/Tag:entrepreneur

Filing an Amendment – FAQs

July marks the middle of the year and a great time to make changes within your company! This month, we answer all your thought provoking questions about filing an amendment.

Q: When do I need to file an amendment?
A: Articles of Amendment are required if any of the information included in your incorporation or foreign qualification paperwork changes. For example:

  • Changes to the company name
  • Changes to the Registered Agent Information
  • Company Business Address
  • Director or Member Information
  • Number of Authorized Shares
  • Business Activities of the Company

Q: Do I need to notify the state if the nature of my business changes?
A: If you used a general purpose clause in your incorporation/foreign qualification documents, such as “All lawful business,” then you won’t need to notify the state if you changed your business activity/purpose. Likewise, if your state didn’t require business information listed, then you won’t need to update anything. But, if you did provide a specific business purpose and this purpose changes, you will need to file an Articles of Amendment.

Q: What if my company relocates its offices?
A: Generally speaking, the address on record with the secretary of state’s office is the registered office address of the company. As such, your company may be required to file Articles of Amendment to change the address of the company if the address that is on record with the state is no longer valid.

Q: What if I would like to authorize more shares for my company?
A: Since your total authorized shares are most likely listed on your Articles of Incorporation, you will need to file an amendment to make this change.

Q: If I am foreign qualified to conduct business in another state, do I need to amend these documents too?
A: Yes, you need to file an amendment if you change information that’s included in your foreign qualification document. Typically speaking, this is a similar process to filing an amendment to your incorporation document. But, the state of qualification may require that you show a Certificate of Good Standing from your state of incorporation. We can help you obtain this document.

Q: I didn’t set up my company through CorpNet. Can you still help me file an amendment?
A: Absolutely. We can prepare and file the necessary amendment documents, whether your formed a business through us or not.

Q: What if I want to change my company’s name?
A: If you want to change your company name, you have two options. First, you can keep your official name (the name filed in your corporation/LLC paperwork) as is and then file a DBA for the new name. In this case, you’ll still use your original business name for all official activities with the state, such as filing your taxes and your annual report. But, you can use your new name for all other activities – such as marketing, opening a bank account, etc.

If you want to abandon the original name altogether, you can file Articles of Amendment (also called Certificate of Amendment) with the state to officially change your company name. Keep in mind that if your business is registered in other states as a foreign entity, you will also need to file Articles of Amendment in each one of those states.

We’ll help you create the documents needed for either option and file it with the state.

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

By | July 17th, 2017|FAQ|0 Comments

Professional LLCs – FAQs

Happy June! Summer is fast approaching and with new beginnings, we bring you a new post in our FAQ series! This month, we discuss the Professional LLC, or “PLLC” and the ins and outs of filing them.

 

Q: What is a PLLC?

A: A Professional Limited Liability Company is a special type of LLC that’s designed for licensed professionals, such as accountants, lawyers, and doctors (typically, professions that require a license). Some states do not allow licensed professionals to form an LLC since they don’t want them to escape personal responsibility for professional malpractice by “hiding behind” the personal liability protection of an LLC. Instead, they allow professionals to form an LLC. But, specific rules vary by state.

 

Q: If I’m a licensed professional, how can I find out if my state allows me to form an LLC, PLLC, or something else?

A: The LLC and PLLC are state constructs; as such, rules vary widely by state. For example, professionals in New York cannot form an LLC, but may form a PLLC. Professionals in California cannot form an LLC or a PLLC, but can form a RLLP (Registered Limited Liability Partnership) or PC (Professional Corporation). And professionals in Arizona can choose between an LLC or PLLC. And the specific rules within a state may also depend on the type of profession as well.

The easiest way to determine your business entity options is to give us a call at 1.888.449.2638 and we’ll discuss which entities are available for your profession in your state.

 

Q: How do I form a PLLC?

A: As expected, the process to form a PLLC is more involved than forming an LLC. You’ll typically need to have your state licensing board approve your articles of organization first (again, this requirement varies by state). As a result, it takes longer to form a PLLC than an LLC. After the proper state licensing board has approved your articles of organization, then you will need to file the articles of organization and other formation paperwork with the state. Most states require a signature and license number of a licensed professional to form the LLC.

Our small business experts can help you with each stage of the process. First, we’ll ensure that your particular business needs to file a PLLC in your state. Then, we’ll help obtain the necessary approvals and file your paperwork.

 

Q: Who can be an owner/member of a PLLC?

