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In what seems like an annual occurrence at this point, the federal government is nearing another potential shutdown over budget squabbles. And while this might all sound like political wrangling to you, there are some real ways a government shutdown could affect your small business.

So what can you do to prepare? Here's how to gear up for a potential government shutdown:

Obamacare's employer mandate went into effect January 1, and there are a few things that employers should know.

The mandate was supposed to go into effect last year, but it was delayed for a year to allow businesses to implement the necessary changes. So what were those changes exactly?

Here are five things employers should know about the Obamacare employer mandate:

More than a year after the Obamacare website had announced an online marketplace for business owners, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is finally open.

According to The Washington Post, officially launched its small business-focused section two weeks ago, but traffic has been a bit slow. Despite health plan options being offered through the newly opened SHOP, early reports indicate that businesses haven't exactly surged toward the site.

Why not? And what should your small business know about the Obamacare SHOP?

When your employees want to take a sick day, can you require them to give proof that they were sick?

With mandatory sick laws being passed in various cities and states, business owners have real reason to re-examine their sick day policies. Chief among these considerations is what kind of proof, if any, companies should require of their employees in order to take sick time off.

Let's examine some of the legal principles behind requiring proof for sick days.

Should You Support Nat'l Entrepreneurs' Day (HR 401)?

After a Twitter petition successfully convinced President Obama to declare a National Entrepreneurs' Day in 2010, a group of entrepreneurs has now set their sights on Congress.

House Resolution 401, sponsored by Rep. Scott Peters (D-California), would support the designation of the third Tuesday of November as National Entrepreneurs' Day.

Besides just being a mouthful to say, what would a National Entrepreneurs' Day do to actually benefit entrepreneurs and other small business owners?

Chicago has joined a handful of cities in proposing to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

A group of aldermen in the Windy City have put forward a plan to raise the city's minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $15 an hour, reports Reuters. This plan is separate from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's panel which has been tasked with providing recommendations for raising minimum wage.

What does this minimum wage proposal mean for Chicago employers?

Your small business should be paying attention to proposed net neutrality changes, because they may end up crippling your online presence.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to put forward new rules governing net neutrality, including the possibility of companies paying for faster access to consumers.

Take a more proactive stance towards net neutrality and your business for these three reasons:

Minority-owned businesses may be entitled to government benefits and special programs, but not every business will qualify.

And claiming to be a minority-owned business when you're not is a terrible idea, as Moretech American Corporation has learned the hard way. Federal prosecutors allege Moretech passed off a shell company as a minority-owned firm in order to land a government contract; Moretech has agreed to pay $3 million to settle those claims, the New York Daily News reports.

So what exactly qualifies a business as a minority-owned business?

It's National Small Business Week, a time to recognize the importance of America's 28 million small businesses.

Events sponsored by the Small Business Administration span from San Francisco to Boston and Washington, D.C., ending with the announcement of the National Small Business of the Year.

Wonder if that could be you? Consider your odds -- and these five legal facts about National Small Business Week that you may not have known:

Colorado unveiled the world's first legal pot banking system on Wednesday, allowing marijuana businesses to move away from a cash-only model.

The pot bank bill, HB 1398, approved by Colorado legislators would allow pot businesses to join "cannabis credit co-ops" as a way to handle their money. The Associated Press reports that Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the bill and is expected to sign it.

Here are five key legal facts about Colorado's pot banking bill: