Category Archives: Business

How to Learn About Small Business Law Issues for Maryland Business Owners

No matter where a business is located, there will be many different and unique small business law issues based on your geographic region or locale.

When it comes to Maryland small business, the same certainly applies, and it’s important to be familiar with some of the common issues you may run into, as well as some of the specific legislation which is out there and can affect your business’s operation.

ChooseMaryland.org is the official online home of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development. This website provides a huge range of resources which can be incredibly helpful for a Maryland business owner, including a guide to small and medium-sized business law issues for Maryland businesses.

This guide is entitled “The Guide to Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Maryland”, and it’s an 88-page document filled with a hefty load of legalese. It’s certainly hard to sort through, or make sense of. That’s one of the many reasons why working with a Maryland small business lawyer will prove to be a smart decision – he or she will be completely familiar with all issues, legislation and more which will have an impact, and will know the right way to set your business up, protect your business, file all documents appropriately, and much more.

However, the document is useful in and of itself, and you may want to know some of the common small business law issues which could arise.

One of the major, unique areas of concern will be state and local taxes. To begin with, all businesses need to file the Combined Registration Application, which is available online.

Maryland businesses do not separately pay local taxes though, it’s all handled through the state. Meanwhile, sales and Use Tax in Maryland is currently 6%, while the Maryland corporate income tax rate is at 8.25%. In addition, estimated tax payments to the state are required for all corporations whose tax liability is projected to exceed $1,000.

Beyond the guide and seeking assistance from a Maryland small business law firm, business owners can contact state departments directly for more information. These include the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health unit (MOSH), Maryland Commission on Human Relations, the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, and more.

There is a great deal of information available for you when it comes to Maryland small business law issues, so be sure to seek it out, and seek legal advice or protection when you need it most.

 

Are Organisational Integrity Issues Damaging Your Business?

The word “integrity” in the world of business is often associated with preventing corruption when in fact Organisational Integrity has much broader connotations.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit” Aristotle

In the English language the definition of integrity has two meanings; the first is concerned with reputation, honesty and trustworthiness and the second about internal cohesion, consistency and connectedness. Although presented as two distinct meanings, when considered in an organisational context the two are very much related.

Organisational Integrity embraces all aspects of the organisation successfully integrated to achieve the organisation’s purpose. Business reputation and trust is therefore built upon the successful cohesion and consistency of the organisation as a system.

In contrast businesses that are fragmented and dysfunctional very quickly earn a reputation for failing to deliver acceptable levels of service or performance.

While discussing service experiences recently it was apparent that a lack of organisational integrity is regrettably now commonplace in many organisations, representing a significant personal and organisational cost for customers, suppliers and employees. One of the most common themes that surfaced was conflicting messages received from organisations while attempting to do business.

I have recent experience in this area having resorted to engaging the services of the Financial Ombudsmen to resolve a long running banking issue concerning a simple request for Internet Banking.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the experience was that overall the staff that I spoke with (and there were many) were behaving in a polite, consistent and truthful way. However in spite of this the organisation as a whole consistently let me down often to the disappointment and frustration of those I was speaking with.

The failure of the bank to get to the root cause of the problem and resolve my straight-forward request was at no point disputed by the bank and yet it took nine months and the support of the Ombudsmen to resolve the issue.

I have not been surprised to learn this type of issue is commonplace and considered somewhat the norm. Many I have spoken with wrestled with the stress of complaining while empathising with the position of the individual within the organisation.

This lack of internal cohesion results in employees suffering stress in terms of the conflict between the integrity of the business and their own personal integrity.

In broader terms the effects can range from frustrated and disappointed customers or suppliers who choose to take their business elsewhere through to the collapse of the organisation.

“You can’t solve a problem with the same reasoning that created the problem” Albert Einstein

Whatever business we are in, conducting business depends on trust between all parties involved. Where such trust exists interactions are more reliable and can, where necessary be reduced to a simple and efficient transaction with the reasonable expectation that there will not be an issue. Where trust has been damaged there is an increased need to focus on the relationship, providing assurance and re-building trust.

