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Doing Business The Earth Day Way: Seven Easy & Inexpensive Ways To Become A Greener Company

EarthDayEarth Day is April 22. I find it’s a wonderful time to reflect on how our professional practices affect the world around us. Whether you’re starting a business or have been running one for years, you can make this planet a better place by adopting eco-friendly habits.

Need some ideas?

Consider these easy tips for cutting back on waste and conserving our earth’s precious resources:

  • Email invoices and receipts rather than printing and mailing them. – Not only will you help the environment, you’ll also eliminate postage costs. Bonus!
  • Recycle. – According to an EPA fact sheet issued in 2015, every ton of mixed paper recycled can save the energy equivalent of 166 gallons of gasoline. Rather than throwing paper (and bottles and cans) away in the trash can, recycle it. Producing goods made from recycled materials requires less energy than using raw materials—and it conserves those raw materials, as well.
  • Use recycled office supplies. – Printer paper, notepads, envelopes, labels, thank you cards, binders, folders…all of it is available in recycled versions that look as appealing and serve their purposes as well as products made from non-recycled materials.
  • Switch from incandescent lights to halogen incandescent, CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or LED (light-emitting diode) lights. – Sure, they may cost more upfront, but they last much longer, conserving energy and money during their life span. According to he U.S. Department of Energy, those alternatives to traditional incandescent lights use 25 to 80 percent less energy, and they can last from three to 25 times longer.
  • Use your printer in an environmentally savvy way. – Don’t use your printer so much. Period. Rather than print hard copies of files, scan and save them on your computer or in a cloud storage application. And when you do print, change your printer settings so you’ll have double-sided pages. Either way, you’ll save on the cost of paper and ink—sweet!
  • Be earth-smart when packing your lunch. – Use a lunch or trendy bento box instead of the traditional brown bag. Also, put your food in reusable containers rather than in disposable sandwich bags.

As you can see, it really isn’t all that difficult to make your business a little greener—and doing so could even help your company’s bottom line. What environmentally friendly changes will you be making on this Earth Day?

Ready to get your business official by incorporating or forming an LLC? Call us for a free business consultation to get started! 888.449.2638

Image: Adobe Stock

8 Tips for Starting a Business After 50

Blonde elderly business woman, coffee break, outdoorIf you are over age 50 and thinking about starting a business, you’re not alone. In fact, entrepreneurs age 50 and up are one of the fastest-growing categories of small business owners, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). At 50-plus, you’ve got a lifetime of work experience to draw on — not to mention the wisdom that comes with age — in launching your new business. To help ensure your startup success, follow these tips:

  1. Tap into your experience. If you’re not sure what type of business to start, think back to your past work and life experiences, skills and interests. What do you like doing that could potentially become a business? Could your current job be the basis for a startup, or is there a hobby or passion that could make money? Think beyond work experience to life experience. For example, if you’ve always loved making gourmet meals for friends and family and they rave about your food, perhaps you could start a catering company or personal chef business.
  2. Look for a low-cost startup idea. Unless you have investors ready to finance your business, it’s smart to select a startup that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to launch. Getting startup loans for a new business is difficult, and lenders generally expect you to tap into your personal assets first before they will give you a loan. At age 50-plus, you don’t want to drain your retirement savings or put your home on the line to fund your business idea.
  3. Get smart about space. One way to keep startup costs down is by launching your business from home or working from a shared co-working space instead of renting a full-on office space. Bonus: Co-working spaces provide lots of feedback and stimulus thanks to the presence of other energetic entrepreneurs.
  4. Write a business plan. Even if you’re starting a consulting business in an industry where you’ve worked for 30 years, running your own business is different — much different — than being an employee. Writing a business plan will help you think through all the necessary steps to startup and plan for how to deal with any problems that might arise. If you’re in need of funds, a business plan will also help convince potential investors and partners that you have a well-thought-out game plan.
  5. Work your network. One of the advantages of being over 50 is that you have a lot of connections to help you get your business off the ground. In addition to previous workplace connections, people you know through friends and family, community organizations or religious affiliations can be valuable sources of ideas, resources, referrals and new business.
  6. Make the most of technology. If you want to succeed in business today, you’ve got to be comfortable with technology. A business website, social media presence and knowledge of online marketing tools such as search engine optimization and online advertising are essential to attracting customers, no matter what your business. If you don’t have the necessary tech know-how, find someone who does to help you. Organizations such as SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offer resources and free consulting that can get you up to speed.
  7. Choose the right business structure.  At this age, you don’t want to put your personal assets at risk if someone sues your business or if your business ends up with unpaid debts. Do your homework to choose a business structure that will protect your assets, minimize your taxes and maximize your options.
  8. Don’t forget about licenses and permits. Even if you’re starting a business from home, you generally need to get a business license or you could get hit with fines. Contact your state, county and local government offices to see what types of business licenses and permits you need for your industry.

