/Tag:start a business

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*

Should You Buy A Business Or Start One From Scratch?

Hope your New Year is off to a great start! As you’re looking to make 2017 a year of prosperity, have you set your sights on becoming a business owner? If so, you’re probably wondering whether buying an existing business or starting your own company will offer the best chances of success.

Both have their advantages and challenges, so how do you choose? I wish there were an easy answer, but I’m afraid you’ll need to do some research and put some serious thought into your decision. As you explore your options, consider the following pros and cons of starting a business from scratch and buying an established one.

Pros Of Starting From Scratch
• You begin with a squeaky clean slate, establishing and building your brand reputation from Day 1.
• You build your team fresh and new, selecting the right people for the right positions.
• You create your workflows to maximize productivity, without having any inefficient past processes to “fix.”
• You choose and develop the products, services, and packages you’ll offer to your customers.
• You establish your pricing to ensure profitability from the start.
• You choose your business’s legal structure to ensure the degree of liability protection you need and the most favorable tax situation.

Pros Of Buying A Business
• You have customers and incoming revenue immediately.
• You have employees who already know how to do their jobs and don’t need training.
• You have built-in processes and systems to operate your business efficiently.
• Your services and products are already to market, and you have established sales channels to get them into customers’ hands.
• Your business is already registered and has the necessary permits and licenses to operate legally in your state.

Cons Of Starting From Scratch
• You do all the legwork, including researching the registration requirements to form an LLC or incorporate your business and filing your state, federal, and local paperwork to operate legally.
• You don’t know for certain that your business idea will be viable and sustainable.
• You have to develop and put into place all the internal systems and processes needed to operate your business.

Cons Of Buying A Business
• Existing employees may be resistant to accept your leadership.
• If you find processes aren’t working efficiently, it may be difficult to initiate change because everyone is used to doing things a certain way.
• You may discover the legal business structure the former owners selected isn’t ideal.
• You may find your brand’s reputation isn’t as positive as you’d like it to be—that might be difficult to turn around.

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about as you weigh the options of starting your own business or purchasing one that is already up and running. I advise you to do your homework before deciding which route to travel. And consider seeking the guidance of respected and reputable professionals (attorneys, accountants, business consultants, etc.) who can help you understand the financial and legal aspects of what’s involved.

Remember, whether you’re starting a business or opt to buy and run one that’s already established, CorpNet is here to assist you with all your business registration and compliance obligations. Contact us today to help you take care of your filings so you can take care of business!

 

 

Dos And Don’ts When Transferring Leadership Responsibilities: Lessons To Learn From Obama and Trump

Changes in leadership don’t always happen seamlessly—or amicably. As is evident with the imminent transfer of leadership from President Obama to President-Elect Donald Trump, many factors influence how smoothly (or not) a change in authority will happen.

Whether you’re taking over running a business or handing over the reins to your responsibilities to someone else, expect some bumps in the road. But be careful not to become a source of agitation and dissent through the process. This recent presidential election, which has been simultaneously entertaining and frustrating at times, can teach us some valuable lessons about what to do and what not to do during a leadership transition.

 

Lessons Learned From Obama and Trump: The Dos And Don’ts Of Changing Leaders

  • Don’t undermine the capabilities of either the incoming or outgoing leader.

If you’re the new boss in town, bad-mouthing the outgoing person in charge won’t sit well with those loyal to their incumbent leader. And if you’re the one passing the baton, lack of confidence in the new leader will create distrust and distract employees from performing to their potential. To minimize the stress your team may already be feeling over the change, resist the impulse to undercut the qualities and strengths of one another

  • Don’t expect everyone to be enamored with the change.

While some of your staff members might be excited about the new era ahead, you can bet others will be anxious, annoyed, or angry—possibly all three. Prepare to bear the brunt of their harsh criticism whether you’re the new leader or the one leaving your post.

  • Don’t underestimate the power of words.

I saw a quote online that really resonates with me, “Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.” Keep this in mind as you navigate the challenges of handing over or accepting leadership responsibilities. Through this recent presidential election, we’ve seen how choosing and using words reactively can create animosity and negativity. Before speaking and before writing, pause to think about your words and choose them carefully before you share them with business colleagues, employees, vendors, customers, and the public at large.

  • Do show enthusiasm for continued progress toward common goals.

Find points of agreement where you and the other leader can demonstrate unity. Sure, you may not see eye to eye about plenty of things related to how the business should be run, but now isn’t the time to dwell on that. Your employees need to have some sense of consistency and common ground.

