Small Business Tips

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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws

A milestone in the growth of any business is the capacity to expand into the global market. As exciting as the looming possibility may be, you don’t want to cross the boarder blindly, especially if you are passing the internet zone and actually opening your doors in a foreign land.

As most know, the laws vary in every country, and labor laws are no exception. If you’re expanding your business to another country and plan to have employees in that country, it’s important that you know what you’re dealing with before you except any resumes.

For example, U.S. employers have basically complete control over who they hire and fire. But in other countries, that’s not always the case. But, according to New York lawyer Aaron Schindel, in the European Union and much of South America, employers are legally obligated to consult with employee representative, whether it be a union or works council, before relocating an office, conducting layoffs, or even discontinuing a product.

Labor costs may be low and appealing for expanding your business overseas, but the other financial obligations that come with being a foreign employer make the cost of running a global business fall onto a comparable scale to that of U.S. only operations.

When it comes to worker benefits, many countries require employers to provide a month of paid vacation and/or mandatory bonuses. Take the Mexican aguinaldo, for example, a mandatory Christmas bonus provided to every employee in Mexico and equivalent to 15 days wages or more.

When it comes to health insurance for your employees, things may be a little easier. Most countries provide universal health care for workers. This is often partly funded by payroll taxes, which can have high rates, but are typically more cost effective than the continual rise in insurance premiums in the U.S.

There are many other things to consider when looking to expand your business overseas. Check back tomorrow for information on how to protect what keeps your business running, the product your provide.

Pt. 1: Why and Why Not Expand Overseas?
Pt. 3: Protecting Your Product
Pt. 4: Money and Taxes

• How to Get Started

The International Labour Organization
• U.S. Dept. of Labor ( Foreign Labor Trends Reports
• Univ. of Chicago: Foreign Law

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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, April 21st, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Business Law, Operations |

Workplace Bullies and How to Deal with Them

We all know a bully to be a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates what he/she considers smaller or weaker people (definition courtesy of

Every grade school class has one. The kid that taunts everyone, calls them names, makes them feel worthless. And that doesn’t change much in high school either. But as we become adults that tormenting part of childhood usually fades away.

Unfortunately, a sort of epidemic of bullying from bosses has found its way into the work force. Truthfully, it’s probably been there all along, only now more people are willing to speak out about it.

The signs are obvious according to a survey conducted by the Employment Law Alliance, in which 44% of 534 U.S. workers felt they were being bullied by their boss. A bullying boss is one who publicly criticizes, rudely interrupts, teases, gives dirty looks, uses sarcastic jabs or ignores one or more employees. But what can be done about it?

The Target
If you are the target of a boss’ bullying, you likely deal with a low self-esteem and possibly even depression as a result. Being constantly given the impression that you’re worthless and weak can often make you believe it.

There are no laws against bullying someone. If you are the target of a boss’ bullying, a lawsuit is not currently an option. It would likely be counter-productive to go directly to that superior and tell her what she is doing is making it hard to work there. Chances are she will simply give you a hard time about it.

Before you just up quit your job, however, try going to someone higher up. If there is no superior above your bullying boss’ head, go ahead and give talking it out a shot. If that doesn’t work, a job search may be your best bet.

The Higher-Up
If you are concerned that you may have a bully under your employ, there are some warning signs to look for. Pay attention to turnovers and absentee rates. If a department is seeing a lot of either, chances are the head of that department isn’t very easy to live with five days a week and employees would rather not come to work at all then to have to deal with him.

Clearly, if there is a bully in your midst, confront him about it and give him an opportunity to change. But I would suggest making it a short opportunity. Not only does a bullying supervisor affect the success of your business, but he can also cause emotional or mental distress for your other employees and no one wants that.

If you don’t have a bully in your employ, but want to take the steps to avoid future problems, a good plan is to add bullying tendencies to your company’s sexual harassment policies. This makes all employees aware of what you consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and could help to avoid the problem.

The Bully
Most bullies are well aware of what they are doing, but lets say that you don’t realize that you’re bullying your employees – that you see it as just having a little fun. Pay attention to how people react when you’re “having a little fun.” If, instead of laughing along with you, they’re avoiding eye contact and evading you, then you’re probably being inappropriate and causing problems.

Here’s the thing, chances are the reason you never grew out of being a bully (because it’s likely you’ve always been one) is because deep down you don’t really think very highly of yourself either. Most bullies act the way they do because they are trying to feel better about themselves at the expense of others. If that is the case there are clearly some underlying issues that must be dealt with in order to overcome your aggressive behavior. Don’t be afraid to get help.

Regardless of where you fall in the bullying ring, even if you’re observing from the outside, do what you can to help correct the situation in order to preserve a pleasant working environment. If employees aren’t happy, productivity diminishes, and when that happens the business suffers. Efforts to remedy the situation benefit everyone at every level, so make the effort and the results may astound you.

• Nearly Half of U.S. Workers Feel Bullies at Work – and They Want to Sue

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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, April 20th, 2018 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

Wine That Appeals to the Non-Connoisseur

I’m not a wine drinker. I never can find one that I like. I’ve been to wineries and tried all the reds, whites, chardonnays, but none of them provide that taste bud explosion that wine connoisseurs rave about.

But there’s a new product coming out that may convince me to give wine another try. Amazing Food Wine Company in San Francisco is on the verge of releasing a new brand of wine called Wine That Loves. Their wines are not classified by age, grape and birth place. Rather, they are classified by the foods each particular wine should be paired with,

So far the wines available are:
• Wine That Loves Pizza
• Wine That Loves Pasta With Red Sauce
• Wine That Loves Roasted Chicken
• Wine That Loves Grilled Salmon
• Wine That Loves Grilled Steak

Wines currently in the works are those to be paired with grilled chicken, Chinese food and even macaroni and cheese.

Some wine “experts” have expressed a bad taste in their mouths regarding this new wine brand, claiming it is “dumbing down wine.” Vic Motto of wine investment bank Global Wine Partners states, “It’s a paint-by-numbers approach that by definition sophisticated wine drinkers will not be drawn to…It might be something [for new wine drinkers] to try once. But if you liked it, wouldn’t you want to know why?”

Could that comment be more culturally closed-minded? First of all, I don’t think it is Amazing Food Wine Company’s intention that Wines That Love appeal to “sophisticated wine drinkers.” The target market is obviously the younger generation whose knowledge base regarding wine is lacking in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to knowing what wines to pair with what foods. Not to mention the fact that the wine runs at an affordable $12 a bottle, well below the pricey cost of “sophisticated” wines.

And truthfully, how many wine drinkers really care all that much about where their wine comes from and how old it is? Outside of the manufacturers, who are supposed to care, and a select few who attend wine tastings and have detailed discussions how a particular wine affects their pallet in everyday conversation, not many.

Most people just care about whether or not they like the wine and it goes well with what they’re having for dinner. Personally, I think that the concept of Wine That Loves is brilliant and appealing and there is no reason why it won’t be a completely successful entrepreneurial venture because the market is definitely out there.

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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, April 19th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ventures |