), as well as your business and the organizations that govern labor and industry (federal, state, and local).

For small business owners, failure to properly manage human resource tasks can quickly lead to substantial and detrimental personnel and legal problems. And while there are plenty of factors that must be considered to meet all HR responsibilities and factors, here are 5 common HR snafus that can sink your business:

1. Ignoring the value of an employee handbook and established workplace policies

Writing an employee handbook and a few workplace policies may sound like an exercise in rigidity, but for businesses of all sizes this type of documentation is invaluable when it comes to on-boarding employees, maintaining organization, and protecting your business should legal issues arise.  (more…)

Where Can I Get My Dun & Bradstreet Rating?

July 23, 2018

By Megan Tyler –

FinanceWhether you’re competing for a government contract or trying to secure favorable terms for a loan, a solid Dun & Bradstreet Rating can help you take your business to the next level. As the oldest credit bureau in the U.S., Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) deals only in business credit and is often the go-to credit agency for the the federal government and other high volume lenders. But how do you get your D&B scores?

Business credit works differently from personal credit. Unlike with personal credit, you aren’t entitled to one free business credit report per year, and lenders aren’t required to tell you if they turned you down for a loan based on your business credit score or lack thereof. Many business owners may not know how to interpret their business credit, and that goes doubly for a multi-faceted rating like Dun & Bradstreet’s.

Dun & Bradstreet’s credit rating process can be separated into two ratings that lenders can use to evaluate a business’s creditworthiness: the D&B Rating and the D&B PAYDEX® score. These two factors work together to inform lenders about a business’s credit risk.  (more…)

A Housing Solution For People With Mobility Issues

July 16, 2018

Success Story, Vermont SBDC –

Wheel Pad L3CIn 1988, Architect Joseph Cincotta and Julie Lineberger, started LineSync Architecture, an award winning firm currently with 9 employees. Wheel Pad L3C, their second enterprise, evolved from an accident in 2010 that rendered their Godson quadriplegic and forced to live isolated in an accessible hotel room for eight months after rehab until he could find appropriate housing.

While designing the universally accessible renovations for a home their Godson eventually purchased, Joseph came up with the idea for Wheel Pad and started building the prototype in 2015: A 200 sq.ft. accessible bedroom and bathroom that can be attached to an existing home. It provides eco-friendly, temporary, accessible housing for people with mobility issues, allowing friends and/or family to provide support until permanent accessible housing can be arranged. Permanent models are also available.

Wheel Pad L3C offers a housing solution for disabled Veterans, Seniors, people with spinal cord injuries, and multiple diseases (ALS, MS, etc.) who have mobility issues and/or use wheelchairs, who want to remain in their currently inaccessible homes. It is an elegant solution that alleviates the need for a 6-12 month process of planning, designing, and constructing an addition. Additionally, it is local; it serves a social issue as well as an economic one. Their plan is to manufacture Wheel Pad units in economically depressed Wilmington, VT, with the end goal of an employee-owned enterprise.  (more…)