Saturday, June 9, 2007

Exempt or Non-Exempt?

Proper employee classification now, may mean avoiding expense in the future.

There are three main categories of employees that are generally not entitled to overtime: administrative, professional and executive. These categories are typically known as exempt, but there may be some blurring of the lines.
Administrative classification require that those employees have decision-making authority and may be involved with contract negotiations. The professional classification are for those employees with advanced degrees or specific training, but only if they are using those skills while on the job. A lawyer driving a forklift should not be classified as exempt. The executive exemption usually is used for management running the company or a particular business unit. These are all fine lines and mis-classifying employees may cost you.
Department of Labor audits usually come on the heals of an employee complaint. If you have misclassified the employee, you may owe back pay for the entire term of that person's employment. In 2006, the Department of Labor collected over $170 million in back wages. In addition to back pay you most likely will have to pay attorney and consulting fees.

Be careful of docking an employee's pay for coming in late, missing a workday or lost company property. When you dock pay you are linking it to the quality of their work. Exempt employees are "guaranteed" regular pay.

If you have questions about proper employee classification, speak with an attorney or business consultant that deals specifically with employment matters; it may help avoid trouble in the future.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tempe's Limelight shares soar 62% after IPO

Bloomberg News
Jun. 8, 2007 08:34 AM

Shares of Limelight Networks Inc. jumped as much as 62 percent after its initial public offering, as investors bet the company will build a business delivering video for Web sites including and Netflix.

Limelight stock rose $7.98 to $22.98 at 11:24 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, under the symbol LLNW, after rising as high as $24.33. About 16 million shares were sold yesterday at $15 each, netting the Tempe, Arizona-based company $187.5 million before expenses. Read More at AZCentral

PV lawyer-turned-author to release legal thriller

SCOTTSDALE - An anonymous man limping across Moscow's Red Square changed Brent Ghelfi's life.

The image Ghelfi glimpsed from his hotel window gave the Paradise Valley attorney confidence to follow in the footsteps of other lawyers-turned-author.

The result was Volk's Game, set for release June 12, the same day the writer is scheduled to read and sign his first novel at Poisoned Pen bookstore. Read More at AZCentral

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Paychex helps clients get hiring tax credits

(June 7, 2007) — Paychex Inc. introduced Tax Credit Services on Wednesday to help small and medium-sized businesses apply for wage-based tax credits."There is a lack of awareness that these are even available to the smaller and medium-size business owners," said Laura Saxby Lynch, corporate communications director. "And for those who are qualified ..., there's a real tax liability benefit for them."
Wage-based tax credits are incentives for hiring that reduce businesses' state and federal income tax liability. They can be used in the current year or can be held to reduce tax bills in future years.
Paychex customers are screened by the service. They are then contacted and educated about possible benefits.A lot of the program is educational, said Steve Beauchamp, 35, vice president of Paychex product management.
The initial service is free for customers, including the screening and help in obtaining credits. If credits are earned, Paychex will then take 20 percent to 25 percent.
The service has been tested over the last year and has helped hundreds of customers, many who did not know they were eligible, Beauchamp said.The new service determines eligibility for two types of business tax credits: location-based, which benefit businesses that locate and hire people in designated zones; and job creation, which benefit businesses that hire targeted individuals.
Paychex provides human resources services to small- to medium-sized businesses. The Penfield company has about 543,000 clients nationwide. via Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Arizona Moms Share Ideas

I was gathering some news tonight when I came across a site that I haven't visted before. Being that I am not a working, or for that matter, a "stay at home Mom", I had never visited Arizona Moms, hosted by AZ Central.

If you are a "working", "stay-at-home" or "entrepreneurial" Mom, I suggest you check out the site. Great topics, bulletin boards and blogs.

Regulators OK Aetna plan to buy Phoenix company

U.S. antitrust officials on Wednesday gave the green light to health insurer Aetna Inc.'s plan to acquire Phoenix-based Schaller Anderson Inc. for $535 million.

