Rocket Lawyer https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog Everyday Law Blog Thu, 09 Jan 2020 00:45:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Small business resolutions to help you grow in 2020 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/small-business-resolutions-2020-926151 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/small-business-resolutions-2020-926151#respond Thu, 09 Jan 2020 00:45:22 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26151 It’s the start of a new year and a new decade. People naturally look ahead as the new year arrives, thinking of what opportunities await them and what they’d like […]

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It’s the start of a new year and a new decade. People naturally look ahead as the new year arrives, thinking of what opportunities await them and what they’d like to change in the months to come; but moving into a new decade, this period of reflection takes on heightened meaning. If you’re ready to set new goals for growth, take the time now to reflect on your small business resolutions and commit to change through 2020 and beyond.


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Why is the new year a good time to review your business strategy? 

The start of the calendar year (and often your company’s fiscal year) is a great time for new beginnings. Over the holiday season, you may have had some quiet time to reflect and recharge, and now that 2020 has begun, you’re probably feeling re-energized and ready to tackle what the new year brings. Now is the time to outline your plan for the year, taking into consideration all of the milestones you’d like to achieve. Whether you’re planning out a handful of critical projects or making your laundry list of to-dos for the year, kicking off your new plan in January means you’ll likely know other goal-setters who have been equally inspired by a fresh start. Among them, you may find an accountability partner to help you stick with your plan. 

If you plan to make major business changes like incorporating your company or forming an LLC, implementing them at the beginning of the calendar year can also make it easier to manage your taxes later. 

What small business resolutions should I consider for 2020?

The best resolutions are personalized to your business and designed to move you closer to success. If you’ve already adopted some of these resolutions, then congratulations: You’ve taken some positive steps towards growing your business. If you haven’t yet made these moves, consider adding them to your to-do list for 2020:

1. Incorporate or form an LLC 

In the rush to launch a new venture, some entrepreneurs skip the business formation stage. If you aren’t incorporated or protected by an LLC, you could be missing out on a number of key benefits. Make 2020 the year you incorporate to increase your access to small business financing, open yourself to potential tax savings, and, perhaps most importantly, safeguard your personal assets. If your business ever gets sued, incorporation could help you avoid losing your family home or your retirement savings.

2. Connect with a lawyer and a CPA/accountant

If you aren’t already working with a lawyer regularly, make 2020 the year you have a lawyer look over your small business contracts. A lawyer can help you make sure that your business agreements are ironclad and that your employment practices are legally sound. 

Many small business owners also manage their own company finances during the bootstrap phase. Once your business is up and running, it can be well worth it to have a CPA look over your accounting methods and suggest efficiencies, such as which accounting software to use or the best apps for tracking deductible business expenses. 

3. Adjust your digital marketing plan 

Digital marketing, which includes your website, search engine optimization, social media, and blog, is constantly evolving, and if you don’t keep up with changes your business may be left behind. Survey the latest trends in digital marketing and see where your approach needs to shift. By resolving to stay updated, you can make adjustments throughout the year and ensure your continued relevancy and discoverability.

While many people fall off the bandwagon with their resolutions weeks into the new year, there are ways to increase the odds that you’ll stay committed. For each resolution you want to implement, break it down into small actions. Calendar the actions if you are taking responsibility or delegate them to team members. This way, you’ll actually get things done—and see an impact.

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CCPA compliance tips for bloggers and other online entrepreneurs https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ccpa-compliance-tips-for-bloggers-and-other-online-entrepreneurs-926144 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ccpa-compliance-tips-for-bloggers-and-other-online-entrepreneurs-926144#respond Sat, 21 Dec 2019 00:18:17 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26144 Beginning January 1, certain businesses must become compliant under the California Consumer Protection Act. The businesses that must follow suit meet one of the following criteria: 1) The business has […]

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Beginning January 1, certain businesses must become compliant under the California Consumer Protection Act. The businesses that must follow suit meet one of the following criteria:

1) The business has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million; 

2) The business buys, receives, sells or shares the information of 50,000 or more California consumers, households, or devices annually; 

3) The business earns more than half its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.

If you meet any of these criteria you must become CCPA compliant by July 1, 2020 at the latest, which is when the state will start enforcing the law. Businesses that are found to be non-compliant, risk fines of $7,500 per intentional violation and $2,500 per unintentional violation, as well as opening themselves up to civil lawsuits. 


We’re here to help

If you have questions about CCPA compliance as a blogger or website owner, ask a lawyer.


Does CCPA apply to me and my blog or website?

You might be thinking that you are in the clear if your blog or business does not have revenue over $25 million and you are not a data broker, but it is possible that your business meets the threshold of receiving the personal information of 50,000 California consumers. Personal information is defined as “information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household”, this broad definition includes browser history, purchase history, and IP addresses—all of which are often used in affiliate programs

If you participate in affiliate programs and your website reaches 50K California users per year, then it is likely that the CCPA applies to you. Along the same lines, if your website collects IP addresses (including via third-party analytics tools), which many do, you will likely meet the 50,000 user threshold quickly. If you have doubts about whether or not CCPA applies to you, it can be helpful to talk to a lawyer

How can I prepare for CCPA compliance?

