January 1, 2019: Ohio's Minimum Wage Will Increase

Ohio’s minimum wage will increase by twenty-five cents on January 1, 2019, to $8.55 per hour for non-tipped employees.  Tipped employee wages will increase to $4.30, a fifteen-cent increase from 2018. 

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    See here for an Ohio Department of Commerce poster for employers to display in their work space: https://www.com.ohio.gov/documents/dico_2019MinimumWageposter.pdf

    While the federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 an hour since 2009, Ohio voted in 2006 for Ohio’s minimum wage to increase on January 1 of each year by the rate of inflation.

    The new minimum wage will apply to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $314,000 per year.

    For employees at smaller companies with annual gross receipts of $314,000 or less per year after January 1, 2019, and for 14- and 15-year-olds, the state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour – tied to the federal minimum wage.

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    Next up: JobsOhio Talks Successes, Core Strategies with GCP Member Companies

    JobsOhio Talks Successes, Core Strategies with GCP Member Companies

    GCP hosted John Minor, President and Chief Investment Officer of JobsOhio for a morning conversation with GCP members and a briefing with the Northeast Ohio state delegation. Minor, along with JobsOhio’s senior director of strategy, sales and research Andrew Deye, discussed the organization’s niche focus on business development and growing efforts to address talent attraction for companies through tailored solutions. Minor highlighted the organizations efforts to continuously boost Ohio’s brand and the competitive advantage the state – and its unique regions – have for companies that are looking to locate and grow here. 

    JobsOhio was created in 2011 as the private economic development entity to drive business growth in Ohio. According to statistics from the organization, more than 459,000 new private sector jobs have been created since 2011. GCP was a vocal supporter of JobOhio’s creation and is a key player in the regional network of partners that work with the organization to drive business attraction, retention and expansion efforts in Northeast Ohio. 

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    Next up: Join Your Cause And Make Your Voice Heard

    Join Your Cause And Make Your Voice Heard

    Ohio’s Primary Election has concluded, but the General Election will be here before you know it. No matter your personal political beliefs, choosing to exercise your right to vote is central to what defines our country as a democracy. While some might have already grown tired of the constant campaign coverage at the federal level and believe their individual voice is not heard throughout the process, there are concrete actions you can take as a member of the business community to ensure we help elect state and local candidates who support your work.

    Ohio’s Primary Election has concluded, but the General Election will be here before you know it. No matter your personal political beliefs, choosing to exercise your right to vote is central to what defines our country as a democracy. While some might have already grown tired of the constant campaign coverage at the federal level and believe their individual voice is not heard throughout the process, there are concrete actions you can take as a member of the business community to ensure we help elect state and local candidates who support your work.

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    The Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is non-partisan and serves as the respected, unified voice for businesses of all sizes and industries in our region. Our role is to provide you with a vehicle for concerted political action and the GCP PAC provides an opportunity to educate key decision makers on the issues that are important to you. The dollars contributed through GCP PAC are used to provide support for state and local governmental leaders campaigning for election who share your interests. 

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), and our partners advocate on your behalf, for your public policy priorities, and on a daily basis while you focus on achieving success for your small business. The key ingredient to our success, however, is your participation. Consider joining your cause and contribute to the GCP PAC today

    What questions do you have about the GCP PAC?

    What can we be doing better to serve your advocacy interests? Tell us.

    Please note individuals, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships and sole proprietorships can legally make contributions to a PAC. Contributions must include itemized allocations by partners in partnerships or members of a LLC. Ohio law prohibits other corporate political contributions.

    Your participation in the GCP PAC is completely voluntary. Donations are not tax-deductible and will be used for political purposes. An individual may contribute up to $12,532 annually to an Ohio Political Action Committee. You may choose not to participate without fear of reprisal. You will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of your contribution or decision not to contribute.

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    Next up: Tips for Your Business: Keep Up With Your Growth

    Tips for Your Business: Keep Up With Your Growth

    In the 25 years I have worked with business owners, coupled with my role as an active COSE volunteer and leader, I’ve met few business owners who don’t want to see their business grow! And, I’ve met a lot who have been able to find a way to engineer that growth. But, growth can result in things that don’t fit anymore. Unfortunately, some owners don’t recognize they have to make changes to what they do so their financial management practices can keep up with their business success. What are some of the challenges an expanding business can face? Here are three of the most common traps I’ve found. 