Follow these 8 steps, and your startup will be on the road to success.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Photo: Adobe Stock

4 Tips to Help You Determine if You Should Spend Money on New Tech

Closeup of a white desk with a modern laptop computer and an antique typewriter back to back. Horizontal format with copy space. Old vs new concept.

Budgets are tight all over, and with so much new and emerging technology available to new business owners, it’s difficult to know when it’s wise to spend the money and when to just sit tight. Jim Browning, research vice president for Gartner, outlined four guidelines for managing IT expenses when he spoke at the Midsize Enterprise Summit. It’s good advice for those who want to start a business, too. Here are some rules of thumb to help evaluate when investing in technology makes sense for your business:

Align Your Technology With Your Business Goals

Browning says to start by evaluating how each of your technology investments serves your business goals, a principle he calls “doing less with less.” A technology budget for a typical office will include items such as Internet service, computers, tablets, smartphones, scanners, copiers, printers, and shredders. Depending on your line of business, you may need additional specialized equipment. For instance, a company with heavy graphic design, video production or teleconferencing needs might invest in a monitor with 4K capability to get double the resolution available. Make a list of your existing equipment as well as equipment you’re considering purchasing and identify what role each serves in advancing your business goals.

When evaluating how your technology serves your business goals, you should keep your financial goals in mind. How much does each piece of technology contribute toward generating a return on investment (ROI) in comparison to its expense? When evaluating this, consider your total cost of investment (TCO), not just the direct cost of purchase. Direct costs of purchasing equipment only contribute about 20 percent toward total TCO, Gartner estimates. The other 80 percent consists of expenses for labor, tech support, and maintenance. When these other costs are factored in, a $1,000 PC might actually end up costing $15,000 over a three-year period.

Remember to factor in TCO when calculating your ROI. This means it’s important to consider factors such as the quality of a vendor’s customer service and tech support when purchasing equipment. Map out each purchase decision and its rationale to make sure you’re getting a good return on your equipment investments.

One other factor to consider when calculating ROI is tax deductions. One advantage of buying equipment over leasing it is that you can deduct the full purchase price your first year.

Standardize Your Technology

Standardizing your technology is another key to lowering your costs when investing in technology, says Browning. This includes both simplifying your technological environment and reducing the number of vendors you work with. For instance, if you have a BYOD policy and your employees are using a wide range of different devices and operating systems, this increases the range of potential technology integrations, version updates and security risks you need to manage, thereby increasing your administrative time and costs.

Establish a BYOD policy that limits your employees to specific mobile device platforms and operating system versions. Similarly, standardizing your other hardware and software selections will lower your total cost of ownership by improving manageability.

Segment Your Users

A third key to keeping your technology purchases on budget is segmenting your users. At most companies, different types of employees will have different technology needs. However, allowing everyone to have an individual technology profile will needlessly multiply your equipment and support costs.

The solution is to define a set number of technology profiles within your company restricting which equipment and applications different types of users should have access to. To keep your company’s number of technology profiles manageable, most organizations should have no more than three to five different technology profiles, Browning says.