A: While specifics vary by state, many states limit who can be an owner/member of an PLLC. In some states, only licensed professionals of the specific service can be members in a PLLC.

 

Q: How does limited liability work with a PLLC? 

A: Like an LLC, the PLLC creates a separation between the individual owners and the business. But there’s a very important distinction. You will still be personally liable for malpractice claims related to your own actions. For this reason, you’ll need to have a good malpractice insurance policy even if you form a PLLC. However, a PLLC will typically protect you from personally liability for the business debts, as well as the malpractice of other owners within the company.

 

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

                               

How to Use a Blog to Boost Your Business

Nowadays, a business website is considered incomplete if it doesn’t have a blog. Blogging started out as a mere hobby, an online journal where individuals would share their thoughts, feelings, experiences and opinions. However, businesses have found that blogging is also a valuable resource for lead generation, customer service, boosting search engine rankings, and brand marketing and promotion.

Today we give you a number of ways starting your own business blog could give your business a much needed boost in the right direction.

1. Get More Online Exposure

Businesses devote entire departments to marketing, where the only goal is to constantly think of the next big promotion, event, or advertisement that can lure customers in. Nowadays, instead of investing money in other online marketing tactics, more companies are opting for the creating a company blog.

According to a recent study, company websites with blogs get 55% more traffic, with 37% of marketers saying that blogging is the most important type of content marketing. A company blog, as long as it is carefully maintained, can be an infinite source of leads for the company. Engaging content will bring in interested viewers, who will then share your blog posts to other people who might need them. Free advertising at its best!

2. Cement Your Reputation as an Industry Professional

Customers are more likely to give you their hard-earned money if they can see that you, as a company, know what you’re talking about. Blogs are a great way to disseminate important information that your target audience might find useful. For example, if your company is a provider of loans, having a few articles on how to save money, raise one’s credit score and ensure loan application success gives off the impression that your company is knowledgeable in all matters concerning your field.

3. Promote More Customer Interaction

Before, customers could only reach a company through phone, or email. Customers felt that businesses were distant and uncaring of their needs. Blogging is a great way to close the gap between consumers and businesses. At the end of every blog post, consumers can share their thoughts about the post and the company as a whole through the comments section.

Businesses can place someone in charge of answering these comments to encourage interaction. This makes businesses seem more “human” in the eyes of a consumer, which helps convert leads. Existing customers are more loyal to companies who will take note of their suggestions and make changes in the company accordingly.

4. Boost Search Engine Rankings

Blogs make business websites appealing not only to visitors, but to search engines as well. Imagine, each blog you write is a separate page that can be indexed, giving you more chances of being found on search engines. Around 5-7 billion searches are made by people each day. Now imagine if even a small fraction of these people find their way to your website. Let’s say your company sells dietary products online and you have several blog articles on dieting. So the next time someone searches for “common diet myths” for example, if you have a blog post on diet myths, your blog post has a chance of showing up on the search engine results. The more blog posts you have, the more likely you’ll have something that someone out there is searching for.

Google’s algorithm keeps changing, but some of their basic rules don’t change. Search engines like Google favor pages with longer content (around 1,140-1,285) and value viewer retention more than number of views. So it matters less how many people view a certain page, and more how long they stay engaged with that page. Blog posts with interesting content, especially those with images and videos embedded on them, can sustain the interest of viewers for several minutes.

5. Get Extra Income For Your Company

While the main purpose of company blogs is to attract new customers, interact with old ones, convert viewership to sales and boost brand reputation, there’s nothing wrong with making a little bit of money on the side. There are a variety of ways for you to monetize your company blog, from well-placed ads to affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is basically earning commission for referring another business. For example, if your business provides renovation and repair services, you can apply as an affiliate for manufacturers of construction materials and fixtures. Then, on your company’s blog, you can write a review on these manufacturers, linking to their website in the process. Every time a viewer clicks on the link and makes a purchase, you make a commission from it.

Conclusion

Blogging can greatly affect a company’s reputation, online exposure, customer service, and income generation, making it a powerful tool that is accessible even to smaller and newer businesses. Being new and having fewer resources is no excuse to ignore the benefits of blogging. In fact, business with blogs experience 126% more lead growth compared to businesses without a blog. Who knows, blogging might just be the key to transforming your virtually unknown business into a thriving, influential powerhouse.

Registered Agents – FAQs

Happy May! This month, we will be going over the requirements for being or maintaining a registered agent and what the registered agent does for your business.

