/Running A Small Business

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

10 Steps to Starting an Email Newsletter to Market Your Business

If you are looking for an effective way to increase sales and keep your business in the forefront of customers’ minds, email is the perfect solution. With an ROI of $38 to every one dollar spent, according to a survey last year, email marketing can pay off big for a small business. After all, we all get email, and most of us check it multiple times a day.

Inundating prospective customers with daily emails about sales or discounts isn’t the way to get their attention, however. Instead, try offering them something useful: an email newsletter. Here are 10 steps to starting your own.

  1. Clarify your goals. As with every other type of marketing you do, it’s important to set specific, measurable goals for your email newsletter. Do you want it to get customers to visit your website, call your business or actually walk in the door? What numbers constitute success? How will the newsletter integrate with the rest of your marketing efforts to reach those goals?
  2. Decide on content. A newsletter must be more than just a marketing message — it should also offer some valuable, useful information to readers. For example, if you own a garden supply store, you could share 10 tips to prepare your garden for winter, a list of 5 essential garden tools, or the 3 biggest mistakes new gardeners make. Think of questions your prospective customers have or problems they need solutions to, then develop content that answers them. You can also announce new products or services, upcoming events at your business, and sales or other promotions.
  3. Be consistent. How often to send out your email newsletter depends on your available time, type of business and desired goals. However, once a month is a good starting point for most businesses. If you send your newsletter less frequently than that, you won’t achieve your goal of building brand awareness. Consistency is key, so send your newsletter out regularly at the same time of the month and the same time of day—such as 9 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month.
  4. Collect email addresses. The FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act strictly regulates email marketing. You can’t send your newsletter to people unless they sign up for it. Put a sign-up box near the top of your business website (all you have to ask for is the customer’s email address) or use a popup message. Collect email subscribers offline, too, by asking customers to sign up during the sales process. Offering an incentive for signing up, such as a code good for 20 percent off the first purchase, will help build your email list.
  5. Choose an email marketing service. Email marketing services provide email newsletter templates that make creating your newsletter easy. They also handle the grunt work of sending out the emails and gathering data about how customers interact with them. Constant Contact, Campaigner and MailChimp are popular email marketing services; ask other business owners for their recommendations, too.
  6. Select a template. Choose a template design that fits the type of content you plan to include and harmonizes with the design elements of your business brand. Make sure the template is mobile-friendly, since the majority of emails are now viewed on mobile devices.
  7. Create a welcome message. When someone signs up to receive your email newsletter, send a confirmation or welcome email thanking them for subscribing and letting them know what to expect. For example, tell them how often they will receive the newsletter and how to change their newsletter preferences or unsubscribe. Your email marketing service can set up this welcome email to send automatically.
  8. Include calls to action. Remember your newsletter goals? Include clear calls to action to achieve those goals. For instance, if you sell clothing online, news about your new fall fashions could include a link to “Shop Now.” Links should always go to specific landing pages—not just to your website’s homepage. Make sure the landing pages are mobile friendly in case users click through on a mobile device.
  9. Encourage pass-along readership. Grow your email newsletter audience by asking readers to forward the newsletter to a friend or colleague who might be interested. (Be sure to include a link at the bottom of the newsletter that tells recipients how to subscribe.)
  10. Track results. Email marketing services gather lots of data about how recipients interact with your emails, and provide analytics tools you can use to slice and dice that information. How many recipients open your newsletter? How many actually click on a link? Of those, how many actually take the desired action (such as making a purchase from your website)? Slice and dice this data to see what email newsletter topics, times of day and subject lines work best. Use what you learn to continually improve your email newsletter.

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.

 

9 Ways to Show Your Employees You’re Thankful for Them

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, our thoughts naturally turn to what we’re grateful for in life. As a small business owner, I know you’re thankful for your employees. After all, how would you run your business without them? In honor of Thanksgiving, here are 9 ways to say “thank you” to your employees.

  1. Give out bonuses. Let’s face it: Most people are highly motivated by money. There are a couple of ways to handle bonuses. You can set performance goals and give employees bonuses for meeting them—for example, giving a bonus to salespeople who surpass their quotas for the quarter. Or you can give out smaller, “surprise” bonuses, like handing a $25 gift card to a customer service person who goes above and beyond to make a customer happy.
  2. Show some PDA. (That’s “public display of appreciation.”) A thank-you means more when it’s shared in front of the whole team. Whenever you praise employees, take a moment to call everyone’s attention to what you’re doing. It not only makes the employee you’re praising feel great, but also shows the rest of the staff what type of behavior you want to see at work.
  3. Spread the word. Go beyond spotlighting your employees’ achievements in the workplace: Highlight your high-performing staffers on social media, on your website or in your marketing materials. Choose an “Employee of the Month” and profile him or her on your website or in your email marketing newsletter.
  4. Have a food fest. In my experience, one of the best ways to show employees appreciation is through their stomachs. Offer bagels or doughnuts every Friday morning or order pizza every Friday for lunch. Have a potluck where employees bring in their all-time favorite family recipes or dishes from their ethnic heritage. Holiday season? Hold a bake-off with different departments competing for a prize.
  5. Make it personal. Who wants to get an engraved plaque with their name on it? Yawn. Make employee rewards more meaningful by tailoring them to the recipient’s hobbies and interests. Get passes to a big game for a sports fan, or a gift card to a spa for a busy mom.
  6. Write a note. It’s easy to say “Thank you” in passing or send a nice email, but a thank-you note is something a recipient can save and savor. Take time to make your notes concrete and specific; this shows you’re really paying attention to what your employees are doing.
  7. Upgrade them. Having the latest equipment helps employees be more productive and do their jobs better—but, it also shows them how much you value their hard work. Update computers, provide mobile devices for work, spring for better-quality headsets or buy ergonomic office chairs.
  8. It’s about time. Comp time off is always a great way to thank employees for a job well done. Flexible work hours can also show employees how much you value them. Try offering different shifts, such as 8 AM to 4 PM or 10 AM to 6 PM, instead of the standard 9-to-5.
  9. Offer employee benefits. Beyond health insurance, there are tons of other benefits you can provide for your staff. For example, even the smallest business can set up a 401(k) plan to help workers plan for retirement. Life insurance, disability insurance, financial services and even pet insurance are other benefits that can show your employees you care.