If you find that the CCPA does apply to your business venture, whether it is a blog or other website, you need to make a game plan on how to tackle compliance. Some of the state’s biggest technology companies are nervous about being compliant, but you can break down CCPA compliance into a few simple steps:

  1. Map data sources 
  2. Review your privacy policy (if you have one)
  3. Update your privacy policy to be CCPA-compliant 
  4. Place your opt-out link in a clear and conspicuous location on your website

One method of complying with the CCPA guidelines is to treat all consumers as if they were California residents, to avoid having different policies based on consumers’ geographical location. In an ever-mobile society, your business should be prepared to handle consumers’ data from every state and the most efficient way could be to create a single privacy policy that meets the standards of every state. 

Looking into 2020 and beyond, bloggers and other online business owners should expect additional states to enact their own data privacy regulations and they should be ready to amend their online privacy policy agreements to reflect any new guidelines that may arise. 

If you have questions about creating or updating your online privacy policy, ask a lawyer.

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CCPA compliance tips for employers https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ccpa-compliance-tips-for-employers-926137 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ccpa-compliance-tips-for-employers-926137#respond Wed, 18 Dec 2019 23:24:00 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26137 Starting January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) takes effect, with enforcement of the law beginning July 1. This bill will affect businesses that meet any of the […]

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Starting January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) takes effect, with enforcement of the law beginning July 1. This bill will affect businesses that meet any of the following criteria: 

1) The business has annual gross revenues over $25 million; 

2) The business receives, sells, or shares personal information about more than 50,000 CA consumers, households, or devices annually;  

3) The business earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.  

In order to be compliant with the CCPA, first one must understand the definitions of phrases in the act. Personal information is broadly defined as anything that identifies, relates to, or can be reasonably be linked to a specific household or consumer. Examples of personal information include names, addresses, Social Security numbers, etc.


We’re here to help

If you have questions about CCPA compliance as an employer, ask a lawyer.


What consumer rights are covered by the law?

The CCPA provides consumers with numerous rights, that if exercised will require a bit of backend work on the business’ part. Consumers have the right to request the following: the specific information a business has collected about them, how the information will be used, if any third parties will have access to it, and the purpose of collecting that information. Businesses must provide an answer to all verifiable requests within 45 days. 

Consumers can also request that their personal data be deleted by a business. Similar to the GDPR’s “Right to be Forgotten”, there are limitations to data deletion, which include:

  • Legal compliance and other legal purposes
  • Security purposes
  • The data is needed to complete a transaction or service requested by the customer 

Does CCPA apply to employee data?

One of the big questions surrounding the CCPA is if it applies to employee data. Assembly Bill 25 (AB-25) has been added as an amendment to the CCPA, as a temporary solution. The bill exempts employers until January 1, 2021, to be compliant under the CCPA regarding employee and job applicant data when the information is being used for human resource purposes. After this exemption period, employees will be awarded the same rights. 

How do I comply with CCPA as an employer?

Due to the change in consumer and employee data under the CCPA, you should update not only your consumer-facing privacy policy agreements but also your internal employee privacy policies, which should be included in your employee handbook.  The CCPA employee policy does not only apply to full-time employees but all California-based independent contractors and job applicants. 

These policy updates should reflect all the required CCPA disclosures: 

  • An opt-out from the sale of consumer data
  • Categories of information collected within the last 12 months and their sources
  • Description of the new rights of CA residents
  • How to submit a data deletion request
  • Purpose of data collected 
  • List of categories for all personal information disclosed within the last 12 months

At first glance, CCPA compliance may seem like a daunting task due to employers having to comply not only for consumers but also for their CA employees. Luckily for employers, the California legislature has allowed a six month grace period for CCPA consumer compliance and a year-long grace period regarding employee data. If you follow the tips and tricks above and get a head start on revamping your data collection practices, your business will be in good shape for the upcoming year.

If you have questions about how CCPA applies to your business, ask a lawyer

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LLC insurance: What kinds of coverage does my business need? https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/llc-insurance-what-kinds-of-coverage-does-my-business-need-926122 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/llc-insurance-what-kinds-of-coverage-does-my-business-need-926122#respond Mon, 16 Dec 2019 18:11:52 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26122 Let’s face it: You structured your limited liability company (LLC) to avoid taking on certain types of risks and liabilities. But if you still don’t carry business insurance coverage—or you […]

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Let’s face it: You structured your limited liability company (LLC) to avoid taking on certain types of risks and liabilities. But if you still don’t carry business insurance coverage—or you have the wrong type of policy—you could be leaving your entire company and your personal finances open to serious risk.

With that in mind, we’ll explore why every LLC should have business insurance, including the kinds of coverage that work best for limited liability companies like yours.

