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Gallup Poll Finds Small-Business Owners Optimistic

Business StructureAccording to a poll conducted in October, 71 percent of small-business owners said their company finances were “very good” or “somewhat good” – that’s an increase of 5 percent, compared to the same quarter in 2016. The quarterly Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index poll asks business owners about their current business profile, as well as their expectations for the next 12 months. About a third of the 602 October respondents said they plan to hire more workers in the coming year, and only four respondents said they plan to reduce staffing levels in the coming year. Small Business Trends The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index is a numeric score between -60 and 150, based on finances, revenue, cash flow, capital spending, number of jobs, and ease of getting credit. The index began in 2003, and its lowest point was in October 2010, at -28. Since then, it’s crept upward –…

How Small Businesses Can Compete With Big Businesses

Business LawyerConsumers know they can find just about anything they need on Amazon.com. They can compare products, place an order, and receive their item quickly – sometimes, on the same day. Small retailers just can’t compete with that kind of efficiency, but they do have some advantages over large corporations. Online and big-box retailers often fall short of customer expectations when it comes to providing friendly and helpful service. Small businesses that make excellent customer service a priority can gain an edge over their larger competitors. What Customers Want A survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that about 90 percent of respondents had experienced an irritating customer service interaction in the previous year. Most complaints were about the inability to resolve an issue with a phone call, specifically: Unable to find customer service number to call Unable to reach a customer service representative Transferred to a representative who…

Establishing Your Business in a Small Town

Frederick MarylandSmall business is booming in Baltimore, but the high cost of city real estate may be a barrier for some entrepreneurs. Smaller cities and towns hold appeal for business owners who want a brick-and-mortar location that won’t break the bank. Outside of Baltimore, Maryland residents live only in small cities and towns – from tiny Port Tobacco (population: 13), to Frederick (population: about 65,000), so there are plenty of places throughout the state to establish your business. Appealing Factors for Small Businesses In April 2017, WalletHub published its list of the best and worst small cities for starting a business. It analyzed 1,261 small cities with a population of 25,000 to 100,000, and ranked them according to these factors: Business environment (which included metrics such as average revenue per business and industry variety) Access to resources (such as the availability of financing and qualified workers) Business costs (including office space…

Scope and Parameters of Animal Seizures by Private Entities under Maryland Code, Criminal Law Article Section 10-615

Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington CountyIn January 2017, Attorney Rebekah Lusk, argued Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington County, in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals. A decision was issued in June 2017. Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington County, No. 32, September Term, 2016, is the first case in Maryland to interpret Maryland Code, Criminal Article, §10-615, which provides authority to “an officer, the humane society or public official” to seize and remove an animal to protect the animal from cruelty or if necessary for the health of the animal. Rohrer v. Humane Society involves the scope of the civil removal process within the criminal code, the interplay with a concurrent criminal prosecution, and ownership rights when animals have been removed by a private entity, such as the Humane Society. Rebekah Lusk started representing Mr. Rohrer in December 2014, after the Washington County State’s Attorney with assistance from the Humane Society, seized 95…

Women Entrepreneurs Optimistic About Coming Decades

Maryland Small Business LawyersThe concept of “the glass ceiling” in business seems to be fading away – female entrepreneurs predict big changes in the next 20 years that will put them on par with, or ahead of, their male counterparts. These findings come from the 2017 Bank of America Women Small Business Owner Spotlight. For this year’s annual study, researchers gathered input from 1,022 small business owners – 375 of them, women – that employ two to 99 employees and have annual revenue of $100,000 to $4,999,999. Here are some highlights of this year’s survey: 66 percent of women think that by 2037, female-owned businesses will outnumber men-owned businesses. A recent survey found 40 percent of new entrepreneurs are women, so it seems likely that female business owners could easily outnumber male business owners in the next 20 years. 80 percent of women think that women will be equally represented or more represented…

Is Your Business Prepared for an Emergency?

