Five Things Small Businesses Need To Know this Fall

What do small business owners need to pay attention to this fall? Heath care, Internet security and new technology make the list. Here are five things that small businesses need to be on top of over the next several months:

HEALTH CARE

Small business owners who bought employee health insurance policies before the end of 2013, sidestepping the law's requirements for a year, could pay between 10 percent and 20 percent more when it's time to renew, says Michael Stahl, chief marketing officer of HealthMarkets Inc., a broker based in North Richland Hills, Texas. They'll also have to decide on plans. Policies issued under the law have significant changes including the requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered. Some owners may decide it's better if workers purchase their own government-subsidized coverage on health insurance exchanges.

Companies whose coverage took effect Jan. 1 of this year and complied with the law could see increases between 5 percent and 10 percent for 2015, Stahl says. Not all small business owners will have to make these decisions this year. Employers with 50 to 99 workers have until 2016. Companies with fewer than 50 workers are exempt.

INTERNET SECURITY

Home Depot Inc.'s news that it was hacked should prompt small businesses to improve Internet security, says Charles Tendell, CEO of Azorian Cyber Security in Denver. Small companies tend to be vulnerable to hacking because many don't have strong Internet security.

Businesses should install software designed to protect computers from viruses and what's called malware, programs used to harm computers or steal information, Tendell says. If companies offer WiFi to customers or visitors, it should be separate from their operations. Owners should consider hiring an Internet security expert who can show them where their vulnerabilities are and suggest a solution, Tendell says. Owners should also train employees to help avoid hacking attacks.

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