Why you need LLC insurance

Before we dive into the specific types of LLC insurance policies, let’s examine why you should get coverage in the first place:

  • Business insurance helps protect you against costly claims from accidental property damage or injuries.
  • It can pay for your legal defense in the event that claims are brought to court. And if you are found responsible, your insurance can pay the cost of claims (up to your policy limit).
  • It puts you on the right side of the law, as most states require businesses to carry some sort of liability insurance.
  • It gives customers and vendors the extra incentive they need to work with you, as insurance helps establish you as a legitimate and highly professional business.

Now that you have the reasons why you need to get insured, let’s take a look at the specific policies you should consider for your LLC.

The most common types of LLC insurance

While every LLC is different, most business owners can cover a decent portion of their risks with the following policies:

General liability insurance

This insurance coverage covers any costs that arise from property damage, accidents, and bodily injury that your business may have caused to a client or vendor. These costs are no joke; it’s estimated that the average property damage claim is a whopping $30,000.

That could be absolutely catastrophic for most LLC owners, which is why having this coverage can be critical for your company’s survival.

We recommend getting this policy if you spend a lot of time on client properties or your particular industry carries any risk for causing accidental damage. For example, if you own a construction or contracting company, general liability insurance should play a foundational role in protecting your business.

Professional liability

This policy comes in handy if a client accuses you of negligence or mistakes during the course of your work. For example, if you’re an accountant and you made a mistake on a client’s financial paperwork, that client could potentially sue you for damages.

Plus, if the case ends up going to court, you could be required to pay legal fees, even if you’re not found negligent.

Business owner’s policy (BOP)

This is a special type of bundled insurance that combines general liability insurance, property insurance, and business income insurance (which protects you in case you experience a temporary loss of income due to an accident or storm). BOP is one of the more convenient choices for small businesses, as it covers a variety of needs in a single insurance policy.

Workers compensation insurance

Finally, if you have employees, you’re legally required to carry workers compensation insurance. This policy protects you and your business by paying the medical bills if an employee (even if they’re part-time or a subcontractor) gets injured on the job. In most cases, workers compensation prevents employees from suing you for their medical bills or other damages like pain and suffering or mental anguish as a result of an accidental injury.

Overall, business insurance is a great way to protect your LLC from the unexpected. If you need help choosing LLC insurance policies, try shopping with an online business insurance brokerage that can help you pick and choose the right policy based on your specific risks. That way, you can choose a policy that works for your budget, while getting transparency around how your LLC is covered.

*Legal disclosure: Simply Business, Inc. is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice This article is intended to be used for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice.

Simply Business

Simply Business is an online business insurance brokerage that specializes in one thing: protecting the business our customers are working hard to build. We make it possible for our customers to choose the exact insurance coverage they need, so they can get back to growing their businesses.
Simply Business

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Data privacy laws in the US: 4 states to watch https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/data-privacy-laws-in-the-us-4-states-to-watch-926111 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/data-privacy-laws-in-the-us-4-states-to-watch-926111#respond Fri, 13 Dec 2019 21:07:21 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26111 Over a year has passed since the EU’s data privacy law, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), was enacted. Unlike the European Union, the United States has declined to take a […]

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Over a year has passed since the EU’s data privacy law, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), was enacted. Unlike the European Union, the United States has declined to take a federal stance on the subject of data privacy and has left the matter up to individual states to decide. From a business standpoint, it would be easier if there were a federal statute like GDPR that applied across the board, however, for now, companies must comply with differing state data privacy laws—where they exist—which can make compliance confusing and burdensome. 

Some companies are taking the introduction of state-specific data privacy laws as an opportunity to apply the same standards for customers across all fifty states, however other companies will take a decidedly more piecemeal approach, becoming compliant only when new laws are passed. While the following states have either considered or effectively passed data privacy laws, it is likely that more states will continue to follow.


We’re here to help

If you have a question about how data privacy laws impact your business, ask a lawyer.


California data privacy law

As the world’s fifth-largest economy, California has a long history of leading the nation in protecting its citizens—even amending the state constitution to guarantee a right to privacy. Recently, the state has taken an extra step in protecting its residents by enacting the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). This new law comes into effect on January 1, 2020, but there will be a grace period of six months before the CA Attorney General starts enforcing it.

Nevada online privacy

Nevada’s online privacy law quietly went into effect on October 1, 2019. Nevada’s law focuses more on allowing consumers to prevent the sale of their personal information to third-parties.  While its opt-out provision is more narrow than the CCPA, the Nevada law impacts a wider range of businesses. Only one of the following criteria need to be met: The business owns or operates an Internet website for commercial purposes that 1) collects personal data from Nevada consumers; or 2) positions itself to do business in Nevada. 

Washington online data regulation

Washington also passed a law regulating online data, but failed to pass its privacy bill. The online data regulations will allow consumers to know what data companies are gathering about them. Similar to the CCPA and the GDPR, state citizens can also submit requests for data deletion. The failed privacy bill had contentious parts regarding a ban on facial recognition technology and failed to provide individual rights to sue in civil court. 

