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Susan’s Birthday Beliefs: 37 Hard Truths About Being a Business Owner

701_3425126I’ve taken a note from CorpNet CEO Nellie Akalp, who always writes great words of wisdom for business owners on her birthday. To celebrate my 37th birthday (today!) I wanted to talk about what it really means to be a business owner. Which can you relate to?

1. It’s hard. Nothing (besides parenting, maybe) will challenge you as much as running a business.

2. You will cry. There will come times when you’ll feel like you can’t bear a single more problem. But trust me. You can.

3. It’s the most rewarding thing. The payoff of all that stress and challenge is that, for entrepreneurs, running a business is the best thing we could imagine doing.

4. It will change your life. I can’t ever see going back to Corporate America, and I hope I never have to. I’m an entrepreneur down to my soul.

5. It will affect your family. Sometimes for the better (flexibility to take long vacations) and sometimes for the worse (long hours or days not seeing you when you’re under deadline).

6. You DO have a boss. In fact, you have many. All your customers are your boss. If they’re not happy, you’re out of work.

7. Working in your PJs is overrated. There’s something to be said about dressing up, even if you work from home. Continue reading “Susan’s Birthday Beliefs: 37 Hard Truths About Being a Business Owner” »

Does Your Business Need a Cash Injection?

715_3679013If you have been operating your business for a while and are looking to grow your company, it might be time for a shot of cash to help you achieve your goals.

Why It’s Good to Reinvest in Your Company

Simply put, reinvestment means growth. If you take all the profit after you’ve paid your vendors and put it into your own pocket, you’re stunting your own growth as a business owner.

Reinvestment means you can get technology and tools that make your work easier. It means you get to explore new potential products, or conduct market research to better understand your customers. It means you can afford to hire help, taking some of the pressure off of you to do it all. Continue reading “Does Your Business Need a Cash Injection?” »

Why Tech Companies Need to Choose the Right Business Structure

436_3091776Let’s face it: not every company risks being sued. For most solopreneurs, say marketing consultants or designers, operating as a sole proprietor will suit them just fine. But then you have higher risk industries, like technology. What happens if another company sues you, claiming you stole their idea? Are you prepared to risk your personal assets to cover court costs?

Fortunately, you don’t have to jeopardize your own assets.

Separating Your Personal from Professional Persona

If you run a tech startup, I cannot stress enough the importance of separating yourself from the business. That means you need to do so legally, and you do that by choosing the right business structure. Continue reading “Why Tech Companies Need to Choose the Right Business Structure” »

10 Must-Have Tech Tools for the Fall

779_4091143This is a great time of year to take a look at the latest and greatest technology tools and apps that will take your business to the next level. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Social Media Management Dashboard

 

If you’re still using individual websites to manage each of your social profiles, you’ll be amazed at how much more efficiently you can connect with others and schedule updates. Here are some dashboards to consider:

Continue reading “10 Must-Have Tech Tools for the Fall” »

100 of the Most Influential Small Business Champions in One Room

What would you do if you had access to 100 of the most influential people in the small business world in one room? That’s exactly what will be happening when the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards honors its Top 100 Champions at the annual Gala event on October 22, 2014 in New York City.

Each year, the Small Business Influencer Awards are held to celebrate the people and companies who are impacting entrepreneurs and small businesses. Anyone can nominate a Leader, Expert, Corporation, App, Journalist, News Outlet, Marketing Campaign, or Growth Story. Winners are selected in two ways:

Winners were announced late September (including Nellie Akalp as a Champion — for the third year in a row!), and now it’s time to honor them. Continue reading “100 of the Most Influential Small Business Champions in One Room” »

Checking Up on Your Business Plan

475_3114939Check-ups are vital in the maintenance of our valuable objects. We take our teeth in for regular exams and our vehicles in for oil changes and tune-ups. But what about your business plan? By now everyone knows the substantial value of developing a livable, useful business plan, but when was the last time you brought the old gem out and polished it up? Just as your business evolves or even pivots, your business plan should evolve in tandem with your enterprise. If you put energy and effort into scrutinizing your business plan, you may be able to pinpoint your weakness before it undermines you, and you’ll also see where you’ve been successful, encouraging you to forge ahead at that crucial moment. You and and your business are the doctor and the patient, so what do you need to improve your bedside manner?

