6 Hiring Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

438_3392848As you grow your business, you will inevitably need to hire help. If you’ve never been an employer before, there are certain pitfalls you need to avoid that many business owners make. Here’s your guide to what not to do in hiring staff.

1. Not Knowing Your Needs

Once you start a business, your responsibilities will grow quickly. You know you need help, but maybe you assume a part-time secretary will fit the bill. Only you need her to take on your social media management, answer the phones, and manage your accounting. You find out too late, after you’ve hired her, that the job is more than she’s qualified for.

It’s important that you assess what your hiring needs are before you start the search. Do you need a full-time or part-time person? What areas do you need help with? What level of expertise do you need? What’s your budget? Continue reading “6 Hiring Mistakes Small Business Owners Make” »

Join Nellie Akalp at NMX on April 13-16


Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.31.58 PMIf you’re eager to learn more about blogging, content marketing, and podcasting, don’t miss the upcoming NMX conference in Las Vegas, April 13-16. There, you’ll learn from top experts how to use content to effectively reach your audience.

I’m thrilled that I’ll be among those experts! I will be speaking on IP protection in my session, IP Protection: What You Need to Know on April 13 at 11:45 in Session Room: CR 11-12. Continue reading “Join Nellie Akalp at NMX on April 13-16” »

How to Incorporate in 6 Easy Steps

702_3518095There’s little you can do that’s more important than to protect your business by incorporating it. But so many entrepreneurs think the process of incorporating a business is complicated and so never bother with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are six simple steps to help you incorporate.

Step 1: Conduct a Corporate Name Search

You first need to see if the name you want to use for your business isn’t used by anyone else. If it is, you’ll have to change the name slightly or choose a different state to incorporate in. We offer a free name search you can use to see if you can file your incorporation paperwork under the name you want.

Step 2: Choose Where You Want to Incorporate

The next step is to decide which state you will incorporate in. Many people choose to incorporate in Delaware because of its business-friendly environment. As a corporation in Delaware, you won’t pay state corporate income tax if your corporation was formed in Delaware but you do not transact business there (but there is a franchise tax). Still, it’s often easiest to incorporate in the state you operate out of. The decision is up to you. Continue reading “How to Incorporate in 6 Easy Steps” »

Is The Changing Job Market Compelling You To Think About Starting A Business?

718_3979272Are you seriously thinking of becoming your own boss this year?

Is starting a business something that you’ve been thinking about…but haven’t pursued?

Finally, why are you considering business ownership now?

A Changing Job Market

As of late, unemployment numbers have been improved. Less people are unemployed today than they were a couple of years ago. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that more people than ever have completely given up on their job searches. That “bad” news means that more people are considering career alternatives. People that have been downsized…let go by their employers, are becoming more open to the idea of entrepreneurship or self-employment. Continue reading “Is The Changing Job Market Compelling You To Think About Starting A Business?” »

Why You Don’t Need to Be Your Employees’ Friend

436_3122139I get it, I really do. You spend 40 or more hours a week with the people you hired, so it’s understandable that you’d start to form friendships. But once you start a business, you’ve got to draw a line between being friendly with your staff and trying to be their friend. The difference between the two is where the respect you need from them lies.

How to Be Friendly (Without Going Overboard)

Any office functions better when the staff gets along. In our office, you’ll hear people asking about their colleague’s weekends on Monday mornings, and often they’ll go to lunch together. I’m right there, engaging in dialogue with my team, but there’s a point at which I stop. Usually that’s in oversharing personal details. My motto is: if I’m willing to share it on Facebook, I can share it around the office. If not, I keep it to myself. Continue reading “Why You Don’t Need to Be Your Employees’ Friend” »

The Social Media Lie: How Not to Make Yourself Crazy with Twitter and Facebook Marketing

1019_4270607For a business of any size, it’s difficult to escape the constant recommendations about online marketing. If you want to reach customers, they say, you have to use social media. Set up accounts on Twitter and Facebook and business will explode.

Unfortunately for too many small businesses, this isn’t the reality. They fall into the social media trap, thinking that they can’t go wrong as long as they have accounts set up. In fact, having a social media presence can be worse than no presence at all if it takes an entrepreneur in the wrong direction. Here are four reasons some small businesses fail at social media.