New York data breach reporting

New York attempted to pass a data privacy law that was going to be more stringent than the CCPA, but the New York Privacy Act (NYPA) failed in the state Assembly. That said, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo did sign into law two pieces of legislation that expand the state’s current data breach reporting law. The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (“SHIELD”) and the Identity Theft Protection and Mitigation Services Act jointly broaden the scope of personal information covered by the state’s data privacy laws and imposes stricter security measures.  

This is likely just the first wave of consumer data privacy laws that we will see enacted in the coming years. If you have questions about how consumer protection laws might apply to your business, ask a lawyer

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NY Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA): A guide https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/housing-stability-and-tenant-protection-act-926098 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/housing-stability-and-tenant-protection-act-926098#respond Wed, 11 Dec 2019 23:17:48 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26098 New York City is commonly known as one of the largest and most populous cities in the United States. Unsurprisingly, the real estate market is massive and competitive, with an […]

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New York City is commonly known as one of the largest and most populous cities in the United States. Unsurprisingly, the real estate market is massive and competitive, with an average Manhattan apartment costing more than $3,000 a month. Rising rent and displaced New Yorkers have led to an increased effort towards passing legislation that makes leasing and renting fair and accessible for both landlords and tenants in New York State. 

Just a few months ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA) into law, securing rent regulation for thousands of tenants in New York State. The new law is exhaustive and includes a broad array of topics, covering everything from security deposits to eviction procedures. While this article is designed to describe some of the most relevant and important changes of the HSTPA, it will not discuss every change in the law. 


Questions about the HSTPA?

Get legal advice from a local attorney.


What does the HSTPA cover?

The following changes impact ALL residential housing, including co-ops and condos. While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are a few key changes:

Security deposits and fees 

  • Unlike before, when landlords were able to charge any amount they desired, security deposits are now limited to one month’s worth of rent. 
  • Application fees are banned. 
  • Background and credit check fees are restricted to the actual cost of the service or $20, whichever amount is less. 

Tenant notice

Tenants are now given additional notice when rent will be increased by 5% or more or when a landlord plans not to renew a lease. Thirty (30) days’ notice must be given if a tenant has lived in a unit for a year or less. Landlords must give tenants 60 days’ notice if they have lived in the unit for more than a year, but less than two years. If a tenant has lived in a unit for more than 2 years, they are entitled to 90 days’ notice. 

Eviction 

Landlords who want to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, must first demand the rent. The HSTPA requires this demand to be in writing and gives tenants 14 days to pay rent. Originally, tenants were given 3 days. 

What changes apply to rent-regulated housing?

Here are a few changes that apply specifically to rent-stabilized housing:

Owner occupancy 

Originally, landlords of rent-stabilized apartments possessed the ability to reclaim an apartment for personal use. HSTPA significantly restricts owner recapture. The new law limits landlords to one apartment for owner use and occupancy. It also requires landlords to demonstrate an immediate and compelling necessity to take back said apartment.

Major capital improvements (MCIs) 

Landlords are restricted to a 2% rent-increase cap when the increase results from building improvements. Originally, the rent-increase cap was 6%. 

Individual apartment improvements (IAIs) 

With HSTPA, the total cost for individual apartment improvements is limited to $15,000. Prior to HSTPA, there was no cap on renovations and landlords were allowed to increase rent to 1/40th of the cost of the renovation in buildings with 35 or fewer apartments and 1/60th in buildings with 36+ apartments.

Gaining a better understanding of HSTPA will only contribute to informed decision-making and ultimately a positive experience when renting residential property. More than ever, it is important to understand the HSTPA because sunset provisions have been repealed, and, as a result, rent regulations have been made permanent. 

If you have questions about how HSTPA may affect you, ask a lawyer or check out more resources for landlords and tenants

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Small business apps: 8 ways a mobile app can grow your business https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/small-business-apps-8-ways-a-mobile-app-can-grow-your-business-926085 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/small-business-apps-8-ways-a-mobile-app-can-grow-your-business-926085#respond Mon, 09 Dec 2019 18:43:17 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26085 As more people shift from browsing on their computers to using phones and tablets, many businesses have had to change how they operate online. Yes, you still need a website […]

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As more people shift from browsing on their computers to using phones and tablets, many businesses have had to change how they operate online. Yes, you still need a website and to be on the right social media platforms, but if you are going to grow a loyal core audience for your products or services, you may also want to consider adopting an app to help increase sales, drive engagement, and provide useful tools to your customers. With the right tools, small business apps can be easily built and don’t require teams of experts. Here are a few ways that an app can help grow your business: 

1. Selling on the store

Web stores are a vital part of most businesses, but once a customer has paid for a product, off they go, possibly never to return as they use a hundred other web pages. With an app-based store, customers can see the store on a daily basis and get new offers or product messages as part of the app’s push messaging feature to keep up-to-date. 

If the store is the main part of your business, you can use product news, promotions, and events to keep bringing people back, as part of your regular customers’ digital day. Or, if your products make for irregular sales, you can send updates about valuable news or events to share based on seasonality or new bespoke items. 

