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5 Ways to Improve Your Sales Skills

863_4917428Selling is no easy feat, no matter if you’re selling cookies or corporations. In my 3 years working at CorpNet, I’ve picked up a tip or two that have improved my sales skills. Let me share what I’ve learned with you!

1. Be a Good Listener

This is relevant if you sell face-to-face (or ear-to-ear if you make sales over the phone), since you interact with customers a lot more than a business would, say, selling candles online. Once you stop pushing your sales agenda and just sit back and listen, the interaction between you and the potential customer becomes human-driven. The customer feels heard, and if you pay attention, you can learn valuable things that can actually help you close the sale.

Here’s an example: I was on the phone with a contact that had questions about starting a business. In between us talking about LLCs and corporations, I found out she has a daughter that was headed to a big dance competition that weekend. At the end of our call, I wished her daughter good luck in the competition. She seemed a bit surprised that I’d said it. Not 10 minutes later, I had an online order from her. It’s the little details that can really pay off!

2. Be a Resource, Not a Seller

This is where sales and marketing really align. If you’re doing a good job in marketing your small business through your blog, social media, email, and the rest, people will buy from you. But it’s not about blasting a “buy our product now!” message, but rather becoming an industry thought leader and giving people valuable information about your field. If what you provide is genuinely helpful, they’ll connect the dots and buy from you because they trust you.

By |May 22nd, 2015|Running A Small Business|0 Comments

Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs: Why They’re Set Up for Success

201_4286315While it might surprise you that Baby Boomers — those 50 and over — make up one of the fastest growing segments of entrepreneurs, it shouldn’t. They are, it seems, pretty well-equipped to handle the ups and downs that running a business brings. Let’s look at the reasons Baby Boomers may be more likely to succeed than entrepreneurs of other ages.

Boomers Aren’t Looking to Get Rich Quick

Young, impetuous entrepreneurs and startup founders are known for building their businesses fast so they can cash out and go hang on a beach somewhere. Boomer ‘preneurs, on the other hand, have usually made their money and are on their current business endeavor out of passion and love. It’s not about the money, in other words.

They’ve Seen it All

Younger entrepreneurs tend to get rattled by recessions and economic downturns. Boomers, on the other hand, have been through many bumps in the economy and know that things always work out. That makes them more capable of seeing the big picture through rough times, and can make decisions accordingly.

By |May 20th, 2015|Running A Small Business|0 Comments

Fees for Incorporating by State: Understand Your Costs to Become a Corporation

672_4675869Here’s a question I get almost daily: what’s the best state to incorporate in?

The second most asked question I get is: “what are the fees for incorporating in [state]?”

It’s interesting that the fees vary so much. For example, to incorporate in Connecticut, it costs $455. That’s on the high end! On the opposite end is Mississippi, at just $50.

Answering the First Question

But before we look at the state fees for incorporation, let’s answer that question of where to incorporate.

The first states that people think of to incorporate in are Delaware and Nevada. Delaware has very pro-business laws and regulations, and Nevada has no state corporate income, franchise, or personal income tax. Even though they are both popular choices for incorporating, they aren’t always the best choice.

Here’s why: many states will charge you filing fees for the state you incorporate in, even if you don’t do business there. It can be difficult to open a business bank account in a state where you don’t actually do business.

My suggestion is if you start a business with five or fewer shareholders, incorporate in the state where you have a physical office and/or do the bulk of your business.

By |May 19th, 2015|Business Filings|0 Comments

6 Ways You Might be Keeping Yourself from Being a Rockstar Entrepreneur

158_2900969I fully believe that every entrepreneur has the potential for success. But sometimes, unfortunately, we get in our own way. Here are a few ways you might be limiting yourself from becoming that superstar business owner we all know you can be.

1. Not Asking Enough Questions

It pays to be inquisitive in every aspect of your business, from initial planning (“who will buy my product?”) to ongoing development (“is my product still relevant?”). The worst thing you can do is rest on those proverbial laurels and think because you’re on top of the world now, you will be tomorrow.

Questions lead to answers, and answers should lead you to make changes that will help you improve your business. If you’re not asking, you’re not growing.

2. Overlooking Market Research

I’ve met so many small business owners who think that market research is only for giant corporations. The opposite is true! Businesses of every size need to investigate their market, whether there’s even an audience for this product, and who the competitors are.

By |May 18th, 2015|Running A Small Business|0 Comments

The Formation of an LLC or S Corp: What You Need to Know

511_3060466This is a guest post from Jason Watson.

The most common way to create an S Corp is to first form a limited liability company (LLC) then elect to be taxed as an S Corporation.

But, the S Corp election can wait. And more importantly should wait. Why? $40,000 net income after expenses is the break-even point for an S-Corp. Not sure what you’ll earn? Not to worry, we can elect S Corp as far back as 3 ½ years using special IRS Revenue Procedures (as opposed to the 75 days provided in the Form 2553 instructions). Stay tuned for our next blog article on the late — as in super late — election.

Therefore our advice is to wait until November or December to decide if the election make sense, and then make it retroactive to the start of the LLC or January 1. So, get the LLC in place today and wait on the S Corp trigger until it makes sense (spoiler alert, you could be in the middle of March 2016, elect S Corp status back to January 2015 and run a late 2015 payroll event- all legit, pain in the butt for everyone, but all legit and routinely successful).

How it Works

Let’s say you are teetering on that $40,000 net income figure, and not sure about running payroll and all that jazz. You could still run your business income and expenses through your tax return as a sole proprietor or another single member LLC, and take the small self-employment tax hit. Then simply file a No Activity tax return for your S Corp.

