Small Business Blog Post Round-up

As a small business owner, we know that you’re always pushed for time. While running a small business can mean you don’t have much time to implement new ideas, it’s still important to keep up-to-date with new the latest developments. We’ve selected some of the best small business related articles of the last month.

Marketing and Advertising

Christmas might be done and dusted, but for the small business owner, there is always plenty to be learned from analyzing previous advertising and marketing campaigns. Business Advice has looked over some of the most interesting ads shown over Christmas and tried to dissect them.

But are there any hidden business tips amongst the tinsel? The site picks a few favourites from this 2017’s selection of Christmas ads and suggests some tips that can be learned from them.


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The Next 10 Things Small Business Owners Should Do For Social Media Success

Social media is a tricky business. It seems so simple on the face of it and you may have launched your business profiles thinking that everything would take off if you only started posting. Sadly, that is rarely the case and many small business owners have hit their head against the wall trying to make headway, without any real results.


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What is GDPR and how will it affect my company?

Moving away from marketing and advertising and onto regulations and laws being brought in 2018, this article from Quality Company Formations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new legal framework set up by the EU in April 2016. That means its rules will apply to all European states – including the United Kingdom. The UK’s planned departure from the EU may or may not impact its domestic implementation. But for now, the UK Government has confirmed that all UK companies will need to comply with GDPR – which is a compilation of strict new laws on privacy and data protection.

Federal Laws That Are Designed to Protect Consumer Rights

Many consumers choose to begin seriously managing their finances around the first of the year. Those who are looking to get out of debt and raise their credit scores should know and understand the laws that are in place to protect consumers and to help them to manage and protect their personal credit.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is designed to assist consumers when it comes to protecting their credit. The FCRA mandates that all consumers are entitled to one free copy of their credit report each year from all three of the major credit bureaus. These three bureaus, Transunion, Equifax and Experian, all have websites set up where a consumer can request this free annual credit report. Obtaining copies of all three reports allows consumers to ensure that all information is valid and to see what may be harming their credit scores.

Using these credit reports also allows consumers to dispute any information that they find that is not correct. Credit bureaus are required by law to respond to any disputes or complaints by conducting an investigation into the dispute. These investigations typically take 30 days to complete. If the dispute is found to be valid then changes should be made to the consumer’s credit report. For instance, if a consumer finds that an amount to a creditor is listed wrong on the report, the bureau will need to change it to the proper amount.

There are other situations when consumers may be able to access their personal credit reports without cost. If a consumer suspects that they have been the victim of identity theft, has recently been turned down for credit or is unemployed and will be looking for work within 60 days, credit bureaus are mandated to provide credit reports at no charge to the consumer.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ensures that collectors and/or debt collection agencies do not resort to illegal or otherwise wrongful practices in an attempt to collect a debt. Consumers should be very aware of what constitutes wrongful or illegal acts so that they can protect themselves from harassment by creditors. If a collector violates this Act, the consumer should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission as quickly as possible.

Finally, the Credit CARD Act helps to protect credit card holders. CARD stands for card accountability, responsibility and disclosure. This Act is designed to protect consumers by ensuring that credit card companies follow certain guidelines. A credit card company for instance cannot implement changes without first giving card holders a notice of no less than 45 days. This goes for interest increases as well. Under this Act, credit card companies are no longer permitted to use a double-cycle billing technique or a universal clause. Complete disclosure of all fees associated with the card holder’s account must be provided to the consumer.

These laws are meant to protect consumers and assist them in maintaining a good credit score. If and when a consumer feels that a creditor has violated one of the practices mandated by these laws, he or she should immediately file a complaint with the FTC.

How to Decide to Pursue Your MBA

Whether you’re working fulltime or taking care of children, doubts and responsibilities can often make deciding to pursue a Masters of Business Administration more challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be a difficult or challenging decision when you know how to make it.

First, let’s start by explaining a little bit more about an MBA. It is basically a graduate school degree. Overall, your undergraduate major doesn’t matter when you’re pursuing an MBA. However, some—not all—business schools may prefer students have a technical major like accounting to apply. Many students pursuing the degree want a higher promotion or better career.