2. Social media integration

People often follow different types of businesses on various social media outlets. Using an app, you’re able to direct people to all your sources of information—images, videos, and more. Showing the highlights within the app can help make these links engaging and allow you to attract more attention, rather than just showing a fleet of blue icons that most people will ignore. 

That said, your small business app should not live in isolation. You should still use your social media pages to help drive interest to the app and vice versa—with every point of interest, sale, or highlight made shareable to help the app and your business grow. 

3. Navigation features

If you need to get people to where you are, or if your mobile business can go to them, using navigation features in your app makes it easier to show the world where you can reach. Location-awareness in an app will help customers see when they are near a store or a particular event. The app can send when-and-where daily offers for the latest deals and help nudge customers through the door. 

4. Digital documents

One of the most popular features of a service app for businesses working with clients or other partners is the ability to scan documents like receipts, signed invoices etc. and send them for invoicing, record-keeping, and so on. Having an app that allows clients to upload files to your cloud storage or business servers with time-stamps or geo-tagging can provide an audit trail while speeding up processes and helping your clients save on postage. 

5. Customer loyalty

Any business can benefit from a loyalty card or program. They can help boost store footfall or provide regular offers to keep customers visiting the online store in your app. As with any retailer or service provider, customers often respond positively to the benefits that discount offers and rewards provide. 

Plan your loyalty schemes to keep trade coming in during slower times for the business, or use your program to jump on the latest trends and maximize sales during peak seasonal events. 

6. Chatbots are on trend

Many businesses are starting to turn to chatbots as an alternative for reception or customer service. Whether answering simple questions about open hours, managing bookings, or dealing with complex issues where people might not know what they need, a chatbot can help provide a concierge or triage service that saves your receptionists a huge amount of time. 

7. Process management and progress tools

Customers like to see how their job, deal, or process is going in many areas of business. Having an automated progress feature in your app will show people exactly where their project is, what steps have been completed, what needs to be done, and who they are waiting for. 

8. Getting good reviews

Any growing business is in competition with many others across a finite pool of customers. You can utilize the app to make it easy for customers to post reviews on Yelp and other business review sites. All of which will help build up a valuable source of recommendations. 

Reviews help show your business off at its best, and they can be used as part of social media posts or marketing messages. Few people will remember to go directly to the review site, so nudging them via your app can be a valuable addition. 

Regardless of what features you add, an app can be vital for providing access to your business and its services. As a marketing tool, it can help save everyone time, create shareability, and secure vital home screen space to boost trade and interest for your small business. 

AppInstitute

AppInstitute is an App Builder that provides a simple way for small businesses to create, publish and manage their own iPhone and Android app using a DIY app builder platform, making entering the app market easy for even the least tech-savvy small business owner.
AppInstitute

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A CCPA compliance checklist for marketers and advertisers https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ccpa-compliance-checklist-marketing-advertising-926072 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ccpa-compliance-checklist-marketing-advertising-926072#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 22:22:31 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26072 The California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) becomes law beginning January 1, 2020 and will start being enforced by the California Attorney General starting July 1. The bill has been touted […]

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The California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) becomes law beginning January 1, 2020 and will start being enforced by the California Attorney General starting July 1. The bill has been touted as California’s answer to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is the law governing data privacy in the European Union. The CCPA only applies to businesses that meet at least one of the following criteria: 

  1. The business has annual gross revenue in excess of $25 million; 
  2. The business possesses the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households or devices; 
  3. The business earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information. 

CCPA compliance fines are up to $2,500 for unintentional violations and $7,500 per intentional violation. 


We’re here to help

If you have questions how CCPA impacts your business,
ask a lawyer and get an answer within 1 business day.


What consumer data is covered by the CCPA?

The CCPA carves out a broad definition of personal data by defining it as “information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could be reasonably linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.” Using this definition, you should identify which of your company’s collected data falls under this umbrella. If your company uses third-party data, identify the sources, and be prepared to answer any CCPA requests. Despite its third-party source, your company is responsible for this data as if it collected the information.

As a marketer, you should ask yourself if all the data you are collecting is necessary and identify what is sensitive information. Next, you should consider deleting the non-pertinent data and encrypt what’s sensitive. 

What other steps should I take for CCPA compliance? 

If you are a marketer or advertiser for a company that falls under one of the categories above, here are a few steps that you can take to prepare for the change: 

  • Know where the data is stored in order to have it readily available when a consumer makes a verifiable request
  • Audit marketing list data and organize it by source (internal or third-party) 
  • Update your company’s privacy policy and send it out to your marketing list to inform CA consumers of their new guaranteed privacy rights
  • Rethink your method of data collection and only collect information that you need. The less unnecessary data you collect, the more likely you are to remain CCPA compliant

What else should I know about the rights of California consumers?

The CCPA has several guaranteed rights written into it:

  • Companies must inform consumers at or before the point of data collection what categories of personal information will be collected and the purpose of collecting it
  • Consumers may request information regarding the data collected and request records for the 12-month period preceding the date of request
  • Consumers may opt-out of the sale of their personal information
  • Consumers may request to have their information deleted

Instead of seeing CCPA compliance as an obstacle that one must deal with, your company can use the new regulation as an opportunity to revisit its data collection strategy altogether. Rather than operating under the old mentality of “collect as much data as possible,” think about why you are collecting the data and gather it in a meaningful way. By doing this, you may be able to offer more transparency to your customers, which is usually looked upon favorably. 

