/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.

To-Dos When Starting a Part-Time Business

So you’re not ready to quit your “day job,” but you want to start a business? Many entrepreneurs dip their toes to test the waters by launching their businesses part-time. In some ways, it’s the best of both worlds; you pursue your dream of business ownership while still bringing home a steady paycheck.

Although there are some considerations unique to starting a business part-time, you’ll find other aspects are the same as when starting a company full-time.

For example, you have to take the necessary steps to operate your business legally.

 

  1. Make sure you can legally use your business name.

Either check your state’s Secretary of State database or do a corporate name search to see if anyone else has registered the name you want. I also advise using CorpNet’s free trademark search tool to see if someone has already filed for a trademark on the name.

  1. Select a business structure.

By default, your business will be considered a sole proprietor unless you file for a different legal structure. Operating as a sole proprietorship offers simplicity, but it does not separate your personal and business finances and liabilities. That means if your business is sued, your personal assets might be in jeopardy.

I recommend considering formally registering your business by either forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or incorporating (C Corporation or S Corporation) to protect yourself. Doing so shields your personal assets from the liabilities of your company.

Before talking with an attorney for guidance, you can start learning about the advantages of different business structures by using CorpNet’s Business Structure Wizard.

Note that the different structures offer different taxation pros and cons, so I suggest also talking with an accounting or tax professional to explore which structure will work best for you in that respect.

  1. Register your business name.

When you form an LLC or incorporate your business in your state, registration of your name automatically happens. However, if you choose to operate as a sole proprietor and want to use a fictitious name for your company, you must register your business name by filing a Doing Business As (DBA). Don’t skip this step! It will allow you to operate your business under that name in your state and it will prevent other sole proprietors in your state from using that name.

  1. Get the licenses and permits you need.

Depending on the type of business you’re operating and where you’re located, you may have to secure licenses and permits to legally run your business. Federal, state, county, and/or local licenses and permits might apply to you. To avoid costly penalties and fines, research which permits and licenses you need to have to legally run your business.

 

Part-time Doesn’t Mean You Should Approach It Half-Heartedly.

Aside from the legal considerations in starting your part-time business, keep these things in mind, as well:

  • Know your limits.

There are only so many hours in each day, so carefully assess your capacity to work in and on your business before jumping in.

  • Make sure there’s no conflict of interest or legal restrictions.

Check with your employer about any rules that would prevent you from starting and operating your type of business while still on that company’s payroll.

  • Take it seriously.

Although you may still be working for someone else in your other job, you’ll need to give your part-time business serious time and energy if you ever want to make it a full-time endeavor.

 

Need Help Getting Your Part-time Startup Off The Ground?

If you’re planning to give part-time entrepreneurship a go, CorpNet is here to help you take care of all the business filings required to legally launch and run your business. Contact us today to make sure your part-time business has all of its registration paperwork submitted accurately and on time.

By | January 11th, 2017|Running A Small Business, Starting a Business|2 Comments

Ready Or Not – Is Your Business Prepared For 2017?

Congratulations on what I hope has been another prosperous year for your business! With 2016 coming to a close, now is the time to reflect on your successes and what you still need to do to make sure you’re set to make the upcoming year better than ever.

Do you have all of your business’s end-of-year responsibilities wrapped up?

Here’s a list of questions I recommend you ask yourself, so you can identify what you still need to take care of before the New Year begins:

  1. Have you organized all your accounting and tax records?

Tax time can be painstaking enough without needing to dig through a disorderly pile of receipts, invoices, and other paperwork. The more organized you are with your income, expense, charitable giving, past tax returns, W-9s, 1099s, etc., the less time and fewer headaches you’ll have when working with your accountant or tax preparer.

  1. Did you prepare and approve your 2017 budget?

Having a budget for the upcoming year can help steer your finances in a positive direction. Your budget will help you establish limits on expenses related to the various areas of your business. By identifying what you expect to spend throughout the year and how much revenue you expect to take in, you can more quickly recognize what has gone amiss if profitability isn’t where you want it to be.

  1. Is your marketing plan in place for the New Year?

Just as your budget can guide your business’s finances, your marketing plan will provide a roadmap that drives which strategies and tactics you’ll use to promote your business. And it will help ensure you schedule time to execute them. From printing advertising materials to engaging on social media to creating website content to exhibiting at trade shows to launching email campaigns, your marketing plan should identify all of the ways you intend to get your business in front of prospective customers.

