/Nellie Akalp
Nellie Akalp

About Nellie Akalp

Nellie Akalp is an entrepreneur, small business expert, speaker, and mother of four amazing kids. As CEO of CorpNet.com, she has helped more than half a million entrepreneurs launch their businesses. Akalp is nationally recognized as one of the most prominent experts on small business legal matters, contributing frequently to outlets like Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable, and Fox Small Business. A passionate entrepreneur herself, Akalp is committed to helping others take the reigns and dive into small business ownership. Through her public speaking, media appearances, and frequent blogging, she has developed a strong following within the small business community and has been honored as a Small Business Influencer Champion three years in a row.

Can An Employer Ask About Your Age?

If a job candidate is googling this question after a job interview at your company, you may be headed for trouble.

At both the federal and state level, anti-discrimination laws exist to prevent businesses from hiring or not hiring based on personal characteristics that are not relevant to an individual’s ability to do the job. Age is one of them. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people who are age 40 and older from being treated unfavorably because of their age during the hiring process—and when employed. In 2016, 20,857 age discrimination charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the government agency that enforces ADEA.

For private businesses, the ADEA only applies to those with 20 or more employees, but why put your business at risk? If you intend to grow your business, doesn’t it make sense to establish policies and procedures now to help ensure you don’t become a statistic and possibly face a costly lawsuit?

You need to pay attention to every aspect of employment:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Compensation
  • Work assignments and responsibilities
  • Opportunities for career advancement
  • Training
  • Fringe benefits
  • Layoffs
  • Firing

Any other terms or conditions of employment are also subject to age-related discrimination scrutiny.

While the ADEA doesn’t protect younger individuals from discrimination in the workplace, some state laws do. So, you could put yourself in a tricky situation if you in any way let the age of job applicants or employees affect how you treat people. Also, just because your business falls below the 20-employee minimum for ADEA to apply to you, you might be subject to your state’s age-related anti-discrimination laws. For example, individuals in Arkansas can file a claim against employers with a minimum of 9 employees under state law. And in Colorado, all employers, regardless of number of employees, must comply with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

What can you do to help keep your business from violating the laws protecting against age discrimination?

Below are a few tips that can help:

  • In your employment ads, avoid language that could land you in trouble. (For example, “Looking for a young, energetic professional…”) Generally, ADEA deems it unlawful to mention age limitations, preferences, and outright specifications in job advertisements.
  • Be cautious when asking an applicant to disclose her age or date of birth. While it’s not explicitly prohibited, that type of inquiry will be closely scrutinized to ensure it wasn’t asked in an effort to deter older workers from applying for a position or otherwise discriminate against them based on age. According to the EEOC, “If the information is needed for a lawful purpose, it can be obtained after the employee is hired.”
  • Don’t establish company-wide policies or practices if they will adversely affect applicants or employees who are age 40 or older. [Note that liability might not apply if a policy or practice’s impact is due to a reasonable factor other than age (RFOA)].
  • Make sure your business’s managers and employees understand that age-related harassment is illegal when frequent or severe enough to cause a hostile work environment.

Realize we’ve merely glazed over the tip of the iceberg with the considerations above, so I encourage you to consult with a human resource professional and/or attorney for guidance and feedback on your hiring and employment efforts.

While avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit shouldn’t be a concern that keeps you up at night, it is something you need to be vigilant about through having sound standards, procedures, and staff training in place. I know you’ve worked hard to bring your business this far; don’t let sloppy employment practices stand in the way of your success.

So You Want To Start An Accounting Firm? Here’s What You Need To Know.

If you’re a CPA, making the transition from working for someone else to being your own boss has probably crossed your mind. Self-employment offers an opportunity to have more control over your own schedule, allowing you to better balance your professional endeavors and personal life. It also enables you to manage your firm the way you want to manage it. Indeed, there are some attractive perks to starting your own accounting firm. There are also a lot of things to consider and accomplish in the process.

Think It Through

Before you move forward with launching your own business, make sure self-employment is the right choice for you. It doesn’t suit everyone, and it’s best to discover that before you devote time and money to the cause. Ask yourself:

  • What is motivating you to be a business owner? 

Think carefully about what’s driving your decision. If your motivation comes from the inability to deal with your boss or your coworkers, you might want to reconsider. When you have your own business, you’ll need to find ways to work harmoniously with many different people. Not all of them will be easy to get along with. Realize that starting a business won’t enable you to avoid interpersonal challenges.