If you expect to lose money the first two or three years, the S-Corp election should be avoided. A single-member LLC or sole proprietor can theoretically have unlimited losses where a partnership or S Corp cannot because of shareholder basis rules. Briefly, as an S Corp you are an investor and an employee. As an investor in any company, you cannot lose more than your investment. Same thing here.

By |May 16th, 2015|Business Filings|0 Comments

5 Tips to Smarter and More Efficient Business Meetings

430_3140256Nobody likes business meetings. So why do we have so many? Unfortunately, they’re a necessary evil when it comes to running a business. Having led my fair share of meetings at CorpNet, believe me: I hate it as much as my employees when I see them glaze over and stop listening to what I think is essential material. So I’ve devised my own strategies for waking them up and making the meetings more productive.

1. Meet More, Not Less

I know how this sounds, but hear me out. When you meet once a month (even once a week might not be often enough), your meetings tend to go on and on. People stop listening 15 minutes in. So while you have plenty of material to cover as you try to minimize your meeting frequency, you’re actually less productive when you try to get it all covered in a single meeting. Instead, opt for more meetings, but keep them short. Like: 15 minutes short. More on that next.

2. Keep Those Meetings Brief

I know, you’re still reeling from me suggesting that you hold a 15-minute meeting. Crazy, right? Hear me out. If you’re holding more frequent meetings, you don’t need them to all be an hour long. You’ll keep your staff’s attention span for such a short meeting, and they’ll be more likely to be productive as a result of the meeting. Set a timer if you have to, otherwise the meeting will go on and on.

By |May 15th, 2015|Business Operations, Managing People|0 Comments

Articles of Organization – New York: How to File Your LLC

114_2544631If you’ve decided to form an LLC in New York, you’ll need to file your Articles of Organization, as per Section 203 of the New York State Limited Liability Company Law. To file those Articles of Organization, you have several options:

  • You can file them yourself with the State of New York
  • You can work with a business filing service like CorpNet
  • You can hire a lawyer to help

In all honesty, most entrepreneurs who want to file an LLC don’t need a lawyer, except in rare circumstances. So if you are feeling DIY, you can take on the process yourself, or you can have CorpNet assist you.

But before you start on your Articles of Organization, there are a few other things you need to take care of.

Make Sure the Name You Want is Available

If any other New York LLC is using the business name you want, you won’t be able to file your LLC under that name. Start by conducting a name search, which will scour various databases to ensure that your name is available.

Spend Less Time on Marketing: Automation Tools You Can’t Live Without

274_2680671Would you be shocked at how little time I spend each week marketing my business? Probably. On average, I spend under an hour managing my social media, email, and other marketing components. Am I practicing magic? Not so. I’m simply using smart tools to automate a lot of my marketing tasks. I’ll share my secret formula with you so you can save time and get more marketing done.

1. Boost Email Subscribers with SumoMe’s ScrollBox

This is my new favorite tool. SumoMe makes a lot of cool marketing tools, but I love ScrollBox. With it, I’ve got a non-annoying box that peeps up on my press release website and invites people to download a free sample chapter from my book. From there, the emails dump into another tool (#2, in fact), and they start getting my automated emails.

Why you should try it: If your standard email subscription box on your website sidebar isn’t attracting many subscribers, this free tool might just do it. And you’ve got nothing to lose: it’s free.

2. Forget About Your Emails with Active Campaign

Once people sign up for my list, they get entered into one of several lists in my Active Campaign account. Now, I’ve used a lot of email marketing software, and by far, I am most impressed with this one. You can create not just a single email but an entire campaign and decide how many days after the last email the next should go out, take certain actions based on your subscribers’ behavior, and monitor which emails they’re opening.

By |May 11th, 2015|Marketing Your Business|0 Comments

5 Things My Kids Learn by Watching Their CEO Mom

FullSizeRenderWith Mother’s Day this weekend, families everywhere are honoring those women who nurture them and help them grow. But for me, Mother’s Day is just as much about my children; after all, without them, I wouldn’t be a mother!

I’m pretty proud that my kids get to see firsthand how I operate as an entrepreneur, and as a CEO. Here’s what I imagine — and hope! — they’re learning from me.

1. Anything is Possible

When I was a child, I couldn’t have envisioned running a successful company (two, in fact). But as I got older, I began to see that everything was in the realm of possibility for me. I’ve got everything I could want out of life, and while it took damn hard work to get here, I made it a reality. I want my children to know that whatever they want to accomplish, they absolutely can.

By |May 8th, 2015|Women In Business|0 Comments

4 Ways Crowdsourcing Can Boost Your Marketing

1010_4409260As crowdsourcing evolves, brands are getting more creative about using it as a tool for marketing. For a small fee, businesses can rely on the power of large groups of consumers to make their campaigns successful. By working directly with customers, brands build real audiences for their products, with those audiences likely passing the word to their own friends and family members. Here are a few ways you can utilize the power of crowdsourcing in your own marketing campaigns.

Gain Broad Exposure for Events

Imagine if you could sign everyone you know up to post about your campaign on the same day. Thunderclap allows you to do just that. In the days leading up to your product launch or special event, invite online followers and customers to sign up for your Thunderclap campaign. On the designated day, tweets and Facebook posts will automatically execute, allowing you to reach a wide range of people with one big push.

You don’t have to have an enormous online following to be effective. In fact, a small group of extremely loyal followers is often more effective than a large group of vague acquaintances. The free version of Thunderclap requires a minimum number of signups for the campaign to go live but a paid version has no minimum, at a cost of only $45.

By |May 7th, 2015|Marketing Your Business|0 Comments