Why You Don’t Need to Be Your Employees’ Friend

436_3122139I get it, I really do. You spend 40 or more hours a week with the people you hired, so it’s understandable that you’d start to form friendships. But once you start a business, you’ve got to draw a line between being friendly with your staff and trying to be their friend. The difference between the two is where the respect you need from them lies.

How to Be Friendly (Without Going Overboard)

Any office functions better when the staff gets along. In our office, you’ll hear people asking about their colleague’s weekends on Monday mornings, and often they’ll go to lunch together. I’m right there, engaging in dialogue with my team, but there’s a point at which I stop. Usually that’s in oversharing personal details. My motto is: if I’m willing to share it on Facebook, I can share it around the office. If not, I keep it to myself. Continue reading “Why You Don’t Need to Be Your Employees’ Friend” »

By | March 23rd, 2015|Managing People|0 Comments

What it REALLY Takes to Be a CEO


705_3570600These days it’s easy to print up business cards with the title “CEO.”  You’re in charge, and you want to show it.  Your title can be whatever you decide to call yourself, right?

Well, maybe.  Today, if you want to truly lead like a chief executive officer, there’s more to it.  A great CEO knows:


Make sure you don’t gloss over the legalities.  After all, a good CEO has to be aware of many facets of a business including legal requirements.  Let’s take, for example, that title. Continue reading “What it REALLY Takes to Be a CEO” »

By | September 5th, 2012|Managing People, Running A Small Business|1 Comment

Multiple Ventures? How to Best Structure your Multi-Brand Business

775_4297457I’m always in awe of the many talents of today’s entrepreneur…the wedding photographer who also writes children’s books, the copy editor who sells homemade soap, and the stay-at-home mom who doubles as a part-time caterer and jewelry designer. Today’s creative professionals often find themselves making income through a creative patchwork of diverse interests and talents.

Take Sue as an example. She recently called into the office with no fewer than five ventures. She has been selling children’s clothing, handbags, and craft supplies on Etsy. After a few solid years on Etsy, Sue was now ready to take the next step and launch her own websites outside of Etsy, as well as expand into handmade paper goods and home décor. Continue reading “Multiple Ventures? How to Best Structure your Multi-Brand Business” »

By | August 24th, 2012|Choosing A Business Structure|7 Comments

CorpNet.com: Helping Entrepreneurs Start New Businesses Online!

Nellie Akalp is a savvy entrepreneur, wife, and mother of four (inlcuding a newborn). As the CEO of CorpNet.com, she runs a small business that helps guide entrepreneurs and small business owners through the process of starting a business, incorporating a business, and filing business-critical legal documentation with an easy and cost-effective online service.

“With the downturn in the job market, more people are starting new businesses to take control of their own destiny and create opportunities for themselves,” says Nellie. “But the process of incorporating a business can be intimidating. A lot of people might not understand the legal requirements, or they might wonder, ‘Am I doing this right?’ CorpNet makes it easy. We take it off the ‘to-do list’ of our clients.”

If you want to start and grow a business in a way that complies with state laws and protects your personal assets, CorpNet gives free consultations to help choose the right business structure and file all the necessary paperwork. “You don’t need to hire an attorney to incorporate a business,” says Nellie. “CorpNet gives you a much less expensive way to start your business and comply with the specific requirements of whatever state you’re in.”

Nellie offers these four big reasons to incorporate your business: Continue reading “CorpNet.com: Helping Entrepreneurs Start New Businesses Online!” »

By | June 30th, 2012|Choosing A Business Structure, Starting a Business|1 Comment

The Small Business Mid-Year Tax Planning Checklist

991_4165310Now that we’re approaching  the the mid-way point of 2012, it’s the perfect time to review the financial and tax picture of your business. Too often small business owners wait until it’s time to file their returns to start thinking about taxes. Have you ever met with a CPA or tax preparer and been told you could have lowered your tax payments if only you had acted earlier?

Tax planning is an ongoing process and taking actions now can help lower your 2011 taxes, and for years to come. Here is a small business mid-year tax planning checklist for you to consider:

1. Meet with your CPA

Why wait until the busy tax season to meet with your CPA or tax advisor? Make a mid-year appointment when you’ll both have more time to discuss your financials. Most importantly, you’ll still have plenty of time to act on his or her suggestions within 2011.