    In the 25 years I have worked with business owners, coupled with my role as an active COSE volunteer and leader, I’ve met few business owners who don’t want to see their business grow! And, I’ve met a lot who have been able to find a way to engineer that growth.  

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    But, growth can result in things that don’t fit anymore. Unfortunately, some owners don’t recognize they have to make changes to what they do so their financial management practices can keep up with their business success.

    What are some of the challenges an expanding business can face? Here are three of the most common traps I’ve found. 

    Failure to keep up with your growth. With new sales, client demands, needs to staff up, produce more or expand suppliers, the basics of billings and collections can sometimes be neglected. Owners need to have just a few basic reports that they look at least weekly to identify these “cash killers.” Getting too far behind is going to require taking a break from growing the business to just putting your financial house back in order.  

    Not knowing when to ask for help. At some point, the owner of a growing business realizes they need help but sometimes it’s not soon enough. There are a lot of advisers out there you can get engaged in your business. While you might not think you need an accountant because you’ve got it covered with QuickBooks, there is a lot more an accountant can bring to your business that will help you keep your eye on growth. Get someone involved early to avoid problems later with accessing capital, managing cash processes or worse yet – dealing with an audit or other consequences of growth.  

    An inability to let go. Too many owners hold on too long to the detailed operations of the business. There are technologies and processes that can be easily outsourced and don’t need daily attention. Payroll, accounts payable, bookkeeping – these are all time consuming beyond their value as a function for the owner going through growth. Look for ways to put these processes on auto-pilot so you can get back to driving the growth of your business. You don’t need to hire more people for a lot of these things – so much can be easily outsourced and still under control with parameters the owner sets.

    If you can avoid these traps, your business should grow and improve. Connect with your trade organizations, COSE or other business owner groups to find a group of advisers and partners that can help you focus on what you do best and accelerate the growth of your company.

    Rion Safier is the owner of Rion Safier Accounting LLC, providing accounting, tax and outsourced services to businesses, 
    organizations and individuals.

    Want more expert advice? Check out Linktunity, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions for the tough questions they face every day. 

    This article originally appeared in the August 17, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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    Next up: Keeping Your 'Social' Professional

    Keeping Your 'Social' Professional

    Social media has created a gray area between personal and professional life. Make sure you’re staying on point even when utilizing these more casual platforms to promote or represent your business.

    For some business people, social media can be a little confusing. 'Social' in business is not the same as 'social' in life. It’s important that we understand the difference and how to engage if we want to connect effectively.

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    While it is true that people do business with people, there is a line you don’t want to cross. 'Social' doesn’t mean talking about any, and every, thing. There is a professional way to be social.

    Wherever we choose to interact online we should err on the side of professionalism. This means considering what we are posting, where we are interacting and what we hope to achieve.

    Some social media platforms have opportunities for businesses and people to participate. Take Facebook, for example: You can have a personal profile where you connect with friends and family. You can also have a business page, where you engage with customers and prospects. Both have value. The difference is this—you don’t want to talk a lot about business on your personal profile. And, you don’t want to talk about personal things on your business page.

    When you have a meeting with a prospect, or a client, how personal do you get? Probably not very, unless you know him or her well. That same level of professionalism should be used online. Building business relationships is a process. We build them with respect, patience and curiosity.

    Respect

    Use each platform the way it is meant to be used. LinkedIn is a professional site. There is no opportunity to post personal information here. This is a place to build business relationships. Remember, you can communicate privately on any social media platform. When you are publicly posting, respect the platform you are on. Ensure your posts are proper for the audience.

    Patience

    Relationships take time. Be patient with the process of building. Assuming you have a deeper relationship too early into the process can backfire. An example of this is connecting with someone and then trying to pitch them on your product or service. Social media is not the place for fast sales pitching. As a matter of fact, it’s the best way to alienate people.

    Following the idea that relationship building happens over time, you can use social media platforms to assist you in the process. Once you connect with someone online you can suggest a phone call or short meeting so you can get to know them better. You can share something you find interesting with them and engage in conversation over time.