  1. Have you assessed your need for new hires?

If you had a difficult time growing your business this year because you were understaffed, maybe it’s time to add employees. It will take some time to create job descriptions, determine wages/salaries (and put them in your budget!), and work through the other considerations that go along with hiring, so begin now. That way you’ll be able to begin accepting resumes and interviewing candidates as early as possible in the New Year.

  1. Have you reviewed your business structure to make sure it’s still the right fit?

If you’d sleep better at night with a greater degree of liability protection or if your business’s tax situation isn’t ideal, it may be time to change the legal structure you selected for your business. This is especially true for sole proprietors. Either forming an LLC or incorporating your business will separate your personal assets from those of your company. So personally, you will have limited liability if your company were to be sued. That means your home, vehicle, savings accounts, etc. will have more protection than if you continued to operate your business as a sole proprietorship.

You can use our Business Structures Wizard as a resource to help determine which structure might be best in your situation. Before making a decision about changing your business structure, however, I recommend talking with an attorney and tax professional to make sure you understand all the pros and cons of each option.

Ready Or Not—The New Year Is Near

How did you fare after answering the above questions? If you’ve discovered you’re not quite prepared for 2017, I say, “Better late than never!” Try to schedule some time between now and the end of the year to tackle at least a few of the to-dos. A little work now can go a long way toward putting your business on the right path in the New Year.

Planning to change your business structure in 2017? Don’t deal with the hassle of completing and submitting all the paperwork on your own. At CorpNet we’re here to take that off of your plate, so you can spend your time and energy growing your business. Contact us today!

By | December 20th, 2016|Business Checklists|2 Comments

5 Ways to Keep On Top of Your Accounting

A small business lives or dies by its cash flow. If you’re not staying on top of your accounting, you could be making significant mistakes that can derail business growth. Failing to reconcile your business bank accounts, not keeping track of income and expenses, or waiting to apply payments to open receivables leads to incomplete or incorrect accounting information.

Business accounting doesn’t have to be an onerous task. With the right mindset, tools, and support, you can stay on top of your accounting and keep accurate track of your business’ income and expenses. These five tips will help you manage your numbers even if you’re not a ‘numbers’ person, and keep careful track of your accounting data.

Five Ways to Handle Small Business Accounting

  1. Hire an accountant: Some business owners have neither the time nor the inclination to complete their own accounting tasks. For these business owners, hiring an accountant makes sense. Look for a local accountant so it’s convenient to meet with your accountant on a regular basis. Make your accountant’s life easier by collecting all of your paperwork in a folder or envelope, and organizing it before your meetings. Keep track of all expenses, save receipts, and include bank statements and other payment indicators. To find a small business accountant, ask at your Chamber of Commerce or local business meetings, look through local listings, and schedule interviews and appointments with a few to find someone who has the skills and experience you need for your small business accounting needs.
  2. Purchase and use accounting software: There are many excellent small business accounting software packages on the market today. Each can be customized for your business needs. Accounting software makes it easier and simpler to track expenses, apply payments to open receivables, and track customer expenses. If you aren’t sure how to set up your books for the year, speak with a local accountant. Some are certified by accounting software providers such as QuickBooks to teach and manage the software packages and will set up your system for a nominal fee. This service may even be free of charge if you use the same accountant for your taxes and end of year accounting, depending on who you work with. While QuickBooks may be the popular software, there are plenty of alternative options to choose from to fit your business needs.
  3. Set reminders: Common small business accounting mistakes include not updating your books regularly, failing to send invoices on a timely basis, and leaving open invoices unpaid. Set weekly or monthly reminders for accounting tasks. Block and hour or two to update your books regularly and track down unpaid invoices. A simple calendar reminder on your smartphone or in your calendar tool on your computer can help keep you up to date and on-task with your accounting needs.
  4. Set and keep an invoice schedule: Make sure you establish a schedule to invoice customers or clients. Each business owner must evaluate and determine a schedule to invoice customers, but make it a routine to keep your cash flow even and regular. A service provider may send invoices upon completion of the service. Others may choose to invoice customers on the last day of the month or the 15th. The schedule itself does not matter, but having a schedule does. The more you can make invoicing a simple routine, the easier it is to stay on top of it.
  5. Organize your paperwork: By far the biggest hurdle many small business owners have to leap is staying organized. This can be especially problematic for businesses on the go, such as lawn care companies, mobile food trucks, and others who work in a non-traditional office setting. Many items can be organized and stored on your laptop, smartphone or a cloud-based file system such as Google Docs, but others involve paper receipts. These should be stored in a central location until you are ready to tackle your accounting. You don’t need a fancy storage system; a shoebox or an envelope can suffice. Just be sure to use it regularly and store it in a safe place until you are ready to input your data into your accounting software or drop it off at your accountant’s office.

