State of the AWA 2019

At the recent AWA Annual Members Meeting, President Neil Peterson had the following remarks for members:

As John Maxwell said, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”  As small business owners and entrepreneurs, AWA wants to help you take advantage of change to help your business grow. We understand that flexibility and affordability continue to be key objectives as you tackle the challenges of starting and growing a business.

In 2019, AWA introduced a new financial coaching resource through My Secure Advantage to help you plan and achieve your financial goals in any stage of life. MSA provides assessments and action plans to get you on the road to success.

Looking forward to 2020, you told us that AWA members want more benefit options to provide to their small business employees. We have partnered with FCL Dental to provide additional supplemental dental membership benefits at competitive prices. We continue to research other resources and benefits that can help you as you grow your small business and provide more options to your employees.

As always, your feedback is incredibly important as we navigate the changes and challenges facing our members. Be sure to follow our progress as we continue to grow as an association and expand the resources small business owners and entrepreneurs need for success in this new economy.  Find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for the latest solutions that work hard on your behalf.  Thank you for your continued support as we head into the new year.


Neil Peterson

State of the AWA 2018

If you missed the recent AWA Annual Members Meeting, here is an excerpt from President Neil Peterson's comments:

As 2018 wraps up, we are pleased to report on the progress of the Affiliated Workers Association over the past year.  With the continuing changes in the healthcare landscape and small business world, AWA is committed to providing industry-leading benefits and value for its members. We heard from you through our member survey that AWA can help you best by providing affordable tools and resources to help you manage your and your employees’ health care costs.

With that in mind, AWA was pleased to announce updated terms limits for the Precise Choice Short Term Medical membership to allow more flexibility for our members to help during transitional times. We are also pleased to announce a partnership with Amalgamated Life Insurance Company to provide term life insurance benefits to our members for 2019.  Be sure to check your emails for more information about adding guaranteed-issue, term life to your membership. We’ve also been working with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council to provide more advocacy resources for you and your small businesses.  Be sure to follow AWA on Twitter and Facebook to receive regular updates from our new advocacy resource – SBE Council.

We appreciate your feedback and look forward to continuing to research and provide new benefits that meet the challenges our members face as small business owners and entrepreneurs.  2019 promises to be an exciting year for our association, as we bring new value to you.  AWA remains committed to ensuring you have access to resources and benefits that you deserve and will help you take control of your finances, wellness and the success of your small business.


Neil Peterson

Depression and Entrepreneurs

With the tremendous stresses, problems and pressures facing an entrepreneur, depression can often be an unwanted side effect. Fashion designer and entrepreneur Kate Spade's recent death has been a loss to so many, and a reminder that mental health illnesses can affect anyone, regardless of wealth or public perception. 

More than 16 million American adults or 6.7% of the adult population have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Entrepreneurs are particularly at risk: 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed were dealing with at least one mental illness and about one third of entrepreneurs struggle with 2 or more mental illnesses, according to Inc. magazine.

Depression affects people in different ways. With the isolation that entrepreneurs experience and the long hours they are working, many times entrepreneurs aren't taking care of themselves. Entrepreneurs typically devote less time to sleep, leisure, exercise and other activities that can ward off depression. Anxiety hits entrepreneurs as well due to the pressure that most are under.  They can be constantly worried about their business and brand succeeding.

It’s important to watch for warning signs that our loved ones may be dealing with depression and anxiety and having thoughts of suicide.

Warning Signs:

  • Talking about suicide or wanting to hurt themselves
  • Frequently talking about death
  • Feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Abrupt change of mood – from sadness to happiness or calm
  • Depression symptoms – deep sadness, loss of interest in activities, trouble sleeping or eating
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Risk-taking behavior such as recklessness

Along with these behaviors, a person may be at higher risk if they attempted suicide in the past. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20% - 50% of people who commit suicide have tried before.

Emotional difficulties aren't a sign of weakness. And it has been proven that the entrepreneurial lifestyle often creates a reluctance to getting help for mental health issues. Be proactive in preventing emotional problems as much as possible if you see your self-employment taking its toll and seek professional help before it gets worse.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s critical to quickly get connected to supportive services. Don’t hesitate to reach out to help someone you think may be depressed or suicidal. Recognizing the warnings signs and risk factors is the first step for suicide prevention.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or is having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, please seek help. For more resources, click here, or call 800-273-TALK (8255) for 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.