When exploring trust there are a number of trust formula available that are broadly similar. The following model was developed by Charles H Green

Trustworthiness = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self Orientation

Credibility refers to the words that one speaks or one’s knowledge of a particular subject or field of study.

Reliability has to do with one’s actions, or one’s level of dependability.

Intimacy refers to familiarity and the degree of access.

Self-orientation has to do with the focus of the person in question.

Unfortunately many organisations adopt a policy, where trust has been damaged, of just elevating the level of intimacy.

This was very much apparent in my banking example with the appointment of a complaints representative and an increased dialogue. For the organisation it is often easier to increase the intimacy element than it is to understand and resolve the fundamental issues that underpin credibility and reliability. The likelihood therefore is that without intervention problems will recur.

There are many factors that may contribute, to a greater or lesser extent, to the breakdown in organisational integrity. These include structural issues, processes and controls, partner organisations, employees and culture and values.

What gets measured gets managed – even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organization to do so.” Peter Drucker

A clear strategy and practice of monitoring with a selection of appropriate measures implemented with the necessary tact and sensitivity reassures managers, drives the correct behaviour and provides staff with the confidence that managers understand their problems.

A call centre for example may boast high productivity and low cost per call but that’s irrelevant if a sizeable amount of the activity is processing customer complaints about poor service. Such activity measures obscure managers from seeing that rather than pursuing cheaper calls it may be better to improve the service to reduce the need for a call centre with all its associated costs in the first place.

Don’t Let Unforeseen Issues Ruin Your Business

They can help you to find any loopholes or problems you may not think about. It can be hard to guess what may unfold with one of your employees, customers, or even a venture you work with. Perhaps there are issues on the horizon with a business partner. You need to be on your toes and a business law attorney can help you to be ready for anything.

They should look through all of your documents to make sure they are legitimate and there aren’t any concerns. They may ask you to make additions to certain documents before you and the other parties involved sign them. This is all to offer you an added layer of protection. They have been around long enough to know when something slips through the cracks it means trouble!

Evaluate your Needs

It is important to forge a solid relationship with a business law attorney. They can be in your corner from the time you start until your business ends. They can make sure you have the right insurance coverage and other elements in place. They are experts in these areas and they can find anything that is shifting and changing so your information isn’t outdated.

You can count on them when you have a legal question or any type of issue arises. You will feel confident you can trust your business law attorney to help you decide on the best possible solution to get a desired outcome. Such issues can be complex and they can take plenty of time to resolve. You can’t put your entire business on hold to look into them so get available help.

You need to be able to continue moving your business forward. Yet behind the scenes your business law attorney can help you to check choices and make the best possible decisions. If you aren’t working with one yet, you need to get busy finding an outstanding one you can trust. Otherwise, you may be in for a shock when a legal issue does arise. It can be expensive too!

You may be very vulnerable both personally and from a business point of view. The last thing you want is to lose your business, your home, and all you have worked so hard for because you didn’t have the right elements in place to offer plenty of protection. Now is the time to get it all in place if you don’t already.

Make the Connection

The business law attorney you work with needs to be able to help you with everything you need. They should be an expert in all areas of business law and they should be able to explain information and how it applies to your specific business. They should make time to answer your questions and help guide you with new information so you make excellent choices.

They should check the coverage you have in place and make sure your personal assets are separated from your business liabilities. Take your time to find a great provider with wonderful things being said about them. You want a seasoned professional who is passionate, who continues to learn and takes the time for their clients to make sure they get the help they need.

Common Problems Managers Face With Employee Scheduling

Employee scheduling issues count among the most well-known complaints reported by managers around the country. Many employers report that the problems they commonly face when working on a shift scheduling routine will include not having an employee schedule template suited to specific needs, uncommon shift rotations, and a higher than average turnover rate on the staff roster. A shift scheduling software solution that works for one company might not necessarily result in positive outcomes for yours.

