7 Bad Habits That Will Prevent You From Being More Productive in 2016

Now that the new year is upon us, it’s a good time to reflect on the way we work (and live) and resolve to uproot the negative habits that may be preventing us from maximizing our potential. Some of these bad behaviors are keeping us from being productive; others cause us to work harder than we need to, resulting in unnecessary stress.

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel or totally re-design your life to reach the kind of real, lasting change that will make a significant impact. Sometimes the biggest positive difference can come from a few small tweaks to the way you approach your daily routine.

Below are seven such tweaks that can make you significantly more productive and happy in 2016:

1. Don’t sleep next to your phone. Studies have shown that the blue LED light that electrical devices emit interferes with the body’s internal clock, making it harder to settle down and fall asleep at night and exposing you to a whole host of adverse health effects. Instead, keep those devices far away or shut off and make your room as dark as possible.

2. Don’t go to bed too late. While we are on the topic of sleep, research also suggests that if you want to maximize those sleeping hours, then you really need to be asleep by 12:00. After this point, the quality of your sleep gets increasingly poor no matter how many actual hours you are sleeping.

3. Don’t let yourself be easily distracted. Create blocks of time during the day when you turn off that cell phone, close your browser, and leave social media till later. These kinds of distractions not only whittle away at your energy level and your ability to focus, but they can quickly eat away your precious time, putting pressure on your daily to-do list.

4. Don’t multi-task too much. While multi-tasking may seem like a great way to “cheat” father time by getting several things done at once, research reveals that multi-tasking can have adverse effects not only on your health but also on your productivity.

5. Don’t take your work with you. Not so long ago it used to be that when you left the office your work for the day was done. Now that mobile technology allows us to be constantly connected, it’s much harder to resist the impulse to check email or make work-related phone calls and chat sessions.

6. Don’t check your email too often. And, this brings me to the next bad habit. Even with all the options out there, email is still one of the primary forms of online business communication. It is also a place that can quickly get inundated with unwanted solicitations and other forms of spam. Have set times during the day when you check into your email account. The rest of the time, keep the account (or window tab) closed and turn off email notifications.

7. Don’t live an unhealthy lifestyle. Routinely skipping meals and eating unhealthy food is a recipie for disaster. The same is true for not regularly exercising. While you don’t have to totally overhaul your diet, nor start training for marathons, even small changes, such as reducing the amount of processed foods you consume and taking a 20 minute walk a few times a week, can go a very long way. Taking care of your body will not only improve the quality of your life, it will also help you to better focus and maximize work performance.

So, what are you waiting for? Start the new year with the energy and motivation to climb the mountains you need to advance your business and career.

5 Social Commerce Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

While social media may currently be driving only a small percentage of online retail sales, all indications suggest that these channels will continue to expand in the future. In fact, social-driven retail sales and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other forms of eCommerce.

According to the Business Insider Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500 report, the top 500 retailers earned a total of $3.3 billion from social commerce in 2014. That represents a 26% increase from 2013. The overall growth rate for eCommerce in the US, however, only rose by about 16%. Moreover, between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015, social platforms increased the number of eCommerce referrals by almost 200%.  Analysts are predicting an even greater surge in social commerce in 2016.

As I mentioned in my previous post, a number of major social networks including, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, have all recently introduced “buy” or “shop now” buttons to their platforms. The goal behind this move has been to significantly simplify and streamline the purchasing process from these networks.

Aside from direct commerce, social networks are also being used to engage consumers in the beginning stages of the purchasing process. In this case, strategies are designed to bring highly targeted traffic from social media to retailers’ websites and mobile apps.

In this eCommerce landscape, here are five of the most significant social commerce trends to watch out for in 2016:

1. Increased spending in mobile advertising. Now that the biggest social networks have all jumped into the mobile commerce fray, and the media has been generating plenty of hype around it, we can expect more businesses to pump money and other resources into their social commerce efforts. Jumping in feet first is not necessarily a good thing, though. If you are running a small business with limited marketing dollars, then it definitely pays to research the most effective platforms and strategies before committing to any one promotion.