If you have questions about how CCPA might apply to your business, ask a lawyer

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AB-5 and freelance writers: What’s the impact of the CA law? https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ab-5-freelance-writers-california-926064 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/ab-5-freelance-writers-california-926064#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 18:40:00 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26064 Many California freelance writers fear the financial repercussions that Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) will bring in 2020. Effective January 1, AB-5 targets gig economy workers, who are currently classified as […]

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Many California freelance writers fear the financial repercussions that Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) will bring in 2020. Effective January 1, AB-5 targets gig economy workers, who are currently classified as independent contractors. The bill sets out specific criteria to classify independent contractors versus employees. Rideshare drivers have been the main topic of discussion regarding who AB-5 will affect, but the new law could be unfavorable for freelance writers. 


We’re here to help

If you have questions about how AB-5 impacts your business, ask a lawyer.


Background

The bill makes the decision of a court case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, into law.  The Dynamex decision proposed an “ABC test” to help distinguish between an independent contractor and an employee. 

In order to correctly classify independent contractors, the test confirms:

(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and

(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

The disputed point for freelance journalists is the “B” requirement that requires a person to perform work that differs from the employer’s usual course of business. Freelance writers perform the same job as staff writers without the constraints of set working hours and having to be in a newsroom or office. Due to this, media publications cannot use the same argument as companies who maintain that their business is to provide technology to enable rideshares rather than a taxi service. 

Real-life effects

AB-5 drastically limits the number of articles a California writer can produce for one publication to 35. Originally, an earlier version of the bill limited freelancers to 20 articles yearly per publication. This number all but prevents publications and media companies from hiring Californian writers to do weekly columns. 

The limit of 35 articles annually may seem arbitrary, and it is. The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, stated that this figure is based on the assumption that weekly columnists are like part-time workers, so 35 is the estimated portion of annual submissions that a part-time writer would make. The theory behind the limit is that it will encourage media companies and publications to hire California writers as part-time or full-time employees, rather than contractors, so that they can enjoy employee benefits like disability, unemployment and Social Security. However, due to freelance writing being a career that can be done remotely, critics say it will result in California freelancers losing out on jobs to writers in states without these restrictions. 

Given the widespread impact that AB-5 will bring to the state, it will be interesting to see how the bill is actually enforced. Its enforceability begins January 1, but there are still many lingering questions from the bill’s critics that remained unanswered. 

If you have questions about how AB-5 impacts you as an employer or freelancer, ask a lawyer.

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Federal holidays & overtime pay: How to calculate time and a half https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/working-on-a-holiday-pay-guidelines-to-keep-things-legal-911588 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/working-on-a-holiday-pay-guidelines-to-keep-things-legal-911588#respond Mon, 25 Nov 2019 16:00:00 +0000 http://blog.rocketlawyer.com/?p=11588 Are you an employer wondering how holiday pay works? Rocket Lawyer explains the legalities of working on a holiday and the meaning of time and a half.

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The season may be festive, but for small business owners and employees, holiday pay policy can be confusing. Here’s a brief refresher on what’s legal for holiday, overtime, and vacation pay.


We’re here to help

If you are an employer or employee with legal questions about holiday pay, ask a lawyer.


What are federal holidays in the U.S.? 

Federal holidays are holidays observed by the U.S. government. While a majority of government offices are closed on these days, small business owners and other private employers have the option of staying open. Businesses that close on federal holidays are not required to pay their employees for the day off, and those that stay open are not obligated to pay employees extra for normal work hours. In general, holidays are considered regular workdays and employees receive their normal pay for time worked. If the federal holiday falls on a weekend, it is generally observed on the closest weekday.

The U.S. government lists these days as federal holidays: 

  • New Year’s Day
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Washington’s Birthday (also known as Presidents Day)
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day (or Indigenous Peoples’ Day)
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

What are paid holidays? 

Paid holidays are not required in the United States, however some employers may decide to provide compensation to their employees as a matter of policy, as laid out in an employment contract or employee handbook. In addition to the federal holidays listed above, other paid holidays might also include: 

  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • The Friday after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • The day after Christmas (also known as Boxing Day)
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Other commemorative holidays like César Chávez Day

Ultimately, paid holidays are up to each employer to define. If you have questions about documenting your holiday policy, ask a lawyer

Do I have to allow time off for religious holidays? 

If multiple employees request time off in observance of a religious holiday, an employer must accommodate such requests in a consistent and nondiscriminatory fashion. As stated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC), an employer is not required to accommodate all requests if the requests will bring hardships to the company. 

What is holiday pay? 

Under federal law, a holiday doesn’t have a special designation for overtime pay, nor is working on a holiday considered overtime. Federal law views holidays as just another business day. That said, both federal and state law requires most employers, but not all, to pay overtime to employees whose hours meet the criteria. This is important if you hold special extended hours during the holiday season, or if you rely on employees to cover additional shifts.