  • Are you OK with assuming some risk? 

Starting a business comes with initially forfeiting a steady paycheck and paid vacation time. And with no employer-paid health insurance, you need to seek and pay for that necessity on your own. If your business doesn’t succeed or doesn’t grow as quickly as you anticipate, you might face some financial hardships. Are you willing and able to accept that?

  • Do you have enough capital to get started?

Many new businesses fail in their first few years of operation because they don’t have enough initial capital. Be realistic about your financing. Generally, it’s best to have enough money available to support yourself for at least six months to a year as your business becomes established.

  • Are you self-disciplined and driven? 

One of the biggest changes you’ll experience in going from employee to self-employed is holding yourself accountable for your work. With no boss to give you assignments and check in about their status, you need to keep yourself on track. You’ll need to be self-motivated and organized—your business success will depend on that.

  • Are you prepared to handle all the aspects of running a business? 

As a business owner, you’ll do more than just accounting work for your clients. You’ll wear many hats as you manage your business. Marketing your company, qualifying leads, negotiating contracts, dealing with IT issues…it all falls on you—at least in the beginning stages of your business.

If after that exercise you decide you want to pursue starting your own accounting firm, I expect you’re wondering, “Where do I go from here?”

To legitimately launch your business, here’s an overview of the seven legal steps to get there:

1. Select a business name

Think about whether you want to market your business using your own name (e.g., “Jane Smith, Accountant”) or create a business name (e.g., “Accounting You Can Count On”). As a solopreneur accountant, you might opt to use your own name because you and your brand are one in the same. On the other hand, choosing a business name might help you be perceived as well-established and experienced.

If you go with a business name, make sure it is available to use before you start printing it on business cards and other marketing materials. Check to see if the name is available in the state where you’re planning to operate your business by checking with your state’s secretary of state office. We have a free business name search tool here at CorpNet that can help, as well.

Also check to see if the domain name for your business is available (e.g., accountingyoucancounton.com). Sites like GoDaddy.com will let you instantly find out if there’s a suitable domain, and they will offer suggestions for alternate names if the one you want is already taken.

No one in your state is using the name you want? Excellent! Next, you’ll want to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if anyone has a pending request for or has successfully registered a trademark for the name. Don’t skip this step because you’ll land in legal hot water if you infringe on another company’s trademark.

2. Choose a legal structure and register your business.

The business structure you choose will affect your business from both legal and tax standpoints. Solo accountants and small firms often choose to register as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), PLLC (Professional Limited Liability Company), or PC (Professional Corporation). As state constructs, these business entities are subject to different rules in different states. You can find the specific rules for accountants in your state via the CorpNet website or you can call the Secretary of State’s office in your state to get the details you need.

3. Obtain the licenses and permits you’ll need.

Regardless of which state you’re operating your business in, you’ll need some form of licensing to provide public accounting services. You will need to hold a CPA license and your firm may need a public accountancy license. To determine the requirements in your state, check with your State Board of Accountancy.

Besides CPA accreditation you may also need other state and local municipality permits, as well. They might include a general business operation license, a signage permit, and possibly a home occupation permit (if you’re operating your business from home. CorpNet can help you determine the license and permit requirements applicable to you, or you can check with your local government office.

4. Apply for a Tax ID Number

Also called a Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number), this allows the IRS to track your business’s transactions. LLCs and corporations are required to have an EIN and many banks will require that you have one before they’ll allow you to open a business bank account.

5. Open a bank account exclusively for your business.

It’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate—for both legal and tax purposes. In fact, that separation is mandatory for LLCs and corporations. After you’ve registered your business with the state and have your Tax ID number, you will have the information you need to open a business bank account.

6. Get insurance to protect your business.

Even though officially forming an LLC or incorporating your business will help to lower your personal liability related to business debt and lawsuits against associates, it will not protect your personal assets if action is brought against you due to your own actions. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider getting an insurance policy for peace of mind. Talk with a knowledgeable and trustworthy insurance agent who understands the needs of accountants and other businesses in the financial services industry. A reliable agent can guide you to the type of coverage that will best protect you, such as a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP), Professional Liability, Insurance, Data Breach Coverage, or others.