Professional Advice Is Invaluable

Even if you choose the do-it-yourself route and handle your own basic accounting, a yearly ‘checkup’ with a professional accountant or CPA is highly advisable. Small business accountants are both numbers-ninjas and business strategists. They can advise you on how to use accounting software, the latest IRS rules, changes and requirements, state taxation laws, and other issues pertinent to your accounting needs. With a good accountant by your side, you can be sure that your business’ financial information is handled competently.

What Should You Do If Your Business Is “Inactive”?

Just because you’ve stopped working with customers, taken down your website, and aren’t making money from your business, it doesn’t mean your company is considered “closed.”

Closing a business, whether an LLC or corporation, requires formally dissolving it with your state. If you don’t, you could be stuck with the responsibilities of filing your inactive business’s annual reports and state/federal tax returns. And you may be legally obligated to renew your business licenses and permits, too. All of that costs time and money. So if you’ve stopped doing business and are sure you want to retire your company, the sooner you legally dissolve it the better.

With the end of 2016 around the corner, now is a wonderful time to take action and close your business if it’s inactive. Wouldn’t it be nice to set yourself free from any tax and filing obligations related to that inactive business in the New Year?

But, what’s the right way to go about closing your company?

 

Here’s a checklist of what you need to do:

 

  1. Formally Dissolve The LLC Or Corporation.

You’ll need to formally dissolve the legal entity with your state.

  • With a corporation, all business associates need to vote on closing the business. If your corporation hasn’t issued shares, you need the approval of your Board of Directors to dissolve your business. If your corporation issued shares, two-thirds of the voting shares need to agree to dissolve the company.
  • With LLCs, dissolution rules vary from one state to the next. Make sure you review the requirements in your state’s Limited Liability Company Act.
  • Depending on the state where your LLC or corporation is registered, you’ll either need to file an “Articles of Dissolution” or “Certificate of Termination” with the Secretary of State’s office.

 

  1. Pay Your Debts.

To properly close your business, you must settle all your company’s financial obligations. Typically, LLCs and corporations need to pay their debts before they can legally distribute money or assets to their members. If your business falls short with its resources to pay its debts, seek an attorney’s help to determine your options.

 

  1. Contact Your County To Cancel Your Business Licenses And Permits.

Don’t forget to cancel your business license, seller’s permit, and any other types of licenses and permits your business filed for to operate legally. If you neglect to cancel them, the county will think your business is still in operation and they may continue to charge you fees and taxes.

 

  1. File Final Tax Returns And Close Your Business’s Federal And State Tax Accounts

In addition to your state, the IRS will also need to know you’re closing your business. File your final state and federal tax returns. On your tax return, you can indicate it’s your final return by checking the box that specifically identifies it as such. Also, cancel your Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you have/had employees, make sure your business’s payroll withholding taxes are current. If you don’t, you or other owners/members might find yourselves personally liable for paying any outstanding payroll taxes.

 

Wrapping It Up

Besides the four steps I’ve mentioned above, also inform your customers, contractors, and vendors that you’re officially closing your business. Even if you haven’t actively worked with them for a while, it will show consideration and respect if you proactively communicate the dissolution of your company.

While your current business may be closing, don’t underestimate the power of maintaining and nurturing the professional relationships you’ve built along the way. As you move on to a new career or start a new business, keeping the lines of communication open may open the door to new and exciting opportunities, as well.

Do you have an inactive business? File your Articles of Dissolution with CorpNet and get the peace of mind that your dissolution paperwork is filed accurately by asking CorpNet to help!

