/Running A Small Business

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.

Should I Call My Employee an Associate or Representative?

Small business owners often struggle when coming up with a job title for their new employee or when listing an open position at their business. Although we’d all like to think that a job title doesn’t mean that much, it’s actually really important from both an employer and employee point of view.

What Job Titles Mean – and What They Can Do

According to Fast Company, 80% of companies they surveyed use job titles to demonstrate an employee’s position in the company hierarchy. And 92% use job titles to define an employee’s role within the company.

Perhaps even more importantly, job titles can be used as recruitment tools. Since small businesses often struggle to recruit and retain employees, using job titles to find and attract potential applicants is a great tactic. The same Fast Company survey found that only 37% of companies think of using job titles as a recruitment tool, so using this tactic can give small businesses a competitive edge.

Clearly, job titles are more important than one might think at first glance. If your business is growing to the point where titles are important, there are ways to structure your system for clarity, consistency, and communications that will help your business thrive.

Choosing the Best Job Titles for Employees

Job titles help maintain structure within an organization. They serve as a shorthand and communications tool to help employees understand where they fit into an organization and how others do, too. And because they don’t cost anything, they can be used as a recruitment and retention tool.

So how do you go about choosing the best job titles for your employees? Consider these seven points when discovering the best titles for your company.

  1. “C” titles stand at the top of the hierarchy: The “C-suite” is a designation for the highest level of the company and is a common way to show decision-making power and authority. Reserve “Chief” titles for those in charge of multiple people and/or departments and with corresponding levels of increasing responsibility.
  2. Give everyone who manages staff a similar title: A consistent naming structure where people who are responsible for the performance of others all share similar designations helps people within the company understand roles and responsibilities. Whether you call them Managers or Directors, anyone who directly manages the actions of others should share a common title.
  3. Associate or representative? It can be difficult to choose between these two titles. Usually “representatives” designates a slightly higher rank than an associate. People often view associates as a starting position. Representatives “represent” their companies and as such, usually reflect deeper company knowledge and a longer tenure with a company.
  4. Titles aren’t analogous among companies: Job titles vary considerably in the scope of work assigned to the title. Look beyond titles when hiring, and make sure you designate via a written job description exactly what each position and title is responsible for so that there is no confusion.
  5. Use titles as part of a candidate’s compensation package: Many good candidates will negotiate compensation and other perks of the job. One area where it’s easy for you to compromise without affecting salary and benefits is in their job title. Consider changing or adjusting job titles, if warranted, to attract and keep great candidates for a job.
  6. Avoid “title-less” organizations: There’s been a trend over the past few years of “flat” organizations. This means that the organization eschews job titles and prefers to view everyone as colleagues. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it can lead to confusion. Customers, clients, vendors and others are used to a system of titles and responsibilities and will still ask for the Director of IT, Operations, Marketing, and so on. Even if your work environment is highly collegial and collaborative, you still need job titles.
  7. Base titles on job descriptions: It’s helpful to begin with the job descriptions you’ve created for your company and decide on titles based on descriptions. At small businesses, employees often wear many hats, and the scope of their responsibilities is broader than at larger companies where people can specialize. Decide the appropriate category for a job title such as accounting, marketing, finance, operations, etc. Then think about the amount of responsibility someone has and what that might mean in terms of job title.

Love them or loathe them, job titles remain an important consideration for employees and employers alike. As you structure your small business, structure your title system for clarity, consistency, and accuracy. You’ll set up your organization for strong growth ahead.

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

 

 

What Every Small Business Should Know About 1099s

Every year when tax time rolls around, I field questions from business owners about whether or not they need to send 1099s to their vendors. As common as 1099 forms are, they remain one of the most misunderstood Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements.

To make sure you understand the circumstances under which the IRS requires issuing 1099-MISC forms to vendors, I’m going to provide some basic “must-know” information here.

What Is A Form 1099-MISC?