7. Know your business compliance responsibilities.

Registering your business is just the beginning. LLCs and corporations have ongoing requirements to keep their businesses in good standing. For example, most states require LLCs and PLLCs to file an annual report each year and show proof of a valid certification. Corporations have more corporate compliance responsibilities. Besides annual reports, they must conduct annual meetings, prepare meeting minutes, and meet other compliance requirements.

I know it can be tough to keep up with everything that’s required and when it’s due, so I recommend using the CorpNet B.I.Z. (Business Information Zone) compliance tool. It’s a free monitoring tool that can help you stay on top of your state filings and fees due throughout the year.

The steps to starting an accounting business aren’t overly complex. To make sure you launch your business on solid legal ground, you’ll want to make sure you do it right. Consider talking with a legal professional who can guide you and look to CorpNet to ensure your business forms and filings are done accurately and on time.

If you want more detail about launching your accounting business, join me on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time for CPAacademy.org’s upcoming webinar, “Steps to Start Your Accounting Firm.” Registration is required, so sign up today!

Avoiding A Job Discrimination Law Suit

Hiring the right people to be part of your team can greatly affect your business’s ability to succeed. It’s an important process—and a tricky one! When considering job candidates, you need to be careful or you could find yourself facing legal problems. If at any point during the hiring process you don’t comply with the federal and state (and even some local) laws that protect people from job discrimination, you risk having a lawsuit filed against your company.

When hiring employees, you must comply with all anti-discrimination laws. Even an unintentional misstep can cause major issues for your business.

Job Discrimination Complaints Happen: Don’t Become A Statistic!

The United States EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) received 91,905 complaints of discrimination in 2016. That doesn’t include any charges filed at the state or local levels.

If you want to avoid becoming a statistic, everyone involved in the hiring process at your company should pay careful attention to complying with anti-discrimination laws through every step of the hiring process. This includes hiring ads, job applications, interview questions, background checks, and review of job candidates’ social media accounts.

All of the above and any other aspects of hiring employees need to follow the laws the EEOC enforces, which prohibit various types of discrimination.

Keep in mind that what I’ll share here is to give you a sense of what you need to consider and learn more about. You should consult a human resources professional and/or attorney for more specific information and guidance.

  • Hiring Ads

Be careful in wording your job advertisements so they don’t imply any sort of bias. A few helpful rules of thumb include:

  • Use gender-neutral job titles. (Such as “sales representative” rather than “salesman” and “server” over “waitress”)
  • Avoid mentioning qualities that might imply you’re looking for or avoiding someone of a particular religious background. (For example, “traditional values” or “clean shaven”)
  • Keep age out of it. (Acceptable: seeking candidates with “fresh perspectives”; Not acceptable: seeking “young” candidates)
  • Don’t mention race, unless you’re participating in an affirmative action program. (And in that case, phrase it so that it conveys applicants can, if interested, complete a voluntary identification form.)
  • Be careful how you present the physical qualities needed in a job position so your hiring ads don’t discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Use specifics when stating physical requirements. (For example, “must be able to lift up to 30 pounds” rather than “must be strong” and “requires ability to travel between office locations” rather than “must walk to and from office locations”)

This is just a sampling, so I recommend you do your homework and get a professional to check your ad for compliance before you publish it in print or online.

  • Job Applications

Many states and some cities have set their own employment discrimination laws, which expand on the provisions of federal laws.

For example, “ban the box” legislation exists to help prevent criminal records from eliminating qualified applicants from being asked to a job interview.

To date, over half of the states in the U.S. have adopted ban the box laws, which outlaw questions like “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” and similar questions on job applications.

Also, keep your eyes and ears open about interest in legislation requiring removal of salary history questions from job applications. In January 2018, Massachusetts will be the first state to implement that law and other states and cities are considering similar legislation.

  • Job Interview Questions

As an employer, it’s important to recognize job interview questions that are illegal. You and anyone else on your team who will interview candidates needs to carefully formulate the questions you ask and take care not to overstep any legal bounds during interviews. At CorpNet, we have a standard set of best practices for interviewing job candidates, so our staff has clear direction when meeting prospective employees.

Steer clear of questions that guide job candidates into revealing information about their race, color, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, disability, and genetic information.

Focus your interview questions on your candidates’ skills, behaviors, and work experience as related to the job position you’re interviewing them for.

  • Background Checks

When requesting financial or criminal background information, you must ensure you’re treating everyone equally. It’s illegal to only check the backgrounds of individuals you believe are of a certain age, race, color, national origin, sex, or religion or who have a disability or genetic disposition.