Below we will examine the above mentioned common scheduling problems, and mention several solutions to each that managers in a variety of fields should find useful. In the end, the important factor to keep in mind is to find solutions specifically suited to the issues faced by your industry and your business. Scheduling software that works for one company might not necessarily result in positive outcome for yours.

A commonly reported problem from managers in a wide range of fields is that the scheduling software they use does not address specific hurdle faced in their day to day operations. Shift scheduling problems arising from this issue can be wide ranging, and include problems such as software not allowing for split shifts, difficulties in rearrangements for holiday periods or employee vacations, sudden shift changes, and staff roster seniority rankings.

Regardless of what the problem is with your shift scheduling software, the root cause is that your tools are not specially adjusted to meet your needs. To use another phrase, you are trying to fit a square peg in a rectangular hole. The best resolution for these problems is to research specific solutions for employee scheduling that are more tuned in to what your requirements are as a business.

Many business models today result in strange or awkward shift rotations for employees. Perhaps your employees have to arrive two times a day for several hours. Perhaps there are bi-weekly shifts, or even a 6-week rotation schedule that causes problems. These situations are all hard to manage and plan for without having the correct tools to work with. For example, what tools can you use to correctly keep track of employee work hours when they work every other day except the last Monday of each leap year?

If you are running into non-traditional scheduling issues, the best thing you can do is research alternatives to your current employee schedule template. Shift scheduling problems are only problems if you do not properly address the root causes. In other words, you need to upgrade your methods.

It can sometimes feel to you like you have just gotten adjusted to your employee staff scheduling needs, when someone leaves and throws your entire schedule out of whack. With a new employee comes new employee shift scheduling requirements, new days off, and a whole other list of problems. With the right shift scheduling and staff roster software, this should not be any more difficult than punching in a few staff scheduling parameters.

Managers face a variety of issues every day with employee scheduling, but with the right software and the right employee scheduling template, you are well on your way to boosting the success of your employee scheduling needs. All you need to do is put rubber to the road and consider your options.

Corporate and Business Law

There are a lot of aspects in business that need to be processed with legality. Corporate transactions should always follow legal processes to avoid conflicts between and among individuals involved – finances, contracts, real estates, etc. That said, corporate lawyers therefore play an important role and this is the reason why business entities not just seek advice from business lawyers outside but they hire them as permanent members and function as part of their legal counsel. Business lawyers work to settle various corporate issues, including the following:

  • Compensation issues – a corporate lawyer can settle compensation-related issues between employer and employees; he sees to it that a business entity does not violate the law governing compensation/benefits for its employees and at the same time he also ensures that these benefits are not abused, which can be ‘fatal’ to the business itself when not addressed appropriately.
  • Business formation – starting a business involves many legal processes, including securing business permit, leasing and other real estate contract, establishing a concrete company policy, etc. – a corporate lawyer can help so that all of these are on the right track.
  • Shareholder agreement – also known as stockholders’ agreement (in the US), this needs to be managed by a lawyer who is expert in corporate and business law as this involves complexities of legality and finances. Other issues settled by corporate lawyers are dispute resolution by arbitration, constitutional documents, mechanism for removing minority shareholders, etc.
  • Corporate financing – this involves dealing with monetary decisions, analysis of corporate acquisition, financial operation of a company that includes raising money for a variety of projects or business ventures. As complex as it is, a corporate lawyer can play an important role to take part of all the legalities involved in all of financial transactions a business undertakes.
  • Regulatory compliance – a corporate lawyer can also take part for the fulfillment of business compliance in accordance to the prevailing rules and regulations mandated by law. This helps a company performs its business without any conflict with the existing policies established by the government, which could cause some problems in the future such as criminal or civil penalties – when the governing policies are not fulfilled.
  • Commercial litigation – this is perhaps one of the biggest responsibilities that a corporate lawyer can have on his shoulder; this involves settling legal controversies and business issues. Some of issues handled by a corporate lawyer under commercial litigation are breaches of contract, class actions, employment disputes, business dissolution, breach of fiduciary duty, debt collection – among others.