Keeping your business legal and up to code is crucial for the owner of any company. If your business is not compliant with different rules and regulations, you won’t be able to legally operate on the market. You can also run into issues with lawsuits that can cost your business thousands in damages. But how do you make sure that your business is legally compliant? Well, the first step is to make sure you know and understand the legal requirements of your company. There are quite a few to take into consideration here. There are both internal and external regulations that businesses must abide by.
Internal Company Regulations
Internal regulations cover requirements within the company such as forming a board to manage and update bylaws. To ensure that internal regulations are abided by, it is important that businesses keep accurate and up to date records of any proceedings in the company. This is the easiest way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Business owners can use compliance kits containing internal agreements and examples of bylaws to ensure that everyone follows the set rules.
Internal regulations are designed to ensure that everything within the business is kept up to a certain code of ethics. With internal regulations in place, businesses are able to avoid issues with corruption and embezzlement. However, it is important to realize that businesses are held by government regulations as well.
External requirements can vary depending on the state your business is operating in. For this reason, business owners who aim to remain compliant must look up local laws and regulations. Or, hire a legal advisor. They will be able to help guarantee that your business is always compliant, even if regulations change as they often do.
Typically, external regulations can include franchise tax. A franchise tax is charged as a fee for operating, and the amount can vary based on a number of factors including the number of shares a company holds.
Beyond regulations like this, you need to understand the responsibilities you have as a business owner. Particularly, how you can be held accountable when running your workplace. For instance, you do need to protect the health and safety of your workers, as dictated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
OSHA ensures that the rights of workers to operate in a safe environment are protected. It covers a broad range of responsibilities for the employer. For instance, employers must provide a work environment free of serious health hazards as recognized under the OSH Act. One example of a serious hazard would be poor air quality. If the air in the environment where employees operate is filled with dangerous pollutants, businesses are legally accountable for any injuries sustained.
OSH law is also in place to ensure that employees are using the right tools to complete certain jobs in the workplace safely. For instance, workers in the industrial industry should be provided with safety gear such as harnesses.
According to OSH law, business owners should also make sure that they are training business employees about potential hazards. They should have a plan in place to prevent potential injuries and ensure that workers are provided with all the information they need to stay safe.
These are just some of the responsibilities an employer has under OSH law. There are many more, and they are all designed to protect the rights of American workers with regards to health and safety.
If you are concerned about an issue with OSH law, it is possible to arrange a consultation. OSHA provides free on-site consultation services to all business owners. As such, you will be able to check that your business is legally compliant and go beyond what is expected of you.
Of course, in some cases ensuring you are legally compliant is about taking the right steps to protect yourself. This is the case with PCI DSS compliance.
PCI DSS is another example of a legal area where your business must remain compliant with specific regulations. It stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Essentially, this is about keeping sensitive data safe by merchants, no matter how big the business might be. To do this, there are a number of set rules that you must follow.
Many business owners find checking business compliance in this area is incredibly difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Some of the requirements include managing security, software usage, and network development. There are 12 requirements in total, but the main aim is to show that you are abiding by PCI DSS standards.
To prove that you are compliant and check that your business is up to code in this area, you can fill in a self-assessment. The questions on this assessment will vary depending on the type of business you are operating. For instance, an online company accepting credit card purchases will be held by different regulations compared with another business that only offers direct forms of payment. There are tools available online that can help you become and remain compliant in this area for your business.
Read more about PCI DSS compliance here.
Industry Specific Compliances
You may find that compliancy laws can differ depending on the industry your business is operating in. An example of this would be businesses operating in regulatory environments. Most businesses these days are using some form of cloud-based software. The benefits of a cloud server are too expansive to explain here, however security levels can differ. Businesses operating in regulatory environments may find that the server they are using does not provide the level of security to ensure their company is legally compliant. This is why businesses must always check specific industry legal requirements and ensure they are keeping their company up to code.
To close, there are a number of business compliance requirements that companies must abide by. Some are tied to certain circumstances such as hiring your first members of staff. Others will be industry specific, and many more are universal for any business. While there are tools online and plenty of resources for information on legal requirements, the best way to stay up to code is to consult a lawyer. You should also be checking for changes regularly. Regulations and legal requirements are constantly altered so you must stay up to date.
Is Social Entrepreneurism Right For Your Business?
Social entrepreneurism is used by for profit entrepreneurs and also not for profit startups. It’s popular and a considerable number of ‘for profit’ companies are also incorporating social entrepreneurship into their business strategies as a way of giving back to society.
However, social entrepreneurship isn’t clearly defined and thus it’s meaning mis-interpreted, and misused particularly in marketing initiatives.
Let’s look at it in more detail and examine the advantages or disadvantages of launching a social enterprise.
What Is A Social Enterprise?
A basic definition of social entrepreneurship is an organization which operates in order to identify, create and implement solutions to social problems. Of course, the wide-ranging nature of social problems means that social enterprises can be focused on hundreds of areas.