Evaluate Goals
Deciding to pursue an MBA requires looking at your future. Answer some questions like:

  • What are your immediate career plans (within the next three years)?
  • What are you long-term career plans (within the next five years)?
  • How does pursuing an MBA help in achieving your dreams?
  • What are your personal goals?
  • Do you want an MBA for self-improvement or just because people expect you to do it?
  • Is there a particular field you’re passionate like helping businesses, accounting or finance?

Know the MBA Requirements
Before applying to a MBA program; you’re going to have to prepare a little bit. This means having the requirements needed. Each school’s requirements vary. So, you it’s best to do some investigation before picking a school. There are some general requirements that many schools look at:

Work Experience
Many programs are looking for people with anywhere between two to five years of prior work experience. They want to know that you know how the business world operates and can relate your business experience to what you learn while pursuing an MBA.

GMAT Score
Some business schools require you to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). How much weight each school places on your score varies. For instance, one school may require you to get a 600 on the test to be considered. Another school may want to see how you do on the GMAT to predict how well you’ll do in the program.

Decide How Much Time You Have
The great thing about an MBA program is that you can tailor the graduate degree to fit your interests such as marketing, management, business strategy or commerce. However, many people decide not to pursue the degree because they think they have to ship their children away, quit their jobs and become a hermit. That’s not the case. Many MBA programs are created to fit people’s lifestyles, regardless of how many responsibilities they have. These programs range from two-year full-time programs and part-time to online distance learning programs.

Consider Current and Future Financial Status
Can you afford to pursue a MBA right now? Determine if you can afford the tuition fees for each MBA program you’re considering. Make it easier on your time with pursuing an online business management degree.

However, the future benefits of earning an MBA can be financially worthwhile. Many graduates receive a higher pay regardless of whether they pursue a promotion or not.

There are many things to take into consideration when deciding to pursue an MBA or not such as time, goals and lifestyle. However, the bottom line is that this degree can help you whether you want more money or a higher career status. It takes time, hard work and dedication, but you can do it—regardless or your challenges or responsibilities.

How Legal Paternity Is Established

Legally and biologically, paternity simply means the state of being the father of another person. There are a number of child custody and support cases every year that require paternity to be established. With technological advances, it has become much easier and much more accurate to establish paternity today than ever before. There are a variety of DNA tests that can be done including genetic identity and swab tests.

In most legal cases, a child that is born in wedlock is considered to be the child of both the husband and the wife. This presumption of legitimacy grants the husband all of the responsibilities, rights and duties to that child. Presumption however can often be rebutted if evidence can be shown to the contrary. In cases unmarried mothers, males can accept paternity if they wish. The mother can also appeal to the courts for a determination of paternity if she is not satisfied with the male accepted the responsibility. The outcome of paternity as far as the courts are concerned is the same whether the court orders that it be determined, the male volunteers for the role or the mother and father are married when the child is born.

Either parent can attempt to prove the paternity of a child. If the father feels that perhaps another man is actually the biological parent of the child, he can request that paternity be determined. The mother has the right to attempt to prove paternity as well. When a child is born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of birth, that child is considered to be without a father until paternity is proven. Without legal action being taken, the father’s identity could remain unknown. In some cases, the child itself can attempt to prove paternity and in most states, child support courts will order paternity tests when the mother is attempting to seek child support payments from a father and those parents were not married when the child was born.

There are several reasons why someone may want to determine paternity. Issues that are related to child support and child custody are the most common. The rules that apply to child support in divorce cases as in the amount and configuration of payments, are the same in child support cases where paternity must first be established. The mother or the father can be forced to pay child support depending on which parent has legal custody of the child. Many courts order that child support be paid for a specified amount of time even as far back as when the child was born. Once paternity is established, the father may be required to pay back support but he is also legally granted the right to become part of the life of that child.

The laws pertaining to and defining paternity vary from state to state. If both parents cannot agree on issues related to a child’s paternity, they should both seek the assistance of an attorney with specialization in this area. It is essential that both parents know and understand their rights concerning their child.