Do you need help filing your dissolution or have a question regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

Will Your Business Need Financing in the New Year?

As you plan and set goals for your small business in 2017, one area to look at is financing. Will you need additional funding at some point in the New Year? If the answer is yes, how will you raise the money? Take a closer look at the two primary means of raising capital — equity financing and debt financing — and what you need to know about each.

Equity Financing

In equity financing, you give up a piece of your business (equity) in return for an investment of capital. Equity investors may be private investors, venture capital companies or even your friends and family.

Angel investors are the most realistic source of investment capital for most small business owners. Angels are private investors; some invest individually, while others form angel groups to pool their money. Generally, angels are experienced business people, former business owners or professionals. In addition to the capital they can provide, they can also offer much needed business guidance and expertise.

If your small business has strong growth potential in an industry such as technology or healthcare, you may be able to get venture capital. Venture capital firms tend to focus on businesses with a track record of success and potential for rapid growth with a high return on investment. They make large investments, but in return, will want to have a strong say in your business and possibly even take over management.

If you plan to seek capital from investors, it’s important to make sure the business structure you chose will allow what you want to do. For example, if you operate as a sole proprietor, you won’t be able to take on equity investors, since there is no separate “company” to invest in.

A general partnership, C corporation or limited liability company (LLC) form of business all enable you to sell shares in your business. However, if you have an S corporation, the number of shareholders you can have is limited to 100, which could be a problem. In addition, the S corporation form limits what type of person or entity can be a shareholder or owner, which could cause problems either in raising capital or transferring ownership of shares down the line.

While taking on investors may seem like an easy solution to getting the money you need, you should think carefully before giving away equity in your business. Depending on the amount of equity they control, investors can make it more difficult for you to make decisions about your business without their input. Your relationships with investors, even those you are currently close to, may change in the future, leading to unforeseen difficulties. If you give up too large a stake in your business, you may eventually lose control of it altogether.

Debt Financing

As the name implies, debt financing means taking on debt that you need to repay at some point. Typically, this means a bank loan. However, debt financing can also take the form of loans from friends and family, credit unions, or alternative financing sources or even taking credit cards advances.

Business loans can be secured or unsecured. Secured loans require you to put up some collateral, such as business equipment or your house, to obtain the loan. Unsecured loans don’t require collateral, but are often more difficult to get and have higher interest rates and fees.

If you’re seeking a bank loan, the best place to start is with a bank that makes Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. SBA loans are partly guaranteed by the SBA, which makes banks more willing to lend to small businesses they otherwise might consider risky borrowers.

Other sources of debt financing include:

  • Equipment financing: If you are purchasing business equipment, the company that makes the equipment may have financing options available.
  • Invoice financing: Invoice financing companies advance you money based on the amount of your outstanding invoices.
  • Factoring companies: Similar to invoice financing, factors purchase your outstanding invoices for a percentage of their value, and then take over collecting on the unpaid invoices for you.
  • Merchant cash advances: If your business makes most of its sales via credit cards, such as an e-commerce business or retail business, you may be able to get a merchant advance based on the amount of your average credit sales.

The Right Choice

To make sure you’ve selected the right form of business for your financing needs, it’s best to discuss it with your attorney and accountant before making any decisions. If you need to make changes to your business structure before seeking financing, start now so you’ll be ready to go after the capital you want in 2017.

Should I Incorporate Now or At The Beginning Of The Year?

So you want to change your business structure from a sole proprietorship to an LLC or a corporation? Great! But you might be wondering if you should make it effective now, or wait to file your paperwork until the New Year.

If you’re one of those hyper-organized people, like me, you probably love the idea of having a neat and tidy January 1 effective date. After all, who wants to deal with filing two sets of tax forms—one for the period of time in this year when you operated as a sole proprietor and another for the part of the year the new structure was in place? But at the same time, I’ll bet you want to have all your ducks in a row right now, so you don’t risk filing too late and facing the same situation next year.

Sigh. What’s an entrepreneur to do?

Delayed Filing To The Rescue
Guess what? Most states offer a Delayed Filing option. It provides you a way to perfectly time the effective date of when your business officially changes to your new structure of choice.

