Written by Tom Gray Senior Vice President at Capalino+Company, in partnership with Marissa Mastroianni, Associate Attorney at Cole Schotz P.C.
New York City is notable for endless opportunities and dense variety of companies, products and ideas. Over 500 of the world’s largest companies are in Manhattan alone. But, growing or entering the New York market has proven to be extremely challenging for startups and established firms.
Regardless of size, expertise or success in other markets, there are risks in doing business in New York City if you are not equipped with the right combination of expertise, strategy, or partners. At our most recent Lunch and Learn event, we partnered with Marissa Mastroianni, Esq. from Cole Schotz P.C. to talk about compliance with employment laws and having a New York go-to market strategy. Let’s explore four major considerations that are crucial for regulatory and strategic marketplace success:
Gauge the Risk
An early task for any successful market entry in New York should be to determine the amount of risk associated with your business and formulate a plan to mitigate those risks.
For example, Wag! hired Capalino+Company to help it get ahead of impending regulation in the pet care industry in New York City. Wag! is an online pet care service that provides customers with on-demand dog walkers and sitters. Wag! sought out Capalino’s expertise to create and strengthen relationships with key policy makers and stakeholders. The company wanted to amplify its existing efforts to convey its platform’s safety and build trust within the community by implementing a community grant program and building hyperlocal relationships.
Before making your market entry in New York, you need to accurately gauge the amount of risk that you may face from local governments and other regulatory bodies. Having a plan to deal with any potential political snags will ensure that you survive the challenges that arise while working here. Without a plan in place to mitigate any circumstances that may arise, your business might not successfully be able to manage the everyday challenges.
Develop a New York City Specific Strategy
If your business is going to successfully enter the New York market, you are going to need a strong business development strategy that is focused and efficient. How are you going to develop as a business that appeals to New York City communities, stakeholders and the public or private sector? Are you going to focus on the private sector or are you going to try to sell to the government as well?
If you want to be successful in a fast-paced market like New York, you need to have a clear plan about where you want to head and how you are going to get there. Developing a strong business strategy is a great way to set goals and identify the steps that you need to take to get where you want to be as a business. Time is money in New York City, so efficiency is key.
Staying Compliant with Employment Laws
Determining whether your business complies with the applicable employment laws requires an in-depth analysis of company policies (both written and non-written) and practices, which vary greatly based upon the characteristics of the workforce and your company’s industry.
This analysis includes, but is not limited to: reviewing the employee handbook to ensure all necessary policies are included in the handbook and up-to-date; assessing whether the company is actually adhering to its policies in a consistent way; reviewing payroll practices and employee classifications to assure compliance with federal and state wage and hour laws; making sure robust complaint and investigation procedures are in place to handle employee complaints; ensuring adherence to any training requirements under applicable law (including anti-harassment training); taking a close look at recordkeeping practices to comply with all relevant laws; and ensuring that the company is posting/distributing statutorily required employee posters/notices.
Understand The Risks Around Employee Termination
Employers of all types and sizes desire to terminate problematic employees, but every termination comes with some level of risk that an employee will later file suit against the company. While the vast majority of employment in the United States is at-will, companies should still assess the risk for legal exposure when determining whether to terminate an employee. For example, terminating an employee who recently requested an accommodation for his/her disability or inquired about taking protected leave increases the risk level associated with the termination as the employee could sue the company for various employment claims. It is also relevant to assess the substance of written documentation (if any) to support the reason(s) behind the termination that could be used in defending the company against any potential claims. Overall, every termination is different and should be analyzed accordingly before the final termination decision is made.
Entering and staying in the New York market is tough, but it is not impossible. Successful entry takes planning, as well as working with local partners on the ground that know the City. At Capalino+Company we partner with companies like Cole Schotz P.C. to help identify and navigate political pitfalls, develop a strong business development strategy, and help companies implement a corporate social responsibility program. We work with our clients to enter the New York market, and ensure they succeed for years to come.
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