Customer Service and Your Business

Customer service has been an important part in the success of any business in the United States and around the world.  An increase in technological advances has made it possible for companies  to do business not only across states , but across the globe as well.

Unless you are a local mom and pop shop servicing a small town or city, globalization for you doesn’t mean much, but for many businesses, expansion seems like an obtainable goal they are trying to achieve.

Doctors, dentists, optometrists and other types of small business rely very much on customer service.  They are facilities that are specialized and serviced their communities, and rely on giving excellent customer service. But are they?

The front of your practice or the front of your retail store are the first welcoming sights customers see as soon as they enter the premises.  Great customer service begins there and then.  Many small businesses forget how important those first moments are when customers enter the store or  their private business. 

In the retail industry, research has shown how important customer service is for the prevention of shoplifting.  For many other industries where services are provided, great customer service means keeping your current customers and adding some more.  As a doctor, optometrist, dentist or other health care provider, the front office is as important as the service the health care professional is providing.

Do you have a private practice? Have you checked lately how the people in the front office greet and interact with your customers? Is that something that as the owner you find acceptable?

The front office of your private practice is a small window into the care customers might be expecting when they visit your practice.  Loud, obnoxious, and tactless front office personnel cannot be an acceptable choice for your practice even if they are great at paperwork.  If you find yourself questioning whether the way the front office employees behave while doing their job is appropriate, it might be time to relegate them to the behind the scenes office.  You might find that even though,  you as a doctor are providing excellent care, customers are unwilling to come back to your practice.

Adding new customers to your current list means good business.  Are you adding them or loosing them?  Do you know the reason why you are losing them?

Providing excellent customer care every single day, and not only providing good service but making sure you go beyond what is expected, is one of the ways some businesses across the globe are thriving while the competition is shrinking.


   

Employee happiness and Business Success

Regardless of what you hear from Congress or any other politician in Washington, American workers are not the best in the world.  As a nation, we are lacking in skills ranging from math, and problem-solving to literacy. The study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, shows the American labor force is not only not comparable to other equal nations, but we are falling behind.  The skilled workforce needed to fill basic job positions is not longer there, and hasn’t been there for many years now.

Finding and keeping talented employees has become a struggle for many businesses, and the perks these businesses are willing to offer to entice talented people are a sign of the shortage of skilled employees.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Keeping employees happy a key to business success

Business owners may want to pay attention to more than how many widgets their employees are making.

They also should consider how happy those workers are while making them.

Experts – and a boatload of research – agree that satisfied employees tend to work harder and smarter, which in turn can boost a company’s bottom line.

“An engaged employee who feels valued and fulfilled is more likely to go all in and be far more productive,” said Evren Esen, director of workplace analytics for the Society for Human Resource Management.

“They also are more likely to stay with an organization longer, which reduces turnover costs,” she said.

That might sound like common sense. But finding out what makes an employee happy and then doing things to engage them is not an exact science.

Most workplace studies and surveys concentrate on two main areas: tangible gains, such as salary and health care benefits, and intangible bonuses, such as respect and job security.


Good businesses, even universities, invest in their employees

If higher education truly wishes to help solve the world’s complex problems, it is essential that all voices get a seat at the table, including those of graduate student workers. At Washington University, we need to do more to ensure graduate student workers don’t have to choose between academic success and personal well-being.

We are “privileged to be here,” we graduate student workers are so often told, and we shouldn’t question issues of compensation if we are truly passionate about the work we do. But as long as Washington University insists that we are students only, graduate student workers receive none of the protections afforded to employees under the law, even while we are compelled to remain in this tenuous position in order to complete our degrees.

While Washington U. is ostensibly committed to its role as a beacon of higher learning in the St. Louis community, it is in fact run as a business — and an incredibly lucrative one, at that. But good businesses invest in their employees. By promoting the well-being of the whole employee, Washington U. stands to benefit from higher graduation rates, better job placement, better academic and teaching work, and a healthier spirit of collaboration between students and their faculty advisers.


