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Archive for Startups – Page 2

3 Small Business Services Not to Skimp On

As a small business owner, you likely strive to cut corners. After all, you feel every penny leaving your company, so spending money unnecessarily isn’t in your vocabulary. But do you realize there are some  things you absolutely shouldn’t skimp on? Doing so can keep your company from growing, and can make you look unprofessional.

1. Graphic Design

Trust me on this one: early on, I tried designing my own company logo. It didn’t go well. Because your logo and your marketing collateral are the first things people see of your brand, you want to ensure that what they see is professionally designed and visually appealing. And unless you’re a designer yourself, you’ll have to hire a graphic designer to get the look.

But don’t despair: graphic designers are much more affordable these days. You can hire a freelancer, or even an aspiring college student, at a reasonable price. You can also look at crowdsourcing options like 99Designs, which let you get multiple concepts from different artists for a low price. Continue reading “3 Small Business Services Not to Skimp On” »

Watch: Corpnet.com CEO on Out of the Rough Show!

CorpNet.com Founder and CEO, Nellie Akalp, was asked to appear on Fred Arnold’s Out of the Rough show to chat about starting a business and the common mistakes small business owners make when incorporating a business or forming an LLC!

In the interview, Nellie talks about how CorpNet.com helps startups file the appropriate business entity, as well as aid existing businesses in staying compliant with state business agencies.

Looking Back

She talks about what the business filing industry was like in 2007 when she founded MyCorporation.com (which was bought by Intuit and is now owned by a private company). Imagine having to send a check to Earthlink to purchase a domain name! Times sure have changed.

Common Mistakes and Questions for Business Owners

When asked what the biggest mistake she sees in working with small businesses, Nellie replied that it was companies choosing the wrong type of business entity. CorpNet.com can assist in advising business owners of the most appropriate business entity.

Nellie also addressed the big question: where should I incorporate? Nellie dispels the myth that there are huge benefits in incorporating in states like Delaware and Nevada. If your headquarters are located elsewhere, you’ll still be subject to the state where you filed and its regulations. You may have to pay additional filing fees, and you’ll still be responsible for paying taxes in your home state. She says the best solution is to file a business in your home state where you conduct your business.

Tune in and listen to the valuable advice Nellie shares as she discusses important topics like incorporating a business and forming an LLC for your  venture with the host Fred Arnold and his co-host Tera McHugh, Founder of  Association of Women Entrepreneurs!

Things I wish I’d learned in school about starting a business

The fall back to school season always reminds me of how different life as an entrepreneur can be from the typical experience of going to school and going to college. When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to create your own structure and “grade yourself” on your performance. You have to direct your own learning, and adjust along the way to decide whether you’re pursuing the goals that are right for you. Instead of teachers and professors and textbooks and a class syllabus showing you what you’re going to work on and why it’s important, being an entrepreneur requires you to write your own textbook and create your own road map for your growth and success.

There are many things about starting a business and running a successful business that you just can’t learn in a classroom, but here are a few things I wish I’d learned in school that would be helpful in my life today as an entrepreneur: Continue reading “Things I wish I’d learned in school about starting a business” »

What can your business learn from the NFL?

 

Football season is here again. The NFL is America’s most popular and profitable sport, arguably having replaced baseball as America’s true “national pastime.” With over $4 billion per year in TV revenue (in addition to ticket sales and merchandise), the NFL is the richest brand in American sports. But just because the NFL is on top today doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. One of the biggest risks facing the NFL is the new research about concussions and brain injuries in football, with many former players now suing the league for negligence.

What are some ideas that small business owners can learn from the success (and risks) of the NFL?

Find your ideal medium. For many years, NFL football wasn’t nearly as popular as college football. But the NFL took off in popularity after World War II with the rise of television. NFL football is the ideal TV sport because it is broken up into many separate plays and the action translates well to the TV screen, where viewers can see the full complexity of the game up close. Even though your small business is unlikely to ever become as big of a draw as NFL football, now that we have social media, every small business has an opportunity to present itself to audiences in the best possible format. What do you do that could be best conveyed via YouTube video, podcast, or photos on Pinterest? How can you make your small business look more beautiful, more compelling, and more engaging with your customers and audiences? With social media, business owners have the ability to create their own content and tell their own story in a way that is affordable, targeted and relevant to the audience.

