Small Business Compliance

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Basically, small business compliance involves doing a lot of administrative stuff to please various government agencies. Sure, these rules and regulations provide necessary societal safeguards, but, at the same time, they also take the fun out of being an entrepreneur. They distract you from doing important things, like finding new customers and destroying the competition.

However, if you fail to comply with them, you risk government agency penalties and civil lawsuits. Ultimately, if not dealt with properly, compliance issues affect your bottom line. Every small business owner should know a few important things about how to stay in compliance.

Stay Informed
What's your organization's compliance strategy? What rules and regulations does your organization have to comply with? If you can't answer those two questions, you might very well soon serve time in the compliance penalty box.

Don't claim that you didn't know. When it comes to compliance, ignorance of the law doesn't count as an excuse. You need to stay informed.

Unfortunately, many small business HR departments consist of one employee who's forced to become an HR wizard and keep track of everything by himself. Naturally, that makes it especially difficult to comply with all the necessary rules.

However, being misinformed or uninformed about requirements enforced by the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other similar entities can result in big trouble.

Also, keep in mind, new laws, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, come out in rapid succession. Even asking a potentially wrong question during a job interview might go against regulations. If you're the owner, you've got to stay on top of it all.

Payroll Compliance
My firm helps small businesses comply with payroll regulations. Many other payroll outsourcing firms assist with this burdensome task as well. Talk to your payroll outsourcing company about what services they offer.

Outsourcing compliance demands to your payroll company might help you stay on top of everything, including: tax deposits and filings, new hire reporting and labor law postings. While that doesn't cover every single little detail, it addresses most compliance issues and certainly safeguards you against some of the larger compliance penalties out there.

Failing to plan equals planning to fail. You need a plan to ensure that you're complying with all of the regulatory bodies that monitor small business behavior. If you've been operating without a compliance strategy, you're driving without a seatbelt. It really doesn't take much to be compliant, but staying compliant helps prevent putting your business at risk.

If you have any questions about small business compliance matters, please email me at malter@surepayroll.com.

Last updated: Dec 9, 2008

MICHAEL ALTER | Columnist | President of SurePayroll

Michael Alter is president of SurePayroll, America?s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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