  • Review Of Job Candidates’ Social Media Accounts

As you well know, social media posts can shed much light on an individual’s personality, drive, and determination. As with background checks, you should have consistency in how you go about researching job candidates’ social media activity. Make sure you conduct your searches at the same points in the process for every prospective employee.

Keep in mind that the person you see online may not be a true blue picture of whom the individual is “in real life.” Rather than jump in and look at applicants’ social media accounts early in the process and unintentionally develop a mindset about the people you think they are, you might benefit from waiting until you’ve met them face to face. By doing so, you run less risk of being accused of selecting or disqualifying candidates based on characteristics like age, race, religion, marital status, etc.

With so many steps in the hiring process and points at which a slip-up could happen, it may seem intimidating to even consider bringing on employees. Take a deep breath! By educating yourself, seeking expert human resources and legal guidance, and putting procedures and standards in place at your company, you’ll be better prepared to hire with confidence.

By | April 14th, 2017|Business Operations, Hiring|0 Comments

Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

Hiring the right people requires a sure-fire interviewing process. To effectively interview prospective employees, you need more than a little dedicated time and a list of questions; you need an understanding of how you can draw out the information you need about an individual’s knowledge and capabilities. You also need to tune into character nuances that might indicate how well a candidate will work with your team. And, of course, you need to do all of that without breaking any anti-discrimination laws.

Interviewing can be intimidating for not only prospective employees, but also for employers! By following some best practices for interviewing applicants, you can better ensure your interview process does the job well, allowing you to home in on that one individual who will be an exceptional fit for the position.

Get The Job Done Right: 6 Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

  • Prepare.

Whether you alone will interview the job candidate or you decide to have multiple interviewers, everyone involved should prepare in advance.

Interviewers should know what experience, capabilities, and professional characteristics are critical to the job (it helps to rank them in order of most important to least important), so everyone is on the same page when assessing job candidates. Also, each interviewer needs to understand her role in the interview and have questions prepared that will draw out relevant information about the job candidate’s knowledge, skills, and experience. To do this, you all need to be intimately familiar with the job position’s requirements and the information a job candidate provided thus far (job application, resume, phone interview, etc.) that has awarded her an in-person interview.

  • Make It As Less Stressful As Possible.

To get things off to the best start, be on time. Making an on-time candidate wait around for you and other interviewers to finish up phone calls or run for coffee at the last minute will send the wrong impression and add to any nervousness she’s already feeling. Begin the interview on a friendly note with some casual small talk to make the job candidate feel comfortable and at ease. When excessively nervous, even an individual who is fully capable and competent will lose the ability to put her best foot forward in an interview. I would never want to count anyone out simply because of interview jitters. I’ve always found that breaking the ice with some light-hearted, easy-going conversation helps everyone relax and sets the stage for a productive exchange of information.

Also, set aside enough time for the interview so you aren’t rushing through it. If you’re constantly checking the clock, you won’t be concentrating as fully as you should be on the interview. Your applicant will sense that and may not answer questions in adequate detail because she doesn’t want to impose on your time.

  • Comply With The Law 

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws exist to protect applicants from biases of age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, genetics, or disabilities. Everyone involved in the interviewing and hiring process should understand which job interview questions are acceptable to ask and the job interview questions that are illegal. Use questions that are focused on drawing out information about your interviewee’s skills, knowledge, and experience relevant to the job. That will help you avoid inquiring about personal situations and lifestyle preferences, which could raise suspicions of discrimination if a candidate isn’t hired.

  • Ask Questions That Allow The Job Candidate To Do The Talking.

The best way to learn more about a prospective employee’s capabilities, attitude, and professional style is to let her have the floor. Consider asking open-ended questions that solicit a more detailed answer than just “yes” or “no.” Also consider including questions that ask applicants to share about some past on-the-job experiences and hypothetical situations. These can help shed light on how well a candidate might deal with certain circumstances and challenges on the job.

Some examples of questions that might draw out meaningful responses include:

  • What interests you most about working for our company?
  • What did you like most about your most recent position with your former employer?
  • Describe a time when you had to share unwelcome but necessary news with a customer.
  • Tell us about when your presentation skills helped change someone’s preconceived ideas about something. How did you prepare for the challenge?
  • Suppose you were recently hired as a manager at a local restaurant. Every week, a certain customer comes in for lunch. And every week, that customer asks to talk to you to complain about the wait time, the server, or the food. How would you deal with this customer?