Delayed Filing enables you to submit your application for whichever business structure you’ve chosen, but delay the actual incorporation date until a specific date in the future. In short, it lets you control your effective date of incorporation or LLC formation.

Whether you want to make a clean break with a January 1 start date or you have reason to schedule your new structure to take effect on some other date next year, you can get the paperwork out of the way now. That leaves you with one less task to take care when you need to be focused on marketing strategy, customer service, and all else.

Nice, right?

When To Submit Your Delayed Filing
You can use the Delayed Filing option at any time of the year. Check with your state to find out how far in advance you need to file. The requirements vary from state to state. Typically, you would need to file between 30 to 90 days before your requested effective date.
What To Do
When filling out the online forms to form an LLC or incorporate, indicate the number of days after filing that you want your business structure to be effective. When registering your business structure for a delayed start date, your Articles of Incorporation (or Articles of Organization) will need to reflect that effective date, as well.

Final Words of Insight
Even though the end of the year is near, you still have time to submit a delayed filing for January 1, 2017. You will, however, need to use the fast track service to expedite review and approval by your Secretary of State department in time for your intended start date.

Worried you won’t be able to handle the filing details with the busy holiday season upon you? Contact us! We’ll be happy to help you file your paperwork now, so you can get right down to business in the New Year.

 

5 Qualities That Give Veterans An Entrepreneurial Edge

Veterans Day gives us pause to reflect on the sacrifice and service of our women and men in the military. We enjoy many freedoms because of their bravery and selflessness. Indeed, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

I admire and respect veterans for many reasons. Among them are the fine qualities that make them not only outstanding individuals but also seriously effective entrepreneurs.

What characteristics and skills do veterans bring to the table that can help them succeed in business?

  • Courage – Many veterans have faced adversity, danger, and fear most of us will never fathom. Their courage when confronted with risk gives them a competitive edge because they have learned to stay calm, cool, and collected when the pressure’s on and things seem uncertain.
  • Determination – “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Veterans embrace this and live by it, which can help them immensely as entrepreneurs. Although there’s no sure thing in business, the one thing you can bet on is that times will get tough now and then. Business owners need a heightened degree of determination to weather the storms and stay the course.
  • Commitment – With their strong sense of commitment to the cause, veterans put their all into achieving their goals. That’s a tremendous asset in the business world where not only is strategy important, but also is the drive to put forth the effort and energy to get results.
  • Resilience – Sometimes the rigors of entrepreneurship will knock down even the best of us. Because veterans have the strength of character to rise above challenges, they are well equipped to bounce back when facing tough circumstances.
  • Versatility – Along with resilience, veterans’ ability to roll with the punches and adjust strategy when needed can fuel their success in business. Their adaptability can help them pivot gracefully when market changes, competitive pressures, or the regulatory environment dish out unexpected challenges.

Veterans have traits we should all have and hone as entrepreneurs. So while we celebrate their contributions to our country on Veterans Day, let us also remind ourselves of what we can learn from them so we become more effective business owners.

Are you—or someone you know—a veteran who is thinking about starting a business? Check out CorpNet.com’s business filing services that simplify starting and running a business. Our Business Structures Wizard is a great place to begin as you decide on which business legal structure might be best for you.

 

                               

By | November 8th, 2016|Events & Announcements, Running A Small Business|0 Comments

Which Candidate Will Be The Best President For Small Business?

Quite the question, right? But relax, I’m not here to get on a political soapbox and tell you who to vote for. Rather, I’m encouraging you to think about what’s important to you as a business owner and as an individual.

I’ve observed that Republicans typically tend to push for less regulation and encourage more business boosting initiatives than politicians in the Democratic Party. And the Democrats tend to push for initiatives that are in the interest of the middle class, the class that includes most small business owners. Of course, what candidates say they’re going to do and what actually happens don’t always match. Good intentions don’t always come to fruition because there are many obstacles that stand in the way of execution. Sometimes plans that sound too good to be true end up being just that after more research into their feasibility is done. And sometimes, sadly, candidates simply don’t follow through on their promises.

If you review each candidate’s website, you’ll see what their intentions are for small businesses. Below, I’ve listed what stands out to me:

Trump’s Pro Small Business Initiatives:
• Putting a stop to overregulation that makes it difficult to start and run a business.
• Lowering the business tax rate from 35% to 15%.
• Renegotiating trade agreements so American companies have a fair shake when pursuing doing business with other American companies.
• Increasing the production of American energy onshore and offshore (which potentially—eventually—would cut energy and transportation costs for all Americans, including small businesses).