2. More integration between online and off-line, in-store experience. Perhaps one of the coolest things about social commerce, is that it allows retailers to merge the online and off-line shopping experience. Some examples of this in action include:

  • Offering product-specific, in-store discounts to customers while they are standing in the store and researching these products via their mobile phones.
  • Allowing customers to create a “favorite product” list of items they may want to purchase in the future
  • Offering customers recommendations for products that compliment what they are purchasing

3. Re-aligning the business around omni-channel experiences. This is not just about revamping marketing, but restructuring the business to have the flexibility to respond to changes in consumer behavior and preferences. This means a few things. First, you may have to re-organize your operational teams internally to maximize your business’ ability to recognize and respond to customer buying habits. Then, you should take advantage of the fact that people are often researching products on their mobile devices before they come into a store. This means your mobile and social presence are essentially the digital entrances to your physical store.

4. Greater reliance on local targeting. Social and mobile commerce often revolves around instant, real-time impressions and decisions. You want to make sure your business and its products are properly positioned at the time when your potential customers need them the most. So, locally-based mobile searches for the products you carry, for example, could trigger a targeted ad offering a promotion on those products.

5. Making intimate, data driven decisions. While big data has been a buzz word for some time now, the goal for business owners is to understand in a more “intimate” way what makes their customers tick. How do customers make decisions, where are they going for answers, and what are they feeling as they are doing it? As consumer attention is increasingly drawn to mobile devices and social media platforms, the vast amounts of audience data and information available can be used to give businesses a leg up on their competitors.

In short, social commerce, like mobile commerce, is set for explosive growth over the next few years, and businesses need to make sure that they are ready for it. Their customers already are.

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Is Your Business Tapping into Mobile Commerce?

With the end of the holiday season just around the corner, one emerging retail trend has been impossible to miss: the explosive growth of mobile-based commerce (or mCommerce) among consumers.

According to the Adobe Digital Index, online sales for Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday (November 26th-30th) totaled $11 billion this year. This represents a significant sales increase from 2014. Adobe’s statistics indicate that sales were 25% higher on Thanksgiving ($1.7 billion), 14.3% higher on Black Friday ($2.7 billion), and 12% higher on Cyber Monday ($2.98 billion) as compared to the previous year.

One of the big drivers of this growth in sales has been the increasing prevalence and reliance on mobile devices in the shopping process. According to the Adobe Digital Index, mobile purchases accounted for approximately one third of all holiday buying, with 37% of online sales coming from mobile on Thanksgiving, 33% on Black Friday, and 28% on Cyber Monday.

This trend doesn’t look like it will be slowing down any time soon. In fact, a recent study by eMarketer, predicts that 25% of all retail eCommerce sales in the U.S. will take place on mobile devices by the end of 2016.

Fueling the trend further, this holiday season also saw the rise of “social commerce.” Over the past few months, some of the major social networks including, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, have introduced “buy” or “shop now” buttons to their platforms. The goal behind this move has been to significantly simplify and streamline the purchasing process from these networks particularly for consumers on mobile devices.

It’s important to note that much of this increase in mCommerce is originating from smartphone users, and it is affecting even offline sales. According to research conducted at Google, over 80% of smartphone users say they consult their phones about the purchases they are considering while in a physical retail location. Moreover, the majority of purchases following a mobile search (73%) are actually taking place in a physical store.

So what does this all mean?

It’s not just about online sales anymore, and it’s not enough to just maintain a mobile friendly website. Consumers are increasingly looking for integrated, interactive buying experiences, and all indications point to the fact that the digital experience often precedes the physical one. So, just as you put in the time, money, and other resources into the physical experience of buying from your business- regardless of whether you offer products or services- you need to be investing in your digital experience as well. In this face-paced, noisy world, it’s the one area where your customers are directing their attention. You’ll have a better chance of being successful if you meet your customers there.

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On-Demand Delivery: a Game Changer for Small Businesses and Freelancers

This holiday season has seen the rise of on-demand courier services, and it promises to spice things up for small, local businesses looking to make fast, cheap deliveries of their products to customers.

The concept of on-demand delivery is certainly not new (think: failed dot com company, Kozmo.com, which promised to deliver a variety of goods at any cost to customers in less than an hour). But, with recent announcements by both Uber and Amazon that they have launched their own courier services to deliver packages, it’s now a viable reality.