 

Q: What is the purpose of the registered agent?

A: The registered agent is the person named to receive important legal and tax documents on behalf of a business in a given state. This includes important mail sent by the state (annual reports or statements), state tax documents, as well as any Notices of Litigation. Virtually all states require corporations, LLCs, LLPs, LPs and nonprofits to appoint a registered agent in the state where the company is formed. And, if a company registers to transact business in another state (via a foreign qualification), it will typically need a registered agent in that state too.

 

Q: What are the requirements for a registered agent?

A: The registered agent can either be an individual or a company approved by the state to be a registered agent. The registered agent must be located at a street address – P.O. boxes are not acceptable. In most cases, the registered agent also needs to be located in the state where the company is incorporated or qualified to conduct business. Keep in mind that a P.O. box is usually allowed as the mailing address for the business.

 

Q: Can I serve as my company’s registered agent?

A: Yes, absolutely! However, states require that the registered agent must be available at all times during normal business hours to receive and sign for any important documents. That’s because the state needs to make sure a summons, lawsuit, or other official state documents are actually received by the company and not “lost in the mail.” If you’re confident that you’ll always be on hand during normal business hours at the designated address, you can be your registered agent. But most small business owners prefer to have a third party serve as the registered agent for the state.

 

Q: Will my business fall out of good standing without a registered agent?

A: Here’s one scenario of what can happen. Let’s say you fail to maintain a registered agent service, or you choose to serve as your own registered agent and either move or aren’t around to receive an official communication. If an official document from the state can’t be delivered to/accepted by your registered agent, then the state may put your business in bad standing until you update the state records with an active registered agent.

 

Q: What is Service of Process?

A: This refers to the delivery of legal documents such as a lawsuit, summons, subpoena for records, wage garnishment or any other official correspondence from the state. Your business is required to have a registered agent in the state who can receive service of process during normal business hours.

 

Do you have a questions regarding a Registered Agent? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

 

                               

National Small Business Week: What It Means For You And How To Make The Most Of It

Sunday, April 30, 2017, marked the start of National Small Business Week. From that day through Saturday, May 6, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has organized a variety of events to celebrate small businesses and the impact they have on our national and local economies.

According to the SBA National Small Business Week website, “More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.”

I say that’s reason to celebrate! Don’t you agree?

We’re celebrating at CorpNet.com by offering  10 percent off of the cost of any complete business formation package this week only! Visit the CorpNet website’s home page and click the “Get Started” button to view the formation packages for your state. At checkout, use code CNSBW to apply your discount.

Other highlights of the week will include: small business award ceremonies; a live chat over social media with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon and Facebook’s VP and Chief Privacy Officer for Policy Erin Egan about how to start and grow a business; a road tour that kicks off in the Indycar town of Indianapolis and continues with stops in Arlington, Texas and ends in Fresno, California; and free webinars.

What Does This Mean For You?

In a word: Plenty!

As the SBA is promoting National Small Business Week, you can piggyback off the momentum and remind your customers about why supporting small businesses is the way to go.

  • Local small businesses typically hire local people from within their communities.
  • Local small businesses often seek to source raw materials from local suppliers, thus further stimulating the local economy.
  • Local small businesses tend to be vested in and give back to their communities in time, talent, and dollars to improve the lives of those around them.
  • Local small businesses build personal relationships with their customers and nurture a sense of community.

How Can You Get Involved?

For starters, check out the SBA National Small Business Week website for what’s happening each day from April 30 to May 6. Also, generate some buzz by posting about National Small Business Week on social media (hashtag #smallbusinessweek). And consider offering some special deals to draw people to your local small business. Even better, partner with other local small businesses in your area to cross-promote each other’s products, services, and special offers. That’s a powerful way to show your solidarity as small business owners.

A Time To Shine

SBA’s National Small Business Week is a perfect time to reflect on your business success and move onward to an even brighter future. And if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to move past kicking the tires and start your own business, what better time to take your first steps?

*Image from the National Small Business Week website*

What Can Employers Not Discriminate Against?

As a business owner, it’s exciting to hire employees and watch your company grow. But there are legal risks if you give job candidates and employees reason to believe your staffing decisions and policies are discriminatory.

The first step in avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit is to have a basic understanding of what you can’t discriminate against and the nature of the laws that prohibit employment discrimination.

