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Should Regulations Impact Business Decisions?

Regulations at all levels seem to be increasing, and small businesses must make decisions about how to adapt in this environment.

Regulations Carry a Cost

Governments at all levels seem to be increasing the number of regulations that businesses must comply with. The federal government is adding requirements for employers related to health insurance, which has attracted a great deal of attention, while other rules attract less attention but also impact businesses.

Some states are more active in the regulatory process than others, but business owners must stay informed about changes in their state in addition to changes from the federal government. Local communities can also regulate businesses. Some communities require small businesses to provide paid time off for all employees who call in sick, for example.

Many regulations come with a cost. In some cases, the costs will be small. For example, small businesses with employees are often required to prominently display posters with information regarding different aspects of labor laws. Compliance with these regulations costs very little. Other regulations, such as those related to employer-provided health insurance, could create significant costs for small businesses.

Make Decisions Based on a Cost-Benefit Analysis

When the cost of compliance seems to be relatively high, small-business owners may be tempted to make emotional decisions. This should be avoided with an unbiased cost-benefit analysis. Considering benefits in addition to costs could highlight the advantages of a regulation, even one that comes with significant costs.

A template that can be used for a limited degree of analysis is provided by SCORE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed that has developed a partnership with the Small Business Administration. Detailed analysis, customized to consider all of the aspects that impact your business, should always be done. SCORE has more than 13,000 volunteers at local offices that can help you complete this type of analysis.


Michael Carr is a small business expert who has been involved in the successful development of three small businesses.