These types of open questions can help you gauge a job candidate’s communication abilities, problem solving skills, and professionalism. They will also help you get a sense for how an applicant may react under certain circumstances and how well she might adapt to your company’s culture.

  • Listen Well And Take Good Notes.

Minimize distractions so your attention doesn’t wander to other things while you’re conducting an interview. As your applicant is answering your questions, be fully present mentally when listening. And take notes. You may think your memory is good, but it’s probably not going to live up to your expectations! You’ll want to capture what you liked and didn’t like about how the job candidate responded to you. After interviewing multiple candidates, you’ll have your notes to refer back to as you assess each individual and decide whom you want to ask back to attend subsequent interviews.

  • Give The Job Candidate An Opportunity To Ask Questions

Remember, the interview process is also to help qualified candidates learn whether a position might be right for them. Be sure to provide ample opportunity for them to ask questions about the job responsibilities, your company’s policies, and the working environment at your company.

Interviewing, when done effectively, will reveal a lot about an applicant’s skills, experience, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. With proper planning and attention to the best practices I’ve shared here, your interviews can help ensure you hire the most suitable person for the job. For further guidance and to make sure you comply with all the legal requirements (thus avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit), consider enlisting the help of a human resources expert and/or attorney.  Doing it right from the start can save you time, headaches, and employee turnover and training costs.

Job Interview Questions That Are Illegal

As a small business owner, it’s important to understand which job interview questions are illegal. Laws at the federal and state level exist to protect people from being discriminated against during the hiring process. As an employer, you need to carefully formulate the questions you ask during a job interview. In our office, anyone interviewing a potential job candidate must follow a standard set of best practices for interviewing job candidates. Such practices are critical for avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit that could tear down the business success you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

So what types of questions should you steer clear from so your company doesn’t land legal hot water?

Generally, any questions that guide job candidates into revealing information about their race, color, age, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or genetic information should not enter into your conversation. You also need to be careful about asking for criminal background information.

Several examples of questions you may want to avoid include:

  • Do you have a husband (or wife)? While you might want to ask this question to find out whether the candidate will have enough time to dedicate to the job, don’t ask this question. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, questions about marital status are frequently used to discriminate against women and illegally deny or limit employment opportunities. This type of question might also be construed as trying to get an individual to disclose gender or sexual orientation.
  • How many children do you have? By law, you cannot deny someone a job because they have children, are pregnant, or plan to have children sometime in the future. If the impetus to ask this or a similar question is to figure out how much time a candidate can devote to the job, then consider asking something like, “What hours would you be available to work?”
  • When did you graduate from college? Because this could enable you to figure out a job candidate’s age, you need to nix this question. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects prospective employees from being turned down because of their age.
  • What was the nature of your discharge from the military? The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects people from job discrimination based on their past, present, or future military obligations. You can ask a candidate about the skills and training they received during their military service but not why they were discharged.
  • Are there any religious holidays you honor? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from denying employment based on an individual’s religious affiliation. Don’t set your business up for trouble by asking this type of question, even if your intention is simply to get a sense for how much time off a job candidate might expect.
  • Have you been arrested at any time in the past? Federal law doesn’t prevent you from asking about a candidate’s criminal history, but using that information when making a hiring decision might violate Title VII. And some states have made it illegal to ask about arrest records or to wait until later in the hiring process to inquire about them. Generally, you can’t disqualify a candidate because of a conviction record, unless the offense directly relates to the nature of the job. For example, someone with a child molestation conviction could be denied an elementary school teaching position.
  • Do you drink socially? Although you might be asking in a friendly way to break the ice, this question could be trouble for you. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects qualified individuals who have had problems with alcohol abuse.
  • When did you last use any illegal drugs? This is a tricky one. Although asking job candidates if they presently use illegal drugs (current users are not protected by the ADA), you may not ask about past drug use.
  • What is your first language? Avoid this and similar questions that could be interpreted as a way to determine where someone is from or what their nationality is.