Clinton’s Pro Small Business Initiatives:
• Stimulating small business lending by easing burdens for community banks and credit unions.
• Allowing entrepreneurs to defer student-loan payments with no interest while they start their businesses.
• Offering incentives to state and local governments to cut the red tape involved in starting a new business.
• Simplifying the tax filing process and creating a standard income tax deduction for small businesses.
• Cracking down on big businesses that don’t pay or late pay small businesses.

Devil Is In The Details
Clinton’s website goes into more detail about her proposals than does Trump’s, giving us some peace of mind that she has thought things through. But could her position on some other key hot button issues (like health care and raising the minimum wage) hurt small businesses in the long run. As for Trump, will what he proposes benefit the smallest of businesses or only large corporations?

According to the weekly reader poll, SmartPulse, in SmartBrief on Leadership, 69 percent of business leaders believe this year’s elections will either tremendously or moderately affect their businesses.

It’s clear the business community is tuned into and watching this presidential election closely.

Whether you’re starting a business or running an existing one, you should be, too. Think about what you want for the future of your business and your family—and vote on November 8 for the candidate you believe will work to fulfill your vision.

Photo: Adobe Stock

                               

Fall Tips To Help Your Business Have A Strong End-Of-Year Finish

Although most of the year has already passed and we’re now into the autumn season, don’t panic if your business has fallen a little bit behind on its goals. It’s not too late make changes that can help lead to a strong finish in 2016.

Whether you’ve just started your business or have been running yours for years, the key is to take action sooner rather than later—and to focus on efforts that will improve your bottom line now and into 2017.

 

  1. Nurture Customer Relationships.

If you’ve fallen out of touch with some customers, now’s the time to reconnect. Just be careful to do so with their best interests at heart, so you don’t come across as desperate or pushy. One easy way to start conversations is by emailing them an interesting article that has information they can benefit from. I recommend reaching out to each select customer individually rather than in a mass email. By personalizing your communications, you’ll make them feel special—and more engaged in revisiting the status of your business relationship.

Also, consider putting a formalized customer relationship management process in place, so there’s a method (rather than madness) in how you follow up with customers after certain actions, transactions, or lack of activity. A number of customer relationship management systems (at varying price points) are out there that can help you track customer activity and automate personalized communications.

A little goodwill and top of mind awareness can go a long way in generating more sales, so it pays to check in with customers regularly to show you care.

 

  1. Upsell, Upsell, Upsell!

Why would you not seize the opportunity to sell more products or services to the customers who have shown they’re raving fans of your brand? If you haven’t been sending emails or postcards or calling loyal customers with information about your other products and services, you’re missing sales opportunities.

Afraid you’ll seem pushy? You don’t have to fear that if you approach customers with the intention of helping them solve a problem or benefit in some way. As I mentioned before, showing you care fosters goodwill and can generate sales as a result.

 

  1. Streamline Your Administrative Activities.

Take a moment to review your administrative processes and discover where you might have excessive paperwork, duplicate work, and bottlenecks that are slowing down productivity. From accounts payables to billing to project management to customer data entry, look for ways to save time by streamlining tasks.

 

  1. Keep Spending In Check.

Although you should always be cognizant of your business’s spending habits, it’s especially critical now if you’re behind schedule on reaching your financial goals for the year. Look closely at your costs, and zero in on the “must haves” versus the “nice to haves” so you can cut out unnecessary expenses. Lowering costs has a direct impact on your profit and loss statement, so if even if you ignore all other suggestions, pay attention to this one!

 

  1. Make Sure You’ve Met Your Business Compliance Requirements.

Rather than discover you’ve dropped the ball, check to make sure all your t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted now regarding your business compliance responsibilities. If required, have you filed your initial and/or annual report and complied with your business license and permit obligations? Corporate compliance services like those from CorpNet can help you ensure you’re up to date and won’t be hit with penalties. Best of all, when the New Year begins, you’ll be able to focus on activities that will drive revenue rather than put out fires.

