blog category

How Small-Business Owners Can Reduce Slip & Fall Liability

As 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…

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

If 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…

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…

Client Spotlight: Media to Memories

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…

City Council Bill Enhances Requirements for Baltimore Landlords

Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry introduced a bill this year that would require licensing and inspection of all private rental properties. Currently, landlords with one- and two-unit rental properties are exempt from those requirements, but those are the properties that most often are the subject of tenant complaints. Mayor Catherine Pugh signed the legislation on May 7, so the new law becomes effective in 2019. Provisions of the Law The new law establishes a three-tier licensing structure: Landlords whose properties pass initial inspections or who promptly repair violations may be licensed for three years and subject to inspection every three years. Landlords whose properties have lingering violations may be required to submit to inspection every year or every two years (depending on the severity and nature of the violations) in order to renew their licenses. Pros and Cons of the New Law Supporters of the legislation say it’s a long-overdue…

Women Entrepreneurs Optimistic About Coming Decades

The 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. Similar to a lower representation of women in the business field are women in…

Is Your Business Losing Money? These May Be the Reasons.

When your business is losing money, sometimes the reasons are obvious. For example, extreme weather may dissuade shoppers from visiting your brick-and-mortar store. But some underlying problems may not be as easy to identify. Following are some common reasons businesses lose money: Failure to promote. A roadside sign and word-of-mouth referrals used to be enough to sustain and grow a customer base. Not anymore. Today, businesses must invest money in marketing and promotion. With few exceptions, businesses need a social media presence. And social media offers a big return for very little – if any – investment. Creating a simple Facebook page and sharing updates regularly can help businesses reach a wide audience. One caveat: If you have a Facebook page, make sure you have someone to monitor it and keep it updated, because if customers are trying to interact with you on Facebook, slow replies or a lack of…

It’s Never Too Late to Start Your Own Business

Retirement isn't for everyone. Some people have a hard time with the concept of "doing nothing," and as they reach their late 50s, they wonder how they will fill their time in the future. Increasingly, many people who are approaching retirement age or are already retired are deciding to start their own businesses. According to a Kaufman Foundation report, in 2016, 25 percent of entrepreneurs were age 55 to 64. In 1996, only 15 percent of entrepreneurs were in that age group. The nonprofit business assistance organization SCORE calls these first-time, over-50 business owners "encore entrepreneurs." This group of ambitious people launch businesses for a variety of reasons, including: Economic security - Owning a small business, even if only working part-time, can generate income to bolster savings accounts Control of their schedule - Some late-life entrepreneurs simply grow tired of the demands of their profession and decide to work for…

Poll Shows Consumers More Confident About Personal Finances

For four decades, Gallup has conducted annual polls, asking people to rate their own personal finances. In January 2017, 49 percent of people Gallup surveyed said they were financially better off than a year ago. Americans haven't felt this confident about their finances since 2007, when 50 percent said they were better off than the previous year. At no point in the poll's history have more than 58 percent of people said they were better off than the year before. So this year's results are among the highest. And 66 percent said they expected their finances to be even better a year from now. These poll results are good news for businesses. When consumers feel more confident, they spend more money. In 1999, the year in which the highest number of Gallup respondents felt they were better off than the year before, consumer spending rose in all categories, according to…