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7 Legal Tips for Starting a Business


809_3761882This post originally appeared on allBusiness


Starting a business can be an exhilarating time, where everything seems full of potential and purpose. But amidst the excitement, navigating the logistics of launching a business can be daunting for the first-time entrepreneur.

Starting a business doesn’t need to be scary. Here are seven basic steps to address the logistics and make sure that your new business is legit:

1. Check that your business name is available

Before you invest too much time and money in your branding, you should make sure that your proposed business name is legally available; in other words, that it won’t be conflicting with the name of an already existing business. By checking availability upfront, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you won’t be ordered to abandon your business name a year from now because of a trademark dispute.

There are a couple of ways to check the availability of a business name. First, you can perform a free trademark search to make sure that no one in the United States already has a trademark for your business name. If it’s clear, your next step is to conduct a comprehensive name search to see if someone is using your name in your state or county.

2. Pick a legal business structure

Every business has a business structure. For example, some are sole proprietorships, partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLC) and Corporations. If you never formally apply for a business structure with the state, then your business is a sole proprietor (single owner) or general partnership (multiple owners) by default. These are the easiest business structures to manage, but they don’t offer any kind of liability protection for the owner and their personal assets.

By |August 1st, 2015|Starting a Business|0 Comments

The State of Small Business for Women: Have We Arrived YET?

609_3570893It seems like no matter how hard women entrepreneurs try, we will never catch up to our male counterparts. Or will we? The state of small businesses owned by women has risen significantly over the past few decades, and seems to be speeding up.

The fact that 28.8% of small businesses are owned by women might seem small, but that’s risen from 26% in 1997. That might not seem like much, but women-owned businesses grew 1.5 times faster over this period than the national average. And of that group, one in three women-owned businesses are run by women of color.

Where are the Women At?

While more than 1,200 businesses are opened by women each day in the United States, the concentration is stronger in North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Wyoming, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, and Utah. I’m curious why these states have more female-run small businesses.

By |July 30th, 2015|Women In Business|0 Comments

6 Tips for Naming Your Business

434_2999903I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve met that didn’t do the research before naming their business. You may think the name you’ve come up for in starting a new business is unique, but what happens if you find out someone else is already using it?

If the name is already in use, you’ll have to fight to dominate search results for that name. You may not be able to get the domain name or social media profile names you want. And you’ll risk customers getting confused and taking their business to the other location. You don’t want any of these struggles, do you?

Start By Doing Your Homework

You’d be amazed what a little research can do in this situation. A simple corporate name search can help you find out if anyone in your state who has filed a corporation or LLC is using that name.

By |July 29th, 2015|Business Operations|0 Comments

How to Hire the Right People

705_3508905At CorpNet, we pride ourselves on having a stellar team of employees. Many of our staff has been with us since we launched in 2009. We treat our staff like family, and in return, they do everything they can to help make CorpNet a success.

As a leader, I’ve learned a few strategies for finding the right people from the start and cultivating their skills so that they become long-term assets for our company.

1. Know What You’re Looking For

When you run a business, it’s challenging to be able to focus on any one part of your business for long. But if there’s one area I’ve found you can’t skimp on, it’s really thinking through your job description. If you hastily jot off a list of qualities you think you want in a new hire and then add to that list once that person starts training, you’re being unfair to the new employee by pulling the rug out from under her.

By |July 27th, 2015|Managing People|0 Comments

Should You Diversify Your Products or Own a Niche?


This article was originally published by Nellie Akalp on Small Business Trends


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When it comes to the products or services you sell, it can be hard to find the perfect balance.

If you offer too wide a spread of items for sale, you can dilute your market. In other words, you can offer a lot, but not be a specialist in any one thing, and therefore become a generalist. Not a great selling strategy.

On the other hand, if you narrow your focus too tightly, you can miss out on other opportunities for revenue. A small market only has so much market potential, so how can you grow from here?

Whether to diversify products or own a niche is a decision you’ll have to make based on your answers to the following questions.

How Big is My Existing Market?

If you have a market big enough to support you in buying a small range of products, stick with it. Having a niche market can keep you knee-deep in sales … but only if there are enough people in your market to support your business.

If you sell bedazzled dog collars customized for female Chihuahuas under one pound, you may limit yourself in how many of your products you can sell, compared to a company that sells dog collars for all sized dogs.

Can I Support a Wide Range of Products or Services?

The more you sell, the more you have to manage. If you sell products, that means more inventory orders and more attention paid to what’s selling and what’s not. If you sell services, you have to get really good at delivering more solutions, which can be difficult.

If you’re a one-man or one-woman show, you might find it a challenge to spread yourself so thin. On the other hand, if you have the staff, you could feasibly have one person to manage each product or service category.

Would My Customers Buy Additional Products?

If you know your customers, you can probably determine whether they would be interested in buying other similar products or services. If you sell coffee, you could probably sell muffins. But the key here is knowing your customer and keeping your offerings related.
For example, if you sell coffee, you probably couldn’t sell flowers or umbrellas as easily, since these aren’t complementary products to your coffee the way muffins are.