Family philosophy behind Marlex Pharmaceuticals’ success

Savar Patel, president of Marlex Pharmaceuticals, believes employees go the extra mile for him and his brother Samir because of loyalty.

That mindset stems from Samir and Savar’s father Amrish, Marlex’s founder, who the brothers say was an employee-centric boss who never wanted to treat people badly.

“We’ve just continued on with that philosophy,” Savar Patel said.

That philosophy has landed the New Castle-area-based packaging and distribution company on The News Journal’s list of Top Workplaces four years in a row.

Marlex Pharmaceuticals was ranked first among small businesses in The News Journal’s annual Top Workplaces survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics of Exton, Pennsylvania.

The company engages in the distribution and packaging of pharmaceuticals. All products are made in the United States and distributed nationally, with access to every hospital, pharmacy and nursing home across the country.


 

Small Business and The Senate’s Health Care Bill

As a small business owner, do you offer health insurance to your employees?  Many businesses do not offer health insurance for their employees, and small business owners specially feel the pinch when offering health care coverage to them.  The Senate Health Care  Bill-if it passes-would alleviate some of the burden these small businesses feel, keeping in mind though that some other people would have to pick up the tab for it.

For more about this and other news, follow the links below.


Senate’s Health Bill Would Make Life Easier For Some Small Businesses

Some small-business owners burdened with high health care costs would get a break via an obscure provision in the health bill proposed by the GOP Senate. The provision would offer less regulation, more bargaining power and better prices.

But those benefits could come at a cost to others.

The clause, included in the proposal advanced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last month, would exempt insurance policies sold through “associations” from most Affordable Care Act mandates and state regulations. To be able to offer these plans to their employees, small businesses join an association, which may be loosely based on certain types of professional, trade or interest groups that offers insurance to members.


New Senate Healthcare Bill Slams Small Business Owners And Savers

Senate Republicans today released version 2.0 of their Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

This version of BCRA is a major lurch to the Left from the original BCRA and conservatives supporting this process have some things to think about.

A Tax Hike on Small Businesses and Savers

The major departure from the original BCRA is that v2.0 fails to repeal the 3.8 percentage point Obamacare surtax on capital gains, dividends, and other savings (the “net investment income tax,” or NIIT). It also fails to repeal the 3.8 percentage point tax bracket for the self-employment tax and the payroll tax ostensibly earmarked for Medicare

In failing to do so, v2.0 of BCRA raises taxes by over $230 billion over a decade relative to v1.0 of BCRA.


US small-business optimism dips in June, remains near high

A gauge of U.S. small-business confidence fell in June as business owners expressed frustration over gridlock in Washington, according to a National Federation of Independent Business report released on Tuesday.

The group’s Index of Small Business Optimism fell to 103.6 last month from 104.5 in May, although it remains near its highest level in more than a decade. The index surged following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president last November, and in January hit its highest level since December 2004.

The rise was largely attributed to business owners’ optimism surrounding Trump’s promises of deregulation, tax breaks and infrastructure spending.

But Congress’ inability to deliver on those promises has muted confidence as business operators grow wary of political infighting over the health-care reform legislation, and prospects for tax reform are uncertain.


 

Tools To Help Your Small Business Succeed

Small business owners are notoriously hard workers with long hours every single day of the week. Software tools and applications that make their business a bit easier have become more readily available with the current technology.  Documents, appointments, on line calendars and applications they can access through their phones or other devices have become commonplace.  Their business can truly travel with them, and can provide the much needed time to spend doing other more enjoyable things.

To read more about new business applications and other small business topics, follow the links below.


3 Financial Documents Every Small Business Needs

Columbia, S.C. (WLTX) – Happy Money Monday to our entrepreneur viewers. Today we’re covering the basics to help you understand the financial health of your business.