Continue reading “What can your business learn from the NFL?” »

10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

While we’re all unique as business owners, you’ve got to admit: we share certain characteristics that help us have the drive we need to succeed. Which of these do you have?

1. Determination. Not willing to give up, we forge ahead until we get what we want. Sometimes this isn’t our employees’ favorite of our characteristics, as it can make us “slave drivers,” expecting everyone else to live up to our own expectations for the business.

2. Competitiveness. Ever since grade school, we’ve been in competition; first with others, and now with ourselves. Our best isn’t good enough; we want more. This constant striving for perfection means we stay ahead of our competition in the marketplace. Continue reading “10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs” »

All About the Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Here at CorpNet, one of our biggest services is helping business owners form an LLC and manage the business filings to register their business with the state authorities. Deciding to form an LLC can be one of the best business decisions you’ve ever made, especially if you want flexibility with regards to taxation, ease of including partners or operating as a sole proprietor, and most importantly, the “limitation of liability” to protect your personal assets from the debts or liabilities of your business.

Since we work so often with entrepreneurs who want to form an LLC, we’d like to dedicate today’s blog post to tell you all about this unique, flexible, adaptable corporate structure.

What is an LLC?

LLC is short for “Limited Liability Company,” (NOT a Limited Liability Corporation)  which is an interesting definition – unlike a C-Corporation or S-Corporation, an LLC is not technically a “corporation” in the same sense. The LLC acts like a hybrid business entity, giving the owner some of the same characteristics as a corporation, but with the pass-through taxation and flexible operations of a sole proprietorship.

What are some of the main advantages of incorporating a business as an LLC? Continue reading “All About the Limited Liability Company (LLC)” »

10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

There’s a neverending debate on whether entrepreneurs are born or made. I don’t claim to be able to make the call one way or another, but I have noticed several characteristics that the most successful small business owners seem to share. Here they are.

1. Drive to Succeed. I guess without this, there’d be no reason to start a business. But every entrepreneur I’ve met (including myself) has something in them that won’t settle for halfway. It’s that Type A personality that refuses to relent until success is achieved. Can you relate?

2. Take Risks. I don’t naturally identify as being a risk-taker, but I look at the fact that I quit a job to start a company with zero dollars, and yes, I guess I have taken a few risks along the way. You can’t be scared of failure as an entrepreneur, that’s for sure.

Continue reading “10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs” »

5 Resources for Startups

If you run a startup, you’re probably so busy trying to get funding and make your company profitable that you don’t have the time to find resources to help you along your way. Never fear! Here I’ve provided five great resources that can help you run your business more succesfully.

1. Incubators

Startup incubators are designed to help startup founders quickly ramp up their business skills, perfect their pitch for investors and make contacts that could help them grow. Depending on where you live, you may need to relocate for the duration of an incubator or startup accelerator program, which typically last 6-12 weeks. Here are a few incubators to consider:

 

Continue reading “5 Resources for Startups” »

S Corporation Deadline For New and Existing Corporations

S Corporation DeadlineRecently, I have been bombarded with questions on when can an exisitng corporation elect s corporation status for an existing corporation.

Question: We have a C Corp, started in 2008, which was kept as a C Corp for VC reasons. We never went that route and now realize that we should go to an S Corp….when do we need to file?

Answer: An S Corporation’s fiscal year is strictly based on a calendar year always with a fiscal year end date of December 31.  As such, let’s say a C Corp filed, but never opened a bank account, issued shares, or started doing biz…if any of those events happen, then the clock starts ticking and within 75 days they can elect S Corp status and have the status effective for this year…In this case with the above questions, the above rule does not apply because they have done business and issued shares.  As such, then they can file S Corporation status on January 1, 2012 and thereafter to make the election effective for 2013 , but no later than March 15, 2013…that is the deadline…

So, in a nutshell….If your business is a corporation, you’re already aware that March 15 is the most critical tax deadline of the year. But March 15 is an important date for another reason…it’s the deadline for electing S Corporation status.

What exactly is the S Corporation (or S-Corp) and is it right for your business? Here are the most important things you need to know about this popular business entity:

What is the S Corporation?

All S Corporations actually begin as general, for-profit C Corporations. After the corporation has been formed, it may elect ‘S Corporation Status’ by filing Form 2553 with the IRS is a timely manner (more on the deadline below…). With this S Corporation election, the company is now taxed as a sole proprietor or partnership rather than as a separate entity like the C Corp. This means that corporate profits and losses are “passed-through” and reported on the personal income tax returns of the shareholders. That’s why the S Corp is known as a ‘pass-through entity.’ 

