Ever since we started doing our “Ask the Expert” podcasts here at AllBusiness.com, we’ve been swamped with calls and e-mails from so many of you looking for answers to your business challenges. In case you’ve missed one of the podcasts, here are some of the questions we’ve covered. Be sure to tune in to the show regularly to make sure you’re getting all the latest information you need to take your business to the next level.
My husband and I are managing partners in our business and I would like to know what percentage of the company needs to be mine to make us a minority-owned company? We are currently in North Carolina and plan to expand to South Carolina and Georgia.
Allison in North Carolina
In order to qualify as an official WBE (Woman Business Enterprise) — at least in the eyes of the federal government, most state governments, and major corporations — you need to own at least 51 percent of the company in your name only. But it is important that you demonstrate that you are the individual who is actually in charge of the operations of the business.
This takes more than just your say-so. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to become certified as a WBE. While the federal government does not require you to undergo the certification process, if you are certified, it will make it easier for you to qualify for programs and take advantage of federal procurement opportunities.
If you want to become a designated WBE to take advantage of corporate procurement opportunities, in most cases you also must be certified. Certification normally makes it easier for you to do business as a WBE within your home state, although you should check the state’s specific requirements.
You can self-certify for federal procurement opportunities at the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). There are also two primary private organizations that certify WBEs. Check out the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the National Women’s Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC).
We are a $13 million company that began in 1992 with one employee. Now we have a little over 100 workers … and growing pains. I have primarily been in charge of organization and personnel and my husband [runs] sales and operations. Now we have three other staff members who are also involved in company decision-making (a plant manager, a controller, and an HR manager) and share equal power.
We are having territorial and power issues with them. Can you suggest a structure that would work well for us?
Jeanette in Ohio
I’m not sure if the power struggle is among your high-ranking employees or with you and your husband as well. So first, everyone needs to understand this is your business — you and your husband are the bosses and therefore should have the final word. That’s not to say these staffers shouldn’t have significant input, but you cannot run a business by committee.
Without knowing more specifics about your business it’s hard for me to say precisely how you should restructure. But, traditionally, the plant manager would report directly to you and your husband and the controller and the HR manager would report to the plant manager. At this point, that move would likely breed resentment and create havoc in your business. Perhaps the best solution would be to have all three of these positions report directly to you, but the plant manager needs to outrank the other two.
What type of insurance do I need to start a staffing business?
Noelia in California
I had to turn to the experts for this one. You can always get good, basic information by asking the industry trade association for advice. For staffing companies that would be the National Association of Personnel Consultants (NAPS). If you have connections, work your network. I asked my cousin, who owns Rockwood Search Associates, a professional search firm. He says you’ll need general liability, employer’s liability, staffing liability, worker’s compensation, and unemployment insurance coverages.
I am moving to Norfolk, Virginia, and want to continue to operate my home-based gift basket business there. What license do I need?
Tiffanie in Florida
Home-based businesses are regulated by local governments, not the state. You can wait until you move to the city and then contact city hall or go to http://norfolk.gov/business.
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