Business on FireAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency, extreme weather is becoming more common – the prevalence of record-high temperatures and extreme one-day precipitation has increased since the year 2000. And large floods have increased in frequency for the Northeast. For owners of small businesses, these weather trends highlight the need for a good disaster response plan. That plan should address any known dangers based on your geographic location and type of business, as well general threats any business may face. Fire, flooding, and data breaches are just a handful of the disasters that can befall a business. But with advance preparation, businesses will be better equipped to withstand these threats. The following is information that may be helpful, if you haven’t yet created – or you need to update – your disaster plan. Define How You’ll Communicate There’s no way to predict where you’ll be when disaster strikes. If your business…

Consumers and Businesses Worry About Security After Equifax Breach

Credit ReportA Social Security number is one of the most important pieces of personal information. And it’s often the only information a criminal needs to steal your identity. Organizations that have your Social Security number on file go to great efforts to protect your privacy – or at least they should. In September, credit bureau Equifax announced a data breach that occurred from mid-May to July, in which hackers accessed personal information of 143 million people in the United States. Hackers also stole credit card numbers for 209,000 people and intercepted documents that contained the personal information of another 182,000 people. Equifax knew of the breach for a month before announcing it publicly – and the breach was reportedly not its first. Earlier in 2017, hackers targeted Equifax’s human resources and payroll service. Equifax says the breaches are unrelated, but the earlier breach definitely highlighted a weakness in its cybersecurity. Consequently,…

How Landlords Can Avoid a Bad Reputation

Maryland Landlord Law AttorneySome landlords don’t care about the condition of their properties, but most people who get into the property rental business don’t want to be known as “slumlords.” To avoid that label, landlords must be diligent about repairing defects on their properties and maintaining the exterior. Potential Consequences of Poor Maintenance Maryland law offers many protections for tenants, and when disputes arise, they are often settled in court. The Baltimore Sun recently reviewed numerous city rent court cases. It found that in one landlord-tenant dispute, the property owner was fined $25,000 for failure to disclose or remediate the presence of lead-based paint. So, in addition to being bad for one’s reputation, a lax approach to property maintenance can have serious financial consequences. Tenants aren’t the only ones who can file a complaint against landlords. Homeowners or business owners can file a complaint if they believe a property is so neglected that…

Short-term Home Rentals: What You Need to Know

Estate Planning AttorneyHome-sharing websites like Airbnb and HomeAway give property owners a way to make money from rentals, without the concerns of being a full-time landlord. In 2016, Maryland Airbnb hosts earned $25.3 million in rental income, so it seems likely that more people will want to open their homes to short-term renters. However, there are some issues homeowners should know about before listing their property on a home-sharing website. Regulatory Concerns The Montgomery County Council held a public hearing September 11, 2017 about proposed changes in regulations and licensing for owners of home-sharing properties. Technically, home-sharing is illegal in the county under existing zoning laws, but the county hasn’t enforced those laws. Earlier this year, the council revealed its final proposal that would make home-sharing rentals legal: For up to 30 days at a time For no more than 90 total days in a year If the property owner obtains a license from the county (which must…

Scope and Parameters of Animal Seizures by Private Entities under Maryland Code, Criminal Law Article Section 10-615

MD AttorneyIn January 2017, Attorney Rebekah Lusk, argued Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington County, in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals. A decision was issued in June 2017. Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington County, No. 32, September Term, 2016, is the first case in Maryland to interpret Maryland Code, Criminal Article, §10-615, which provides authority to “an officer, the humane society or public official” to seize and remove an animal to protect the animal from cruelty or if necessary for the health of the animal. Rohrer v. Humane Society involves the scope of the civil removal process within the criminal code, the interplay with a concurrent criminal prosecution, and ownership rights when animals have been removed by a private entity, such as the Humane Society. Rebekah Lusk started representing Mr. Rohrer in December 2014, after the Washington County State’s Attorney with assistance from the Humane Society, seized 95…