Research Outline

Small Businesses with 401K


To provide 2-3 case studies of small businesses (named or unnamed) that tackle how they dealt with providing 401K benefits for their employees and to describe their challenges, cost insights or salary breakdown (if available), their approach, and available success indicators.

Early Findings

Epand, Boyle and Company

  • Epand, Boyle and Company is an accounting firm that established a plan 17 years ago in Long Island and New York City.
  • They have eight employees who provide accounting services to small businesses and individuals. The team "fluctuates in size, particularly during tax season."
  • Challenge: They wanted to find ways "to attract and retain top talent. They wanted a flexible plan that would be affordable and make the firm attractive to potential employees."

401(k) Retirement Plan Insights

  • Their 401(k) retirement plan offered many investment choices. Every employee in the firm participated in the 401(k) retirement plan, and many of their former employees have retained the plan and were satisfied with it.
  • They partnered with Paychex for a 401(k) and have had positive experiences due to its ease of administration. Success indicators included increased employee satisfaction and reduced turnover.
  • Paychex's "traditional 401(k) plan, is the most flexible plan. Employers can make contributions for all participants, match employees' deferrals, do both, or neither."
  • "With a traditional 401(k), a business is not required to make employer contributions, and the employees can contribute up to an annual maximum as set by the Internal Revenue Service."

Slate Medical

  • Slate Medical "provides first aid and CPR supplies along with training and education to help organizations build and maintain their workplace first aid programs. The company began operations in California and has since expanded into Minnesota and Arizona. The company has grown to over 40 employees."
  • Challenge: The founder and CFO tried finding a retirement plan that would "satisfy the team, fit the needs of the company, and help prepare employees for their financial futures. "
  • When they started, they initially didn’t offer a 401(k) retirement plan. When the employees started "requesting a retirement benefit, they were not in a position to offer a matching benefit at the time, but they wanted to provide the opportunity for them to contribute pre-tax dollars." They focused on traditional providers of 401(k) retirement programs.
  • Success Indicators: "The retirement benefit had a positive impact on employee retention and satisfaction. It has sparked engagement and discussion about the current status of economic conditions and how that related to their specific business. The retirement plan has been important to attracting new employees as part of a complete benefits package that aligns with larger companies."

401(k) Retirement Plan Insights

  • "There are many options within a retirement program. Once a plan is chosen, it can be customized to fit the exact business needs of a company. Options like eligibility, vesting, and contribution levels can all be tailored to a business' specific needs."
  • Slate's CFO recommends doing "due diligence in researching the options and evaluating if it makes sense for a particular business."
  • "Another important point is that a 401(k) plan is essentially a separate entity with its own tax reporting."
  • Slate also made use of Paychex. He liked that they "provided local independent investment advisor options to meet with employees to help them make their own investment decisions. This separated him as their employer, and it protected them from issues around investment advice."


  • For the initial hour, we were able to provide 2 case studies of small businesses that tackle how they dealt with providing 401K benefits for their employees and described their challenges, their approach, and available success indicators.
  • No case study appeared available that provided a salary breakdown for a specific business. However, research indicates that the amount an employer can contribute to a plan is entirely up to the business owner. Business owners "can consider the tax savings they receive as an employer and the positive impact a matching contribution will have on employee morale."
  • A business owner can donate as much as he or she wants "as long as it stays within the IRS limitations, which combines both employer and employee contributions."
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