You must issue an IRS Form 1099-MISC to each person you’ve paid $600 or more in services (including parts and materials), prizes and awards, rents or other income payments. The 1099-MISC only applies to payments you made in doing business; it does not apply to payments made for personal purposes.

To Whom Do You Need To Send A Form 1099-MISC?

If your business paid more than $600 to a vendor or sub-contractor [individual, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Limited Partnership (LP), or estate], you are required to send a Form 1099-MISC to document what you paid them throughout the year. In general, anyone who worked for you—other than your employees—will need a 1099 from you.

Also, unless an exception applies to them, you need to issue a 1099 to your landlord if you are paying rent for business purposes. You must also issue a 1099-MISC to your attorney if you paid for legal services that amounted to more than $600 during the year.

Are There Any Exceptions?

There are. The list is rather long, but most commonly these types of vendors do not get 1099-MISC forms:

Also, you don’t have to send 1099-MISC forms to vendors to whom you made your payments via a credit card, debit card, gift card, or a payment network like PayPal. The onus to report vendor compensation is on those payment companies.

How Do You Figure Out If A Vendor Needs A 1099 From You?

I recommend before you request vendors to do any work for you, ask them for a completed W-9 form. The W-9 will give you all the information you need for filing taxes. It supplies a vendor’s mailing information, Tax ID numbers, and business structure (so you’ll know if the vendor is incorporated or not and does or does not need a 1099).

When Is the Deadline To Send 1099s?

By January 31, 2017, you must do two things to comply with your 2016 tax year 1099 obligations:

  • Submit Form 1099 to each vendor (reflecting what you paid that vendor in 2016).
  • Submit a copy of the Forms 1099 you sent to each vendor, along with a Form 1096 that discloses in total what you paid to all vendors who received 1099s from you.

Make sure you check on your state’s rules, too. Some states require they also receive your 1099s.

What Happens If You Miss The Deadline? 

Sending the required 1099-MISC forms late (or not at all) could cost you. The penalties vary depending on how far past the deadline you wait to issue the forms. If your business had gross receipts of $5 million or less, the amount you’re smacked with could range anywhere $50 to $260 per form (for tax years 2016 and 2017). If you’re caught intentionally not providing a payee with a correct statement for tax year 2016, you could face a fine of $520 for each form not submitted (that amount will increase to $530 for tax year 2017).

Where Can You Get 1099 Forms?

Unfortunately, you cannot download 1099 Forms from the IRS website. You can, however, order them from the IRS site and have them mailed to you, or you can pick them up at an IRS service center, post office, or another location that supplies them.

Eliminate Headaches—Do It Right From The Start!

Whether you’re in the early stages of launching a startup or already running a small business, I recommend you talk with a tax professional who can share more details about 1099s and the other aspects of filing your tax returns.

Starting a business or ready to change your current business structure? Contact us about making the registration process hassle-free and as fast as possible. We’re here to handle all of your legal document filing needs!

Five Steps To Becoming An Empowered Woman (Or Man) Business Owner

As a woman business owner, I’ve found that empowerment comes to us in two ways:

1. Access to external sources of inspiration and knowledge

2. Self-respect and self-confidence

You can sit around and wait for someone to empower you, or you can take the bull by the horns and take action to empower yourself. I will always vote for the latter of the two because it gives you more control over your entrepreneurial destiny.

Although women own nearly 30 percent of U.S. small businesses (according to the Status of Women in the United States website), I find that many of us still struggle with accepting it’s OK to seek empowerment on our own. We often think of it as something that is handed to us. That doesn’t seem very empowering to me!

So, what can women entrepreneurs (and men, too) do to boost our level of empowerment and reach our personal and professional potential?

1. Recognize what knowledge and skills you lack, and find tools and resources to increase your proficiency.

This requires a commitment to honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses. After you’ve done that, actively seek blogs, books, webinars, podcasts, conferences, mentors, and other resources that will help you get up to speed.