The deal, announced May 24, would see the 1,800-employee managed-care company keeping its headquarters in Phoenix and becoming part of Aetna's efforts to expand the Medicaid side of its business.

"(The approval) is another milestone that gets us closer to the closing, and we're pleased that it went through," Aetna spokesman Fred Laberge said. "We think there's definite value to the Schaller Anderson name within the Medicaid business."

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. Both companies have said they do not plan to cut employees as a result of the acquisition.

Whether Schaller Anderson will retain its name or take on a new one has not been decided, Laberge said.

Schaller Anderson was started in 1986 and provides managed services for Medicaid plans. It was recently named one of the fastest-growing inner-city firms by Inc. magazine. via

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

US Airways flies at the back of the pack for on-time performance

US Airways Group Inc. ranked last among U.S. airlines in April for on-time performance and delayed flights.

New statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation showed 63 percent of US Airways' April flights were on time. That ranked the Tempe-based carrier (NYSE:LCC) 20th among the 20 major U.S. carriers. Aloha Airlines was first with 89 percent of its flights on time. Southwest Airlines ranked fourth best with 84 percent of its April flights on time.

JetBlue Airways was next to last with a 64 percent on-time score, according to DOT.

US Airways had a number of flights which were habitually delayed or late in April. That includes flights between Boston and Charlotte (100 percent late), Charlotte and Newark (96 percent late) and Atlanta and Las Vegas (94 percent late).

The airline has struggled with delayed and late flights recently due to issues related to reservation systems integration from the 2005 merger with America West Airlines, problems at its Philadelphia hub and weather challenges. via Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona and West poised to beat national job numbers

While the national economy is expected to remain sluggish through the rest of the year, analysts in the West are betting states will beat the average.
Nationally, employment gains are pegged at 1.3 percent for the year, down from 1.9 percent in 2006, according to economic-financial analysis firm Global Insight. Projections for job growth in the West are much stronger with five states, including Arizona, expected to show annual increases of more than 3 percent, according to the latest issue of the Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast.

Only California, with a projected 1.2 percent growth, is below the national average. Arizona is expected to see a 3.5 percent gain in wage and salary employment for the year, behind only Nevada, at 4.3 percent, and Utah, at 3.7 percent.
The Blue Chip Forecast also looks at 2008 with Arizona jobs expected to see a 3.4 percent boost in numbers. That again trails the projection for Nevada, at 4.3 percent, but is ahead of the Utah's 3.3 percent projection for 2008.
The Blue Chip report is put out by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. via Phoenix Business Journal

Monday, June 4, 2007

Arizona Small Business Profile

In Arizona, small businesses are vital to the financial well-being of the state’s economy. Their contribution is essential for economic growth . As entrepreneurs and innovators, small business owners represented a diverse group in 2004 and continued to keep the state’s economy productive. This Small Business Profile was prepared by the U.S. Small Business Administration and provides information on the performance of small businesses in the state using the most current federal data available. According to the Small Business Administration, "small business" is defined as a company with less than 100 employees or less than $4 million in revenues.

Number of Businesses
There were an estimated 396,318 small businesses in Arizona in 2004. Of the 110,153 firms with employees, an estimated 97.2 percent, or 107,018, were small firms. In 2004, the estimated number of employer businesses increased by 0.4 percent. The number of self-employed persons (including incorporated) increased overall by 1.6 percent, from 293,006 in 2003 to 297,672 in 2004. Non-employer businesses numbered 289,300 in 2002, an increase of 4.5 percent since 2001, based on the most recent data available.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau; U.S. Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Women-Owned BusinessesIn 2002 women-owned firms totaled 109,807, an increase of 24 percent from 1997, and generated $16.2 billion in revenues. Firms owned jointly by women and men numbered 59,754 with revenues of $18.3 billion. Women represented 37.4 percent of the self-employed persons in the state.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)

