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How the Shutdown Impacted (And Could Still Impact) Small Businesses

Although Congress and the President appear to have reached an agreement to fund the government for a brief period while they work on other issues, a great deal of damage has already been inflicted. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees went without pay or without work for over a month, and many key agencies slowed or stopped their activities altogether. The ripple effects of the shutdown spread throughout the economy in ways both large and small. One key group impacted by the shutdown is small businesses which rely on smooth government operations so they can continue to run. Here are some of the ways the shutdown impacted these companies: Support Businesses: Small businesses often spring up in areas where large numbers of federal workers will utilize their services, especially in Maryland, Virginia and the Washington, DC, areas. Everything from diners/restaurants and coffee shops to office supply stores and delivery services lost…

What is the Impact of Low Unemployment on Small Business Owners?

Low unemployment numbers are great for the economy, but not always for small business owners. In late 2018, unemployment numbers in the United States dropped to 3.7 percent. According to a report from NPR, this was the lowest point in nearly 50 years. This means more Americans are working abd putting more money into the local economies. This is beneficial to business owners, because more money in the local economy means customers and clients have more to spend with businesses. But for small business owners considering making a hire, this lower unemployment number also means that the pool of available employees is shrinking. Here is what today’s business owners need to understand about the mixed blessing of low unemployment. Many Small Businesses Concerned About Filling Available Positions A strong economy means growth for small businesses, and with growth comes a need to hire additional employees. In a recent survey, 29 percent of…

New Insight for Women Entrepreneurs

New Insight for Women EntrepreneursIf you’re a woman thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. According to SCORE, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses, women-owned businesses currently make up 39 percent of the 28 million small businesses in the United States. And, SCORE notes, that number is rising. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned businesses rose 45 percent—five times the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. SCORE recently released the results of a wide-ranging survey of more than 12,000 female entrepreneurs. The report, “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship,” contains several key insights on the unique opportunities and challenges these business owners face. Why did these women start their businesses? They reported many different motivations, such as open opportunities, family considerations, job changes, and financial necessity. One interesting detail is how the reasons differed for each age demographic. Most of the women surveyed under age…

A Closer Look at Maryland’s Business Climate

A Closer Look at Maryland’s Business ClimateIn July 2018, CNBC released its list of America’s Top States for Business 2018. Overall, Maryland was ranked 31st out of all 50 states, an aggregate score that combined many metrics that CNBC considered as contributing to a state’s “business climate.” (Texas topped the list, and Alaska came in at the bottom.) Each state was ranked in “10 broad categories, weighted based on how frequently each is used as a selling point in state economic development marketing materials,” CNBC said. “That way, [the] study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.” The final ranking, therefore, may not tell the complete story of a state, which may not fare too well in one category while excelling in another. That’s certainly the case in Maryland. CNBC’s takeaway for Maryland, which fell six spots in the ranking since last year, was that “the workforce in the Old Line State is…

Three New Maryland Laws Business Owners Should Know About

Three New Maryland Laws Business Owners Should Know AboutMaryland business owners have seen the state’s minimum wage increase coming for a few years. The hike (from $9.25 to $10.10 per hour) went into effect July 1, 2018, and was the final phase of a law passed by the General Assembly in 2014. The first raise, from $7.25 to $8, went into effect in 2015, increasing three times after that. The minimum wage increase was not the only law to take effect on July 1. There are a few other new laws on the books now that business owners will want to keep an eye on. Corporate income tax: As of July 1, Maryland has officially initiated a phase-in of a single-sales factor apportionment system to calculate corporate income tax. What it means: In tax years 2017 and earlier, all multistate Maryland corporate taxpayers calculated sales tax with a three-factor formula based on property (how much land the corporation…

Picking the Right Structure for Your Business

Picking the Right Structure for Your BusinessStarting a business means making dozens of choices both big and small. One of the most important choices you will make is how you will structure your business entity. Two of the most common options are the S corporation (S corp) and C corporation (C corp). If you don’t understand the difference between the two, you’re not alone. Many budding entrepreneurs ask questions about which business structure they should choose. And yet it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make about your business. C Corporations are the standard corporation, whereas the S corporation takes advantage of a special IRS tax status. S corporations are so named because they are defined by Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code. IRS Form 2553 must be filed to elect S corporation status and all S corporation guidelines must be met. How S Corps and C Corps are Similar C corps and S…

Understanding the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

Understanding the Maryland Healthy Working Families ActOn Jan. 12, 2018, Maryland became the ninth state to adopt a mandatory sick leave statute, when the Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of legislation requiring Maryland employers to provide sick and safe leave to their employees. Known as the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, this law provides employees with up to 40 hours of sick and safe leave each year and went into effect on Feb. 11, 2018. Who is Affected? The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act applies to all employers, including state and local governments, in the state of Maryland. However, the law distinguishes between large and small employers. For employers with 14 or fewer employees, leave may be provided on an unpaid basis. For employers with 15 or more employees, sick and safe leave is paid at the employee’s normal pay wage rate, unless the employee is a tipped employee, in which case the…

What You Need to Know If You Run a Horse Boarding Facility

Maryland has many protections, regulations, and guidelines regarding the care of horses. Several of these directly impact owners of horse boarding facilities. As a boarding facility owner, it is crucial that you understand your obligations under the law. Whether you are running a large-scale horse operation, are just only one boarder to help defray your horse expenses, giving lessons, have a horse rental service, or are a rescue or stable sanctuary in the state of Maryland, you are required by law to be licensed through the Maryland Horse Industry Board. (Additionally, a few counties have further licensing requirements for boarding facilities.) Regulations Affecting Horse Boarding Facilities The MHIB requires that each horse be provided with shelter that is clean, dry, well-ventilated (but not drafty), and protects the horse from inclement weather. The stables and surrounding areas must also be kept neat and orderly and in good repair. This includes making sure…

Why Many Women Prefer Hiring a Female Attorney

Why Many Women Prefer Hiring a Female AttorneyWhen people seek legal representation, they want someone who understands their experience. Clients often feel more comfortable with an attorney they can relate to, which is one of the many reasons women seek female attorneys to represent them. Rebekah Lusk is a fierce advocate for female clients and a successful entrepreneur in her legal practice. She realized early in her career that to gain respect from others in the legal field, she would need to have her name on the door. Naturally independent, outspoken and authentic, Rebekah found that playing to those strengths were essential to establishing herself in her field. We asked Rebekah Lusk about the work she’s done for her clients, to learn more about her experience as an attorney and businesswoman. Question: You have heard from several female clients that they were specifically seeking a female attorney. Why do you think that is? Rebekah Lusk:  I think women…

Client Spotlight: Media to Memories

We regularly highlight one of the community’s promising businesses in our Client Spotlight. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Media to Memories, LLC.Lusk Law, LLC, serves a wide array of business clients. We regularly highlight one of the community’s promising businesses in our Client Spotlight. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Media to Memories, LLC. Media to Memories is a photo-organizing business based in Severna Park, Maryland, that helps people organize, archive, and display their photos in such a way as to make them more enjoyable to view. Owner and lead memory organizer Kristy Stephens came up with the idea to start her business when she sat down to work with her family photos to create her family’s annual yearbook. “I was amazed by how many photos my family of three took in one year,” said Stephens. “We had taken well over 3,000 photos and videos in just one year.” This was when she realized that she had so many photos and videos that it was unrealistic that her family would be…