Realize this list of examples isn’t exhaustive and it isn’t meant as a substitute for legal guidance. But I do hope it will give you a better idea about the types of questions you should avoid when interviewing potential employees. Typically, you can play it safe by focusing your interview questions on asking about your candidates’ skills, behaviors, and work experience as they relate to their ability to perform the job position you’re filling. Also, do your homework so you understand the laws that pertain to you at the federal level and within your state. I also recommend that you consider seeking direction from a human resources professional and/or an attorney. They can assist you in developing or reviewing your interview questions so you don’t unknowingly break the law and put your business at risk.

Six Tips To Help Business Leaders Gracefully Handle Adversity In The Office

In an ideal business world, everyone working at a company would always get along famously and harmoniously collaborate day in and day out toward shared objectives they all believe in passionately.

Sounds nice, right? Unfortunately, it’s not very realistic—neither for the entrepreneur starting a business nor the business owner running an existing business for years.

In all companies, leaders face adversity within their ranks at times. Adversity isn’t usually fun, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating either.

How can you manage adversity gracefully so it doesn’t hurt your business?

Below are some ways I’ve found to effectively work through it.

  • Leverage Relationships

By focusing on your shared goals rather than what you’re butting heads about, you can neutralize an at-odds situation and discuss issues openly. Realize you’ll have had to lay the groundwork first by building relationships with your employees. I’ve found having mutual respect is of the utmost importance when talking things out with employees.

  • Give Them A Chance To Vent 

Sometimes people just need to get dissatisfaction off their chests. The mere act of listening without judgment can diffuse irritability. I try to give my team the confidence and capacity to vent (with proper boundaries in place, of course) when something is bothering them. It gives me an opportunity to listen and learn about what’s upsetting them, to acknowledge and validate I understand their feelings, and to collaborate on a resolution.

  • Never Make Assumptions

You know what they say about assuming! It’s true. If you jump to conclusions and try to figure out what your employees are thinking without asking them directly, you will shatter their confidence in you. Only they can accurately express what’s bothering them and why it’s causing them to act they way they are.

  • Show Integrity—ALWAYS!

Even when you find it difficult to reason with someone, you need to keep a cool head and act professionally. It’s never OK to talk behind an employee’s back or otherwise discredit their feelings and concerns. Always take the higher road—and always follow through on what you say you will do when resolving an issue.

  • Do A Post-Mortem

Aim to figure out what series of events or conditions caused the adversity to occur. If it was something within your control, make an effort to avoid that perfect storm again in the future. And if justified, apologize! A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward healing hurt and restoring trust.

  • Don’t Let It Ruin Your Day

Sometimes adversity happens despite your best efforts. As imperfect humans, we will sometimes have misunderstandings, be less patient than we should be, and point fingers at one another. Don’t take incidents of adversity personally. Often, they arise because every person’s frame of reference and degree of adaptability is different. Realize adversity happens in every business—and it’s something we can use to become better leaders. Each time we handle difficult situations, we learn more about our employees and ourselves. The key is to harness that knowledge and use it to more effectively communicate and resolve issues in the future.

Unfortunately the ideal world I described at the start of this article doesn’t exist. But by handling adversity more adeptly, we can get closer to creating it.

Why deal with the adversity and headaches that come with trying to file the paperwork required to form an LLC or incorporate your business? At CorpNet, we’re here to complete your business filings accurately and on time. Contact us today

S Corporation Election Deadline Is Almost Here: What Startups And Existing Businesses Need To Know

If you’ve legally established your business as a C Corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) that has elected to be viewed as a corporation for tax purposes, you have the option of filing IRS Form 2553 to get S Corporation tax treatment.

Why would you want to do so, you ask? Because it could make a big impact on your business’s bottom line.

The Potential Advantage for LLCs

LLC owners who find themselves with a high self-employment tax burden might benefit from choosing the S Corp election. LLCs are normally taxed like sole proprietorships—with all business profits subject to self-employment taxes. With S Corp tax treatment, self-employment taxes are only applied to wages and salaries rather than on all business profits.

The Potential Advantage for C Corporations

C Corporations can benefit from S Corp election because it avoids the costly double taxation C Corps normally face.

As a completely separate entity from its owners, a C Corp essentially pays taxes twice on its income:

1) When the corporation makes money, it files a tax return and pays taxes on those profits, and

2) If the corporation distributes profits to shareholders, those distributions get taxed again on the shareholders’ personal tax returns.

If a C Corporation opts to be treated as an S Corp for tax purposes, however, the business itself doesn’t file its own taxes. Instead, shareholders report their individual shares of the business’s profits and losses on their own personal tax returns.