How much is holiday pay?

If your employees are entitled to overtime, calculating pay can be a bit tricky. The important thing to know is that under federal law, overtime is calculated weekly. This means if your employee works over 40 hours during the week of typical paid holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day, they are entitled to “time and a half” for the hours worked over 40 hours.

In California and a few other states, there’s also a daily overtime standard. If your employee works over eight hours on any given day, they are entitled to “time and a half” for every hour worked over eight hours. Let’s say you are a California business and your employee worked 10 hours on Christmas Day. State law requires you pay your employee overtime for 2 hours.

As an incentive, some employers may opt to offer double-time to employees working on holidays, meaning that their regular rate is multiplied by 2. While there is no federal requirement around double-time, there are double-time rules in California, which come into play if an employee works more than 12 hours in any workday or if an employee works more than seven consecutive workdays.

For more information about overtime requirements, visit the US Department of Labor website or ask a lawyer.

What is time and a half?

Time and a half pay is 50 percent more than an employee’s regular pay rate. This means for every hour of overtime an employee works, you must give them their regular pay plus half of that.

What is double-time?

Double-time pay is twice the employee’s regular rate. This means for every hour of overtime, you pay two times what the employee normally earns. 

How do I calculate time and a half?

To calculate an employee’s overtime pay for time and a half, multiply their regular rate by 1.5.

Here is a sample overtime pay calculation. In this example, the employee earns $20 per hour and has worked 4 hours of overtime for the week.

Regular hourly wage$20 per hour
Time and a half hourly wage1.5 x $20 = $30 per hour
Hours of overtime for the week4 hours
Regular weekly pay$20 x 40 hours = $800
Time and a half pay$30 x 4 hours = $120
Weekly pay including time and a half$800 + $120 = $920

Note that the sample calculations above are pre-tax and are examples only. Please ask a lawyer or your payroll administrator for details specific to your situation.

What about vacation pay during a holiday?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you are not obligated to pay employees for time not worked–This includes vacation days in addition to holidays. Therefore, if your employee takes a vacation day on Christmas or New Year’s Day, there is no law requiring you to pay them for the time off.

If your employee is entitled to vacation pay, it will be based on an agreement between you and the employee. Sometimes, prior to hiring, an employee will negotiate for a certain number of paid vacation days. While individual agreements should be recorded in an employment contract, the best place to document your company’s rules is your employee handbook or in a separate vacation policy.

If you have additional questions regarding holiday pay, you can ask a lawyer, or check out more resources for employers and employees.

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Small Business Saturday: 7 last-minute marketing ideas https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/small-business-saturday-last-minute-marketing-ideas-926032 Fri, 22 Nov 2019 20:23:18 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=26032 On November 30th, millions of shoppers will head out to support local businesses in celebration of Small Business Saturday. Make it easy for your community to support you with these […]

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On November 30th, millions of shoppers will head out to support local businesses in celebration of Small Business Saturday. Make it easy for your community to support you with these last-minute marketing ideas.

1. Advertise around town 

Even if you’re crunched for time coming up to Small Business Saturday, you can take ten minutes to throw together a flyer advertising your promotions, then get help from friends and family to post them around town. Many hands make the work light, and those businesses who make time to promote their Small Business Saturday offerings stand to gain from extra foot traffic coming to check out the event. 

To spur the most traffic, be as specific as possible when advertising your special deals. For example, “15% off all home goods” is a much more exciting offer than generically saying “Saturday sales”.

2. Give staff a customer service refresher 

Refreshing employees’ customer service skills helps everyone provide a delightful experience so customers walk away from your store satisfied. In anticipation of Small Business Saturday crowds, go over common and uncommon scenarios with your team. This way, if someone needs a special order, or if there’s a problem with the credit card machine, employees know how to solve it efficiently.

3. Post on social media 

As you are getting ready for Small Business Saturday, post on social media to make business fans feel like a part of the process. You might post pictures of new holiday displays, share behind-the-scenes photos of inventory, or even post older photos, such as ones featuring store employees, who will be working on the big day.

When you post content on social media, don’t forget to share using seasonal hashtags like #smallbusinesssaturday to get found by local people curious who’s offering special deals on the shopping holiday. @ShopSmall is the offical social media account for the small business shopping day, so if you tag them in your posts, your message could be shared. 

4. Offer incentives 

You may not be able to compete with big box stores when it comes to door buster prizes, but you can still offer incentives to boost sales. This could be traditional discounts or buy-one-get-one offers. There are also other ways to add value—Small business owners might partner with a local charity to donate a percentage of the day’s profits, offer complimentary gift wrapping, waive shipping charges for online orders, or give away cookies and hot cocoa. Think creatively about what might entice shoppers to your store and add value to their holiday season.

5. Stay open late 

Given how many people make an effort to shop locally on Small Business Saturday, it stands to reason that by extending your hours, you will reach more people and sell more products. Open earlier or stay open late and blast your special hours across social media to lure the most foot traffic this Small Business Saturday.

