Confused and frustrated by small business regulations? You’re not alone. A Manta survey found that 40% of small business owners (SBOs) spend between one and five hours a week dealing with small business regulations and compliance issues like taxes, healthcare, labor laws, and occupational safety and health.
What’s doubly problematic is that these laws and regulations change so often that SBOs are always playing a game of catch-up. In the past year alone, SBOs have had to deal with overtime regulatory changes, minimum wage increases, and the uncertainty of what a new White House administration may bring.
The good news is that there are several resources and tools that can help ease the burden of small business regulations and give you back some precious hours each week.
4 Ways to Deal with Small Business Regulations
1. The Small Business Administration (SBA)
If you’re confused about government regulations, why not turn to the government itself for help?
The SBA isn’t just about loan programs; it’s a great resource for demystifying existing and new small business regulations and offers tips for starting, running, and growing a business in the shadow of these requirements. In addition to helpful guides, like this one about understanding business laws, the SBA also has an online Learning Center where you can browse self-paced courses on a range of topics.
SBA also has local offices across the U.S. where you can get counseling, advice, and training.
2. Time Tracking Apps
Time tracking is a detailed and time-consuming process, but getting it right is essential to staying on top of overtime laws while ensuring your invoices and payroll are accurate. Mobile time tracking tools can help you be more efficient. Examples include Harvest (which also incorporates online invoicing, expense tracking, and more) and ClockShark (a GPS mobile app for construction and field service companies which claims to be able to save you 2–8% on payroll costs and cut your payroll admin time by 50%). For more choices, check out this list of time tracking apps.
Bonus Tip: Read more about how overtime laws might impact your business. Although targeted at the construction industry, the information is relevant to all businesses that have salaried workers who fall beneath the $47,476 threshold.
3. Online Accounting Software
Online accounting software has pretty much been developed with one goal in mind – helping SBOs save time. These tools can help you prepare and track invoices, financial reports, and save you a trip to your accountant, but they also help you stay on top of time-consuming compliance tasks like recordkeeping, expense management, and automatic tax calculations. Many of these tools also integrate with third-party apps (like Fundbox), so you can streamline tasks like payroll, tax filing, timesheet reporting, cash flow management, etc. Learn how you can easily make the switch from tools like Microsoft Excel to online accounting software.
4. Online or Local Business Organizations
In addition to the SBA, there are many other resources online and in your community who can help you keep pace with regulatory changes. Aside from getting sage advice from a tax pro or accountant, you can also get help from local business organizations (Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, etc.).
Business coaches or mentors can also be invaluable in this regard. The SBA sponsors a network of mentors called SCORE where you can get online or in-person help from business leaders and former business owners. Whether you need help with a discipline like accounting or taxes, or want some big-picture guidance, they have experts such as former CFOs, legal experts, strategists, marketers, and HR leaders who can help. SCORE also hosts regular webinars and workshops.
Other mentoring sources exist, so read about how to find them here.