For instance, if you’re an S Corporation shareholder with 50 percent ownership of the business, you would pay taxes on 50 percent of the profits. That income would be taxed as a profit distribution, and you might get a favorable tax rate. Note that you would also pay taxes on any income you received as wages and salaries (and that portion of your income would be subject to self-employment taxes).

Ultimately, the advantage of filing for S Corporation tax treatment comes from the fact that the corporation doesn’t pay taxes on its profits—all profits flow through to the individual shareholders’ tax returns.

Heads Up: The S Corporation Election Deadline Is Approaching

To make the S Corp election, you need to file Form 2553. If you want the election to be effective in the next tax year, you can file at any time during the tax year prior. If you’re filing in the year you want it to be effective, you must do so no more than two months and 15 days after the beginning of the tax year. According to the IRS, the “2-month period begins on the day of the month the tax year begins and ends with the close of the day before the numerically corresponding day of the second calendar month following that month. If there is no corresponding day, use the close of the last day of the calendar month.”

For existing C Corporations and LLCs, you have until March 21 to take the S Corp election for 2017.

New companies have 75 days from the date of their incorporation to file Form 2553. If they meet that deadline, they’ll receive S Corp tax treatment starting in their first tax year.

IRS Form 2553 provides additional detail about the filing deadlines and other important information, including S Corporation election eligibility restrictions.

Time Is Of The Essence For 2017

If you’re considering the S Corporation election for 2017, I recommend talking with a tax advisor to determine the potential impact it will have on your businesses tax obligations. If you find it is a great fit for your business, contact CorpNet as soon as possible to take care of filing your Form 2553 so you have the peace of mind it’s completed accurately. There’s still time (but not much!) to get it done before the deadline.

By | March 2nd, 2017|Other|0 Comments

Four Ways Busy Entrepreneurs Can Show Their Loved Ones They Care

Although Valentine’s Day has passed, it doesn’t mean the time has expired for us busy business owners to show our family and friends we love them. Building and nurturing relationships never goes out of season. And now more than ever, with the divide among people getting wider as the political and social climate becomes ever more heated, I believe we all need to step up our efforts to show we care.

But when you’re an entrepreneur bogged down with countless tasks and multiple concerns on your mind, how can you mange all that AND show your people some love?

That’s challenging for all business owners—whether you’re starting a business or have been running one for years.

I’ve found the key is to plan ahead and make a conscious effort every day.

Some ideas for ways you can show your loved ones you care despite your hectic schedule include:

  • Break bread with them. Although it may be tempting to work through lunches and dinners, set time aside to dine with your significant other and/or family and reconnect. You will likely find you’re more productive and mentally alert after breaking away and spending time with them.
  • Listen to their concerns and challenges—even when you’re inundated with your own. They need you! And I always find it’s therapeutic to lend an ear and know you’ve made someone’s day better by just being there to hear what’s weighing them down.
  • Schedule one-on-one time. Whether a romantic rendezvous with your spouse, a shopping trip to the mall with your teen, or an hour at the local café with your best friend, schedule time to communicate one on one. When you’re dealing with daunting deadlines and a never-ending list of to-dos at the office, it may be the only way to ensure you and your loved ones have alone time together.
  • Embrace the power of “it’s the little things that matter.” Whether it’s stopping at the local convenience store on your way home to buy them their favorite ice cream or giving them a big hug “just because,” realize even the smallest gestures of caring can demonstrate your love in a big way. Best of all, this can literally require only seconds or minutes out of your jam-packed day.

The Difference It Makes

When you make the time and effort to give your loved ones the attention they deserve, everyone wins. They will feel needed and cared for, and you will feel better about yourself and less personally stressed because you’re not neglecting the people who matter. I find it also helps me maintain a positive attitude in my work. When your personal life has harmony, your mind has greater peace and can more fully focus on doing what it takes to make your business succeed.

Want more time to show your loved ones you care? Free up more time by using CorpNet.com to prepare and submit your business filings. Contact us today to save you time—and money!

You Can’t Put Your Heart Into Your Business If You Don’t Show Yourself Some Love, Too.

With Valentine’s Day finally here, February is perfect for reflecting on and celebrating how committed you’ve been to your entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s also an ideal time to assess how well you’ve been taking care of yourself.

