The Quest For Affordable Small Business Health Insurance

Studies have consistently shown that small businesses are much less likely to provide health insurance to their employees than larger companies. Indeed, the smaller the business, the less likely it is to offer health insurance benefits. As recently as 2003, about 50% of the uninsured in the United States were either self-employed or worked for companies with less than 26 employees.

The main reason for this disparity is cost. Health insurance for small businesses is typically more expensive than for larger companies (on a per employee basis) because it is more difficult for insurance companies to accurately predict the average cost of medical care for a small group. That is, risk is greater for insurance companies for small businesses since small businesses have fewer employees to spread the risk of health claims. It only takes one employee with significant health claims to have a significant impact on the overall costs for the group insurance. This is also the reason why small businesses do not self-insure; the financial risk is simply too great for the majority of small businesses.

So what can a small business do if it wants to offer health insurance to its employees? Often they have no choice but to pay the premiums. More often than not they will split the cost of premiums with their employees, typically 50/50. Unfortunately, these small business health insurance plans are not only quite expensive, but also include significant deductibles and co-payments for the employees.

Small businesses can sometimes reduce their health insurance costs by either joining or forming a purchasing cooperative to negotiate better rates and benefits from companies offering small business health insurance. Depending on the type of business, professional organizations can also offer better health insurance rates to small businesses.

In their search for affordable health insurance, small businesses should obtain multiple quotes before deciding on any one small group plan. One of the best places to start the process is online. By using the Internet, within a very short period of time, small business owners can access dozens of quotes from several insurance companies, making comparison of various plans much easier.

Of course, as a small business owner, if you are not comfortable shopping for your small business health insurance on the Internet, look for a good health insurance broker. If possible, interview more than one broker, and ask your peers for recommendations.

In order to remain competitive in the labor market, small businesses need to be able to offer health insurance benefits for their employees. This is not always easy as cost can be a limiting factor. With some effort, however, small business owners can find affordable small business health insurance. Joining buying cooperatives or professional organizations, using the Internet (probably the most convenient), or contacting a health insurance broker can be effective ways to begin the challenging process of securing affordable small business health insurance.

The Five Best Ways You Can Use Publicity To Get Free Advertising For Your Small Business

Let’s face it. The world of having your own small business is tough. Expenses are large, and often, revenue and cash flow are not. So the entrepreneur in the small business world always has to find ways to be creative in how he or she markets and advertises, with the goal of finding new local customers and better ways to increase local sales. It is an added bonus for the business owner when publicity comes his way. Hopefully it will be positive in nature, and more than likely, it will be free. The key to making this work for you, the small business owner, is to develop ways to generate positive publicity about your small business, and therefore, increase your cash flow. There are several different ways this can be done, and with a little work and steadfastness on your part, you will find a way to turn local small business publicity into a profitable venture for you and your family.

1. Become a Feature Story

One of the easiest ways to generate a little bit of talk about and interest in your small business is to invite a local newspaper, magazine, or news channel to feature a story about you and your company. This should be of no cost to you other than some persistence in calls to get someone interested in your tale. These types of publications and local news shows are always looking to feature someone from the community who has a success story or some advice to offer to others, and if you can find just the right angle to catch and interest readers and viewers, then they will love to publish your story for free. On-air interviews, via television or radio, also work well as this gives local viewers and listeners the opportunity to see or hear with whom they would be working if they were to patronize your business. This type of publicity is free and advantageous to all parties involved, and can typically help your business locate new customers and hopefully spark new interest in the services that you have to offer.

2. Become Active in Your Community

If you are not already, look for ways to get your voice heard within your town and neighboring communities. Any time you have a public forum in which to speak, you must do this. This is an absolutely free way to get your name, face, and name of your business out there and to get people talking, and you may even be compensated for your time by whomever it is holding the event. Local Chambers of Commerce are always hosting programs at which they love having small business owners attend and speak, as do Rotary Clubs, schools of many varieties, and possibly even churches and other places of worship. Speaking at these types of events is an easy and often quite profitable way for a small business to get some publicity, and in turn, free advertising.