Whether it focuses on poverty, homelessness, health or the environment, a social enterprise typically aims to promote a cause, alleviate suffering and/or resolve serious problems which are affecting communities, countries or the population as a whole.
Why It’s Popular
Social entrepreneurship has really taken off in recent years and companies which align themselves with positive values appeal to customers. Those among us who are more discerning about where we chose to shop and what we buy, will chose the ‘feel good’ that comes with knowing our purchase can indirectly improve the conditions of those less fortunate.
If you’re a purchaser who often feels guilty for buying for yourself, then knowing your purchase is not solely about you is all you need for guilt free pleasure. Plus the feel good experience, motivates you to share it with friends, family and followers in social media. It’s a reason to buy from the same company, time and time again, and every business wants a repeat customer.
Should It Be Where I Focus My Business?
Labelling yourself a social entrepreneur can be a savvy business decision. However it’s also a responsibility that you must fully commit to, as it requires a bonafide desire to make a difference.
Commit To It
Dedicating resources and some of your business profit to social causes is not for everyone. A halfhearted approach may backfire too if your business fails to follow through in any way.
We know how fast a business can be destroyed through carelessness. Who doesn’t remember Ratner’s fall from grace and it’s reputation irreparable.
Consumers are becoming accustomed to a whole host of organizations identifying as social enterprises and the media spotlight means self-proclaimed social enterprises do need to back-up their claims with clear goals, actions, and results.
Positives Of A Social Enterprise
Becoming a social entrepreneur can have many benefits and it can be extremely rewarding.
By identifying a worthy cause which needs exposure so it receives the support to make a difference to people’s lives, your business can help to alleviate a genuine social, culture or environmental problem.
Regardless of the size of your organization, knowing you’re helping to resolve a harmful issue can be rewarding on a personal and professional level.
Free PR, Discounted Marketing & Advertising
Perhaps more cynically, incorporate a social enterprise objective into your organization can garner positive PR.
Aligning yourself with a worthwhile cause can lead to free or reduced-cost advertising, and it can certainly help to gain support from similarly-minded individuals.
In some cases, social enterprises can benefit from tax breaks too so there could be a financial incentive to take a professional interest in social issues.
If your organization operates as a non-profit or eco-friendly enterprise, there may be certain grants you’re entitled too as well, not to mention PR-friendly awards you could be eligible for.
With so many benefits surrounding social entrepreneurship, declaring your organization a social enterprise may seem like a no-brainer. However, there are some disadvantages which can arise from social entrepreneurship.
As well as meeting your legal obligations as a company director or owner, you may need to fulfil additional requirements if you’re operating as a social enterprise. There are often strict guidelines which must be adhered to if you claim to operate for the benefit of cause and you’ll be expected to back up your claims with evidence.
Are There Conflicts Of Interest Between A Social Enterprise Versus A For Profit Business?
Not necessarily. A non-profit organization may run as a social enterprise but this doesn’t prevent for-profit businesses from incorporating social entrepreneurship into their for-profit business strategy.
Inevitably, a percentage of your revenue will need to go towards a particular cause if you claim to be supporting it but this doesn’t prevent your company from continuing to make a profit as well.
As the number of social entrepreneurs continues to grow, the definition of social entrepreneurism continues to evolve. Whilst there are a number of considerations to take into account before declaring yourself a social entrepreneur, adding a social enterprise element to your business or launching or non-profit organization can be beneficial for you, your business and your chosen cause.
What You Should Know Before Hiring an Independent Contractor
Are you thinking of hiring independent contractors?
Hiring contractors is a budget-friendly way to help support your small business. They allow you to get your business done and grow your company, without the legal and financial hassle of bringing on full-time, salaried employees.
Freelancing is taking off as more and more people want freedom in their work schedules. So there is plenty of talent out there to help your business succeed.
But hiring an independent contractor can be tricky, so don’t make any offers before you do some research and know what you’re getting into. Keep reading to learn more about what you need to do before hiring an independent contractor.
Five Steps to Hiring an Independent Contractor
Independent contractors and freelancers can help your business thrive, but you shouldn’t hire just anyone. Certain forms need to be filled out, and there are unique rules when tax time comes around.
If you’re new to working with contractors, here are five steps you’ll need to take before bringing on independent contractors:
1. Always Check Credentials
There are a lot of great contractors out there, but make sure you always vet your candidates before you make any official offers. A lousy contractor could cause some legal trouble down the road.
Always ask for a copy of their resume and to see past examples of their work. You likely wouldn’t hire a full-time employee without meeting them, checking their references and making sure they’re legitimate.
2. Fill Out The Proper New Hire Paperwork
Just like full-time employees, contractors have paperwork that needs to be filled out before they can start legally working for your business. Make sure you have a W-9 form filled out for them. This form is the contractor’s equivalent to a W-4.