Go With Good Enough When Possible

Browning’s fourth guideline for keeping technology equipment investments under budget is going with “good enough” when possible. You don’t necessarily need the latest cutting-edge technology for every piece of equipment to stay competitive. Key pieces of equipment related to your company’s core strengths should certainly be kept up-to-date. For instance, if you’re an accounting firm, you need to keep current with the latest accounting software updates.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to buy a new PC and operating system every time you upgrade your software. In fact, 70 percent of technology purchases don’t need anything beyond “good enough” to serve their function, Browning says. Keep your costs down by buying refurbished equipment, which is often as good as new equipment but much less expensive.

Now that your technology tools are in place, it’s time to protect your personal assets! Call us today to form an LLC, incorporate a business, file a DBA and more! Don’t forget – we also offer free business consultations!

Roy Rasmussen, co-author of “Publishing for Publicity,” is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.

Image: Adobe Stock

One Month Left: 5 Last-Minute Tax-Filing Tips

Filing TaxesIf you haven’t yet filed your personal taxes, time’s a’ ticking. Here are some last-minute tips to ensure that your taxes get filed correctly.

1. Bone Up on Your Tax Deductions

Before you get knee-deep in filing your own taxes or head to a tax preparer to help, it’s wise to know what tax deductions you qualify for. For example, if you work from home, you may be able to deduct your home office expenses. If you travel for work, your travel expenses may be a writeoff.

2. Know How You’ll Pay

If you haven’t been paying your estimated taxes quarterly (a practice you may want to consider so you don’t have a hefty bill in April), you will need a strategy for paying your taxes come Tax Day.

If you’ve got the funds in your bank account, pay the entire amount at once. If that’s not an option, apply for a payment plan that will allow you to spread a monthly payment out over several months to ease the burden.

While it’s a last resort, you can also consider paying your taxes on an interest-free credit card (especially one that accumulates airline points or other rewards). Just make a plan for paying it off promptly.

3. Gather What You’ll Need

Hopefully you’ve been organized throughout the year and have all your W-2s, 1099s, and receipts, and you’ve properly categorized all your expenses in your accounting software. Being organized will make it easier for either you to DIY your taxes or for a professional to process them.

If you found it stressful to gather all of this paperwork this time around, make sure to be ready next year. Set up a folder for each tax year and put all the necessary paperwork there so it’s ready when you need it.

4. Ask for a Referral

If you plan to hire a tax preparer or accountant to file your taxes for you this year (a good idea if you’re overwhelmed with other things, or if your tax situation is complicated), ask people in your network for a referral to a good tax professional. Ideally the individual or company has experience with small businesses like yours. Now’s a good time to call for an appointment, since a lot of people wait until the last minute, and you’ll be in a long line to get your taxes done.

5. Apply for an Extension

If there’s no way you can get your stuff together in time to meet the April 18 deadline for taxes to be filed, consider applying for an extension. This will give you an additional 6 months to file your taxes. Keep in mind, however, this does not give you an extension on paying what you owe. You’ll need to pay your estimated tax by April 18 if you don’t apply for a payment plan as well.

Even if you’re a procrastinator, being organized and doing a little planning now will make filing your taxes a bit easier.

Make paying taxes next year a breeze by letting CorpNet convert your business to a corporation. We can tell you all about the tax benefits of doing so.

Image: Photo Dollar Club

4 Tips for Doing Business Globally

Doing Business GloballyWhether you’re starting a business on an international scale or expanding your existing business to include foreign markets, doing business globally presents some situations you ordinarily won’t face domestically. Use the following four strategies to penetrate overseas markets and share your business plan internationally.

Examine Data to Select a Flagship Product or Service

Learning how to do business globally can take time, so don’t feel overwhelmed. Even if your product line includes dozens of items, start with a single flagship product or service in an overseas market. Global TradeSource Ltd. founder Laurel Delaney advises business owners to “narrow it down, keep it simple, and choose a product or service that sells.”