And that is very good news for small businesses looking to expand. In October, Uber began offering its delivery services in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City in a partnership with local businesses. As the company states on their website: “In hundreds of cities across the globe, you can press a button and get a ride in minutes. Now, through UberRUSH, business owners can use that same technology to get customers pretty much anything in minutes.”

By partnering with UberRUSH, businesses can not only easily, quickly, and cheaply manage deliveries, but they can expand their delivery zone. This is made possible by the fact that new couriers are always available, and they don’t need to make round trips. To make the deal even sweeter, Uber has joined up with eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify and ChowNow, to provide the smoothest customer experience possible.

Shortly following Uber’s announcement, Amazon.com revealed its own entry into the logistics space. Amazon’s initiative, called Amazon Flex, relies on contractors who have their own cars and smart phones to instantly deliver products that were purchased via its online sales platform. Flex is currently offered as part of Amazon’s premium one-hour delivery service, Prime Now.

One of the direct results of Amazon’s and Uber’s entry into the on-demand delivery space is the rise of the freelance delivery industry. As the demand for freelance couriers increases, we’ll likely see a number of individuals launching part-time or full-time businesses performing deliveries. Or, a more elaborate example: how about a person who invests in a small fleet of electric bikes, then hires other people to make the actual deliveries? There are many possibilities and a lot of potential all of which is poised to help the local economy- this year and beyond.

You Can Outsource Your Operations; But Avoid These Pitfalls

As you go through the process of growing your small business, there will come a point where you will have to decide whether or not to take on additional full time or part time employees. On one hand, the added human input can help you scale up your operations. But on the other hand, taking on employees can be a very costly and time-consuming process. Plus there is always the risk that your new hires won’t end up working out.

One way to overcome this dilemma is to outsource some of your business’ operations to another individual or business. Doing this will allow you to expand while reducing the risk of a costly bad hire or even a good hire made at the wrong time.

But, outsourcing parts of your business comes with its own set of challenges. After all, who says that this outside entity will properly “get” your company and its unique culture. How well will they be able to relate to your customers, and how do you ensure that there is enough motivation on their end to do a good job?

Outsourcing can truly make or break a company depending on how it is approached. So before you outsource anything- especially those front-line positions, such as customer service and sales- make sure you consider the following five pitfalls:

Businesses don’t consider the scope of their needs. This is the very first, critical step to successfully outsourcing your business’ operations. Before you start the process of looking for an outside company to take over, you should figure out exactly what it is you need from them. Not only will this help to make your search process easier, but it will help you avoid some of the other pitfalls mentioned below.

Businesses don’t allocate enough money. You really do get what you pay for, so beware of prices that seem too good to be true. While many small businesses are working with tight budgets, price shouldn’t be your only consideration when hiring a service provider. If you discover a company that offers the same basic services yet they are charging much less, then it could be a indicative of the kind of work quality you can expect from them.

There is not enough due diligence. Don’t just fall for a company because they have a flashy-looking website. You need to dig into this company’s reputation as well as the amount of time they have been in business. You should also research customer reviews and seriously consider trying to contact previous clients to see how satisfied they were. During the research process, pay attention to any red flags that could signal potential problems or mis-representation. For example, if it takes a long time for you to speak to a real person when you try contacting the service provider or if customer representatives are unfriendly and not knowledgable, then it may be sign to take your business elsewhere.

Businesses forget about cultural fit. Just as you should hire people based on their cultural fit with your company, not just the skills and experiences listed on their resumes, the same is true for any business partnership- whether that partnership is contractual or a joint venture or a full, working partnership.

There is no system to monitor performance. Outsourcing vital operations is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. There needs to be a system in place to monitor and review the company’s performance as well as the ROI that the setup is supposed to be achieving. By doing this, you will be able to quickly spot problem areas and then decide whether or not the partnership is a good one. One of the biggest factors to successful outsourcing is knowing when to walk away from a bad setup.

In short, outsourcing business operations can be a very reasonable and profitable method for expanding a business- but only if it is approached in the right way. In order for such as setup to have the best chance of success, the company needs to consider it as an important investment. With a bit of time, effort, and money upfront, they have the best chances of watching that investment grow.