Here are 3 financial documents every small business needs:

1. Balance Sheet – This is a great way to provide a financial overview of your business. If you’re a visual person, this financial report will be easier for you to understand as it’s displayed as a chart. The left side shows what your company owns (aka your assets), while the right side will show you your expenses and equity.

2. Cash flow Statement – Similar to your budget for your personal finances, the cash flow statement shows how money comes and goes for your business. This helps you understand how your business is operating on a day-to-day basis and will help you answer the question, “How much is my business truly making?”


What is Yext and Can It Help Your Small Business?

It you’re looking for a way to automatically sync your business information across 50+ directories such as Google Maps, Yelp and Apple Siri, Yext presents itself as a possible solution.

Last week, the New-York based company filed paperwork with the US securities regulators to raise as much as $100 million in an initial public offering.

What is Yext?

Yext is a data management tool that is designed to keep track of your business’ location-related information on multiple directories. The software allows you to sync your:

  • Business Name, Address and Phone Number;
  • Business hours, products and services, holiday hours, photos and videos, staff bios, menus, and calendars;

Why your small business needs a mobile app

Many small businesses are unsure whether they need a mobile app, many believing that their mobile website is enough. Are you staying relevant?

Are you app-solutely missing the boat?

These days, we carry our smartphones everywhere. People are using them to play, order food, make purchases, do research, communicate, check reviews, read books, find love and generally get by day to day. Some people are even running their business from their phone! In fact, many of you probably prefer using apps over your desktop when it comes to things like checking emails, updating your social media accounts or checking your online banking.


 

Is Online Advertising Working For You?

For some small business owners, online advertising seems to be a no brainer.  You can use Facebook ads to advertise your business or products, you pay the fees, and you wait for the results to start coming. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  Facebook advertising takes work.  You must consistently test what is working for your particular business, before you can actually get any results.  It is true that for some businesses you do not have to do too much for the ads to work, but for the majority of small businesses, testing your ads to see if they are reaching the right audience, seems to be the only way to go. 


62 Percent of Small Business Owners Say Facebook Ads Don’t Work

Are Facebook ads ineffective, or is the problem user error?

In January 2017, Small Business Trends released the results of a survey of over 2,600 small-business owners, revealing that 62 percent of them believe Facebook ads are ineffective. With complaints of little-to-no ROI, these entrepreneurs say they will not use Facebook advertising again. Some experts, however, challenge this viewpoint, saying that properly targeted Facebook ads do indeed provide results.

“When businesses don’t see the results they hope for, it’s usually because they haven’t done enough testing on their ad copy, visuals, and the ideal combination of information to target the right audience,” says Vitruvian Digital Advertising founder Kristie McDonald.

Jeanine Blackwell, founder of The Launch Lab, agrees, saying that marketers aren’t asking themselves the right questions to determine an effective target market for their ad campaigns. “The problem is that most advertisers only use the simplest of criteria to let Facebook know who they want to see their ads, such as gender, age, and income,” says Blackwell.


The Best Accountability For Small Business Owners

When Beth Savage became the owner of PQ Systems, the first thing she did was put together an outside board. “Why not have a board that is there for the sole reason of helping you and your team succeed?” says Beth.

Many business owners are reluctant to create an outside board. Some believe that their company is unique, and a board of outsiders wouldn’t work for their company.

Others rationalize that they already get enough advice from employees, family members, and paid advisors—such as their attorney, accountant or bankers. Still others can’t see the purpose, and they want to hold on to what they see as their autonomy.


Abrams: Sexy small business start-ups

Looking for a small business start-up idea? You might want to look to the bedroom. Because, and I know this may shock you, sex sells.

Romance has been around since, well, Adam and Eve. Businesses related to romance continue to do well and are increasingly mainstream. This past Valentine’s Day, even Burger King got in the act. For a very limited time and only in Israel, the fast food chain included a sex toy in an “Adult Meal.” The story spread like wildfire on social media because who can resist anything to do with sex?