  1. They Don’t Have Time

Once a social media account is setup and a business begins promoting it, the pressure is on. If all you do is blast out marketing messages to your followers, you’ll lose them quickly. Instead, you should start uploading interesting content that helps customers connect with your brand. This takes time—a commodity most small businesses have in short supply. Soon enough, customers visit a page, only to find it hasn’t been updated in months. This makes a brand look outdated and out of touch, making a worse impression than if there were no social media presence at all. Continue reading “The Social Media Lie: How Not to Make Yourself Crazy with Twitter and Facebook Marketing” »

Starting a Business: What Roles Do You Need to Fill?

609_3542405When you first start your business, whether you are set up as a sole proprietorship, partnership, a corporation, or a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you may take on all the work yourself. After all, you consider yourself a great multitasker, so why not do it all yourself?

You’ll learn this lesson sooner than later, but I’d rather you do it now and save yourself a lot of headache later: you’ve got to delegate to be an effective entrepreneur. That means that from Day 1, you should have the right people on your team that will help you skyrocket to success.

Identify What You Need Help With

To that end, you first have to determine what areas of your business you need help with. Start with the areas you’re less skilled at, or that take more time than you’ve got. For example: Continue reading “Starting a Business: What Roles Do You Need to Fill?” »

Incorporated in North Carolina? There’s an Important Deadline You Need to Know About

511_3098610If you plan to incorporate in North Carolina or file an LLC there, or already have, there’s a deadline coming up that you need to be aware of.

Your Annual Report is due April 15. This document keeps the Secretary of State for North Carolina up to date on your business contact information and ensures that you stay compliant with your business.

What Goes in Your North Carolina Annual Report?

If you’ve never filled out an Annual Report, it’s not too complicated. You will need to fill out:


  1. General Information on Your Business, including the name of your business entity, your fiscal year end — if you run a corporation, and the nature of your business.
  2. Registered Agent Information, in the event that you use a Registered Agent to handle your corporation or LLC paperwork. Provide the name of record and the address for the Registered Agent.
  3. Principal Office Information, including your business’s physical address, mailing address, and telephone number.
  4. Officers/Members/Managers Information, including a listing of all the officers, members, and/or managers of your business, as well as their titles and their business address.

It’s important that you update this information annually, especially if any of this data has changed in the past 12 months. Continue reading “Incorporated in North Carolina? There’s an Important Deadline You Need to Know About” »

The Difference Between a Trademark and a Copyright

1019_4569484If you’re interested in protecting your intellectual property, you’ve probably come across information on trademarks and copyrights, but maybe aren’t sure which you need. This post will break them down to help you make the right decision for your needs.

What is a Trademark?

You use a trademark on a product, word, name, phrase, or symbol you want to have exclusive rights to. There’s also what’s called a servicemark, which is used to trademark a service rather than a product. You can even trademark your domain names and social media usernames.

When you have a product or name that you don’t want others to use, you can trademark it. Now, others can’t copy your efforts, and if they do, there will be fines and penalties to deal with. Continue reading “The Difference Between a Trademark and a Copyright” »

10 Ways to Use CRM to Maintain Client Relationships

430_3311784This is a guest post by Megan Totka.

When it comes to maintaining relationships with your customers beyond the sale, customer relationship management (CRM) software is a real boon. Because it helps you stay on top of what’s happening with a given client, you spend less time researching and more time connecting in ways that really matter. Let’s look at 10 business growth strategies and show how you can use your CRM to make them happen.

  1. Make Highly Targeted Offers to the Right Clients

Gone are the days where you had no choice but to send a blanket email offer to all customers. Now you can use your customers’ preferences (recorded in your CRM) to send emails with offers they’re more likely to take you up on. If you know you’ve got customers who recently bought rain boots, you can send them an offer for a matching raincoat or umbrella.

  1. Segment Your List in a Way that Makes Sense

If you sell products online, you may have specific niche groups of clientele, like those who buy baby clothes for boys, those who buy baby clothes for girls, those who buy baby gifts for friends, et cetera. You can set up the email marketing lists in your CRM based on criteria you define. That will help you target your offers. Continue reading “10 Ways to Use CRM to Maintain Client Relationships” »