Time, Money, and Talent: Three Keys to Inclusive Small Business Giving

As we approach the end of the year, many Colorado small business owners are thinking about philanthropic giving. In addition to the need to vet a chosen charity, finding a variety of ways that allow you and your team to offer time, money, or talent can insure all employees have an opportunity to give and no one feels left out.

Small Business Owners Value Time

If you are a small business owner, you know how valuable your time can be. It probably comes as no surprise that some of your employees are in the same boat – they might clock out after a forty-hour week, but they go home to lives that are busy. Asking them to give up a Saturday to plant trees, or volunteer at a shelter might be asking for much more than they can give. Does that mean you should not offer volunteer opportunities to your team? Absolutely not; but you should make sure that any philanthropic activity you engage in is inclusive and allows your team members to donate time, money, or talent as they are able. Here’s how:

Create Tiers of Time

If you offer an opportunity to volunteer time, make sure you create tiers of time; try to break up the activities associated with volunteering time into two or three levels of giving. In the same way that we are often invited to give what money we can, we can offer employees the chance to give what time they can, rather than asking everyone to give up an entire Saturday for a good cause. By offering a variety of activities with different time requirements which each support the core giving activity, we can find good ways to accommodate someone whose weekends are filled with family members who rely heavily on them, or are unavailable for other reasons.

Money Can Be the Preferred Way to Give

For some of your employees, money can be the preferred way to give. The key to tying that gift to a team effort is connecting the giving that comes from your organization to the people that it benefits. Go beyond the typical thermometer measure of how much was given and make sure those who gave money can see the impact it had. Find some way to connect the gift to actual people, not just to the numbers benefited, or the amount given. When a connection is made, and the impact of the gift is felt, giving cash can be as rewarding an experience as volunteering.

Talent Takes Time and Money

Some organizations need your abilities and those of your employees more than your cash or volunteer hours. A third way to consider giving is to offer the services of your employees as part of their work day. A precaution here: when an employer directs an employee to volunteer, that time is compensable. The regulations state:

Time spent in work for public or charitable purposes at the employer’s request, or under his direction or control, or while the employee is required to be on the premises, is working time.

In many ways, giving talent is the most costly way for you to give to charity; but you may be able to get real bang for your buck from a philanthropic perspective. Look for opportunities where you and your employees can offer to serve in ways the general public cannot. In the same way a legal firm can offer pro bono work, your team may have desperately needed specialized skills or talent. If your team can truly experience or see the impact of their gift, it can have great value to your organization as well as to the charity.

Still not sure how to get started? Kim Jensen of the Denver Business Journal gives six excellent tips on where to start, including tips to broaden inclusion, and even involve your customers and clients! As always, If you need help vetting a charity, or understanding the rules associated with charitable giving, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

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Denver, CO 80209

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Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity

We all know people who are outrageously productive — the ones who seem to always have multiple balls in the air and can smile and juggle. How on earth do they do it?

The truth is that productivity is all about lifestyle habits. What do productive people do better than you, and in what order? As a small business owner, your life is busy enough with the demands of your business in addition to the demands of life in general. Here are five buckets productive people keep filled that might help you take back some of your time — and join those seemingly effortless jugglers you see around you.

This may seem obvious, but good sleep, healthy eating, and a willingness to take breaks during the day (real-deal breaks like a walk outside or the occasional five minutes spent anywhere but in front of a computer screen) put you way ahead of the curve in terms of energy, clarity, and creativity. Being responsible for a small business is not for the faint of heart; keep yourself in fighting shape.

Productive people know what they’re good at and how to make the most of the areas in which they — and others — excel. Do you need a CPA, a virtual assistant, or a freelance designer? They are only a few clicks away. Keep yourself focused on your area of business expertise and eagerly outsource the rest.

This one is a little trickier to manage in the traditional business world, but entrepreneurs with more flexible schedules can be all over it. We all know our most productive times of day. For example, if you’re in the business of blogging and the time you’re most in the flow is from 6 to 10 a.m., dive in deep then. If you’re a night owl and you offer an online service, structure your work hours to take advantage of your most productive self. And if you are in a 9-5 business, stack your day so that your the critical tasks and meetings fall at your best time.

Being a perfectionist takes a lot of time. You’ll find that productive people don’t give in to this, even though they may want to. Sometimes you just need to take action and not overthink. Getting things done means, occasionally, that something less important can be an 8 out of 10 instead of a 10. Everyone will live.

Deep down you know what’s urgent, what’s important, and what can wait. Any productive person knows how to set and hold boundaries around their to-do list. When you started your business, you knew what had to be done and in what order. Hold fast to that understanding and don’t be swayed by mini fires that can be extinguished by others — or left to smolder until you have time to stomp them out.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209

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Employment Practices Liability Insurance: A Critical Ingredient for Sustained Business Success

By Phil Chavez, Strategic Insurance Consultants

Today’s business leaders have enough to juggle without the added stress of employment practices liability. Unfortunately, employers and other business leadership are now more vulnerable to employment practices suits than ever before. In fact, according to Bloomberg BNA, employment-related lawsuits recently reached a record high, with more than 7,000 cases filed in the year-long period ending in March 2012. And the Dayton Business Journal explains that they grew 35 percent between 2007 and 2010 alone. Meanwhile, other estimates suggest roughly three out of every five employees will sue their employer at some point—it can happen in any size business no matter how careful you are.