You need to comply with all applicable federal and state (even some local) laws that protect people from job discrimination. So, in your employment ads, job applications, job interviews, background checks, social media account reviews, employment policies and anything else you do in your efforts to hire and maintain your workforce, you need to follow the rules. State laws vary, so make sure you do your research to find out which apply to you. Passed by Congress, signed by the President, and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit various types of discrimination and affect employers everywhere in the United States.

Here’s a rundown of what you can’t discriminate against and the federal laws that protect individuals:

Race/color, national origin, religion, sex, and pregnancy Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from denying employment based on the race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. It prohibits job discrimination against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical conditions. In addition, it makes unwelcome sexual advances and other verbal and physical harassment of a sexual nature illegal. The law also makes it unlawful to not offer equal pay and benefits based on sex, race, religion, sex, and national origin. Something else you should keep in mind is that employment policies or practices that apply to everyone might be considered illegal if they negatively affect the employment of people within the protected classes under Title VII.

AgeThe Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects individuals age 40 and older from being treated unfavorably based on age during hiring and employment by employers. It applies only to businesses with 20 or more employees, but some states have laws that apply to companies with far fewer employees.

DisabilityThe Americans with Disabilities Act protects qualified individuals with disabilities from being unfavorably treated in the workplace (including with regard to pay or benefits) and during the hiring process as a result of their disabilities. Discrimination protection also applies to applicants and employees who have a history of a disability (such as cancer that’s in remission) or because they may have a physical or mental impairment.

Genetic InformationTitle II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination against applicants and employees because of genetic information. It restricts employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, and certain other entities from asking for, demanding, buying, or disclosing individuals’ genetic information.

Standing Up Against Discrimination – Under all the laws that the EEO enforces, job applicants and employees are protected from discrimination and harassment as a result of them asserting their rights not to be treated unfavorably. Federal laws make it illegal to retaliate against job candidates and employees who take certain measures to protect themselves and others (for example: file a complaint, charge, investigation, or lawsuit; resist sexual advances or protect others from being sexually harassed; talk with a manager about discrimination or harassment, etc.).

Know The Rules And Follow Them

Besides knowing the laws and what they’re created to protect against, I suggest seeking the guidance of a trusted legal and/or human resources professional to ensure your employment practices comply. From making sure your job application doesn’t cross any lines to knowing the job interview questions that are illegal to setting salaries and benefit packages, you’ll find plenty of gray areas that may need specialized expertise. Having the peace of mind that your hiring practices are compliant with anti-discrimination laws is well-worth putting in a little extra time and attention when staffing your business.

Be Your Own HR Department with These 5 Tools

Small business owners wear many hats when running daily operations – especially when they are just starting to build their company. Their tasks include administrative work, client servicing, finance requirements and more.

One of the most tedious tasks of running a business is taking care of HR requirements. Unfortunately, your HR responsibilities don’t end when an applicant signs the employment contract. This part of the business plays an important role in keeping the company running smoothly on a daily basis. However, small businesses don’t always have the luxury of hiring a dedicated team member to focus on these tasks.

Fortunately, there are a lot of available resources to help small business owners with these functions without having to hire an HR manager. Below are 5 tools that you can use to be your own HR department.

1. Online Recruitment Tools

Online recruitment software organize a company’s hiring process by providing end-to-end solutions to their recruitment needs.

Features of online recruitment tools include being able to post job listings on multiple job boards, search for applicants that fit the company’s job description, review and rank candidates, schedule interviews and organize them based on the stage of their application. It also helps a company build a talent pipeline should a need to fill in a new role arises. All of which helps prevent a hiring manager from overlooking pending and ongoing applications.

While this tool helps in organizing the whole recruitment process, it is also important to have proper documentation and formalities once you get your new team member on board. Remember to accomplish all the necessary employee forms to help make employment agreements headache-free.

2. Online Payroll System

Using online payroll or accounting software is an efficient way to manage your employees’ compensation package in a timely manner. These tools are designed to help calculate monthly wages, apply deductions as necessary, file taxes, manage your accounts, and pay employees via direct bank deposits.

Employees are asked to fill out forms initially but once everything is set up, the tool will do most of the work moving forward, relieving an individual from accomplishing monthly recurring compensation tasks.

3. Employee Performance Review Software

One of the most important functions of HR is looking after an employee’s career growth in line with the quality of his performance within the company. The most effective way to do this is to conduct regular performance reviews with each employee to check if they are on track with the goals set from their last evaluation.  