While most sex-based businesses are small businesses, they typically seem seedy and are, often, exploitative. But here are some sex and romance-related small business ideas you that can still tell your grandma about and that won’t land you in jail:

1. Online dating site profile writer. Ask people how they met their partner, and the most frequent response you’ll hear is “online.” But few people know how to write appealing dating site profiles. My senior editor, however, met the man of her dreams on OKCupid. “Before we write anything at work, we research,” she said. “I thought I better do the same thing.” So she figured out how to write a witty, quirky profile, which attracted her perfect match. Friends then started asking her to write their profiles. “This could be a full-time business.” If your customers break up, they need to update their profiles, which means repeat business.


 

Social Media For Your Small Business

By now, millions of small businesses have been using social media to boost their sales, their recognition, or their brand awareness.  Many of those businesses are very successful and continue to promote their business and engage their customer base using social media platforms to accomplish their goals.  Are you using social media to your liking?  Are you comfortable engaging and answering questions from customers using Facebook or other media outlets?  For more about this topic, follow the links below.


How to Use Facebook Live for Your Small Business

Should you be using Facebook Live for your business? Is it worth your time and effort? According to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), videos (live and otherwise) are viewed more than four billion times per day. And with Facebook giving priority to live videos in the news feed, you certainly may want to consider this service for getting your business message out.

So how can you make use of Facebook Live to engage with the platform’s over 1.1 billion active daily users, or at least those users who are likely to be customers? Here are a few tips.

Ways to Use Facebook Live for Your Small Business

Give an Inside Look at Your Business

As with Instagram Live or Periscope, you can use Facebook Live to give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and how it works.

You can also use the service to focus on an aspect of your business that your audience would be interested in.


Small Business: How do you become a ‘Social Media Maven’?

Stephanie Boyette Nelson, owner of SBN Marketing, calls herself a “Social Media Maven.” She is highly skilled in social media and search engine optimization (SEO). We met at Earl’s Grocery to talk about how keyword-rich contents help match people to a business. SBN Marketing capitalizes on the algorithms used by Google and other search engines to rank websites.

Nelson, 41, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from UNC Chapel Hill. After graduation in 1997, she started in a sales position with Philip Morris tobacco company, but quickly realized that it was not for her. She moved through several positions in corporate America, all the while developing her marketing skills through seminars and hands-on experience. Nelson noticed how the marketing world was changing from the traditional hard copy mailers to online platforms.


2 Ways Small Business Owners Can Reclaim Time Through Technology

It’s common knowledge that small business owners wear multiple hats. It’s part of the excitement and challenge of building your own business. But while it’s fun and rewarding to develop a strategy, work with clients, carry out marketing plans, improve your offerings, and track finances, it’s also time-consuming. Sure, most entrepreneurs can move mountains, but the last time I checked, there were still only 24 hours in a day.

Finding enough time in the day to check off important tasks is a huge challenge for small business owners. Prioritizing and trusting your intuition to determine what needs to be done (and when) is a constant juggling act. Still, even the most intrepid, energetic entrepreneurs can’t keep all those balls in the air forever. Sooner or later, they realize that there’s too much work to be done and not enough time to complete it.



 

Small Business News For February

The United States Department of Labor said last week that claims for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000.  That means that the unemployment benefits claims in the United States fell down more than 8% from last year. The unemployment rate is 4.7 and according to economists that can be considered full employment, making it a nine-year low in the United States.

For more about this and other news, follow the links below.


Small Business Ombudsman ‘fed up’ with banks refusing to change their ways

Australian banks have plenty of critics, and now they can add the Small Business Ombudsman to that list.
Kate Carnell, who has authored a report released today into banking practices, has found lenders are not being fair when they enter into contracts with small and medium-sized businesses.

“Across the board the contracts that were in place between banks and small businesses [were] simply unfair,” she told AM.

“Banks have all the power and the small businesses have no power at all and there need to be some change.”