This clear upward trend is due in large part to the economic climate—more layoffs and increased economic concerns mean more concerned individuals are looking for a new cash stream.

Fortunately, business leaders can protect themselves from this growing threat with employment practices liability insurance.

What You Need to Know About Employer Employee Liability

Before we discuss the value of this particular form of coverage, we’ll walk you through the key points of employment practices litigation. Suits alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill, are the most common and easy to track—they are indeed the source of the statistics mentioned above. But a series of other laws apply to business leadership, too, including the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Together, that legislation may give all your employees—past, present, and future included—grounds to allege that you or other business leaders have abused their rights as individuals and employees. This means your entire business is held responsible, including directors.

There are several grounds for litigation. Many are based on the simple fact that the FLSA is outdated, coupled with outdated state law provisions, which can make it difficult for employers to properly classify employees as exempt or nonexempt. This misunderstanding can be extremely costly, considering that uncompensated “work” performed off the clock can be grounds for suit years after the fact. Other potential grounds for litigation focus around questions of discrimination, which, as difficult as they may seem to prove or disprove, can take a heavy toll on your bottom line. Questions of wrongful termination are also common, with multiple forms of legal grounds.

Unfortunately, even if your leadership team is made up of only the most trustworthy individuals, every single director has the potential to be a target for a suit no matter how good their intentions may be. And even if you are able to prove innocence in a court of law, the expenses of mounting legal defense are costly.

This all changes when you have reliable employment practices liability coverage.

Finding the Right Employment Practices Liability Insurance for Your Business

The bottom line is that litigation alleging wrongful employment actions is costly and difficult to address—and instances of it are on the rise. That means that nowadays, a strategic business plan must take employment liability risk into consideration. The loss you might face from even a single suit filed by a single employee—current, past, and potential—could itself be devastating. Multiply that by current trends and you can see the clear importance of protecting yourself from this liability.

The best forms of employment liability insurance will cover all your directors and officers. A comprehensive insurance plan will protect you against allegations and, when necessary, mitigate damage.

It is all part of maximizing your business success by lowering the total cost of human capital and maximizing your return on investment.

Talk to your insurance provider about their employment liability solutions. Or, for a quote on cost-effective coverage that services your bottom line and enhances your risk management, contact Phil Chavez, Strategic Insurance Consultant, today.

Even business owners need to recharge

This week, I was fortunate to be able to take some time and watch the USA Procycling Challenge with my family. We spent a few days in a very friendly hotel in Aspen, drove through gorgeous Glenwood Canyon, and ended the week at Denver City Park watching the bicyclists finish the race. It made me think about a few business issues that all small business owners need to think about:

1. Location matters. At Flagstaff Mountain, there was someone at the base of the mountain selling cowbells for $5.00. My husband realized he had to have one. Even though my son got one for free in Aspen (thank you State Farm guy!), my husband decided that it was important for him to have one on Flagstaff and this was his opportunity. The people were making a killing because they knew that location mattered and those eager to join the festivities up the hill would pay the price they were asking.

2. Opportunities abound. I was shocked that at Denver City Park, no one was offering food or drinks for sale. If I had been a street vendor (even one of the guys with the cart that sells ice cream), I would have been there in a heart beat. The temperatures reached over 90 degrees and there was no one selling food (at least in the area we were in). There was a missed opportunity for someone that wanted to make a lot of money. I would have bought ice cream for both me and my son! (And maybe my husband, but he did get a cowbell the day before so maybe not.)

3. Taking time off can be good. Anyone that knows me, knows that I work a lot. Whether it is teaching seminars, meeting with clients, or writing that last minute contract (or blog post), I am typically doing something work related. This is the first time in a long time that I have taken off multiple days in one week (and okay, I’ll admit I scheduled a few things and did work the first part of the week). Every business owner needs to take a few days here and there to recharge. Whether you recharge by watching bicycling races, ballets, or gardening, you need to have some time to not think about work. Yes, you can cheat a little bit. However, as a business owner you will work more hours than you ever imagined – make sure that you work to live and not live to work all the time!

Next time, I’ll write about something a little more legal. But for now, this post is the last of the vacation of your small business lawyer! If you need legal help, please call or email me, your small business lawyer, at 720-258-6647 or elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Happy New Year Video

Happy New Year from the Law Office of E.C. Lewis P.C..  Welcome to our first video post!  We hope you enjoy it!  If there are topics you would like to see addressed in the future, please make sure to leave a comment.  As always, if you need specific help, please feel free to call me, your Denver business attorney, at 720-258-6647.

Happy New Years and Happy New Website!

If you haven’t been to the home of your small business attorney recently, then you have probably noticed some big changes!  As you can see, the website has been completely redone.  You can now find the newest stories on the homepage.  You can still find all the posts on the blog page.  This year, each month will have a different theme with articles posted about top tips for you to have the best business year ever!

So make sure to check back to find out if there are new posts that will help you!

If you have comments about the new look, please let me know!