Small businesses can use performance review tools to help them keep track of their employees’ performance documents. It’s a helpful and efficient way to see agreed upon targets and career plans without having to dig through physical files that sometimes get lost in piles of other documents.

4. Time Tracking Tools

Time tracking tools help managers oversee the time being spent by employees and freelancers on each project, client or tasks so that it’s easier to calculate their time worked at the end of each month. This is particularly helpful in determining whether a particular client is profitable based on the numbers that an employee puts into the project when measured against the amount of money that the client brings into the company.

Other uses of time tracking tools include prioritizing and reprioritizing employee tasks based on current client requirements. It also gives managers great visibility when assigning new tasks and avoiding giving more work to employees who already have a lot on their plate as they can see the projects each team member is working on.

Time tracking tools can be used on the go and have mobile app versions making it easier for employees to record their hours anytime, anywhere.

5. Perks and Reward Tools

Particularly useful for output driven professions, an employee reward system works by scoring an individual’s performance, calculating “earned points” and rewarding them for their great work.

Employers can customize their rewards package and input prizes a team member is eligible to claim should they reach a specific number of points. While this tool is more of a nice-to-have instead of a must-have, it’s a unique tool companies can use when looking for ways to motivate and give back to their employees on a regular basis.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to motivate your employees for their great work, read this article about using rewards and incentives in the workplace.

Bottom Line

While double-hatting as an HR manager and juggling operational roles is a tedious task, taking advantage of available and easy-to-use HR tools online can significantly relieve an individual from juggling all of the different functions related to HR.

Most of these tools are designed to help individuals organize HR functions especially when handling recurring tasks. Once you are done with the initial stages of setting up these tools, they will do most of the work for you so you can focus on more important things such as scouting for new clients and bringing in more money to your business!

Can An Employer Ask About Your Age?

If a job candidate is googling this question after a job interview at your company, you may be headed for trouble.

At both the federal and state level, anti-discrimination laws exist to prevent businesses from hiring or not hiring based on personal characteristics that are not relevant to an individual’s ability to do the job. Age is one of them. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects people who are age 40 and older from being treated unfavorably because of their age during the hiring process—and when employed. In 2016, 20,857 age discrimination charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the government agency that enforces ADEA.

For private businesses, the ADEA only applies to those with 20 or more employees, but why put your business at risk? If you intend to grow your business, doesn’t it make sense to establish policies and procedures now to help ensure you don’t become a statistic and possibly face a costly lawsuit?

You need to pay attention to every aspect of employment:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Compensation
  • Work assignments and responsibilities
  • Opportunities for career advancement
  • Training
  • Fringe benefits
  • Layoffs
  • Firing

Any other terms or conditions of employment are also subject to age-related discrimination scrutiny.

While the ADEA doesn’t protect younger individuals from discrimination in the workplace, some state laws do. So, you could put yourself in a tricky situation if you in any way let the age of job applicants or employees affect how you treat people. Also, just because your business falls below the 20-employee minimum for ADEA to apply to you, you might be subject to your state’s age-related anti-discrimination laws. For example, individuals in Arkansas can file a claim against employers with a minimum of 9 employees under state law. And in Colorado, all employers, regardless of number of employees, must comply with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

What can you do to help keep your business from violating the laws protecting against age discrimination?

Below are a few tips that can help:

  • In your employment ads, avoid language that could land you in trouble. (For example, “Looking for a young, energetic professional…”) Generally, ADEA deems it unlawful to mention age limitations, preferences, and outright specifications in job advertisements.
  • Be cautious when asking an applicant to disclose her age or date of birth. While it’s not explicitly prohibited, that type of inquiry will be closely scrutinized to ensure it wasn’t asked in an effort to deter older workers from applying for a position or otherwise discriminate against them based on age. According to the EEOC, “If the information is needed for a lawful purpose, it can be obtained after the employee is hired.”
  • Don’t establish company-wide policies or practices if they will adversely affect applicants or employees who are age 40 or older. [Note that liability might not apply if a policy or practice’s impact is due to a reasonable factor other than age (RFOA)].
  • Make sure your business’s managers and employees understand that age-related harassment is illegal when frequent or severe enough to cause a hostile work environment.

Realize we’ve merely glazed over the tip of the iceberg with the considerations above, so I encourage you to consult with a human resource professional and/or attorney for guidance and feedback on your hiring and employment efforts.

While avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit shouldn’t be a concern that keeps you up at night, it is something you need to be vigilant about through having sound standards, procedures, and staff training in place. I know you’ve worked hard to bring your business this far; don’t let sloppy employment practices stand in the way of your success.

How to Start an Accounting Firm

If you’re a CPA or an accountant, the transition from working for someone else to being your own boss has probably crossed your mind. Self-employment offers an opportunity to have more control over your own schedule, allowing you to better balance your professional endeavors and personal life. It also enables you to manage your firm the way you want to manage it.

Here’s seven steps to start your own accounting practice:

1. Select a business name

Think about whether you want to market your business using your own name (e.g., “Jane Smith, Accountant”) or create a business name (e.g., “Accounting You Can Count On”). As a solopreneur accountant, you might opt to use your own name because you and your brand are one in the same. On the other hand, choosing a business name might help you be perceived as well-established and experienced.

If you go with a business name, make sure it is available to use before you start printing it on business cards and other marketing materials. Check to see if the name is available in the state where you’re planning to operate your business by checking with your state’s secretary of state office. We have a free business name search tool here at CorpNet that can help, as well.

Also check to see if the domain name for your business is available (e.g., accountingyoucancounton.com). Sites like GoDaddy.com will let you instantly find out if there’s a suitable domain, and they will offer suggestions for alternate names if the one you want is already taken.

No one in your state is using the name you want? Excellent! Next, you’ll want to search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if anyone has a pending request for or has successfully registered a trademark for the name. Don’t skip this step because you’ll land in legal hot water if you infringe on another company’s trademark.

2. Choose a legal structure and register your business.

The business structure you choose will affect your business from both legal and tax standpoints. Solo accountants and small firms often choose to register as an LLC (Limited Liability Company),  PLLC (Professional Limited Liability Company), or PC (Professional Corporation). As state constructs, these business entities are subject to different rules in different states. You can find the specific rules for accountants in your state via the CorpNet website or you can call the Secretary of State’s office in your state to get the details you need.

3. Obtain the licenses and permits you’ll need.

Regardless of which state you’re operating your business in, you’ll need some form of licensing to provide public accounting services. You will need to hold a CPA license and your firm may need a public accountancy license. To determine the requirements in your state, check with your State Board of Accountancy.

Besides CPA accreditation you may also need other state and local municipality permits, as well. They might include a general business operation license, a signage permit, and possibly a home occupation permit (if you’re operating your business from home. CorpNet can help you determine the license and permit requirements applicable to you, or you can check with your local government office.

4. Apply for a Tax ID Number

Also called a Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number), this allows the IRS to track your business’s transactions. LLCs and corporations are required to have an EIN and many banks will require that you have one before they’ll allow you to open a business bank account.

5. Open a bank account exclusively for your business.

It’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate—for both legal and tax purposes. In fact, that separation is mandatory for LLCs and corporations. After you’ve registered your business with the state and have your Tax ID number, you will have the information you need to open a business bank account.

6. Get insurance to protect your business.

Even though officially forming an LLC or incorporating your business will help to lower your personal liability related to business debt and lawsuits against associates, it will not protect your personal assets if action is brought against you due to your own actions. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider getting an insurance policy for peace of mind. Talk with a knowledgeable and trustworthy insurance agent who understands the needs of accountants and other businesses in the financial services industry. A reliable agent can guide you to the type of coverage that will best protect you, such as a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP), Professional Liability, Insurance, Data Breach Coverage, or others.

7. Know your business compliance responsibilities.

Registering your business is just the beginning. LLCs and corporations have ongoing requirements to keep their businesses in good standing. For example, most states require LLCs and PLLCs to file an annual report each year and show proof of a valid certification. Corporations have more corporate compliance responsibilities. Besides annual reports, they must conduct annual meetings, prepare meeting minutes, and meet other compliance requirements.

I know it can be tough to keep up with everything that’s required and when it’s due, so I recommend using the CorpNet B.I.Z. (Business Information Zone) compliance tool. It’s a free monitoring tool that can help you stay on top of your state filings and fees due throughout the year.

The steps to starting an accounting business aren’t overly complex. To make sure you launch your business on solid legal ground, you’ll want to make sure you do it right. Consider talking with a legal professional who can guide you and look to CorpNet to ensure your business forms and filings are done accurately and on time.