Why should I form an S Corporation?

The main benefit of the S Corporation boils down to three simple words: avoid double taxation. Let’s take a look at an example to illustrate the benefit. Let’s say your business earns $100,000. And to keep things simple, we’ll assume the tax rates for individuals and corporations are 28% each. In a regular C Corporation, the business pays $28,000 in income tax, and $72,000 is distributed to you. You would then owe 28% personal income tax on the $72,000 dividend, which is $20,160. This means that overall you’ve paid $48,160 in taxes for the year.

Now let’s say you created an S Corporation for this same business. As an S Corp, the corporation pays no income tax. The $100,000 is distributed to you, and you pay $28,000 in tax. It’s pretty easy to see the benefit between $28,000 vs. $48,160 tax payments for the year. Bear in mind: this was an over-simplified example; and you should consult with your financial or tax adviser on the specifics of your own situation. 

Who can’t form an S Corporation?

S-Corp election isn’t for everyone. The IRS places certain restrictions on S-Corps, including:

  • An S-Corp cannot have more than 100 shareholders
  • All shareholders in an S-Corp must be individuals (not LLCs or partnerships) and legal residents of the United States.
  • An S-Corp can have only one class of stock, so all owners must share equally in terms of profits and losses based on their percentage of ownership.

How do I become an S Corporation?

If your business meets the above qualifications, it’s relatively easy to form an S Corp and avoid the double taxation burden. Here are the key steps:

  • First, you must incorporate a business.
  • Next, complete and file IRS Form 2553 with the Internal Revenue Service no more than 75 days from the date of incorporation, or no more than 75 days from the start of the current tax year. Instructions from the IRS can be found here.
  • Within 60 days of the 2553 filing, the IRS will notify you if the election is accepted.
  • Also check with your state’s taxing authority to see if you also need to file state specific forms to qualify for S Corporation status in your state.

What is the deadline?

For simplicity’s sake, March 15 is the deadline for filing form 2553 with the IRS. As expected, the full story is a little more complex. If your corporation exists on January 1 (and you’re a calendar-year tax payer), then your form must be filed by March 15 (75 days from Jan 1) to receive S Corp treatment for the current tax year. In other words, if your corporation existed on Jan 1, 2012, you needed to file form 2553 by March 15, 2012 in order to have your S Corp in effect for the 2012 tax year. However, if you formed a corporation on August 1, 2012, then your S Corporation deadline is November 15 (75 days from August 1).

If you miss the deadline, you’ll most likely be taxed as a C Corporation for the current tax year, and then your S Corp election will be effective for the next tax year. The IRS may offer relief for a late election if you can show that your failure to file on time was due to ‘reasonable cause.’ Of course, no one wants to be at the mercy of the whim of the IRS, so play it safe and get your form in on time.

Mark down March 15 as your S Corp deadline and file your 2553 form. It’s one of the easiest ways to save on your income taxes. And use those savings to invest in your business or however you see fit. Good luck!  

Small business management lessons from Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt is the “fastest man alive” after winning Gold in the 100 meter dash at the London Olympics. The Jamaican sprinter is a legend in his own time after winning his second Gold medal in one of track’s most recognized events. What are some lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from this remarkable competitor?

  • It’s not the start that counts, so much as how you finish. In track events, getting a fast start can make a big difference in a runner’s chances of winning the race. Even minute differences down to a tenth of a second in how quickly and forcefully a runner “bolts” out of the starting blocks can make the difference between a Gold medal and 4th place. Usain Bolt’s running style is unusual for having a slow start (he’s almost always one of the last runners to leave the starting blocks) but a blisteringly fast finish. Even though he might have a slower reaction time to the starter’s pistol, Bolt is able to close down the stretch. In fact, he closes so well that it’s almost a different race in the last 50 meters down the track. Even though he’s running against the fastest runners in the world, he beats them convincingly down the stretch. In the same way, some entrepreneurs are slow to start on a project, but they finish strong. Some businesses start slow and then build up momentum. Some entrepreneurs start a business and then watch it fail, only to learn from the experience and go on to greater success. Continue reading “Small business management lessons from Usain Bolt” »