    The question to ask is, “Why are you connecting with someone?” The answer should be, “To build a relationship with them.” The answer isn’t, “To sell them something.” Gaining a sale happens once you’ve earned trust. Trust happens over time. So, if you focus on building the relationship, instead of the sale, you’ll not only gain a sale where it makes sense, but you’ll probably gain a great referral source.

    Curiosity

    One of the most important skills is curiosity. And I mean, real, intentional interest in others. When you are curious about people, events and ideas, you will always act with an eye toward learning, not selling. This will also help you keep your interactions professional.

    We run into trouble when we try to get others to buy from us. We can confuse how social we should be. Crossing that line can do real damage to our reputation, and therefore our efforts to connect. Ask yourself the question, “What does that other person want to know?” If you engage online with a focus on what matters to others you will surely maintain a proper level of professionalism. Your 'social' will be on the right track. The results will be what you are looking for. And the relationships you build will serve your business over time.

    Diane Helbig is owner of Seize This Day Coaching.


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    Next up: Launch a Digital Marketing Program That Will Build Your Business

    Launch a Digital Marketing Program That Will Build Your Business

    During the Think with Google workshop, the search-engine behemoth’s experts explained how small businesses can leverage digital marketing to help grow their business.

    The benefits online marketing can have on a business have been proven to be pretty clear. According to Google data, slightly more than three out of four people (76%) who search on their smartphones for a product or service nearby end up visiting a related business within a day. Further, four out of five consumers (80%) have used a search engine when looking up information about local businesses.

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    While there is certainly a lot of value to be had in online marketing, getting started can prove daunting. During a session titled, “Intro to Online Marketing” at the recent Think with Google workshop held in Cleveland, experts laid out an actionable plan that small business owners can follow to help get them started down the digital marketing path.

    Here’s what they had to say.

    4 questions to ask first

    Before you dive headfirst into the world of online marketing, it’s important to have a plan. Four questions you should ask yourself are:

    • Why do you want a website?
    • Who is your ideal audience?
    • How will you reach them?
    • How will you measure success?

    Digital marketing channels

    Once you have given some thought to these high-level questions, it’s time to start considering the different digital marketing channels you have at your disposal. These include search engine optimization; content marketing; social media marketing; email marketing; and mobile marketing.

    During the session, the Google team went through each of these platforms and identified the best way to optimize each of the channels.

    Search engine optimization

    Search engine optimization (also commonly referred to as SEO) will help potential customers discover your business on search engines, such as Google. Some tips to keep in mind to help improve your SEO are:

    • Keep the information on your website as organized as possible.
    • Ensure your content is useful and original.
    • Include text links within the content.
    • Create good titles and descriptions for the pages on your site.
    • Monitor how long it takes for pages on your site to load.
    • Optimize the images on your site, such as providing a relevant image at a reduced file size for quick loading (and don’t forget to include a caption for easier scanning of the page.)

    Content marketing

    Think of content marketing as weaponized storytelling. You are providing useful information to your audience while promoting your business at the same time. Here are three things to include in your content marketing program:

    • Write “how to” articles that guide your audience through common challenges they might face and how your product or service is able to help.
    • Think about using “top 10 lists” or other “listicles” on topics related to your industry. Prior studies have shown that using odd numbers and the number 10 in your listicle headline are the most likely to be clicked on.
    • Provide educational material that, again, promotes your business while also acting as a value-add for customers.

    Social media marketing

    Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other platforms, social media marketing can be another effective way to reach your customers.

    Content on your social media channels should be:

    • entertaining and engaging;
    • useful and actionable;
    • visually appealing; and
    • intentional.

    Email marketing

    Email marketing has been consistently shown to be one of the highest ROI digital marketing channels. And the best marketing emails all share the following five characteristics:

    • clear subject lines;
    • a call to action;
    • correct spelling and grammar;
    • personalized content for recipients; and
    • designed with mobile viewing in mind.

    Mobile marketing

    Speaking of mobile, as mentioned earlier that has become a growing force among consumers today. When developing a mobile-friendly site, give careful thought to:

    • how people are navigating the site;
    • its homepage;
    • the ease with which people are able to complete tasks on the site; and
    • ensuring any forms on the site are easy to fill out.

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