 

Avoiding A Job Discrimination Law Suit

Hiring the right people to be part of your team can greatly affect your business’s ability to succeed. It’s an important process—and a tricky one! When considering job candidates, you need to be careful or you could find yourself facing legal problems. If at any point during the hiring process you don’t comply with the federal and state (and even some local) laws that protect people from job discrimination, you risk having a lawsuit filed against your company.

When hiring employees, you must comply with all anti-discrimination laws. Even an unintentional misstep can cause major issues for your business.

Job Discrimination Complaints Happen: Don’t Become A Statistic!

The United States EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) received 91,905 complaints of discrimination in 2016. That doesn’t include any charges filed at the state or local levels.

If you want to avoid becoming a statistic, everyone involved in the hiring process at your company should pay careful attention to complying with anti-discrimination laws through every step of the hiring process. This includes hiring ads, job applications, interview questions, background checks, and review of job candidates’ social media accounts.

All of the above and any other aspects of hiring employees need to follow the laws the EEOC enforces, which prohibit various types of discrimination.

Keep in mind that what I’ll share here is to give you a sense of what you need to consider and learn more about. You should consult a human resources professional and/or attorney for more specific information and guidance.

  • Hiring Ads

Be careful in wording your job advertisements so they don’t imply any sort of bias. A few helpful rules of thumb include:

  • Use gender-neutral job titles. (Such as “sales representative” rather than “salesman” and “server” over “waitress”)
  • Avoid mentioning qualities that might imply you’re looking for or avoiding someone of a particular religious background. (For example, “traditional values” or “clean shaven”)
  • Keep age out of it. (Acceptable: seeking candidates with “fresh perspectives”; Not acceptable: seeking “young” candidates)
  • Don’t mention race, unless you’re participating in an affirmative action program. (And in that case, phrase it so that it conveys applicants can, if interested, complete a voluntary identification form.)
  • Be careful how you present the physical qualities needed in a job position so your hiring ads don’t discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Use specifics when stating physical requirements. (For example, “must be able to lift up to 30 pounds” rather than “must be strong” and “requires ability to travel between office locations” rather than “must walk to and from office locations”)

This is just a sampling, so I recommend you do your homework and get a professional to check your ad for compliance before you publish it in print or online.

  • Job Applications

Many states and some cities have set their own employment discrimination laws, which expand on the provisions of federal laws.

For example, “ban the box” legislation exists to help prevent criminal records from eliminating qualified applicants from being asked to a job interview.

To date, over half of the states in the U.S. have adopted ban the box laws, which outlaw questions like “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” and similar questions on job applications.

Also, keep your eyes and ears open about interest in legislation requiring removal of salary history questions from job applications. In January 2018, Massachusetts will be the first state to implement that law and other states and cities are considering similar legislation.

  • Job Interview Questions

As an employer, it’s important to recognize job interview questions that are illegal. You and anyone else on your team who will interview candidates needs to carefully formulate the questions you ask and take care not to overstep any legal bounds during interviews. At CorpNet, we have a standard set of best practices for interviewing job candidates, so our staff has clear direction when meeting prospective employees.

Steer clear of questions that guide job candidates into revealing information about their race, color, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, disability, and genetic information.

Focus your interview questions on your candidates’ skills, behaviors, and work experience as related to the job position you’re interviewing them for.

  • Background Checks

When requesting financial or criminal background information, you must ensure you’re treating everyone equally. It’s illegal to only check the backgrounds of individuals you believe are of a certain age, race, color, national origin, sex, or religion or who have a disability or genetic disposition.

  • Review Of Job Candidates’ Social Media Accounts

As you well know, social media posts can shed much light on an individual’s personality, drive, and determination. As with background checks, you should have consistency in how you go about researching job candidates’ social media activity. Make sure you conduct your searches at the same points in the process for every prospective employee.

Keep in mind that the person you see online may not be a true blue picture of whom the individual is “in real life.” Rather than jump in and look at applicants’ social media accounts early in the process and unintentionally develop a mindset about the people you think they are, you might benefit from waiting until you’ve met them face to face. By doing so, you run less risk of being accused of selecting or disqualifying candidates based on characteristics like age, race, religion, marital status, etc.

With so many steps in the hiring process and points at which a slip-up could happen, it may seem intimidating to even consider bringing on employees. Take a deep breath! By educating yourself, seeking expert human resources and legal guidance, and putting procedures and standards in place at your company, you’ll be better prepared to hire with confidence.

By | April 14th, 2017|Business Operations, Hiring|0 Comments