Will Expanding My Product Line Increase My Sales?

It might and it might not. If customers have been asking for other products then yes, you can probably sell them. But if you just decided one day to expand for no good reason, you’ll probably only add to your headache by increasing what you have to manage.

Can I Continue To Deliver Top-Notch Service If I Expand?

A lot of entrepreneurs fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. Rather than be experts at delivering a particular product or service, they struggle to deliver items beyond their area of knowledge. That’s a good way to push customers away: by delivering a dearth of lower-quality products or services.

You know your niche. You know your customers. Based on what you know, decide whether diversifying your offerings is a good idea or not. You can always test out expansion by offering one additional product or service at a time, seeing how those fare, then deciding whether to keep expanding or pull back.

Time to execute your new business idea? CorpNet can help you file the paperwork to start your new business. We’ll get it done online, on time. Start your business today.

Photo by Photospin

By |July 25th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Nellie in the News – July 24, 2015

Looking for inside tips on what makes a successful entrepreneur? Nellie Akaklp has been all over the Internet sharing her wisdom on that topic, as well as offering tips for balancing work and home, and how to diversify your products.
nellie in the news

By |July 24th, 2015|Nellie in the News|0 Comments

What Starting Multiple Businesses Has Taught Me

676_4696925When you first start a business, you usually have no clue that somewhere down the line, you might open a second. Or a third. But many of us — including myself — end up being happenstance serial entrepreneurs. After selling our first business filing service to Intuit, my husband, Phil, and I didn’t wait long before forming CorpNet. We were simply too passionate about helping people become entrepreneurs to sit out of the game.

I like to think I’ve learned a few things after starting two successful businesses, so I’d like to share them here.

Your Understanding of How to Open a Business Changes

It’s kind of like with kids, right? With the first one (or in our case, first two; we have twins), you’re so careful and worried about breaking them. Your first business, you take all the precautionary measures, and might even go overboard. But with your subsequent businesses, you know the shortcuts and know how to get to profitability faster, usually.

By |July 23rd, 2015|Running A Small Business|0 Comments

4 Reasons it’s Time to Leave Your Firm (and Start a Business)

1287_5027355In the back of your mind, you’ve been fantasizing about quitting your job and starting a business for years. So why haven’t you done it yet? If any of the following ring true, it’s time to stop dreaming and make that vision of starting a business a reality!

1. You’ve Got an Idea You Can’t Leave Alone

You’ve come up with a fantabulous idea for a product or service, and as far as you can tell, no one is yet cornering the market in the same way. The idea keeps eating at you. Now’s the time to explore that idea realistically and determine whether it’s feasible to build a business around.

By |July 22nd, 2015|Starting a Business|0 Comments

5 DIY Marketing Skills to Build This Month

112_2712553In January, I provided a 12-month calendar to help you improve your marketing. This month’s focus is: improve a skill. Marketing is a must-have skill that you use in every facet of building your business. From writing your business plan to customer service, you are continuously honing your marketing proficiency. By doing it yourself, you build your skills, and in order to develop this know-how, you must dedicate yourself to learning.

If you can use word processing software and know your way around a keyboard, you can polish these DIY skills to boost your brand from this moment forward.

 

Deploy Basic SEO Strategies to Improve Your Ranking

Search engines are the faster and easier way to sift through the giant piles of available information. Keywords are highly relevant, industry specific words that increase your non-paid search engine results. Embrace the principle of using appropriate keywords in a natural manner in your posts and updates, but avoid artificially inserting them into your text as in this case, more is not better.

2. Extend Your Social Media Management Proficiency

There are a million ways to use social media to improve your marketing efforts. If you have attempted a social media strategy, but haven’t kept it up, now is the time to work it into your day-to-day efforts. If you have made that inroad, find another one to tackle. Do you use social media management software to make your posting schedule easier? Have you discovered optimal posting times? Are you building your audience by delivering engaging content? Because social media is such a flexible tool in your arsenal, there are countless ways you can develop your understanding and use of it.

By |July 20th, 2015|Marketing Your Business|0 Comments

Articles of Organization – The Florida LLC

285_2757032Florida is a fantastic place to run a Limited Liability Company. The small business environment is conducive to helping entrepreneurs succeed, and the fact that there is no state tax is reason enough for many to start a business in Florida.

Why Consider the Florida LLC?

The LLC is a fantastic business option in Florida for many reasons. Because you as the business owner are separate from the business entity, your personal assets are protected in the event that your business accrues debt. Should you want to transfer ownership of the company down the road easily with the LLC. Unlike a sole proprietorship, an LLC can outlive you.

If the corporate formalities of a Florida corporation are more than you want for your small business, you’ll appreciate that the LLC requires fewer formalities like annual meetings and record keeping.

For business owners who aren’t American citizens, or who don’t have permanent residences in Florida, the LLC business structure provides a way to get the legal entity you need. And lastly, with an LLC, you benefit from pass-through taxation.

Now let’s look at a key component of becoming an LLC: your Articles of Organization.

By |July 16th, 2015|Business Filings, Forming An LLC|0 Comments