3. It’s the Small Things That Count

How many times have you been driving down the road these days and seen vehicles painted or emblemized with a company logo? We see that every day and often, those things really stick in our heads. What an easy and cheap way to advertise for your small business! This type of publicity draws people in, and is a great way to advertise your company logo, phone number, and even web address. Make everything you do a way to advertise for your small business. Wear company T-shirts, put your logo on your car and your laptop, but get that name out there and exposed to the public.

4. Use the Internet

This sounds easy enough, but you would be surprised at the numbers of small businesses that are not taking advantage of the Internet and the multiple small business Internet marketing tools that are available to them. Many on-line forums will allow you to join the group and give you space for free introductions. This is a great chance to work your company name in and have it introduced to a brand new group of people.
You Tube is available for free video for your company, and networking in general is just so important. Once you establish some contacts, offer to have a link established on your website to others if they will return the same favor to you. This is a win-win situation for all who are involved.

5. Freebies

Be willing to give a little of your time. Offer free estimates, customer referral plans, and other such incentives that will encourage more and more people to support you and your small business venture. Furthermore, make sure that you get yourself and your company listed in any free local directories that are available.

The small business world is tough, but manageable, with the usage of these five simple tools that can help create a buzz about your business and provide publicity and free advertising. Of course, advertising is so important in the business world, and if you utilize these things along with your paid ads, your business is sure to profit and remain a hit for many years to come.

Small Business Still Running Out to Retail Stores

Small Businesses in Canada are continuously running out to their local retail office store to purchase their computer supplies and accessories for their business. This practice is great for those businesses that need an ink cartridge or some DVD’s to backup their data, however, it is not the best practice for them to run out to purchase their next notebook computer or computer system.

Today’s small businesses are often purchasing the wrong computer system for their business. Many times when meeting with small businesses during my travels and inspecting their existing infrastructure, we are still finding many Windows XP Home or Media Centre computers that they have purchased for their business at the local retail office supply store. The sales people at these locations may lack the business technology training to properly understand what a small business needs and how business affects technology investments. The small business world is definitely different from the home or SOHO marketplace.

The business decision maker is often upset when the IT professional has to pass along the bad news that their existing systems need to be upgraded or the operating system replaced when they hit that critical point in their business that the need for a server in their business is identified. Computer Professionals that focus on small business often struggle with this daily, the need to inform the business owner that their existing systems will not be able operate effectively in a Windows domain with a home based operating system adds additional stress to their daily job.

The original reason why they went to purchase their latest computer at the retail store was perhaps the immediate gratification of getting a computer system that they can use today or out of urgency that they need something immediately. Small Business today, needs to start planning their technology investments wisely instead of spontaneously purchasing or impulse buying. This is where the Microsoft Small Business Specialist can assist them to ensure that they are investing in the right computer systems to allow their business to thrive with the right technology solution.

Where can small business turn? Business owners must find a trusted technology provider to assist them before they run out to the local office supply store. Microsoft has a great website for business owners to find that trusted resource at An experienced small business specialist understands what a small business requires and will recommend the correct solution, even if they do not have a server today, a small business specialist has the skills to plan for the future. The Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Vista Business Editions are what a small business needs to ensure that are ready for grow, so when the day comes that they need to invest in their first server, they can purchase the server and it can easily fit into their existing investments.

What prevents the home or media versions from working in business? These versions of Windows were developed with scaled down functionality to work in the home market or to work with your entertainment systems, sure they will run all the software that you purchase for your business, however, they lack critical business functionality like logging into a Windows domain network, file synchronization and they lack the additional security features found in the Professional and other business editions of Windows XP and Vista.

The Small Business Specialist community needs to continue its effort in educating today’s small business marketplace to ensure that they are investing in the right technology solutions for their business needs. Small Business consultants can leverage the Business Assessment Toolkit to paint the picture for the small business on their exact needs and ensure that they are investing their dollars wisely in technology.