Monday, May 19, 2014

Dealing with Small Business Regulations and your Local Government

Part II  Regulation

Keeping your business legal is one of those tricky things that you know you have to do, but which always seems to hamper your ability to actually function as a business in the first place. Of course, keeping it legal should be common sense, shouldn't it? The trouble is, not all regulations make much sense for small business people. After all, isn’t it just the big companies who should be regulated? Some folks with a more conservative mindset feel that there should be no government regulation of business, that the economy, if set loose, would self-regulate. There are a host of problems with both sides of the coin, however. Regulation may not always make sense to every business person, but fair's fair in the world of business. If the big companies require regulation, then so do the smaller enterprises.

That’s neither here nor there, though. We’re not talking about big business here, but rather small businesses. Business taxes and regulation will make up one of the biggest headaches you have to deal with. Let’s break them down into the basics, though, starting with regulation.

Business regulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It helps prevent unscrupulous business practices, helps prevent employees from being taken advantage of, and prevents ecological damage due to companies wishing to save money. Think of it this way- if a company exists unregulated that produces the old style mercury thermometers, what’s to stop them from dumping mercury in their backyard? One company could poison the ground water for an entire city! If you think that isn’t a problem, because of the whole self-regulation thing, consider that accidents DO happen, and that it only takes ONE accident to do major damage. 

When you look into the regulations for your business, it’s best to check with your local area first. Let’s say you’re planning to start a lawn maintenance business. You’ll pretty much work from home, rather than having an office to go to every day, and you’ll have a truck, trailer, and mowing equipment. Since you’ll be at home, you’ll want to look at the zoning regulations concerning home based businesses in your area. For obvious reasons, they don’t want you putting up billboards in your front yard or putting up a big steel building in your backyard. You may not even be able to put a small sign in your yard, depending on the zoning regulations in your area. That’s all for the best, though. Imagine how you’d feel if your neighbor decided to erect a full-size billboard in their backyard. 

Now, in reality, that’s about the end of regulation for most small businesses. Chances are you’re not going to start out with many, if any employees, so the whole health insurance thing doesn’t really apply to you, and unless you plan to be working with toxic chemicals (paint or pesticides, things of that nature,) then you’re not going to have too much regulation to have to contend with.

On the flip side of the coin, though, you could choose the illegal route and go around regulatory authorities. Some people do, and when they eventually get caught, the fines that they are subjected to are not just enough to close down their business, it’s enough to strip away everything they’ve ever had and put them into debt for the rest of their lives. If you’re even thinking for a moment that you can get away with it, don’t. Don’t even consider it for a moment. Dealing with regulatory issues isn’t so expensive that it’s worth chancing the sort of damage to your family and life that will result. Sure, it might be a bit of a pain to go through the licensing and other hoops you'll have to jump through, but it'll be well worth it to know your business is above board.

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