 

  1. Think Ahead About Your Business’s Direction.

Whether you’re just starting your business or planning to close it, taking care of matters before the end of the year offers some potential advantages.

If you plan to launch your business in 2017, you can avoid becoming over-stressed during the busyness of the New Year by taking advantage of CorpNet’s delayed formation filing process. It allows you to submit your formation paperwork before the end of the year, but make the effective date of your business the first of the year.

If you know you’ll be closing your business in the near future, you might consider taking care of filing for dissolution now. Doing so before year-end might help you avoid paying additional taxes and penalties.

 

Move Your Business Forward This Fall—And In The Future

Also, think proactively about what you can do to succeed in 2017. All of the things I mentioned earlier will help, but also consider reviewing your choice of legal structure for your business. By making a change to an LLC, S Corporation, or C Corporation, you have the opportunity to gain liability protection and possibly some tax advantages, as well.

By putting more effort into your customer relationships, running your business more efficiently and cost effectively, and paying attention to compliance requirements, you’ll be taking positive steps toward a strong finish in 2016 and a successful start to 2017.

Back to Basics: LLC or Corporation? Which Is The Better Choice For Your Business?

Both forming an LLC and incorporating your business safeguard you by protecting your personal assets if legal action is taken against your business. They also give your business a boost of credibility by having either “LLC” or “Inc.” behind your company name. But there are differences that could make one or the other the better choice for you.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of knowing the pros and cons of the legal structures available to you before you decide which will serve your business most effectively.

 
The Low-down On LLCs

Many owner-managed businesses opt to form as LLCs.

LLC owners are referred to as “members,” who each own a certain percentage of the business. Single-member LLCs are uncomplicated from a compliance and management standpoint. When you have multiple members, however, you should have an operating agreement that documents who can make decisions and how transferring membership interests should happen if a member leaves, dies, or files bankruptcy. Some states require that the remaining members dissolve the LLC under the circumstance of a member’s leaving, death, or bankruptcy.

From a tax standpoint, you can choose to have your LLC treated in one of two ways.

  • As a pass-through entity, with the profits and losses of your business passed to your LLC members’ personal tax returns. If your business isn’t profitable, that will lower your personal tax obl
  • As an S Corporation, whereby only salaries and wages are subject to self-employment taxes (FICA and Medicare), not company profits taken as distributions to members.

Because there are notably less formation paperwork and compliance requirements with an LLC than there are with a corporation, business owners who want legal protection and tax flexibility without a lot of complexity find the LLC structure an attractive option.

One potential disadvantage of forming an LLC, however, is that you cannot sell stock to raise capital for your business. And if you seek funding from venture capitalists, you may get turned down because many will only invest in corporations.

 
Insight About Incorporating

Whether S Corporation or C Corporation, the owners of corporations are called shareholders. Their percentage of ownership corresponds to their percentage of shares in the business. Unlike with an LLC, it’s typically simple to transfer shares (ownership) from one person to another. That means the business can continue onward when shareholders leave, die, or sell their shares.

S Corporation

With an S Corporation, a business’s income, losses, and deductions pass through to its shareholders. Typically, the shareholders report corporate income on their personal income tax returns.

Unlike LLCs and C Corporations, S Corporations are limited to 100 members/shareholders. So while they can sell stock, their potential to raise capital in that way is somewhat limited.

While S Corporations require more paperwork and ongoing compliance than LLCs, they don’t come with as much formality as C Corporations.

C Corporation

Tax treatment of C Corporations involves what is often called “double taxation.” A C Corp pays corporate income tax on its profits, and then its shareholders pay personal income tax on the profits they receive as dividends.

C Corporations don’t have a limit on the number of shareholders that can invest in them, and they may be more attractive to outside investors.

Because C Corporations operate as separate legal entities from their owners, they provide more personal liability protection than other business structures.

Note that potential drawbacks to incorporating as a C Corporation are the higher formation costs, extra compliance requirements, and additional oversight they are subject to.

 
Do Your Due Diligence, Then Decide.

With both legal and financial aspects of your business affected by your choice of legal structure, make sure you carefully evaluate your options. I encourage you to seek professional expertise and guidance, so you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of each structure.

In the meantime, you can get off to a great start by using the CorpNet Business Structure Wizard for gaining a better idea of the structure that might work best for you.