The ombudsman’s report into banking practices has been released today by the Government.

It found that there is an unequal relationship between the banks and small and medium-sized businesses that borrow from them.


Local restaurants joining the coalition of Small Business United Against Hate

Mike Sherwood of Pizza Nea calls it “coming out of the closet for caring.”

Small business owners have a conundrum that cuts both ways: They don’t have the money or the clout to change laws or legislation the way big business does. All they have are their voices. But if they use their voices, certain customers could turn against them.

“It’s a big risk,” says Sherwood, who came out as proudly anti-Trump on his business social media pages early and often. “Minnesota is 50/50 [politically].”

But, as another small business owner put it in a grassroots meeting on Tuesday night, “Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.”

John Sugimura owns PinkU, the modern sushi restaurant that recently opened in northeast Minneapolis. He chose the name, which means “pink” in Japanese, because in that language, it also has connotations of “peace” and “democracy.” He wanted to always gently remind himself of where he came from. Sugimura is a longtime social advocate and activist, but his recent conversion to restaurant owner has taken him out of his usual circles.


Hiring Rebound at Small Businesses in January, ADP Says

HIRING REBOUND: Small businesses more than tripled their number of new jobs in January, adding 62,000, according to payroll provider ADP. That’s up from 18,000 in December, and in line with the average of more than 62,000 per month in 2016. ADP counted the number of jobs at its small business customers, those with up to 49 staffers.

Small businesses were part of an overall trend of stronger job growth last month. ADP reported that businesses of all sizes added 246,000 jobs last month, up from December’s 151,000.

WHAT IT MEANS: The figures suggest that employers are hiring again after scaling back their payroll expansion in the second half of last year. The arrival of the Trump administration, which was welcomed by many small business owners, may have encouraged them to take some more of the risks they’ve been avoiding since the recession, including expanding their staffs. Many owners have said in surveys they’re not willing to hire unless their revenue is strong enough to justify the added expense.

WHAT ELSE TO LOOK FOR: Employment reports later this week from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Labor Department will give different perspectives on job growth, but will nonetheless help reveal owners’ sentiment about their companies and the economy. The NFIB surveys its members, while the government report will look at hiring across the private sector. It will not break out figures by company size.


 

Business News For The New Year

For many small business owners, the new year brings new challenges, but also many fantastic opportunities for their business.  Many small business owners reflect on the opportunities they had, and let them passed.  Was marketing their business effective this year?  Were the products and promotion adequate? Looking back at 2016, many businesses are already making changes, and preparing for the new year.  If you are one of those businesses, we wish you luck and hope all the goals for 2017 come your way.  Happy Holidays!


Cures Act: Small Business Provision Gives Employers More Health Plan Options

Small business owners will ring in the New Year with a new law that allows them to offer certain health benefits through qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSEHRAs) without facing a huge penalty.

President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, to which the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act was added, on December 13, 2016. The bill comes during a time when small employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees have had limited options when looking for the best individual health plans for their employees. Previously, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), small employers had been prohibited from helping pay for employees’ individual health insurance through health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), risking fines up to $36,500 per employee.

HRA fines under the Affordable Care Act

There was a time when HRAs were legal and they were extremely beneficial. HRAs for individual health insurance plans had historically been a useful tool for small employers who wanted to help employees pay for their out-of-pocket expenses.


Just 23 Percent of Small Businesses Expect Increased Sales This Holiday

The holiday cheer seems to be missing for small businesses.

Small Businesses Are Anticipating Slow Holiday 2016 Sales

A new survey reveals only 23 percent of small businesses are expecting an increase in sales this holiday season. That’s down 29 percent a year ago.

Businesses are Optimistic Overall

On a positive note however, Capital One’s latest Spark Business Barometer, has found despite the drop in sales expectations, the overall small business sentiment seems to be improving.

Forty-nine percent of business owners reported “good” or “excellent” business conditions in their area heading into 2017. That’s an increase of eight points compared to the first half of 2016.