Single Parents’ Guide to Child Custody

When a single parent fears losing custody of a child, it can be a frightening, frustrating and very emotional time. While many divorces end in long custody battles, those battles can be even more difficult when the parents were never married. The laws regarding custody can become a bit confusing for those who were not married and understanding these laws is critical in any custody case.

Parents who have a child but were never married may find it a bit more difficult to iron out custody than parents who are divorcing. All child custody laws typically revolve around the same principle. These laws are designed to protect the rights of the child and the children of parents who were never married have the same basic rights as children who were born to parents who are married. The basic rights of children include the right to receive proper care by parents and to have contact with both of those parents.

Child custody is used to describe the legal and binding relationship between a child and a parent. This relationship includes the rights of the child and the parent as well as the responsibilities of the parent. It is the parents’ responsibility to provide care for a child. Both of a child’s biological parents have these responsibilities just as both of them have custody rights. In some cases, the biological father may have to take steps to prove his paternity before his rights are considered. In the cases of divorce, this is not typically an issue. When the parents have never been married however and particularly when the child does not bear his father’s legal name, paternity may need to be established before custody can be settled.

Even in the case of unmarried parents, many courts favor joint custody of a child because this can allow the child to foster strong bonds with both parents. Different types of child custody may be awarded to single parents, depending on the specific circumstances. Sole legal custody is where one parent has control over the child’s basic needs and makes all of the decisions for that child. The child will live with the parent who has sole legal custody and the absent parent will often be awarded visitation rights. Joint physical custody is where both parents spend the same amount of time with the child. The child may live with one parent for one full week and then the other parent for the next full week.

Courts typically consider many factors when awarding custody to divorced or single parents. They may consider the child’s age, which parent the child prefers to live with, the relationship between the child and each of his or her parents, which parent can provide a more comfortable lifestyle and many other factors. Those who are battling for custody should always seek the guidance of a qualified and experienced attorney who is well-versed in child custody laws. These laws may vary by state so choosing an attorney who knows the laws in the state the parent lives in is recommended.

The Difference in Homeschooling Laws per State

If you have chosen to homeschool your child, there are certain legalities that you will need to understand. Different states have different laws pertaining to homeschooling and these laws can be confusing for those who are not familiar with them. The main difference in the different laws between states primarily deals with how homeschooling is treated in terms of legitimate education.

The right to teach your children in your own home has been debated in the U.S. for many years. Some lawmakers and advocates disagree with the benefits of homeschooling and parents and educators have long fought to make homeschooling a normal practice. The focus of the entire homeschooling discussion today leans more toward less significant issues like resources, quality control, standardized testing and other topics.

Understanding the laws regarding homeschooling in your state is important because these may not be the same as other states. You can search online and speak with other parents who homeschool their children but again, your state may have completely different laws and outlooks on this practice. Homeschooling is completely legal in every state in the nation. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that parents have the right to educate their own children in whatever manner is acceptable to their religion. The only exception to this rule is that the education children are receiving cannot in any way contradict laws or disrespect the rights of any other person.

In short, it is your fundamental right as a parent to homeschool your child if you wish. You do however, have to ensure that you are abiding by the laws of your state. Each state has its own judgment with regards to homeschooling and each state has different regulations and laws that govern homeschooling. In order to ensure that you are abiding by your state laws, you have to know and understand these laws. Basically, all states follow the same principle.

Most regulations regarding homeschooling are based on the same regulations that govern private schools. Some states have specific rulings for homeschooling. Maine, Iowa and New Hampshire for instance do not use the term homeschooling. They call it home instruction and in South Dakota, they call it alternative instruction. This simply shows you that all states have a different way of dealing with homeschooling but they all do allow it as a means of educating a child, provided the regulations are followed. Many states may require fewer criterions for homeschooling than others. Some may simply require that your child maintain passing grades in order to be considered passable as a homeschooled child.

If you are planning to homeschool your child or children, it is essential that you study the laws and regulations of your state. Learn what is required of you in order to legally set up homeschooling. Parents have the right to educate their children but remember that there are also laws in place for truancy. If you do not follow your state’s regulations for homeschooling and you keep your child at home, he or she may be violating truancy laws.

How Important are Labor Laws?