3. Make Sure You Sign a Contract
Before your contractor does any work for you, you should have some form of contract or work agreement in place. This will keep you safe legally and hopefully prevent any disputes later on.
4. Paying the Contractor
Paying your independent contractor isn’t that complicated. You can either have them charge you hourly or agree on a flat rate per project. The exact price and method of payment should be agreed upon before the project starts and laid out explicitly in your contract that you both sign.
All you have to do is make sure that you accurately record every payment that you send to your contractors, and pay stubs is an easy way to do this. You can generate pay stubs online by going to a website like https://www.thepaystubs.com.
5. Give Them Proper Tax Documents
If you pay your independent contractors more than $600 in a year, you’ll need to give them a 1099-MISC form and include the total amount that they were paid. They will need this form and information to properly file their taxes.
Learn More About Running a Small Business
Hiring an independent contractor might seem complicated, but it’s easy to do if you remember a few simple things. The extra help will mean that you can focus on doing other things and helping your business succeed.
Check out the rest of our website for more helpful business tips. We have articles ranging from finance to marketing and sales!
Contributing to a Healthier Planet Through Event Sustainability
Have you ever thought about the waste that big events leave behind? When there is a concert, a big game in town, or even a corporate event, like an expo, have you ever thought about all the plastic used, like drink bottles, eating utensils, plates etc. You’d be forgiven for not considering it, however, now more than ever, it’s a question being asked.
Society is putting some thinking on the environmental impacts of events, alongside their societal, economic and sometimes – depending on the type of the event – political impacts, and the development of standards such as ISO 20121 proves precisely that.
Even though events planning and management might sound like a fairly contemporary idea and business activity, it is in fact very old. Since early humans started to get organized into groups, the idea of rituals was born, and thus the organization of “events” took place. Then, when the society started to get hierarchized, royalty would have extravagant weddings, birthdays, celebrations, funerals and so on.
In other words, even though perhaps the nomenclature did not exist as such, events were planned and organized from a long time ago.
With the evolution and the sophistication of societies, events planning took a whole new dimension and it got more complex.
One of these dimensions is also the environmental footprint that events, especially big ones leave behind. This matter was materialized in all its seriousness in 2012, during the London Olympics, when the Organizing Committee implemented the freshly developed ISO 20121 – the first international standard on sustainable events.
The standard was developed by ISO during the time of the London Olympics because sustainability was a central idea in London 2012.
While the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has a myriad of standards concerning the environment and environmental management, such as:
– ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System;
– ISO 50001 – Energy Management System;
– ISO 14015 – Environmental Assessment of Sites and Organizations;
– ISO 14063 – Environmental Communication;
– ISO 14031 – Environmental Performance Evaluation and many more.
However, ISO 20121 is very specific to events, and offers guidance on how to organize an event with a minimum environmental footprint while enhancing productivity and efficiency, saving costs and increasing profit.
While being aligned with other management systems standards, such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, ISO 20121 is also a very good management tool to show social responsibility, or the “People” bottom line of the “Triple Bottom Lines”, famously known as the “three P’s of Sustainability”.
It is a very interesting approach to sustainability, because it does not undermine the importance of profitability, while putting the same weight on sustainability and social responsibility.
The TBL or “Triple Bottom Line”, or “Three P’s” stand for three bottom lines that a company should take into account, and which measure a company’s success: Profit, People and the Planet.
In an article on ISO 20121, the three P’s and the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle, it is argued that an events management company can integrate these three and tackle a number of issues with one solution: implementing and maintaining ISO 20121.
Some of the more general benefits of implementing ISO 20121 for sustainable events include:
- Reduced environmental footprint
- Cost Reduction
- Increased efficiency
- Reduced energy consumption
- Increase labor productivity and motivation
- Improved image by proving to be socially reliable
- Possibility to integrate several management systems
Moreover, while the urgency and imminence of the effects of global warming and climate change are the main reason of investing in the implementation and maintenance of the ISO 20121, the latter is also a very good PR tool which can be used to display how responsible an organization that organizes events is towards the future of the planet and the future generations.
As environmental issues have never been paid more attention to, people all over the world, both in developed and developing countries are being careful and increasingly showing interest towards doing their part to contribute to the global effort of saving the planet.
In this sense, a company which showcases interest, to the point of investing time and resources in being environmentally responsible, to interjecting their input in this matter of cardinal importance, shows alignment with the contemporary values and principles of their clientele.
If we look at it closely, a company or organization which organizes big events implements a standard like ISO 20121 and commits to not polluting the environment through their business operations, is not committing to “clean” the environment, but rather to leave it as it is. It is rather a matter of balanced principle of non-interference than a heroic act of salvation.
About the Author
Julian Kuci is the Marketing Quality Assurance Manager at PECB. He is a graduate of RIT in Economics & Statistics and Public Policy & Governance. Julian holds a diploma in Transitional Justice from the Regional School of Transitional Justice and is certified against ISO 9001 – Quality Management and ISO/IEC 27001- Information Security Management.
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