Minority-Owned Businesses
In 2002, Hispanic-owned firms numbered 35,102, an increase of 21 percent from 1997. Black-owned firms numbered 6,338, an increase of 77 percent; Asian-owned firms numbered 10,223, an increase of 48 percent; American Indian and Alaska Native-owned firms numbered 6,614, an increase of 20 percent; and there were 348 Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander-owned businesses.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)

Business Turnover
There were an estimated 12,421 new employer businesses in 2004, 6.8 percent less than the previous year. Business terminations numbered 17,553 in 2004, an increase of 13.3 percent. Business bankruptcies decreased by 31.5 percent and totaled 480 in 2004.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration; Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)

Companies with fewer than 500 employees numbered 93,178 in 2002 and employed 930,225 individuals, or 47.8 percent of the state’s non-farm private sector. Net job gains among firms with fewer than 20 employees totaled 22,473, while large firms with 500 or more employees lost 14,640 jobs between 2001 and 2002.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses.)

Small Business Income
Non-farm proprietors’ income, a partial measure of small business income, increased by 5.5 percent, from $11.9 billion in 2002 to $12.6 billion in 2003.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce.)


Is eBay a Small Business Marketing Tool?

There's a pretty tired myth with some small business folks that pegs eBay as simply a way for people to unload junk, collectibles, or out of date seconds.

Now I know many of you also know that people are making lots of money running businesses completely on the eBay platform.

I visited with Janelle Elms, a noted instructor for eBay University and author of 7 Steps to eBay Marketing Success on a recent episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

Our conversation focuses on ways that traditional small businesses are finding to tap into the eBay set of tools and online world to help market everything from products to services.

eBay has millions of members and visitors and has developed tools like online stores, blogs, podcasts and web page optimization to help members get their products and services found and sold - these same tools can be used to extend your already existing business and open new doors and opportunities.

Every small business should find out what eBay can do for them.

By the way I'm conducting a marketing session at eBay Live in Boston on June 16th to help eBay sellers learn to use offline tools to grow their businesses.via Duct Tape Marketing

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Is It Time to Outsource Your HR?

Need HR help for your small business? Consider hiring a PEO.

When the time comes to start hiring staff, a lot of entrepreneurs fail to give much thought to all the responsibilities that come with being an employer. The average small-business owner isn’t equipped with either the knowledge or the time to comply with the mountain of regulations required by the government. Fortunately, HR outsourcing--hiring a PEO to oversee your HR tasks--is a solution that not only provides help with compliance issues but can also provide assistance that’s tailored to your company’s specific needs. via Entrepreneur

180-Day Discrimination Rule

The Supreme Court overturned an Alabama Federal Court decision awarding a woman $360,000 in damages for her discrimination suit because she didn't issue the complaint within 180 of the "intentional discrimination" beginning. Although Lilly Ledbetter's salary initially matched that of her male colleagues, over time she received smaller raises. And at the time of the suit, Ledbetter was making 40 percent less than the lowest-paid man, even after 20 years of employment with Goodyear Tires. via Entrepreneur

Using Business Planning Software

Over the years I have written several business plans. If you have not had the experience as of yet, get ready for some work. There are some great resources on the web to get more information. One I particularly like is Tim Berry's Hurdle Book. Berry gives some good insight and practical methodology to putting your plan together.

Berry is President of PaloAlto Software, who produces Business Plan Pro. Business Plan Pro has come a long way over the past few years and is very flexible. In 2001, I tried this application for a plan I was writing. Although the plan templates were very comprehensive and helped guide me through the key areas of the plan, I found it hard to work with and eventually put the plan together using Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The current version (2007) offers much more flexibility in the areas where you will need it most (importing and exporting). I am currently completing a new plan and Business Plan Pro has been great. In the future I hope PaloAlto offers increased flexibility with their spreadsheet formulas.

Business planning is a long arduous process. PaloAlto is not a sponsor of this blog, and I don't work for Tim Berry, but I have looked at a few different business planning tools and found Business Plan Pro to be the best.