“It is encouraging to see many businesses improving their outlook about the future, after a brief dip in confidence earlier this year. While concerns related to costs and regulations still exist, we are glad to see that optimism is on the rise,” said Buck Stinson, Head of Small Business Card at Capital One (NYSE:COF).


Your small business can afford a CTO. Here’s how

So you’re thinking about hiring a CTO, or chief technology officer, for your startup —or dreaming about it, at least. Having someone to focus on IT best practices, disaster recovery planning and the implementation of cloud technology so that you can focus on doing what you love would be an absolute dream —perhaps an unreachable one,you think.

The national average salary for a CTO is nearly $165,000, according to Glassdoor. What small business has that kind of money lying around? You’ve perusedrésumés of independent contractors, but hiring one seems risky. Who says they’ll perform? There is a safe, affordable happy medium, and it comes in the form of an MSP, or managed service provider, that can offer you the CTO services you need in an affordable, à la carte fashion, according to the information technology experts at Frontier IT in Colorado Springs.

Why do small and new businesses need CTOs? Why does outsourcing this position makes sense for so many start-ups? How can you arrange CTO services for your company? The experts at Frontier IT answer these questions.


 

Small Business Saturday

small-shopNovember 26, 2016, is Small Business Saturday.   More than 16 billion dollars were spent last year at small retailers across the nation according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and this year many believe will be bigger.  If you are a small business, this holiday weekend is sure to provide you with the extra sales you were hoping for and the extra income many small businesses need.

For more about Small Business Saturday, follow the links below for more information.


8 Ways To Boost Sales Using Social Media This Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday, was created to shift attention from big box stores to the smaller mom-and-pop shops offering carefully curated product selection and gift ideas you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a celebration of everything that makes small businesses special.

To take advantage of the spotlight being shone on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26, 2016, make sure your business is leveraging social media to get the word out. Here are eight tactics to use:

1.Use The Hashtag #ShopSmall

On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, use the hashtag #ShopSmall to allow customers to easily find information about your business and to alert them that you’re participating in Small Business Saturday. And use the hashtag yourself to search social media for other ideas for promoting your small business during this busy time of year.


Small Business Saturday is expected to be busier than ever

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Politicians and the Small Business Administration’s District director visited several small stores in Lakewood on Monday, a grass-roots marketing effort to bring attention to Small Business Saturday this weekend.

“We were in Lakewood to highlight Small Business Saturday which comes after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday because we want to encourage people to shop small this coming Saturday,” said Gil Goldberg, the SBA district director. “But we could have been in any town, city or village in Northern Ohio to illustrate the support that merchants in the community provide.”

Goldberg was joined by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers.

Last year, Small Business Saturday packed a big punch to the U.S. economy: 95 million consumers shopped in small and local retailers and restaurants and spent $16.2 billion, nearly triple ($5.5 billion) what consumers spent  with small retailers in 2012, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The shopping day was first started by American Express. The idea came about during the recession in 2009, and officially launched a year later. At the time, the nation was still recovering from the financial crisis, and eventually lost about 200,000 small businesses.


Rosenberry: Shop small business Saturday

Black Friday is almost here, which means the Christmas shopping season has officially begun.

More power to you if you want to fight the traffic and the crowds. But don’t forget: You also can get deals on Small Business Saturday — which happens just one day later.

In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to scope out a small business that’s new to me, someplace I’ve never been; and I found the perfect place — a cute little craft store with a big heart.

Craft Bits & Pieces is located in Fairport’s Village Landing plaza. Unlike most places you may shop this holiday season, Craft Bits & Pieces’ sole purpose is a charitable one. It raises money for Perinton’s Senior Options for Independence, care management and transportation programs.

The shop relies on more than 50 volunteers to collect, sort, clean, package and shelve thousands of items donated every week. The shop has three part-time managers and is overseen by Joanne Haag, executive director of the Fairport/Perinton Senior Living Council.