Sources:;; Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine

Support Small Biz During National Nutrition Month

The month of March has been designated as National Nutrition Month, which coincides with Spring and new seasonal produce. Many small business owners have a farmers' market stand and need the support of their community for success - just one reason to start thinking of you and your family's health and visit a farmers' market today.  Some other reasons include:

Find Inspiration
Find the freshest vegetables and fruits of the season all laid out before your eyes.  Farmers’ markets present all of the freshest produce of the season and chances are, new fruits and veggies that you may not have even heard of before.  Get inspired to try new flavors and recipes.

Improve Your Diet
Studies prove that eating a diet largely consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes helps to keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check.  Bring the kids too to help inspire healthy eating habits early on.

Cook for Health
When you shop at a farmers’ market, you want to cook the fresh foods that you purchased.  By cooking your own food, you take control of exactly what you eat, how much salt you use, the portion sizes and the choices of side dishes.  These decisions directly impact your health and gives you a chance to experiment with your cooking to increase the foods you enjoy.

Support Your Community
As mentioned, all small business owners need the support of their community to survive and a farmers' market is no exception. By supporting your local farmers’ markets, you are helping an entire community to thrive.  A farmers’ market is the ultimate small business enterprise with many families working together in the local community to offer a great product that can be used by many.

Find a Farmers' Market Near You
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) keeps an updated directory on Farmers' Market searchable by zip code.

State of the AWA 2017

At our recent AWA Annual Members meeting on December 8th, President Neil Peterson took some time to update members on the association. Following is an excerpt of what he discussed: 

With the year coming to a close, we are proud to look back at our accomplishments as an association. We are pleased to report on our excellent progress and alignment on our first full year following our transition of benefits administrators to Premier Health Solutions. The support of our membership and needs by Premier Health Solutions has provided the stability and continuity necessary for the growth of our association. This year, we had some members hit hard with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. With donations to the American Red Cross and working with partners like Compass and Teladoc, we want to continue to help support those impacted by the recent hurricane and natural disasters as our members work to get their families safe and businesses growing again.  Our focus will continue to be on our members and providing the highest level of satisfaction with their membership and the benefits that AWA provides.

As part of our commitment to providing more choice and flexibility for members, AWA expanded its membership levels and benefits this year by adding new accident benefits, a fixed indemnity plan and a new vision plan. And with our partner Small Business Majority, AWA members have a voice in small business issues facing our country, as well as education resources to start and grow their businesses. By providing timely, relevant webinars and content, Small Business Majority can give you and your small business the differentiators and tools you need to set your business apart from the competition.  With industry-leading benefits and membership levels like these, we hope our members feel an advantage as they work hard to make their businesses successful. 

We are excited about 2018 and the opportunities that lay ahead for associations like ours. With a new executive order signed by President Trump in October focusing on Association Health Plans, we hope to expand the opportunities and benefits available into new directions for our AWA members. We are staying on top of this exciting news as it develops and will share with you what we learn. With resources like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the newsletter and our Blog, we want AWA members to stay informed as we continue to investigate new, competitive benefits and resources that work hard on your behalf. 

As we say goodbye to 2017, we are reminded as an association that we truly are Stronger Together, and we look forward to serving you in the coming year.


Neil Peterson

Preparing Your Small Business for Disaster

As a small business owner, you are fully invested in the success of your endeavor.  But what if the unthinkable happens and a natural disaster strikes? Is your business prepared to stay up and running in the event of a flood or tornado or hurricane?  Planning ahead for disasters can be the difference between going out of business and running a successful one.

Sign up for a Ready Business Workshop and learn about the following ways to prepare:

Program Management

  • Organize, develop and administer your preparedness program
  • Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program


  • Gather information about hazards and assess risks
  • Conduct a business impact analysis
  • Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks

Your preparedness plan should include:

  • Resource management
  • Emergency response
  • Crisis communications
  • Business continuity
  • Information technology
  • Employee assistance
  • Incident management
  • Training

Testing and Exercises

  • Test and evaluate your plan
  • Define different types of exercises
  • Learn how to conduct exercises
  • Use exercise results to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan

Program Improvement

  • Identify when the preparedness plan needs to be reviewed or updated
  • Discover methods to evaluate your plan
  • Utilize the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements

For more information on building out your program, review and check the Ready Business Pilot Program.

If You Have Recently Been Affected By Disaster

The Small Business Administration offers disaster loan assistance through two loan programs. One helps with the actual physical damages with interest rates not exceeding 4 percent and terms up to 30 years and the other one is for economic impacts, which cover expenses normally covered before the disaster struck.  The loans are up to $2 million.  

Also, be proactive and let your lender know about the situation.  Most of the time they will work with you on deferring payments and waive fees while your business is recovering.  