Schedule Your Check-up

Pick a period of time to review your business plan, be it monthly, quarterly, or biannually and stick with it. If you review monthly, you may be able to do it in smaller chunks and you may be able to create a more agile document. Quarterly may be the sweet spot for most small businesses, as you can piggyback it onto similar tasks such as reviewing your marketing plan. If your plan is clear and you have been responsible in the past, biannual reviews may offer the opportunity to respond to changes and improvements with flexibility while maintaining continuity. Continue reading “Checking Up on Your Business Plan” »

How to Ensure Compliance Before the End of the Year

1019_4576640The end of the year is tunneling toward us at the speed of light. Before you know it, December 31 will be here. Will your loose ends be tied up? What about your corporate compliance? Working on certain tasks now will keep you from having a pile of work to do at year’s end.

First, Know What Documents are Due

Depending on when you incorporated and how you set up your business year, you may have several filings you need to take care of before the end of the year. Overlook them, and you’ll be found as noncompliant with your Secretary of State. That could mean fees or even jeopardizing the good standing of your business!

You should receive notice from your state that certain documents are due, but we can’t always rely on snail mail, can we? It’s better to keep a calendar of what’s due so you can take care of it well in advance of that deadline. Continue reading “How to Ensure Compliance Before the End of the Year” »

What You Need to Incorporate a Business

112_2712553So you’ve decided to form a corporation. Congratulations! This business structure will protect your personal assets and keep you separate from your business entity. But before you enjoy that peace of mind, you’ll need to take care of the actual process of incorporating. Here’s the process for forming your own corporation.

  1.  Get a Name Check

Before you can incorporate, you need to ensure no one else in your state is using the same business name. You can do that by using our free Corporate Name Search tool.

Note: Include words like “Inc.” or “corp.” if you plan to add them to your name once incorporated when searching.

  1.  Draft Your Articles of Incorporation

Most states refer to the formation document as the “Articles of Incorporation” or “Certificate of Incorporation.” The document contains information about your company, including:

  • Company name
  • Business purpose
  • Registered agent (that might be you or a third party)
  • Incorporator (that might be you or a third party)
  • Number of authorized shares
  • Share par value
  • Preferred stock
  • Directors
  • Officers

Continue reading “What You Need to Incorporate a Business” »

4 Ways to Secure Funding for Your Startup

According to a recent Forbes article, 8 out of every 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. Some fail due to poor customer service, poor management or unclear knowledge of the marketplace. But on the surface level, many of these businesses simply run out of cash.

Good money management is the key to staying afloat as startups meet the obstacles of a starting a new business. Bplans, a blog for small business owners, covers some of the main sources of funding that SMBs can secure for their startup.

Bplans Funding Infographic

How to Get More Done (When You’re Out of the Office)

609_3504586For most business owners, traveling can really throw us off our routines. We may try to work while we’re out, but we still end up back in the office with a pile of emails to sort through, and plenty of things that slipped through the cracks.

I’ve traveled a lot, and I’ve figured out a few strategies that help me. Hopefully they’ll help you too.

Plan Ahead

If you know you’re traveling (for business or pleasure) in several weeks, start your planning now. Check your calendar to see if you have meetings or deadlines that week. For phone or Skype meetings, make sure your travel schedule allows you to still participate. Reschedule any others.

Then, for any work you have due that week, start chipping away at it the weeks before your trip. You’ll clear your plate while you’re out, and your clients will be thrilled to get their work turned in early. Continue reading “How to Get More Done (When You’re Out of the Office)” »