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Credit Card Fraud Among Ecommerce Grows While POS Fraud Declines

With the evolution and proliferation of ecommerce and chip enabled credit cards, credit card fraud has been going through a metamorphosis over the past couple of years. As the tides change, smaller businesses in particular need to be paying attention and taking action. Without the proper precautions, small businesses are prime targets for fraudsters and hackers who can compromise sensitive data and send a crippling financial blow.

The Closing Window of Opportunity and the Opening of a New Window

As the US is slowly introduced to EMV chip credit cards, point-of-sale credit card fraud is expected to decline in the coming years. According to reports by Javelin Strategy and Research:

POS card fraud will become progressively less lucrative. Card counterfeiting will border on impossible, given the inherent security of EMV chip-cards…  Additionally, merchants who use encryption or tokenization would effectively render data gained from compromised terminals useless for future POS transactions. These factors will largely restrict POS card fraud to lost or stolen cards… [which] are significantly more difficult to acquire and are more likely to be canceled shortly after compromise… [F]raudsters at brick and mortar stores face a closing window of opportunity.

But while physical credit card fraud may be on the decline, all indications point to a significant rise in online credit card fraud as the surge in ecommerce continues. According to Javelin Strategy and Research, online fraud in the U.S. is expected to nearly double to $19 billion by 2018 from $10 billion in 2014.

Though all businesses and organizations operating online are being affected by fraudulant activity, small businesses are the most vulnerable because many are unable to afford the systems to detect and prevent it. Moreover, when it comes to online purchases, the merchant is typically the one paying for the fraud. If for example, a fraudulent customer uses a stolen credit card to purchase a product, typically by the time the real cardholder discovers the charges, the fraudster already has possession of the items. While the real cardholders are often not liable for unauthorized transactions, retailers have no such protection. Thus, when the true cardholder eventually reverses the payment, the retailer must foot the bill- an amount that includes the cost of fulfilling the order, the lost revenue of the sale, and the fees associated with receiving the chargeback (which can easily reach 25% of the transaction amount)!

What Can Small Businesses Do to Prevent Online Fraud?

In order to prevent or at least reduce a small business’ exposure to credit card fraud online, there are three things that need to be in place: knowledge of safety compliance, technology, and good payment processing practices. We’ll briefly go through each one below.

1. Maintain PCI Compliance. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information do so in a secure way. PCI is developed to proactively protect customer data, such as account numbers, names, addresses, and social security numbers. PCI compliance generally involves basic security precautions, such as maintaining a firewall between the business’ Internet connection and any system that stores credit card numbers.

2. Technology. There are various software applications out there that can help companies weed out fraudulant activity. Usually, these tools consider a number of potential red flags, such as whether the shipping and billing addresses match, whether the order is placed from an unfamiliar computer, device, or location, and whether the email address associated with the order has changed. Once suspicious activity has been identified, the business can then investigate further.

Another important element to consider is the ecommerce platform. Some of the most popular platforms actually do not offer so much fraud protection. So, this is something that should be researched before hand.

3. Payment Processing Best Practices. The best software in the world, however, won’t help a business that is careless with sensitive data. Businesses that are serious about data security will make the effort to routinely check that their fraud protection systems are working as they should. For example, business owners should check to see if all checkout URLs maintain a secure connection (“https”) during the checkout process. They should also set up system alerts that allow them to quickly and effectively screen out fraudulant activity, and make it a point not to store any more data than needed on customers and their transactions.

Bottom line: those businesses that process payments online need to be extra vigilant these days. Online fraud can easily ensnare a business, causing severe damage to a business’ reputation and its profitability. But, with the right knowledge, preparation, and tools, small businesses have the best chance of making it through unscathed.

Why a Social Media Graveyard Can Hurt Your Business

Are you are Instagram? Pinterest? Snapchat? How about Meerket, Periscope, or Blab.im…

It seems that with every new social media platform that comes out, there is the ever increasing expectation that small business owners should maintain a presence there. Sometimes, business owners will have a compelling reason for setting up an account and giving it a go. But even with the best of intentions, chances are that most of a business’ social media profiles will eventually lay dormant, collecting a whole lot of Internet dust.

The reality of running a small business is that your time, energy, and money are limited. Yet, each new social media platform comes with its own learning curve; it’s own draw on resources, and it’s own ability to offer an ROI on those resouces.

Many business owners will try out a new social media platform because everyone else is on there or because they are looking for a magic short-cut to good marketing and customer engagement. But, they then eventually abandon that platform when it doesn’t deliver what they were hoping for. They are hurting their business in a few of ways:

  1. They take a loss on all the resources they put into maintaining a presence on the platform
  2. If potential customers see these abandoned profiles it makes the business look unprofessional.
  3. They continue to miss the whole point of social media marketing

Case in point: there has been a lot of discussion lately about the use of live streaming video apps, such as Merkeet and Periscope. Many successful Merkeet users “defected” to Periscope when it first came out- eventhough the two platforms do essentially the same thing.

What happened? These users understand that their audience of fans and buyers relate to the spontaneity and engagement that live video streaming offers. It almost doesn’t matter which platform this happens on.

This applies to any business with any form of social media. First seek to understand your target market or audience. What is important to them? How do they would want to engage with you? Where are they already hanging out online, what are they doing when they are there, and what does that tell you about them?

Once you know these answers, then it’s just a matter of finding the platforms that allow you to best connect with your audience today. If you go in with this attitude, then even if a new, shiny platform appears, you will know ahead of time whether or not you should be there.

Moreover, when really important platforms make important notices or changes to the way they operate, small business owners will know when and how to respond. For example, a couple of weeks ago Google has issued a notice for small business owners with a Google My Business account. The notice states that business owners who have not logged into their Google My Business accounts in over a year may receive an email asking them to sign in and confirm their business information. If no action is taken then Google could turn a business’s account into an unverified one, and even more dangerous, Google could also remove a business from Google Maps which could seriously affect both a business’ online search traffic and off-line foot traffic.

Bottom line: you don’t want to litter the Internet with a social media graveyard of inactive or outdated accounts. Get to know your audience and spend your time and resources where it matters the most.

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Should You Use Periscope in Your Business?

Ever since Periscope officially went live a few months ago, a growing number of people, businesses, and organizations have been trying to figure out how to take advantage of this live video streaming app while it is still relatively new and not so popular yet. If you are running a small business, you may be wondering if you should jump in yourself.

But, before you dive in consider this: while Periscope may have a lot of potential uses for small businesses in particular (and I’ll get to some examples below), you first need to be crystal clear about what you want to accomplish on this platform. You need to be sure that your activity will add real value for your business. If not, then Periscope can quickly turn into an addictive social media black hole.

What is Periscope?

Periscope is an app for iOS and Android developed by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein that allows uses to live-stream video from their mobile phones. The company behind the app was purchased by Twitter for a reported $100 million in March 2015, and was officially relaunched later that month. One important result of Twitter’s acquisition of the app is that Periscope can be used in conjunction with Twitter, enabling users to get instant updates on new live streams.

Another interesting feature of the platform to keep in mind is the fact that live streams are recorded and remain on the site for 24 hours only, after which they are deleted. You do have the option to save your broadcast, however, which means you can then promote the recording on another platform, such as YouTube or your own website. If you would like to learn more about how to use Periscope, there is a good beginner’s guide over at Small Business Trends.

How Periscope Could Help Grow Your Business

Before we get into some of the potential uses, there are a few points that small business owners should keep in mind. The first is that from an SEO perspective, creating content that disappears after 24 hours could be a waste of your time and resources. Moreover, once your broadcast is over the stream is gone, so you can no longer interact with your viewers. Finally, you may find your viewers’ comment stream distracting while you are trying to do your broadcast.

There are some ways around these issues. For example, you could make sure that you save and promote the recordings of your show. You could also encourage viewers to connect with you on another platform (maybe you could offer them a good freebie in exchange), and if you find the real-time commenting distracting, then make sure you do a kind of show that will allow you to interact with viewers.

So, now let’s get into why you should consider Periscope. If you are catering to a young crowd (those 18-25 years old), then it’s almost a no-brainer. Why? Because these people grew up eating, drinking, and breathing in the internet and social sharing. No joke. There’ll already be on this platform, so you might as well meet them there.

Aside from this, the spontaneity of the platform has a certain game-like feel to it, and the fact that recordings disappear after 24 hours means that there is a sense of urgency as well. Viewers will be more motivated to show up if they feel like they’ll be missing out if they don’t.