Review any domestic data you’ve collected about your products and services, such as sales reports and customer feedback, and research your target market. Look for a gap to fill. If you can offer a product or service that a particular market can’t access now, you’ll gain a larger potential customer base.

Seek Effective Ways to Communicate

Language barriers can make doing business globally more challenging. Consider visiting a country before you attempt to expand into the market. Marc David Miller, managing director for Discovering Eurasia, recommends hiring a translator to go with you.

You might also benefit from Skype as a communication tool. In 2015, the video-chat and voice-call firm introduced translation functionality for desktop users. When you communicate by voice or text, the system translates your speech so you avoid miscommunications.

Find a Global Payment Option

Before expanding overseas, you need a way to send and receive money that won’t deplete your financial reserves or put your business at risk. When you start global transaction using a money transfer service, you’ll immediately see the transaction fee and exchange rate. The lack of hidden fees makes budgeting your expenses while you expand into foreign markets easier.
Keep detailed financial records for all international payments. If you operate domestically as well, consider maintaining separate financial documents and a general ledger. Work with an accountant who has experience in international finance so you can receive practical advice.

Learn Local Customs

Customs for social and professional interactions vary from one country to another. In Japan, for example, professionals treat business cards with far more reverence than they do in the United States. Japanese business professionals also value silence over small talk and take offense to high-pressure sales tactics.

Businesses and customers in other countries understand that you might not know all of their customs. If you learn about them, however, you show a high level of respect, and you might put your business in a better place to gain momentum in a particular market. Consider consulting a business etiquette expert in your target country before you travel there.

Expanding your business into foreign markets creates more opportunities to generate revenue and increase the reach of your products and services. The more you understand about doing business globally, the easier you will be able to conduct yourself and your business well overseas.

JT Ripton is a business consultant and freelance writer who enjoys writing about a variety of topics, business and technology being a couple of them. You can follow JT on Twitter @JTRipton.

Image: Dollar Photo Club

5 Things I Want for Christmas for My Company

Christmas gifts under the Christmas treeThis time of year, the Christmas wish lists I pay attention to are the ones my four kids write. It’s a steady stream of shopping in our house! But sometimes money (or Santa) can’t bring everything you need. If I were to make a wish list of my own for CorpNet — both for our team and for our clients — here’s what would be on it.

1. Clones of Each of My Employees

Phil and I are extremely lucky to have such amazing employees. Most have been with us since we first launched, and those we’ve hired along the way have become as passionate about helping business owners as we are. Rather than ever hire more staff, I’d rather just clone the ones we’ve got!

2. The Ability to Help Unlimited Entrepreneurs

If I could, I’d work around the clock to help new business owners form an LLC or incorporate. I’m just that passionate about small business! Part of helping more entrepreneurs is educating more of them on the importance of having a business structure that protects you, and I continue to make it my mission to provide that education in our content.

3. The Latest Technology for All

As any small business owner knows, it’s a challenge to always have top-of-the-line computers and equipment. If I could provide them to my staff, I would. Heck, I’d even throw in free tablets and phones, if the sky’s the limit on my wish list! Continue reading “5 Things I Want for Christmas for My Company” »

By | December 24th, 2015|Business Tools|0 Comments

Tell Your Friends About CorpNet and Make More Moolah!

Technology online banking money transfer, e-commerce concept. Happy young woman using smartphone with dollar bills flying away from screen isolated on gray wall office background.

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of entrepreneurs that we’ve helped incorporate online, form an LLC, or conduct a DBA name search, you already know how helpful CorpNet can be in helping you start and grow your business.

We’d love your help in telling your friends about us. Heck, we’ll even pay you!