2. Align yourself with positive people (professionally and personally).

I cannot emphasize enough how much this affects morale and motivation. Chronically negative people drain your energy and enthusiasm. When they direct their skepticism and sarcasm at you and your endeavors, they deplete your self-confidence and leave you feeling defeated. As much as possible, minimize your exposure to them so you can fill your life with people who truly care about you and who will encourage rather than discourage you.

3. When you meet people who exude empowerment, ask them if they’ll share their insight about attaining that level of confidence.

I’ve found most people who have an empowered aura about them are immensely gracious and open to sharing about how they’ve helped themselves. I encourage you to reach out to them for inspiration. Even though their approach may not work with precision for you, you will no doubt take away some valuable ideas to apply in your own quest for empowerment.

4. Start the day on a note of gratitude.

I make it a point to devote a few minutes every day to consciously thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. What better way to get a positive start? It immediately puts me in the right frame of mind for dealing with whatever work and life will bring my way. This is so simple to do. I dare you to find an excuse as to why you can’t try this!

5. Acknowledge that mistakes and setbacks happen.

Because they will. The good news is they won’t make you a failure unless you dwell on them. Get beyond goofs and misfortunes by treating them as lessons learned and by remaining agile so you can shift gears and move in a new positive and productive direction.

6.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” or voice your position. 

If people ask too much of you, learn to say “no.” Overextending yourself will create excess stress and pull you away from what really matters. Also, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion when you disagree adamantly about something. Although initially you might meet criticism, in the long run you’ll gain more respect. Most importantly, you’ll respect yourself—and that is mission critical for feeling empowered.

Empowerment Begins With Embracing Its Power

Whether you’re a female or male entrepreneur and regardless of whether you’re just starting a business or have been running your company for years, empowerment wields great power. I urge you to embrace its potential to help you mold your vision and achieve your goals and dreams.

Providing legal document filing services at affordable rates, CorpNet.com helps business owners save time and money. Empower yourself by knowing your business registration and compliance filings are in capable hands. Contact us today!

How Job Titles Can Help You Hire Great Talent

So it’s a new year, and you’re looking to hire new talent. You start off by posting a job online, but you’re not finding many candidates, at least not the great ones your company needs. How come? You may not realize this, but the job titles on your postings might be the reason.

Professionals care about the job title a company will provide them with (as well as one they’ll be proud to boast on their resumes in the new year). If you spend enough time looking at other job descriptions and titles, you’ll begin to notice a trend. There’s an increase in outside of the norm job titles. Riding this trend could help you recruit better candidates.

So what should you do heading into the new year? Spend more time crafting your job titles.

Here’s why job titles are so important in the hiring process.

They Help You Target the Type of Person You’re Looking to Recruit

Millennials are looking for different types of job titles than seasoned professionals, so depending on who you want to attract, you may need to tweak your titles accordingly. Those who have been around the block in their careers may be searching for more traditional job titles, while the fresh-out-of-college set may like funkier titles like “Brand Evangelist.”

Your Job Title is Your Welcome Mat

The first thing a potential candidate sees on a job board is your job title. Consider it your click-bait: if the title is boring or uninspiring, some job seekers won’t click to see what qualities you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you spend time coming up with a concise job title, you’ll attract more candidates to choose from.

Being Specific Narrows Your Applicant Pool

On the other hand, you may not want tons of applicants but prefer to have only highly-qualified folks with a very specific skillset submit their resumes to you. Be sure to use precise terms like “Senior” or industry knowledge keywords you want in the job title to winnow down those that will apply.

But Being Overly Zany Might Put You in the Corner

Yes, companies like Google are replacing older keywords like “Human Resources” with “People Specialists,” but that might not be the best strategy for your company. The problem with getting too off-the-wall is that people won’t be searching for your one-of-a-kind job title. Even if internally, you call your programmers “Awesomeness Creators,” you can still use more traditional job titles in your search to ensure that people find your posting.

