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How Small-Business Owners Can Reduce Slip & Fall Liability

How Small-Business Owners Can Reduce Slip & Fall LiabilityAs a small-business owner, you likely don’t have the deep pockets of a large corporation. If sued, you can’t pay out a hefty settlement and then just move on. One costly lawsuit may have the power to break you and your company. The good news is that Maryland is one of the few states that applies a principle called “contributory negligence” to personal injury claims. As opposed to the “comparative negligence” rule that most states follow, contributory negligence is more favorable to defendants. Basically, it means that in order to win compensation, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant is entirely responsible for the incident that led to injury. In comparative negligence states, the party being sued may be on the hook for some damages even if the plaintiff is found to be partly responsible for the accident. That said, it’s in your and your customers’ best interests to make…

Buying a Business? Consider Getting an Attorney’s Help

Business litigation attorneyIt’s part of the DNA of any business: a desire to expand and take on new challenges. One time-honored way for a business to do that is to simply acquire another business. Or, rather, it may seem simple – but as with many transactions in the business world, there are complexities beneath the surface, and a smart business owner will not tread those waters alone. Know the Different Types of Business Purchases When structuring the sale and purchase of a business, there are two options: an asset purchase or a stock purchase. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and to make the right choice, you need to understand the implications of each type, including what is actually included in the sale under each structure and the tax implications of both. In an asset purchase, the buyer agrees to purchase certain assets from the seller, including things such as fixtures, equipment, licenses,…

An Introduction to the Discovery Process in District and Circuit Courts

business law and landlord/tenant lawIn a court of law, the facts of a case are weighed, then a decision regarding them is made based on applicable laws. Discovery is a step in the legal process that ensures that all of the evidence each party will use at trial, is shared with the other side, so both parties can fully prepare for trial with all relevant information. The general process is the same in both district and circuit court. However, the scope and depth of the inquiry, as well as the timeline for the discovery process, differs between the two. Knowing what to expect as you head through the legal process can help set your mind at ease and help assure the best outcome at every stage. Discovery in District Court Maryland's District Court is where all civil cases for claims under $5,000 are heard. For claims that are between $5,000 and $30,000, District Court shares jurisdiction…

Why Is a Business Succession Plan So Important?

Business Succession planning attorneysFor many entrepreneurs, the present day is challenging enough. Starting and managing the day-to-day affairs of a business is a massive effort that can leave even the cleverest owners with little energy left to think about tomorrow. But every small business, sooner or later, will face the reality that its leader won’t be around forever. Planning for what happens after a founder moves on can mean the difference between success or failure for the business. The Second Generation—and Beyond The statistics are inarguable: Family businesses are an enormous part of the American economic landscape. Research has shown that family businesses account for 64 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generate 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation. But research has also shown that less than one-third of family businesses survive the transition from first- to second-generation ownership. Another 50 percent don’t survive the transition from…

How the Shutdown Impacted Small Businesses

Impact of the Government ShutdownAlthough 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…