Missouri-based business offers scholarship to students with small business experience

Hello again everybody! You all might or might not know that I’m the director of educational outreach at SuretyBonds.com, which is a surety insurance agency based out of Columbia, Missouri. We’ve recently established our first scholarship program targeting students with small business experience, and we’re trying to get the word out about it. I wanted to share it with the community here because I’m sure you know some students who are qualified for the scholarship. Maybe you’re even a small business owner who has a child getting ready to attend college.

Through our Small Business Success Student Scholarship program, SuretyBonds.com hopes to hear all about the small business experiences young entrepreneurs across the nation have gained, whether personally or from observing family members working to make a way for themselves. Three deserving individuals will win a $1,500 scholarship to use toward furthering their education at the college or university of their choice.

Josh Kayser, founder and general manager of SuretyBonds.com, said the following of the program.

“Most scholarships are based heavily on financial need. A lot of the qualifications required to meet this criteria don’t apply to small business owners and their children simply because of the way business owners have to present their financials to remain compliant. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that affording a degree is easier or less burdensome for these types of families, so I wanted to give them an option they might not have had otherwise to help offset those costs.

Furthermore, 99% of our clients can be classified as small business owners. Working with them every day — combined with being a small business owner myself — has given me a unique perspective of the struggles job creators in this country face every day. Running a business is tough, and it’s only been getting tougher these past few years. We’re blessed to be in a position of growth, so this scholarship program is our way of giving back to those who are on the ground floor, creating jobs, and fighting the good fight right along with us.”

The SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program is open to students in every state. All entries must be received no later than March 31, 2013, to be eligible for the contest. Applications may only be submitted online. Each student must submit a 500 to 1,000-word essay about “How small business ownership (personal, parent, grandparent, or legal guardian) has shaped you into the person you are today.” 

You can see the online scholarship program in its entirety here: http://www.suretybonds.com/scholarships

Five hidden costs of Missouri business startups

When creating a budget for your new Missouri-based business, you need to factor in every cost from the get-go to ensure you’re financially stable when you open shop. Unfortunately, the hidden costs that come with starting a business will hit you long before you ever open your doors. The following five expenses can be costly setbacks to Missouri business owners who fail to include them in initial budgetary plans. Small business owners working with limited budgets should take special care to set aside enough funds to cover these hidden costs.

1. License and registration fees

Licensing and registering your business as its own entity in Missouri could cost more than you might expect. Exact costs will vary depending on the type of business you plan to operate. The following are a few common license and registration fees for Missouri businesses.

  • Applying to register a business as a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) costs $30 for one general partner, $55 for two general partners, $80 for three general partners and $105 for four or more general partners.
  • Receiving a certificate for a business to be a Limited Liability Company (LLC)costs $105.
  • Incorporation fees range from $58 to $143 unless authorized capital exceeds $200,000, in which case the fee increases accordingly.

For information on additional license and registration fees mandated at the state level, contact the Missouri Secretary of State.

2. Surety bonds

Although most new business owners have never even heard of surety bonds, they certainly can be a financial setback. Government agencies frequently require surety insurance as a prerequisite to the business licensing process, which is why they’re also known as license and permit surety bonds. Surety bond premiums range from just $100 to thousands of dollars depending on the type of bond needed, its amount and fees charged by the surety provider. Before calculating a premium for the bond you need, your Missouri surety bond company will conduct a thorough review of your financial credentials. As such, an applicant’s credit score usually plays a role in determining the surety bond cost. Many surety providers offer premium financing plans for bad credit bonds so business owners don’t have to pay the full amount upfront. Small business owners who have trouble getting a surety bond through the commercial market can look to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Surety Guarantees for bonding assistance.

3. Background checks

Certain industries legally require business owners to conduct criminal background checks of potential employees before hiring them. Some business owners choose to conduct background checks as a part of the application process even when they’re not required to do so. No matter your reason for requiring background checks, they can become costly as you interview more and more prospective employees. Missouri background check pricing varies depending on the extent to which you want to investigate.

  • A name-based search costs $10 per request and includes “possible match” results of open record information only.
  • A fingerprint based search costs $20 per request and includes “positive match” results of closed/complete records.
  • Electronic image capturing (also known as livescan) for fingerprint-based applicant background checks costs $32.95 for each request at the state level and $52.20 for each request at the federal level.

Business owners can submit their requests for criminal background checks to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

4. Health insurance

Missouri business owners are not required by law to provide health insurance to their employees. However, doing so can be an attractive incentive for potential employees. The Missouri Department of Insurance explains:

The cost of health insurance for employees — by far the single most expensive benefit offered by employers — is one of the greatest challenges many small businesses face today. As business owners know, health insurance is a powerful tool for hiring and keeping the best workers.

New business owners might not initially realize how expensive it can be to provide health insurance for their employees. According to 2006 data from the federal government, the average premium for small group health insurance in Missouri was $365 per month ($4,385 annually) per employee and $790 per month ($9,476 annually) for family coverage. If you’re interested in providing health insurance as a benefit for your employees, visit the department’s website to find what plan best fits your business.

5. City and county licenses, permits and taxes

Depending on where exactly you plan to set up shop, how much you’ll have to pay in additional fees at the county and/or city level could be substantial. To determine what additional paperwork and associated fees you’ll have to provide, contact the city hall and/or county government offices that regulate your profession. Take further note that these hidden costs don’t only apply to business startups; they’re ongoing expenses that business owners need to prepare for each year. Failing to keep your business registered, licensed and bonded according to law can result in legal action, penalty fines and even license revocation. Keeping on top of all budgetary costs — even those oft forgotten — from the beginning will save you time, money and headaches later on.

 

Danielle Rodabaugh was born and raised in Missouri and currently works for SuretyBonds.com, which is based out of Columbia, Missouri. SuretyBonds.com works with new business owners every day, so the company’s educational outreach program provides educational resources to help working professionals operate their enterprises more effectively.