(BPT) - There has never been a better time to explore health insurance options for your employees through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
As a small business employer (generally with one to 50 employees), you want to do right by your employees, and that means making sure they have access to the health care that will keep them, and your business, healthy. Through the SHOP Marketplace, small business employers, including small non-profit employers, can find affordable, high-quality private health and dental insurance.
And, if your business enrolls in SHOP Marketplace coverage, you may have access to a tax credit worth up to 50 percent of your premium contribution (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers) - making it even more affordable to offer coverage.
The SHOP Marketplace also offers choice and flexibility when it comes to picking the health insurance that works for your employees and your business. You can pick one health insurance plan to offer to your employees, or you can offer your employees a choice of health plans - and still receive and pay one monthly bill. You can also decide what types of coverage to offer (health, dental or both) and whether to offer coverage to dependents. You also control how much you'd like to contribute to employee and dependent premium costs (you can contribute different amounts to employee and dependent costs). It's your choice - you decide what works for the needs of your employees and your bottom line.
You can easily browse, apply and enroll in SHOP Marketplace coverage online at HealthCare.gov. If you have questions, SHOP Marketplace-registered agents and brokers are available to review your options and help you apply and enroll in coverage. The SHOP Call Center, 1-800-706-7893 (TTY: 771), is open and available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on weekdays to answer any questions you may have.
To enroll, find an agent or broker, or learn more about the benefits of the SHOP Marketplace, all you have to do is visit HealthCare.gov/small-business.
(BPT) - As a small business owner, you do it all: the books, marketing, customer service, product, inventory and — oh yes — tech support. In fact, small and microbusiness owners are more likely to shoulder all tech tasks for their firms, according to a study by the National Small Business Association. Yet unless your business is IT, chances are you struggle to speak the language of business technology solutions.
“Small business owners need to be masters of virtually every aspect of their business, but they shouldn’t have to be translators, too,” says Nate Spilker, vice president of cloud services for Citrix. “Technology can help small businesses grow and stay ahead of the competition. Organizations of all sizes need the technology they use to be easy to adopt, improve efficiency, reduce costs and boost productivity, no matter what their industry.”
Microbusiness tech challenges
The 3.7 million microbusinesses (which the Small Business Administration defines as having fewer than nine employees) make up more than 75 percent of all private-sector employers, and provide nearly 11 percent of private sector jobs, according to the SBA. Their tech needs are significant, yet 40 percent of microbusiness owners handle all their company’s IT support, according to the National Small Business Association.
Additionally, 60 percent allow employees to telecommute, which can make sharing files and data problematic. Telecommuting employees may save documents and files on local hard drives, rather than centralized locations where others can securely access and collaborate on the documents. What's more, 57 percent don’t use cloud computing, a technology designed to enhance collaboration, the NSBA reports.
Technology can help microbusiness owners improve efficiency, reduce and control costs, provide superior customer service and satisfaction, and focus more time on activities that help the business prosper. Stephen L. Nelson, CPA, used Citrix ShareFile to securely, quickly and easily share documents and files with his clients.
Replacing the inefficient method of physically mailing documents with file sharing technology allowed his small team to get more done in less time, reduced the need for physical storage space for paper files, and increased productivity for his firm and his clients. Lowering overhead, paper and office space costs allowed Nelson to grow his business 10 percent.
Talking about solutions
The terminology that describes common tech tools can be mystifying to small business owners. Spilker and the small business technology professionals at Citrix offer explanations of some common terms and tools:
* Digital transformation — Technology is profoundly affecting how companies of all sizes do business. They are moving away from traditional, more labor-intensive processes in favor of digital tools, activities and processes.
* Cloud computing — Instead of storing, managing and processing data on an office computer or local server, cloud computing executes the same functions by using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet.
* File-sharing — Transferring files or documents via email or ftp servers has drawbacks, including potential security issues, version control challenges and slow speeds. File-sharing technology allows people using different devices to access, edit, change and otherwise use files, documents and other types of data stored in the cloud. Citrix ShareFile, for example, makes it easy for small business teams to securely share files and client data, collaborate on documents and obtain electronic signatures.
* Integrated document workflow — In order to keep work moving, small businesses require the ability to work with documents and move data between multiple kinds of software. For example, an accounting firm needs to be able to take data from W-2s (which might be stored in one format) and move that information to a tax form stored in a different format or “living” in a different system.
* Real time — When hardware or software does its job so quickly — in a matter of miliseconds — the user can immediately take entered data and put it to work.
* File sync — Storing files in multiple locations or having multiple users work with them on different devices can lead to discrepancies between versions. File synchronization technology basically compares these multiple versions to each other and allows users to update all versions with the most current changes, regardless of which user made the changes.
* Cyber security — Criminals who attempt to steal, manipulate, hack or otherwise illegally access a business’ proprietary computer systems and data are cyber criminals. All the steps a business takes to thwart these criminals — including anti-virus software and firewalls — are aspects of cyber security.
"ShareFile has really allowed my firm to digitally transform," says Nelson. "The addition of automated workflows and secure file-sharing has improved efficiencies, which allows my team to focus our attention on delivering the best client service possible, while ensuring vital company and client data remains safe. Adopting a safe and secure online portal for customer engagement has been essential for delivering on the bottom line."
To learn more about small business technology solutions, visit www.sharefile.com.
(BPT) - The year 2017 is still in its infancy, but research shows small business owners feel this year could be one of the best in recent memory.
A new survey, commissioned by Staples and conducted by Wakefield Research, found that 85 percent of small business owners surveyed reported feeling "optimistic" about the small business climate in 2017. That's good news for the owners as well as for their communities, because for many, this optimism is motivating owners to put earned revenue directly back into their businesses and employees.
According to the research, 97 percent of respondents said they plan to increase investment in their companies this year, while 67 percent plan to hire new employees. Those fresh hires also appear to be in line for better benefits, as 72 percent of small business owners report they plan to increase staff compensation in 2017.
"We conducted this survey to better understand the pulse of small business owners and to further identify those priority product and service areas in which we can help our customers achieve success in 2017," says Frank P. Bifulco Jr., chief marketing officer, Staples.
The survey included 502 small business owners across the country. For purposes of the research, small businesses were defined as companies that had 10 or fewer full-time employees.
While the research found that small business owners are optimistic about 2017, it also provides a favorable outlook for the years ahead. In fact, many small business owners report they hope to make small business ownership a family tradition. Ninety-one percent of those surveyed said they would encourage their children to start their own business, and 93 percent said they felt running their own business was the best kind of job satisfaction there was.
Finding the tools to support small businesses
For small business owners across the country, optimism can often be directly tied to market success and having the proper tools to support future growth. Staples Print and Marketing Services offers a comprehensive suite of services, providing everything from business cards and logo design to marketing materials and signage.
Small business owners can find additional support materials online by visiting Staples.com and the Staples Small Businesses Hub. The Hub is a resource that offers expert tips, information and industry advice - everything a small business owner needs to grow their business in 2017 and feel even more optimistic in the years to come.
To learn more about how Staples can support the initiatives in your small business, visit Staples.com.
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