2. Review your estimated tax payments for 2011

Now that we’ve hit the midway point, review what your business has made year to date and your forecast for the rest of the year. Then assess your estimated tax payments to avoid underpayment penalties or overpayments (you could be doing more with that money). Adjust your final two estimated tax payments for 2011 as needed. Continue reading “The Small Business Mid-Year Tax Planning Checklist” »

Using Trademarks to Protect Your Company Brand

308_3285698You formed your Corporation or LLC, so you’re well on your way to building a successful business. Now it’s time to protect your company name and brand, so that name will be yours to use for years to come. When it comes to your business name and trademarks, a few proactive steps can go a long way toward protecting your brand and business. Best of all, it’s easy and affordable — you just need to know where to start…

First, some basics. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design (or a combination of any of these) that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Trademarks are managed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

You’re not actually required by law to register a trademark. Use of a name instantly gives you common law rights as an owner, even without formal registration. However, you should consider registering your trademark for proper legal protection — after all, you’ve spent untold hours deliberating on the ideal name, and you’ll be spending even more cultivating brand recognition. Continue reading “Using Trademarks to Protect Your Company Brand” »

When to Hire a Small Business Lawyer


425_2961900For most small business owners, “Budget” is the first key factor in deciding whether to hire a small business lawyer. Obviously, we’d all prefer to hire the toughest law firm, equipped to handle any kind of case or transaction, staffed with a team of attorneys that will respond to our needs immediately.

For most small businesses, however, we just can’t afford this “full-time legal dream-team.” So, we compromise: we hire a lawyer who is experienced in business matters, local to our business, with affordable legal rates. Hopefully, we can find a lawyer we actually like.

What’s my comfort level with legal matters?
Another important factor is: “what’s your comfort-level with contracts and legal matters?” Certain tasks are quick and simple (e.g. drafting a letter of resignation or an independent contractor agreement) whereas other may be very difficult for the layperson (e.g. responding to legal pleadings, drafting a patent application).

Why do I need to hire a small business lawyer?
The key is to at least have a relationship with a business lawyer BEFORE you get sued. An attorney experienced in small business matters should be able to assist you with things like selecting a business structure (i.e. incorporating or forming an LLC), executing a lease for office space, hiring and firing employees, registering your trademark, and more. Continue reading “When to Hire a Small Business Lawyer” »

You Don’t Need a Lawyer to Incorporate

500_4575840Not all that long ago, you wouldn’t have considered using a cell phone for anything other than making or receiving a telephone call. You wouldn’t have considered the possibility of reading a book in any format other than hardcover or paperback.  And you certainly wouldn’t have considered purchasing a home,

Continue reading “You Don’t Need a Lawyer to Incorporate” »

Raise Your Glass to Raising Your Prices

434_3004846Wayyyyyy back when the Internet was “new” and you could still register a one-word domain name, my wife/business partner and I were leading pioneers in our industry:  Business Filings / Incorporation Services.”. The Internet was BRAND NEW!  Our industry was BRAND NEW!

Quick!  Before the Money Stops Flowing

With the growing number of people getting a PC or signing up for an internet connection growing each day, we experienced PHENOMONAL GROWTH!  We were in the business of starting businesses… so I’d speak with new business owners each day.  I remember one customer who summed up the sentiment when he said: “I can’t slow down!  I’m afraid that one day I’ll wake up and all the money will stop floating around.”

From my perspective, that is exactly what has happened.  Whether you want to call it a recession or a depression, or a Bear market, it’s hard to argue with the sentiment that the money machine of the late 90s and early 2000s has definitely stopped printing money. Continue reading “Raise Your Glass to Raising Your Prices” »

By | February 23rd, 2012|Marketing Your Business|3 Comments

Top 5 Reasons for Incorporating Your Business

718_4395293Many small businesses consider themselves ‘too small’ to worry about incorporation.  However, whetherowever, you’re a self-employed social media consultant or a landscaper, incorporating or forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) can be a smart idea. Here’s why:

1–Liability protection: First and foremost, the LLC and the Corporation (C Corporation or S Corporation) protect the owner’s personal assets from any liability of the company. That is, if your company happens to be sued, your personal assets (i.e. property, savings accounts) are shielded from any judgment. Of course, lawsuits are worst-case scenarios and there’s a slim chance you’ll ever run into legal problems. However, if you’re sued as a sole proprietor, you’ll be sued personally. And that means everything  – from your children’s college fund to your retirement savings – is at risk. Also keep in mind that creditor judgments can last up to 22 years, so you need to worry not only about protecting the assets you have today, but the assets you’ll have tomorrow.

2–Taxes: Federal income tax rates can be lower for corporations than for individuals. And as a corporation, you may be entitled to additional deductions.

3–Credibility: Adding ‘LLC’ or ‘Inc.’ after your company name boosts your credibility in the eyes of some customers and partners.

4–Business credit/capital: As a corporation or LLC, it can be easier for you to access a line of business credit. And forming a C Corporation will be essential if you plan to seek Venture Capital funding.

5–Added layer of privacy: With an LLC or a corporation, the company’s ‘registered agent’ goes on public record, and not your home or business address (in most cases). Continue reading “Top 5 Reasons for Incorporating Your Business” »