Now, let’s get to some examples of Periscope in action…

  • An up and coming web design company could do a live website critique
  • A real estate agent could give a live tour on a property
  • A business consultant could do a live Q and A session or interview a famous guest
  • A fashion consultant or designer could offer fashion and beauty tips
  • I know some writers who share sections of their new books as they are writing them

You get the idea? The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you are clear about what you want accomplish and how these broadcasts will help your business and your bottom line.

Who Are Today’s Remote Workers?

When you hear the words “remote worker,” what images come to mind? Perhaps you picture a tech-savvy twenty-something sitting in a cafe and tapping away on his tablet. Maybe you think of a mother in her thirties trying to balance the demands of career and family, by working from her home office. Or, you imagine a team of independent, international contractors.

Whatever the setup, the practice of working remotely, or off-site from a physical business, is very common these days- more common than you may think. Around 33 million people in the US work remotely at least half of the time they work. In fact, the number of remote and stay-at-home workers increased by 79.7 percent from 2005 to 2012.

So, who are these people and their employers? A recent infographic entitled, “The Profile of the Remote Worker” offers a pictorial representation of the average telecommuter as well as some of the amazing benefits to be enjoyed by both the employee and his or her employer.

What’s particularly interesting is that according to data from the U.S Census Bureau, the average remote worker seems to break many of the common stereotypes. Telecommuters are on average 49-years-old, college educated, and tend to be employed by a company that has more than 100 workers. They are not working for peanuts, either. The average annual salary is $58,000 dollars. This means, that many remote workers may actually be holding mid to upper level positions within their companies.

Most remote stay-at-home workers are in the services industry, followed by the management and financial industry and then office and administrative support. Not surprisingly, states with vast rural areas and harsher weather, such as Oregon, Montana, Colorado and Vermont, have the largest remote work force.

Benefits All Around

What is convincing so many companies to embrace a remote workforce? The data reveals that remote workers tend to have greater productivity, job satisfaction, and better work-life balance, plus even though they are working away from the office, they actually feel more connected to their coworkers. You can’t go wrong with that, and most likely businesses are also saving on the indirect costs of having a totally on-site workforce as well, such as utilities and office supplies.

The bottom line is that telecommuting has quietly become the standard way of doing business; and it’s not just a fallout of advances in telecommunications and mobile computing. It’s because it just make sense- for both the business and its employees.

Reimbursing Employees for Healthcare? You Could Be Fined!

Recently, a rather obscure and not so well known IRS rule went into effect out that could have devastating consequences for many small business owners. The new legislation is directed at employers who are helping their employees offset the cost of health insurance with so called health insurance reimbursement accounts or HRAs.

For many employers, reimbursing employees for healthcare-related expenses is an easy way to help their employees without establishing an official group policy. The truth is that these HRAs have traditionally been a valuable tool used by business owners to provide health insurance to their staff without taking on the administrative cost and burden of establishing their own policy. It’s a tried and true practice that has worked for some 50 years.

But all of that is about to change.

The primary purpose of the Affordable Care Act has been the complete reform of the country’s health insurance market, with the goal being to make affordable health care coverage doable for every American. In order for this lofty goal to come about, however, drastic changes need to be made to the way employers compensate their employees and provide heath care benefits to them.

The new HRA penalty directly targets employers who are found to be assisting employees with the cost of health care through supplemental income, and those fines are pretty hefty. These businesses can be fined $100 a day per employee totaling up to $36,500 over the course of the year, or up to $500,000 per year for multiple employees. Ouch! Though this legislation actually went into effect starting January 1, 2014, the Treasury Department had delayed enforcement of penalties of this new rule- that is, until July of this year. That delay expired last week, meaning that businesses can now be charged for failure to comply.

Since drastic changes need to be made to the way small businesses compensate their employees, and since HRAs are pretty widespread among the nation’s smallest businesses, the penalty for offering an HRA is actually more expensive then avoiding healthcare coverage altogether. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to offer coverage, but if they fail to comply with the employer mandate they can only be fined up to $2,000 per year.

While there has been some efforts among law makers to repeal the new legislation, as of yet the penalty is in full effect (retroactive to January 1, 2014). Small business owners really need to keep paying attention to this under-reported IRS rule or consult with a qualified professional to make sure that they are in compliance.