Your Job Titles Speak Volumes About Your Company Culture

Just like you will be assessing job candidates, those same professionals will be assessing your company. If your job titles are more creative, you might give off a startup culture vibe, which is appealing to many. Or, your more traditional titles might lure experienced professionals looking for stability and familiarity. Consider the ethos you want to portray with your company as you craft your titles.

Creating Better Job Titles

Just because you’ve had a Marketing Manager for years doesn’t mean the next person that fills that role needs to have the same title. Before you post your next open position on job boards, review what that role currently consists of. It likely has evolved over the past several years, and the job title should reflect that. Maybe now that role looks more like a Content Marketing Guru or a Social Media Manager. The more specific you get with the title, the more appealing it will be to the right candidates.

See what your competitors are calling similar roles and determine if you want to mimic those titles or branch off from them. You want candidates to be able to find your job listing, so you might not want to get too creative.

And skip the acronyms or abbreviated words, as well as internal reference IDs (Marketing Mgr Ex75-4). These only make it harder for job seekers to search for your position.

Above all, keep your job titles short and searchable. Leave the details for the job description itself. Consider what a candidate might search for to find your position on a job board. Search there yourself to see how good a fit your role is in search results. And if over time, you don’t get the caliber of candidates you’re seeking, you can always update that job title; it’s not set in stone.

When you post an open position, you are, in a sense, marketing it to potential buyers — or applicants. If you want qualified leads — applications — you’ve got to put the effort into developing the most relevant and appealing job title possible.

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

Business Information Zone (B.I.Z) – FAQs

Welcome January and 2017! With the holidays behind us and a bright new year ahead of us, it is a great time to start a business.  This month, we discuss the ways CorpNet can assist with our Business Information Zone or B.I.Z. in keeping your company in compliance!

Q: What is B.I.Z.?
A: Think of B.I.Z. as your business’ personal concierge service. Once you sign up, you’ll receive email reminders on tax and compliance alerts. You can also use B.I.Z. to store your business documents, and keep a personalized business profile that tracks important data about your company — such as formation date, Federal Tax ID number, business licenses and permits, and more.

Q: I didn’t use CorpNet to form my business, can I still use B.I.Z.?
A: Absolutely. Any Corporation, LLC, nonprofit, or professional company can use B.I.Z. to stay on top of their yearly compliance requirements. It doesn’t matter if you formed your company through CorpNet or not.

Q: It states that B.I.Z. is free. Is there a catch?
A: No. B.I.Z. is completely free, no strings attached. We know how challenging it can be to run a small business – and sometimes all the tedious state filing and fees can fall through the cracks. Small business owners don’t always know when their annual report is due or why their business fell into bad standing with the state. We created B.I.Z. to help small businesses keep track of all these filings, so they don’t have to pay an extra dime in fees or risk falling into bad standing just because they missed a deadline.

Q: What information do I need to create an account for free compliance monitoring on B.I.Z.?
A: You will need the following information: your business type (e.g. C Corporation or LLC), your filing state (where you filed your corporation/LLC paperwork), and your filing date (the registration date of your corporation/LLC with the state).

Q: Why do you need to know my filing date for B.I.Z.?
A: Each state has its own rules regarding when and how often corporations and LLCs are required to file their annual report. By knowing when you formed your LLC/corporation, we can send you an email alert before your annual report is due.

Q: What particular deadlines does B.I.Z. track?
A: B.I.Z. will track and notify you of upcoming compliance deadlines with the state, such as your Annual Report (if required in your state). It will also alert you of upcoming tax deadlines based on your business type. In addition, if you provide information about your business licenses and permits, B.I.Z. will alert you when they’re coming up for renewal.

Q: Can I keep track of multiple businesses with B.I.Z.?
A: Yes, you can monitor multiple businesses from a single B.I.Z. dashboard. It’s an ideal for attorneys and CPAs to keep track of their clients’ businesses.

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

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