Your Back-to-School Business Plan

35_2528381It’s that time of year again where we start trading in beach towels for school supplies. For many busy moms like myself, now is the perfect time to focus on your own goals and for those moms who are running their own business, it’s also a good time to revisit some of the legal and administrative details that may have slipped through the cracks over the past few months.

If you’re running a small business, here’s a ‘back-to-school’ checklist to help you stay on top of the legal aspects of your business:

Check that you’re legally permitted to use your business name

If you’re just starting a business, everything begins with the name. But before you start printing out business cards, you need to make sure that your great new name isn’t infringing on an already existing business. You should search corporate names in your state’s secretary of state’s database, as well as conduct a Trademark search at the federal level. CorpNet.com offers both a Free Business Name Search and Free Trademark Search Tool.

Register Your Fictitious Business Name (aka DBA, “Doing Business As”): If you’re a sole proprietor or general partner, you’ll need to file a DBA registration when your company name is different than your own name. For an LLC or corporation, DBAs must be filed whenever you conduct business using a name that’s different than your official Corporation or LLC name.

Incorporate Your Business or Form an LLC

This is a critical step to protecting your personal assets (such as your personal property or your child’s college fund) from any liabilities of the company. That means that if your business should be sued, your personal property may be shielded from any judgment. Depending on your specific circumstances, you might choose among an LLC (great for small businesses that want legal protection, but minimal formality), an S Corporation (great for small businesses that can qualify), or a C Corporation (for bigger companies or companies who plan to seek funding from a VC). Unless your business is particularly complex, you should be able to incorporate or form an LLC online, without having to retain a business attorney.

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How’s the Business End of Your Business?

430_3152363Do you ever get those midnight sweats? You know the ones… you can’t sleep because you’re worrying about your business.

Can you afford to hire? Will you make payroll? Are the people you have hired doing what they are supposed to be doing and getting the work done?  Will it all come together before it falls completely apart?

These scary parts?  They start to ease up and even evaporate once you’ve got good, solid, clear expectations set with the people who work for you, with you and who you work for.

I can’t explain why, it just does.  Maybe it’s because when you know you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, you can trust the Universe will conspire for your benefit.

Setting clear expectations and creating agreements can be confusing and even overwhelming, especially when you’re holding it all yourself. Luckily, you have support. I’m here to tell you that the my beautiful friend and colleague, the truth-telling lawyer, Alexis Neely, is devoting an entire hour to answering YOUR questions, for free.

You’ll get trusted advice from Alexis, in a way you can understand and easily implement. Plus, if you’re thinking about starting a business, whether it’s incorporating your business, forming an LLC , or simply registering your business as a Sole Proprietorship/DBA, she’ll refer you back to us at Corpnet.com as her preferred trusted partner and resource to handle the filing for you. Continue reading “How’s the Business End of Your Business?” »

Here’s to the Female Entrepreneur – My Toast for American Business Women’s Day

1062_4353086September 22 is American Business Women’s Day – a day founded by the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) to celebrate the contributions that women have made to the economy.

As the (female) CEO of a small company that helps entrepreneurs start a business  (Whether it’s incorporating a business, fomring an LLC or simply setting up a sole proprietorship/DBA) and get their businesses off the ground, I have the incredible fortune to work with countless budding and talented business owners. Here are my thoughts on this important day…

In 2010, women became the majority of the U.S. workforce for the first time in U.S. history. 57% of college students are now women. While men continue to dominate the executive ranks and corner offices of Fortune 500 companies, women now hold their own in a number of lucrative careers: they make up 54% of accountants, 45% of law associates, and approximately 50% of all banking and insurance jobs.

But for me, the most telling statistic rests in the state of entrepreneurship. AnAmerican Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report found that between 1997 and 2011, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. increased by 50% — that’s a rate 1.5 times higher than the national average.

More and more womenare coming into their own as business owners. And the motivation behind each business is as diverse as the women themselves. For some women, a business is a great outlet for their energy, leadership skills, and passion. For others, it’s a flexible way to supplement the household income. And for many, it’s simply a necessity. Since let’s face it: living on a single income is not that easy in our two-income economy.

If you are considering starting your own business, here are four benefits to consider: Continue reading “Here’s to the Female Entrepreneur – My Toast for American Business Women’s Day” »

By | September 22nd, 2012|Events & Announcements, Startups, Women In Business|0 Comments

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

685_3496960The 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?

518_4539324Football 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.

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10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

869_3932759While 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” »

By | September 13th, 2012|Business Checklists, Startups|1 Comment

All About the Limited Liability Company (LLC)

705_3546162Here 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

493_3213408There’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

609_3770018If 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:


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