6. Create a festive atmosphere 

If you haven’t done so yet, decorate your store for the holiday season. The earlier you do this, the better, as people browsing the neighborhood could be lured in by an enticing window display well before the official shopping holiday. 

Come Small Business Saturday, find ways to stay festive. For instance, invite a local musician to give a concert, offer hot beverages and snacks, or host demonstrations. Anything you can think of that would be attractive to visitors should go on a calendar, so that the day can be jam-packed with entertainment. 

7. Add a discount code online 

Many Small Business Saturday ideas focus on serving traffic in-store, since that’s the way the shopping event is traditionally celebrated. But why not take a second to put together a coupon offer for those who follow your brand but can’t make it into the store on Small Business Saturday? Create an offer (say, 15% off plus free shipping), then share it across your social media, store newsletter, and website. It’s another way you can generate sales while taking advantage of shoppers’ enthusiasm for local businesses.

It’s a lot to plan, but it’s well worth it for business owners: In 2018, consumers spent close to $18 billion on Small Business Saturday. Studies show that $68 out of every $100 spent remains in the community when people shop locally, versus $43 when people shop at chain retailers. Going all-in for Small Business Saturday not only helps you in your business goals but supports the wellbeing of your broader community. Keep that in mind as you make your last-minute preparations.

At Rocket Lawyer, we can help your business all year long. Check out more resources for running a small business.

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Small business funding resources for veterans https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/small-business-funding-resources-veterans-924840 Mon, 11 Nov 2019 17:20:27 +0000 https://www.rocketlawyer.com/blog/?p=24840 Are you a veteran and an owner of a small business? Learn about some resources and lenders that offer options for military veterans.

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According to the latest U.S. census data, roughly 1 out of every 10 small businesses in the U.S. is owned by a veteran. If you have served our country and are now considering starting your own business, there are several resources that can help you achieve your goals.

With 61.8% of veteran-owned businesses relying solely on personal or family savings to get up and running, many vets could benefit from outside funding. However, strict credit requirements at most banks and other mainstream lenders can make this a difficult task. Fortunately, many organizations specialize in providing financial support to veterans looking to become entrepreneurs.

Government resources

Small Business Association (SBA) Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan 

The SBA’s most popular program, the 7(a) loan helps vets find affordable funding for their small businesses. Longer terms and lower down payments make the 7(a) more manageable than many other traditional business loans. Loans of more than $125,000 may require an upfront guarantee fee, which is typically less than the fee levied to non-veteran applicants.

Veterans Affairs Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

The OSDBU specializes in providing assistance to businesses owned by veterans with economic disadvantages. In lieu of grants or loans, the office strives to provide these businesses with government contracts. After your business is registered and verified with the OSDBU, it will be added to their directory of eligible businesses and may be matched with a government contract. The VA also offers a similar program for veterans with a service-related handicap.

Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Self-Employment Track

The VA’s VR&E self-employment program helps vets with a service-related disability further their business goals. To qualify, you must be enrolled in the VR&E and have a service-related handicap that prevents you from finding suitable employment. Take a look at the full list of requirements to see if this program can help you get your business up and running.

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL)

While not ideal for all veterans, MREIDL offers low-interest loans for businesses facing financial hardship due to a vital employee being called to active duty. The loan is designed to help a small business cover its obligations until the employee returns and operations resume as normal. Veterans who have been released from active duty for less than one year are eligible to apply for the loan, which can be up to $2 million and have a term of up to 30 years. The program requires collateral for loans over $50,000. The SBA reviews all applications and will only approve funding for businesses that would otherwise be incapable of staying afloat.

Private lenders

StreetShares

Owned and operated by veterans, StreetShares specializes in helping fellow veteran business owners find loans that best fit their business goals. Flexible financing options include a lump sum loan, line of credit, and contract financing. A veteran team member walks you through the application process and will answer any questions you may have.

Hivers and Strivers

If you’re a U.S. military academy graduate looking to start your own business, Hivers and Strivers may be a good resource for you. This angel fund is operated by fellow academy graduates from West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard. They offer funding from $250,000 to $1 million for each round of submissions and may partner with other lenders for large investments. While there’s no guarantee that your startup plan will receive funding, it wouldn’t hurt to submit it for consideration.

Other resources

VetsinTech

Known for helping vets find education and employment in the tech industry, VetsinTech also offers financial workshops for vets looking to start their own businesses. The nonprofit organization offers a variety of programs to help you learn about funding strategies and choose the right type of funding for your startup. You can connect with industry leaders, ask questions, and pitch your ideas to a panel of business experts who can provide you with valuable feedback. While VetsinTech doesn’t provide direct funding, you may find its educational programs to be just as valuable.

If you’re a veteran and thinking about starting a business, Rocket Lawyer can help. We’re proud to assist veterans with their small business goals by helping them incorporate, make business contracts, and connect with attorneys at an affordable price.

To all the veterans and their families who serve: Thank you, from the Rocket Lawyer team.

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