Practice and Build Out Your Plans

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect.  This is especially the case in preparing for potential disasters. After you have built out a plan, follow up on the details and practice. Here a few more details to review:

Complete and Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) 
By collecting and securing your critical records ahead of time, you will have peace of mind that you have the necessary documents to start the recovery process after an emergency.  Important documents include personal financial, insurance, medical, birth certificates and passports. Make digital copies and save them on the cloud for easy access. Check here for more details on financial preparedness.

Maintain Emergency Savings
Create an emergency savings account that can be used in a crisis.  That rainy day fund might become life-saving when rebuilding after a disaster. Figure out how you can pay your bills if disaster strikes. 

Plan Ahead
Have at least a one-week supply of medications on hand. Read up on your insurance policies. For example, flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect. Read more about flood planning here. Find out if your community is holding any emergency drills so you can participate.

Know How to Access Community Resources
Research where your closest food banks and shelters are in the event of any disaster. Many cities will open up additional shelters if needed in your area, so find out in advance how these will be communicated to those in need.   


Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community

A load of evacuees in the back of a neighbor's monster truck after Hurricane Harvey. Photo by Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune.

In any disaster, getting outside resources for help can take time due to overwhelming need and demand.  Learn skills you need to help yourself and others until help can arrive.

By taking simple actions immediately, you may be able to save someone's life.  Visit this site developed by FEMA to get trained on how you can help.  Additional options include:

  • Join a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to learn how to safely respond to hazards around us and help organize basic disaster response
  • Learn more about the Citizen Corps - another program aimed to better prepare your community for disaster

Be sure to check on your neighbors. Forty-six percent of individuals expect they will rely on people in their neighborhood following a disaster.  Review here for how you can help your neighbors in times of disaster.

Talk with your Power Company about utility safety. Natural gas leaks can cause fires following disasters. Contact your local gas company to learn how to shut off your meter.

By tapping into the resources of America's PrepareAthon, you can work with your community to increase preparedness and know how to take action when disaster strikes.


Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends

When a natural disaster - hurricane, earthquake, fire, flood, tornado - happens, be sure you know how you will respond. By planning and preparing for a potential disaster ahead, it can help during the time of recovery after a disaster occurs.  This is the first article in a series for National Preparedness Month.

Make an Emergency Plan

Take time to talk with your family over dinner about where you all will meet if a disaster would occur and build out a plan that accounts for all immediate family needs. Download a group texting app so your entire family can keep in touch before, during and after an emergency.

Sign Up for Alerts and Warnings in Your Area

FEMA provides an app with weather alerts for up to 5 locations. Check out this page for more ways to receive alerts and warnings.  Storm radios with battery-powered backup are good for weather alerts, especially when you might be asleep.

Learn Your Evacuation Zone and Have an Evacuation Plan

Make sure your family is all familiar with plan and run through it together.  Practice evacuating in the car with your animals, so they're more comfortable if you need to evacuate in an emergency.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Review the Document and Insure Property guide provided by FEMA. Know what your insurance policy covers before an emergency.  

Plan Financially for the Possibility of Disaster

Flood-proof important documents by putting them in plastic bags to protect against water damage. Consider putting those into a fireproof box to protect against a sudden fire. Keep some cash on hand in case of emergencies. 

Your Summer Health Checklist

Summer is right around the corner. The kids will be out of school and the doctor’s offices slow down – the perfect time to squeeze in your health to-do’s before the next school year starts.

  • Annual Doctor Visit – this is a great time for a well-check visit as germ exposure in the waiting room goes down significantly in the warmer months. Regular health exams and tests help to identify problems before they start.
  • Dentist Check Up – The American Dental Association recommends a visit every six months where your overall oral health will be examined, in addition to cleaning your teeth of plaque and tartar. Your oral health often provides early indicators of other issues like diabetes, oral cancer and vitamin deficiencies.
  • Eye Doctor – It is recommended for children to get regular eye tests every 1 to 2 years to monitor potential changes in vision. Increased use of digital devices has created an unprecedented increase in myopia or nearsightedness.

Don’t forget about basic health safety tips for the summer as well:

  • Hydrate – the higher temps can stress anyone’s body, so be sure to stay ultra-hydrated and take breaks in shaded or air-conditioned places to avoid heat stroke or getting overheated.
  • Pay Attention Around Water – never leave kids unattended and don’t swim too soon after eating.
  • Picnic Safety – summer barbecues can be unpleasant if your mayonnaise or salad with mayonnaise sits out in the sun. Don’t forget about making sure meats are cooked thoroughly as well.
  • Itch Prevention – stay aware when around bees or wasps, as allergic reactions can become deadly. Long sleeves and/or bug spray can help prevent mosquito, tick and chigger bites.
  • Sun Burns – sunscreen in the summer is a must. Add a hat with a brim to help keep your face out of the sun.