Federal and state labor laws are very important in the workforce. There are a number of reasons why these laws should know understood by employees. Labor laws are designed to help protect employees from a number of wrongdoings.

You should understand that there are differences in labor laws that pertain to children and those that pertain to adults. Child labor laws are designed to protect children from being exploited in the workplace. Children under a certain age are only permitted to work a specified number of hours each week while they are in school. That number of hours is often extended during the summer months. These laws are in place to encourage children to focus more on their education and their futures.

General labor laws regulate the number of hours that an adult employee can work without being paid overtime. This is to ensure that no employee is overworked and that all employees receive adequate and fair compensation for the work that they provide. When employees work over the specific number of weekly hours, which his typically 40 hours in one week, labor laws mandate that the employee should be paid overtime pay which is normally their average hourly pay plus one-half of their average hourly pay, hence the term “time and a half”.

Many labor laws pertain to safety in the workplace. All employees have the right to feel safe when working and to expect their employers to regard their safety. Those who work in high risk areas are expected to be well educated in their job tasks to ensure the utmost in safety. Employees worrying about dangers associated with their jobs can often cause undue accidents. Proper training and certain safety precautions are required by law for certain jobs that fall into this high risk category. Employers are required to maintain insurance that will pay for the medical expenses of employees who are injured on the job as well. Worker’s compensation provides for an employee when he or she is injured while working. This compensation pays for medical costs directly related to the workplace injury and in most cases will pay the employee a stipend until he or she is able to return to work.

Any employee who feels that they have been treated unfairly by an employer should report those incidents immediately. Labor laws are essential in keeping workplaces fair and safe and when an employee feels that these laws have been violated, he or she should contact an attorney who specializes in labor laws. Attorneys who specialize in this field will be better equipped to help the employee to determine if a violation of the labor laws is evident and advise the employee on what steps should be taken to amend the situation. Labor laws are essential in the workforce and employers are legally bound to comply with these laws. Employers who inadvertently or purposely defy these mandated labor laws could face hefty fines and in extreme cases, they could potentially lose their right to operate their business.

Knowing the Difference between Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance

Knowing the differences between tax avoidance and tax evasion is important. Note that if you have avoided paying taxes, it is best that you seek the assistance of an attorney to ensure that you get your tax debt settled. That being said, it is important that you understand the differences in avoidance and evasion so that you do not get yourself into legal trouble.

Tax avoidance involves legally avoiding taxes. This simply means that you are taking advantage of laws that exist to help you to reduce the amount of taxes that you are required to pay. Those who typically take advantage of this action do so legally by simply taking deductions or changing their businesses so that they incur fewer taxes. Tax avoidance is a legal action and is completely accepted by the government.

Those who practice tax evasion however, are not action within the confines of the law. Tax evasion means that you are taking illegal steps to willfully avoid paying your required taxes. This is a felony in most cases and is punishable by stiff fines and even stiffer jail sentences. It is important that you always pay the taxes that you are required to pay to avoid this legal trouble.

If you are working or you own a business that is earning revenue then you are legally bound to pay your taxes. Cheating or otherwise skipping your taxes is considered tax fraud and can get you sent to prison. If you purposely leave out certain information on your tax returns or you simply do not file a return when you are legally obligated to do so, you are committing tax evasion. There are a number of ways that could commit a violation of the tax laws. You could purposely lie about the income you have earned so that you do not have to pay taxes on that income. You could also claim deductions that you know you do not qualify for. For instance, if you were to claim a child as a dependent to get a reduction in your taxes or to claim Earned Income Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit and you do not have a child living in your home that qualifies you for these credits and exemptions, you are lying on your tax return and committing tax fraud.

If the IRS learns that you have misrepresented your situation on your taxes, they will audit you. During this audit, if you cannot prove that you can legally claim the credits and exemptions on your return or otherwise prove that you are not committing fraud, you could be facing serious legal issues. If you are being audited for your taxes or you feel that you may be accused of tax evasion, it is best to seek the assistance of an attorney right away. An attorney can help you to prove your case. If you were not actually committing fraud, an experienced attorney can help to keep you from paying fines and can help to keep you out of jail.

Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence is the criminal act of physically harming someone who lives with you or is otherwise in your family. There are literally thousands of cases of domestic violence heard in courtrooms around the nation every single day and this has become a growing problem in many areas. There are a number of federal laws that deal with domestic violence and that are designed to protect individuals who are married or who are in a domestic partnership. These laws protect against abuse and violence and many are designed to protect against stalking and specifically violence against women. There are federal laws that deal with this issue and a number of state laws as well.

Congress enacted a bill in 1994 that was designed to provide more jurisdiction over domestic violence and occur at the community level. Until that time, domestic crimes were dealt with only on state and local levels. The Violence Against Women Act was created to help protect children and women from such crimes. The legislation created specific laws that were designed to address certain types of domestic crime on the federal level.

States were then asked to set harsher penalties for those conducting domestic violence and over the years, many laws have been created that also addressed other issues such as those that involve the internet where stalking and abuse is concerned. Laws have been enacted that provide funding for victims and children and the government now offers grants that are designed to help individual states to provide more programs of support to domestic crime victims.

Charges can be filed as misdemeanor crimes or felonies. How the charges are filed will determine the penalty for the crime. The charges are typically based on the extent of the injuries that are received as well as whether or not the accused has any history of domestic abuse. If there is a past criminal history or a past history of domestic violence, charges are typically more severe. Misdemeanor convictions normally results in a short time in jail and possibly rehabilitation such as anger management. Community service may be ordered and fines may need to be paid.

A felony charge of domestic violence typically sees stiffer sentencing. In some cases, prison time could be ordered. Those with a past history of criminal violence are normally sentenced to time in prison in addition to fines and in many cases, they may be restricted from seeing family members who were victims of their abuse. Abusive parents for instance may lose custody of their children due to domestic violence. Courts typically take into account the relationship between the abuser and the victim as well as the victim’s interests. Sentencing is typically determined by the history of the accused as well as the best interest of the victims.

Those charged with domestic violence who are actually innocent will need an aggressive attorney in most cases. These charges can be difficult to overcome and only an experienced attorney will know how to prove the accused’s innocence and keep him or her from spending time in jail.

State Laws Regarding Public Divorce Records

There may be a number of reasons why you would need to obtain public divorce records. You may need legal proof that your marriage has ended or simply want to conduct a search for personal reasons. Whatever the reason, there are different laws in different states that govern when and who can access the divorce records of others.

If divorce records are open, this generally means that anyone can access them. States that grant open divorce records will normally allow you to view those records for whatever reason you see fit. States that have closed records typically ask the requester to give a reason for viewing the records and may require that you show proof of your relationship to the parties on the documents. Some states consider vital records to be completely private documents and normally only allow viewing by immediate family members or authorized representatives of those family members.

In many states, there is a major difference between a certified copy of such records and an informational copy. A certified copy is normally used in legal situations and will be printed on legal paper that can serve as proof for the dissolution of the marriage in the record. Informational copies are normally marked as merely for information and cannot typically be used in a legal realm.

Most states have laws that require you to pay a fee before you will be permitted to obtain a copy of any public record. Divorce records are considered public records so if you need copies, either certified or informational, you will be required to pay this fee before those records will be released to you. The precise amount of the fee depends on a number of things. Your state may charge a different fee than other states and where you can receive the records will have a bearing on the cost as well. In some states, you can obtain vital records from the Department of Public Health or at the courthouse where the divorce was filed. Many states only provide copies of vital records through the state office associated with those records.

All fees used to obtain copies of divorce documents are not refundable. This is because the fees associated with obtaining these records are more designed to pay for the actual search of those documents as opposed to the documents themselves. If you are in need of divorce documents and you do not have those documents yourself, you can check with your local courthouse to see where you may obtain these records and what the cost will be for the copies that you need.

You should understand that most state laws require this fee to be paid. There are a number of websites that advertise free public records when in truth, there is no way that you can obtain records such as divorce documents without paying the required fee. Some information regarding a divorce may be free but state laws do require that a fee be paid for the search for those records. If you are planning to obtain divorce records online from a free website, you may need to check to ensure what you are actually receiving.