Does Your Small Business Meet Regulations?
Small businesses face many of the same types of regulations that larger businesses face. It can be daunting to start a small business. And yet small businesses comprise a large piece of the financial pie, often employing workers in the community and adding to the sense of community in urban and suburban areas.
There are a multitude of regulations that may apply to your small business. It is important to understand that regulations exist at multiple levels: city or municipal, county, state and federal regulations may all apply to your business depending upon the type of business and the number of employees that you may have.
There are a number of basic areas of inquiry that a small business owner should look at.
Licensing can be thought of as broken down into two separate areas: professional and local. Professional licensing pertains to state regulations that govern the standardization and professional requirements among certain professions. Chief among these are professions such as doctors, lawyers, nurses and other medical professionals, mental health professionals such as marriage and family therapists and psychologists, cosmetologists and the like. These professionals must all meet standard levels of competence and expertise within their particular professions. State licensing boards run and monitor licensing and continuing education within these types of professions. Every state has a website that allows you to look up the status of professionals . These boards are also responsible for disciplining these professionals.
Most cities require that all small businesses obtain a license to run their business within city limits. While this is primarily an income generating tool for municipalities, the penalty for failing to obtain a city business license can be quite steep depending upon the municipality. Check your city's requirements and license accordingly.
Environment and Labor
Not every business runs into environmental issues. Certain smaller businesses, such as cosmetologists and garage mechanics however, may have city, county, state, and federal requirements for the handling and elimination of certain chemical and hazardous materials. For example, the dumping of oil from cars is illegal in most jurisdictions. It must be recycled at a certified center. Much of this information can be obtained on federal and state governmental websites. If you are in doubt, it is best to check first.
Many small businesses are run by a sole proprietor and have no employees. However, when you do have employees, You must be very careful to ensure that your business meets all the criteria for the management of finances for your employees. Taxes and other funds need to be withheld and paid on behalf of your employees. A Certified Public Accountant is a wise investment for any small business owner with one or more employees.
The U.S. Department of Labor and state law govern the handling of your most employee matters. The U.S. Department of Labor’s FirstStep Employment Law Advisor can help an employer determine which Federal employment laws apply to their particular business. Also remember to check your state's department of labor website. All states have them and they contain invaluable information regarding permits, licensing, workers compensation and wage information.
In addition, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), all employers are required to provide a safe place to work, governed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and state regulations. These regulations can vary quite a bit across industries. The DOL issues guides to help small businesses to determine which regulations might apply. States also regulate this area, such as California’s Cal/OSHA. Every state handles worker safety differently, and every state has that information readily available on government websites.
The Federal Trade Commission and state law govern the area of advertising. The FTC issues industry guides for selected industries. In addition, every state has a "truth in advertising" set of laws and state government websites display this information as well as how and where consumers may file complaints about business advertising. In addition, many professions such as lawyers, psychologists and the like, have rules regarding how their licensees may advertise their services.
There are many sources available to the small business, most of them available online. Take time to plan, research, and ask questions. And remember, there is a solution for almost every business need once that need is identified.
U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Size Regulations https://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-size-regulations
U.S. Small Business Administration, Advertising & Marketing Law https://www.sba.gov/content/advertising-and-marketing-law
Federal Trade Commission, Selected Industries,
United States, Department of Labor, FirstStep Employment Law Advisor, http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/firststep/
Federal Trade Commission, Guide to Antitrust Laws,
Securities and Exchange Commission, Information for Small Businesses, http://www.sec.gov/info/smallbus.shtml
U.S. Small Business Administration, Finance Law, https://www.sba.gov/content/finance-law-0
© 2017 Audrey Howitt