Our monthly roundup of top stories:

Workless Weekends: What and How to Make them Happen

Small business owners may find it challenging to disengage from their business activities. According to a finding a few years ago from the Alternative Advisory Board, 97% of small business owners work weekends, some every weekend and some at least one day each weekend. But staying connected all of the time can be a big mistake. You risk your health, raise safety concerns, and may not be productive beyond a certain point. In Japanese, it's call karoshi (pronounced kah-roe-she), which means death from overwork. Don't let this happen to you. What can you do to ensure that your business runs smoothly while you take the time off that's needed for personal health and family matters?

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No-Cost and Low-Cost Retirement Plans for Small Businesses

About half of all employees in the U.S. are not confident in having enough resources in retirement, according to a survey last year. Yet millions of workers do not participate in employer's retirement plans and aren't necessarily saving on their own. Do you want to offer a retirement savings option to employees -- to help them save as well as to retain good employees -- but don't have the funds to make any or only small contributions on their behalf? There are still arrangements you can offer that help employees save for their retirement.

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Unconventional Women Entrepreneurs I Admire 

March is Women's History Month so I'd be remiss if I failed to applaud the contributions of women to business. When we think of women entrepreneurs, it's easy to identity those in cosmetics (Madam C.J. Walker, Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Mary Kay Ash), fashion (Coco Chanel, Sara Blakely), food (Martha Stewart, Ruth Fertel of Ruth's Chris Steak House), and the entertainment industry (Lucille Ball, Oprah Winfrey). They've changed our world. But many women entrepreneurs made their mark in other industries and are what we may think of as unconventional. Here are five I admire ...

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How to Handle Financial Information about Job Applicants

Individuals with financial troubles can create problems in the workplace. They may be preoccupied with their personal woes and unable to concentrate on work. They may be tempted to steal from the company in an attempt to solve their own financial issues. 

But can you factor their personal financial situation into a hiring decision?

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Comp Time Troubles and What You Need to Know
 
Comp time (short for compensatory time) is time off given to employees in exchange for working at other times. However, many employers don't understand that giving comp time in lieu of overtime pay is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to a survey by TSheets, one third of 500 private-sector employees are doing this and it's wrong.
4 Ways Higher Interest Rates Affect Your Business

On March 15, 2017, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for short-term borrowing by a quarter of a percent (0.25%). This is called the fed funds rate, which is the rate banks charge each other on overnight borrowing. As a result of the increase, the new target for the fed funds rate is 0.75% to 1%. This rate filters down into other interest rates, such as the prime rate -- the lowest rate that money can be borrowed commercially. The prime rate is a benchmark for many types of loans, including mortgages and credit cards; it rose from 3.75% to 4% following the Federal Reserve's rate hike. The Federal Reserve anticipates two more interest increases this year. What do higher interest rates mean for your business?

Garnishment Rules You Need to Know

As an employer, if you receive a garnishment notice naming a specific employee, you must withhold a portion of the worker's wages and remit the money that will be used to satisfy the worker's debt. Garnishment usually arises from a worker's unpaid obligation for child support, taxes, and defaulted student loans (you receive a notice from a federal or state agency), or a private debt that has been reduced to a judgment (you receive a court order).


The Other 401(k)

401(k) plans are the most popular form of retirement for businesses. According to data from Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), nearly 59% of the U.S. workforce can participate in a 401(k) plan. An increasing number of these plans use automatic enrollment to ensure that employees are saving for retirement and to make it easier for small employers to meet plan requirements. And many entrepreneurs who fly solo have their own 401(k)s to maximize their retirement savings.

State of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship has been sadly lethargic over the last decade or so. The rate of startups has been disappointing (it's about half of what it was in 1980), and the number of firms closing their doors has been troubling. However, things seem to be turning around.

Supplement to J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes and Supplement to J.K. Lasser's 1001 Deductions and Tax Breaks 2017

These are not my usual blog posts. They are supplements to my 2017 edition of J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes and 1001 Deductions and Tax Breaks. They are designed primarily for readers of the books to update the information provided there. The tax law is not static, and since the publication of the book last October, there has been action by Congress, the IRS, and the courts which impact your 2016 return as well as your tax withholding and estimated taxes for 2017. The blog is also helpful to those who have not bought the books but who want to know about tax changes for 2017.

J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes 2017

I'm proud to say it's the 23rd year of the original publication, and it's all new for 2016 returns and year-round tax planning. As had been my practice, I've written my own book review to explain the purpose of the book, what's new, and what's ahead -- find it here.

Tax season is here and time is running out! Get the expert help you need, and don't miss the free supplements posted on my blog.

Planning for Your Summer Help: Legal and Tax Issues

Many small businesses take on additional help during the summer months. Some use seasonal workers to fill gaps created when full-time employees go on vacation. Others need workers for their summer-related activities of their businesses (e.g., concessions at entertainment sites such as miniature golf). Still others use college students with the idea of extending to them offers of permanent jobs after graduation. Whatever your need, or your reason for hiring, be sure to understand the legal and tax ramifications of your actions.
10 Employment Compliance Issues for Small Businesses

There are a slew of rules set by federal, state and local governments imposed on employers, and we'd better comply or face costly and time-wasting consequences. Make sure you know what the rules are in your locality, and that your company is up on them. Here's a checklist for you.
  
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Hear My Recent Radio Conversations with Featured Guests:

Mary Cantando, founder of The Woman's Advantage Forum® -- helping women with small businesses grow to the million-dollar level, offers her insight about how women can excel as business owners;

Jena Abernathy, nationally recognized career and leadership expert, and author of The Inequality Equalizer - Want It, Claim It, Own It and Maximize Your Career Success, shares with Barbara how women can best promote themselves to achieve credible visibility and thrive in business. 
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