As a small business owner, you likely work long hours, eat many meals on the fly (if at all!), regularly forfeit a good night’s sleep, and pass on countless invitations to enjoy activities outside of work. While those sacrifices may seem as though they’ll make you more productive and your business more successful, ultimately they can have the opposite effect.

I urge you to realize YOU are the most important asset your business has. And if you run yourself ragged, ignoring the needs of your mind and body, your business will suffer. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually your entrepreneurial effectiveness will deteriorate due to your self-neglect.

As we celebrate the month of amore, how about showing yourself some love while you’re showing others affection?

To refresh your memory on how to do that, here are some ideas:

  • Get away.

Working non-stop can leave you frazzled and resentful. Even if for only a half-day, plan an escape from the grind. During your getaway, indulge in an activity you love whether it’s catching the latest blockbuster on the big screen or getting pampered at a spa.

  • Eat quality foods.

What you eat affects how you look and feel—which in turn impacts your self-confidence and energy level. I’m not saying you shouldn’t partake in some Valentine’s Day chocolates (I certainly intend to!), but don’t turn a holiday-inspired splurge into a chronic bad habit. Fuel your body and mind with healthful foods that offer the nutrition you need to perform at your peak.

  • Get moving.

Nothing can bust stress better than working out. Whether powerwalking on the treadmill, a Pilates session, or pumping iron is your thing, carve out time to treat your body right.

  • Take five.

If getting away from it all for an extended period isn’t entirely possible, at the very least squeeze in short breaks throughout the day. They will give you opportunities to refresh your mind, regain focus, and, if necessary, adjust your attitude.

  • Say No.

Many entrepreneurs have a difficult time with this—and it’s to their detriment. I know, because I’m one of them! When you have an innate desire to help others, saying “no” to taking on tasks and responsibilities doesn’t come naturally. But if you say “yes” to every request, you’ll shortchange your ability to fulfill your existing priorities. Avoid overextending yourself by mastering the art of saying “no.”

Don’t treat tending to your own physical and mental well-being an afterthought. Make a conscious effort to show yourself some love this month, and make it a priority every month and year going forward.

Foreign Qualifying your Business – FAQs

Happy February! With winter now in full swing, we will be talking about a way to get away from the cold with Foreign Qualifying! This month, we discuss the opportunities of Foreign Qualification into another state and what the requirements are for those states.

 

Q: What is foreign qualification?

A: A corporation or LLC transacting business in a state(s) outside of their state of incorporation is typically required to foreign qualify in those other states.

 

Q: What constitutes transacting business in another state and when do I need to foreign qualify?

A: As examples, your company is considered to be transacting business in an additional state if…

  • You have a physical presence in the state
  • You have employees in the state
  • You accept orders in the state
  • You have a bank account in the state

State rules vary and this isn’t a complete list. If you have any questions about whether you need to foreign qualify in a state, you can speak with an attorney.

 

Q: If I incorporated in Delaware or Nevada (but don’t live/work there), does this mean I need to foreign qualify in my own state?

A: Delaware is often chosen as the state of incorporation, especially by larger companies, because it has the most developed and flexible corporate statutes in the country and is considered pro-business.  Nevada has also become popular because of its lack of state corporate income tax, franchise tax and personal income tax.  It also has relatively low fees.

However, if you incorporate out-of-state, such as in Delaware or in Nevada, but do much of your business in your home state, you will most likely need to foreign qualify in your own state. You will then be subject to the same fees, taxes and regulations as if you had incorporated there in the first place, and you will have paid filing fees (and, perhaps franchise taxes) to more than one state.

Example: If you have a small business and are going to be conducting a substantial amount of your business in California, it will likely be beneficial to incorporate in the state of California. If you incorporate out-of-state, such as in Delaware or in Nevada, but do much of your business in California, you will have to foreign qualify in the state of California. You will then be subject to the same fees, taxes and regulations as if you had incorporated in the California in the first place, and you will have paid state filing fees (and, perhaps franchise taxes) not only in the state of California but also to the state of Delaware or Nevada as well.

 

Q: What is the process to foreign qualify?

A: You will need to file a Certificate of Authority, which grants a foreign corporation/LLC permission to transact business in a state. In most cases, you will need to show a Certificate of Good Standing from your state of incorporation/formation in order to get a Certificate of Authority.

 

Do you have a question regarding Foreign Qualifications? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638