Small Business Health Plans -- An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jun 27, 2017 8:27:57 AM

Another health care debate is raging in Washington. It's been tough going for efforts to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. No surprise there. Health care debates are always impassioned and complicated. Policy makers have been trying to figure out how to provide affordable, quality health care to Americans for decades, and many of the ideas for how to fix the system resurface time and time again. For years, small business groups have suggested a reform that could help them afford better coverage for their employees, but have run into roadblocks. Is it possible they'll find a path to success this time around?

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Topics: small business, federal policy, health benefits, associations

3 Changing Labor Policies

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jun 13, 2017 8:30:00 AM

The election of a new administration has made the fate of many regulations uncertain. TECHPol has been following the status of and debate surrounding a number of proposed regulations that impose new requirements on small businesses. Developments in recent days related to overtime, retirement planning and employee definitions warrant an update.

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Topics: regulations, small business, labor, human resources

Can Small Businesses Benefit from New HR Technology?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 25, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Many business leaders agree that their companies' most valuable assets are their people. Training, engaging and retaining good workers offers a great ROI. Research shows that the top 5 percent of a company's performers are responsible for 26% of business output. Moreover, there is a significant cost to losing and replacing good employees. The average cost per hire is $4,129, and it takes an average of 42 days to fill a position, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. For small businesses, attracting top talent can be challenging and the hiring process particularly consuming given the distraction it can create for the company's leadership. Vacant (or poorly filled) positions in a small company can take a significant toll on productivity as well. Human resources (HR) technology may provide solutions for small firms looking to build stronger teams and solve other business problems.

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Topics: small business, labor, human resources

Five Tips for Communicating in a Crisis

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 18, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Any business of any size can experience a crisis. Whether you're United Airlines, Six Flags, the corner deli or neighborhood barber, mistakes happen. And, a disgruntled customer or employee can create major problems for your bottom line. In a communications environment that embraces a 24/7 news cycle and relies on social media, the ramifications of a blunder can quickly grow out of control. Does your business have a plan if your reputation is put on the line? Here are some tips from experts on how to prepare for and respond to crisis.

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Topics: small business, communications

Is Shadow IT Lurking in Your Office?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 28, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Shadow IT, also called rogue or stealth IT, exists in most offices. It refers to technology that employees use for business purposes, but which is not sanctioned by the IT department. In fact, the IT department may not even be aware that it's being used. Employees are likely utilizing shadow IT for laudable purposes:  to make their jobs easier and improve their productivity. But for those who are responsible for a company's IT strategy, it makes their jobs harder. Worse, it can pose compliance and security risks to the business.  

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Topics: small business, technology, cybersecurity

Small Business IT Solutions: In-House or Outsource?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 21, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Today, businesses of all types and sizes rely on technology to succeed. Whether it's email, online sales, social media or accounting (the list goes on), the need for reliable, secure and effective technology is crucial to business operations. Most companies are not in the business of technology per se, but it's a recognized means to an end. TECHPol has previously discussed the important IT decisions that new businesses should make. The question then becomes one of implementation. How will those technological needs be met? Is it best to hire IT professionals to work in-house or to contract with outside experts who can function as a business's IT department?  It's not necessarily an either-or proposition, but many small firms find that handling all of their technology needs internally is unwieldy. For business owners who are inclined to leave the IT headaches to someone else, managed services companies provide an option to consider.

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Topics: small business, technology, managed services

The Shifting Regulatory Landscape

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 7, 2017 8:30:00 AM

The regulatory regime in Washington is under review. President Trump and the Republican Congress are taking steps to reduce regulation and reform the process by which the Federal government imposes new requirements on the private sector. There are a number of tactics being employed. The goal is to ensure regulations are not unduly burdensome and economic activity is not unnecessarily curtailed. Since January, there's been quite a bit of regulatory activity across government. If you haven't been following it closely, TECHPol has the lay of the land.

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Topics: regulations, small business, congressional agenda

Saying Goodbye: Exit Interviews As a Tool for Small Business

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 7, 2017 8:30:00 AM

A company's employees are arguably its most important assets. That's why recruiting and retaining good workers is a priority of every business. Hiring practices, employee satisfaction, and company culture are all key components of a strategy to build a competent, loyal team. But, even when those bases are covered, inevitably some employees will move on. However painful those departures may be, they present an opportunity. Conducting effective exit interviews with employees who are on their way out can provide valuable information to improve an organization, including its human resources.

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Topics: small business, labor, human resources

Cybersecurity Insurance Protection for Small Businesses

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 17, 2017 8:33:00 AM

Cyberthreats loom large, and businesses of all sizes are at risk.  Small and medium-sized businesses are the victims of 62% of cyberattacks, and while the costs of recovering are significant for large businesses, they can be devastating for small companies. Insuring against that risk is one solution. Cybersecurity liability insurance is a relatively new product, but given the statistics noted above, both the demand and the market are rapidly growing. Offering a new product in an evolving market presents challenges, but that should not necessarily dissuade businesses in need of a backstop from buying.

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Topics: small business, cybersecurity

A Survival Plan for a Cybersecurity Event -- NIST Recommendations

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 10, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Last week, TECHPol reported on the ominous trends for increased cyberthreats in 2017. We encouraged businesses to review their cybersecurity strategies and bolster their defenses. Still, no matter how strong those protections and given the craftiness of cybercriminals, it's probably wise to assume your business will be the victim of a breach. And, in that case, it's imperative to plan your recovery as well. That's also the advice of the Federal government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The agency recently published a guide for how to plan an effective recovery plan in response to a cybersecurity event.  Here's a summary of the agency's advice.

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Topics: small business, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

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FocusData: TECHPol is a blog on technology and business policy issues affecting small and mid-sized companies.  TECHPol’s primary author, Lori Salley Ring, spent 20-plus years working on Capitol Hill, including as the top staffer on the House Committee on Small Business.  FDS is an IT consulting firm providing managed services, office tech relocation, network security, and IT support for businesses in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.

Technology Policy Small Business


About the Author

Lori Salley Ring

Lori Salley Ring

Lori serves as Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist for Focus Data Solutions.  Lori spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff to a member of the House leadership and as the Staff Director for the Committee on Small Business.  Lori also ran a Washington-based non-profit organization between stints working for the Federal government. 

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