True to its name, Craft Bits & Pieces is a crafter’s dream store, stuffed with fabric, notions, buttons, scrapbooking supplies, yarns, needles, dried flowers and more. Plenty of delights for non-crafters also line the shelves, including home decor items, glassware, jewelry, puzzles and books.


 

Retirement For The Small Business Owner

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Many small business owners work way past the time they can retire.  The reasons are simple:  They enjoy their business and the challenges they face day in and day out.  Many small business owners take an active role in their business even if the reins have been passed down to their business partners or their children. Financially, many small business owners are prepared.  Others do count on their retirement that they have set aside, but believe social security will provide some of the funds they need to live well during their retirement years.  If you are a small business owner and need help funding your retirement ,or don’t know where to start, follow the links below for more information.


Captain401 Raises $3.5 Million to Help Small-Business Employees Save for Retirement

Captain401 Inc. has raised $3.5 million in seed funding to help small businesses and startups give their employees retirement savings help similar to that of larger and deeper-pocketed employers.

The company’s site and service allows an employer to set up a 401(k) retirement savings plan for employees in minutes, without the paperwork, manual administration, repetitive data entry and high fees affiliated with traditional retirement plan providers like MetLife MET -0.47%, Fidelity, or Charles Schwab SCHW -2.45%.

And once employees enroll, it helps them set goals and automatically invest towards meeting them.

Investors in Captain401 include SoftTech VCSV AngelY CombinatorCrunch Fund,Slow VenturesSusa VenturesFundersClub and several individual angel investors including NerdWallet co-founder Jacob Gibson and Stripe Chief Technology Officer Greg Brockman.

Captain401 co-founder and Chief Executive Roger Lee said he was inspired to help small businesses extend a 401(k) plan to their employees while earlier working an advertising tech startup, PaperG, which is still in business.

“I’m an advocate of personal financial health, and it’s the right thing to help employees save for the future and on taxes,” he said. “But without a full-time HR person, accountant and the like, it took us years to offer a 401(k) benefit, even though that would be a basic part of an offer to employees from a larger company.”


Retirement planning steps for small-business owners

According to the Small Business Association web site, there are 28 million small businesses in America — and that number is growing. For many of these entrepreneurs, their business may be their single largest asset.

So what happens when it’s time to retire?

Often, the business owner may look to cash out of the business either by selling it or by passing it on to family members. In both instances, the business owner needs to have a succession plan in place well before he or she plans to retire.

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t have a written succession plan. According to the Financial Planning Association/CNBC Business Owner Succession Planning Surveyreleased in 2015, 78 percent of respondents said they plan to sell their businesses to fund their retirement, and that the proceeds are needed to fund 60 percent to 100 percent of their retirement needs. Yet, less than 30 percent actually have a written succession plan.

The goal of a succession plan is to allow an organization to continue to conduct business even in the event of a key individual’s departure — whether that departure is planned (such as through retirement) or unplanned. While business succession planning is critical to the survival and stability of any organization, it also is crucial to the retirement goals of millions of aging baby boomers.


 Small businesses could pool retirement plans under Obama proposal

President Barack Obama wants small businesses to help more Americans save for retirement.

One-third of American workers don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work, and many of them work at small businesses. Only half of employees at businesses with fewer than 50 employees have access to a retirement plan through their employer, according to the White House.

As part of his upcoming budget plan, Obama wants to encourage more small businesses to offer retirement plans by making them easier to administer and providing tax credits to offset some of the costs.

His proposal also includes a new mandate for employers to make part-time workers eligible for their retirement plans. Workers who have worked for at least 500 hours per year for a company for three years would be eligible for this benefit.

This mandate is opposed by the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Many small businesses have a handful of full-time employees and larger part-time workforce,” said NFIB Research Director Holly Wade. “If they’re forced by the government to offer retirement benefits to everyone, some may very well discontinue the plan altogether. That would be a classic unintended consequence.”