Welcome to the CorpNet Affiliate Program

We want to create a win-win situation: you tell your friends about all the fantastic services we offer at CorpNet, and we’ll give you a cut of any new business you bring us. Here are the details of our affiliate program:

  • Get 20% commission for EVERY referral, with potential to earn up to 30%.
  • Generate additional revenue from your website by providing a value-added service for your customers.
  • 90 return days. Cookies set for 90 days versus the standard 60 days gives you an advantage on conversion and earnings.
  • Tracking for phone orders – many orders are taken via phone and our operators are trained to get the affiliate ID from the Shareasale tracking code.
  • Get a variety of creative banners, text, keyword, and content links to add to your site.
  • Get automated deposits, dedicated affiliate support forum and many more Shareasale system benefits.
  • Just give us the referrals… we’ll handle the rest and send you a monthly commission check!

Continue reading “Tell Your Friends About CorpNet and Make More Moolah!” »

By | September 7th, 2015|Business Tools|0 Comments

Get Back Your Time: 5 Tools to Help You Manage Your Small Business Tasks

112_2825531I have to be really disciplined to ensure that I make the most of my time at work. After all, there’s so much to do and so little time to do it! For business time management, I’ve discovered a few cool tools that help me do more with the time I have.

1. Wunderlist

Who doesn’t have a giant list of things to do? I try to remember them in my head, but given that my wife, Nellie, often wags her finger at me for forgetting, I guess that doesn’t always work so well. So now I use Wunderlist. I can jot down something as I remember it on my phone, then mark it off when it’s done.

I like it as well because I can assign employees tasks and we can collaborate via a chat function about the task.

2. Slack

I’ve got so much going on on any given day, I feel like I don’t always have the time it takes to walk through my office to talk to the employee I need to communicate with. That’s where Slack comes in handy. We use it to communicate about projects we’re working on, and we can set up different channels for each project to keep our chats organized. Continue reading “Get Back Your Time: 5 Tools to Help You Manage Your Small Business Tasks” »

By | August 24th, 2015|Business Tools|0 Comments

12 Places to Get Smarter About Sales

518_3591783I’m a firm believer in getting smarter in areas I’m weak in. That’s why I’m always reading books, blogs, and magazines about running a business.

If you handle your company’s sales, could you stand to bone up on better sales skills? I’m willing to bet there’s room for improvement. To that end, here are some resources you should bookmark to become a better salesperson this month.

Blogs

Sales blogs abound, but some are a better fit for small businesses than others. JustSell has fantastic how-to, advice, and inspirational sales posts. EyesOnSales covers topics like dealing with objections and cold calling. And SalesMarks teaches you how to use LinkedIn to sell, as well as offers some pretty great freebies. Continue reading “12 Places to Get Smarter About Sales” »

By | June 17th, 2015|Business Tools|0 Comments

Nellie in the News – May 29, 2015

We’re starting something new on The Startup Starting Line. Each Friday, we’ll bring you great content that Nellie Akalp is writing around the Web, as well as press mentions and interviews. This week, get tips on starting and building a business, making sure it’s legal, and improving your productivity.

nellie in the news

Interviews & Press Mentions

  • Smart Hustle Magazine – Experts from Infusionsoft, CorpNet & GoDaddy Share Tips on Starting & Building a Business http://bit.ly/1Qdr3iA
  • NerdWallet – For CorpNet CEO, Helping Small Businesses Get Started is Good Business – http://nerd.me/1RAU8YP
  • GoDaddy – Starting and Building a Business – Hangout w/ Nellie, Ramon & Shawn live on the GoDaddy YouTube page http://bit.ly/1J2VDeg
  • Barry Moltz Podcast – Learn Three Tips to make sure your Business is Legal – http://bit.ly/1J1EvXQ
  • Carol Roth – tips for Improving Business Productivity – http://bit.ly/1FNgUYy
  • LearnSavvy – 6 Reasons Why You Should Consider Incorporating Your Business – http://bit.ly/1A6tLEA
  • Hearpreneur – 19 Entrepreneurs Explain Why They Started Their Businesses – http://bit.ly/1K4qCIR
  • Vernon Ross Podcast – How to Not Get Sued with Nellie Akalp – http://bit.ly/1cpUvoF

Expert Contributed Posts

 

By | May 29th, 2015|Business Tools|0 Comments