  • Do provide/accept information and insight to make the transition fluid.

As the outgoing leader, be cooperative by openly sharing essential information with the new leader so she can more adeptly step into your shoes. As the new leader, be open and receptive to the insight the outgoing leader has to share. Put ego aside and realize your predecessor has knowledge and experience that can help you lead more effectively.

 

Your Top Priority As A Leader

Both outgoing and incoming leaders have one thing in common: a job to do! Pointing fingers, making snarky remarks, and stirring up drama will only distract you from doing right by those who work in your business and those who do business with your company. If you keep that in mind through every step of the process, the transfer of leadership will go much more smoothly.

 

Remember, Corpnet.com is here to help leaders of businesses in all industries take care of the business filings needed to legally run their companies. Check out our FREE Corporate Compliance Tool, and contact us today about how we can save you time and money.

 

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By | January 13th, 2017|Corporate & Business Law, Entrepreneuring|0 Comments

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.

How to get an LLC License

Here at CorpNet, we are often asked how to form an LLC, also referred to as a Limited Liability Company, when wanting to start a business.

To be clear, an LLC is not a business license; as one cannot obtain an LLC license.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a legal entity that bears similarities to both corporations and partnerships. An LLC is formed under specific state statutes that provide for the creation and regulation of this special type of entity that has come to be commonly used and respected in business.

An LLC can be used to combine the limited liability features of a corporation with the flexibility and tax benefits of a partnership. Owners of an LLC are generally known as “members.” Management and control of the entity resides with the members, unless otherwise provided in the articles of organization of the LLC or within the LLC operating agreement.

An LLC provides the same personal asset protection with fewer hoops to jump through. You can also raise capital with an LLC. Additionally, with an LLC, you can:

● File your business LLC taxes on your personal tax return
● Allocate profit and loss to members of the LLC
● Avoid having to have an annual shareholders’ meeting (unlike a corporation)

New small business owners often assume that forming an LLC is a complicated thing. It’s not, actually, but it is one of the best things you can do to protect your personal assets and your business.

Here are 7 steps to follow as to how to register your new business by filing an LLC application within your state:

1. Choose a Name.
Your name will be the first thing people see or hear as it relates to your new business, so make it a good one! Next, you’ll want to make sure you’re the only one using that name. You can do that with a free corporate name search in your state.

2. Register the LLC and File Your Paperwork
If you’re doing the filing yourself, you’ll need to download your state’s Articles of Organization paperwork and fill it out. If you’re letting a document filing service like CorpNet handle it; you’ll just need to provide basic contact information and a few details about your company.

3. Get Your LLC’s Tax ID
Before you can start operating as an LLC, you need an Employer Identification Number. This is like a social security number for your business, and one you’ll need before opening a business bank account.

4. Create Your Operating Agreement
This document outlines the rights and obligations of the members of your LLC and lists the distribution of income of the Limited Liability Company to its members. Your LLC Operating Agreement won’t need to be filed with your state, but you will need to keep one on premises, signed, if you have other shareholders.

5. File Business Licenses and Permits
Additionally, you should apply for any business licenses or permits you’ll need to operate your business. It’s best to do this before you start operating your business to avoid potential fees or issues down the road.

6. Keep Your LLC Compliant
Once you’re operating as an LLC, your work isn’t done for good. Each year, you’ll need to file your annual report. The due date for this annual report depends on where you filed your LLC. For example, if you filed it in Michigan, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, or Texas, there’s a specific date that your annual report is due. In most other states, it’s due on the anniversary of when your LLC was filed.

7. Finally, Take Care of Loose Ends
Depending on where you’re based, you may need to publish your intent to form an LLC in a local newspaper. If you form an LLC in New York, for example, you’re required to run that intent in an approved newspaper for 6 consecutive weeks.

Many of our customers prefer the LLC over the S Corporation because they require fewer formalities and less paperwork than the corporation, while still providing that protection of your personal assets, as well as tax benefits. Contact CorpNet.com today and let us help you file your LLC application and make your business reams into a reality!

                               

CorpNet FAQs – Business Licenses

 

As an online legal document filing service that helps entrepreneurs with an array of startup needs, we get asked a ton of questions from our clients about various topics. We decided to start sourcing these questions and create a new blog post series for our readers, as some of you may be wondering the same thing but haven’t found the answer elsewhere.

Today we are launching our new FAQ series starting on the topic of business licenses. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions on the popular topic followed by answers from our CEO Nellie Akalp. Still have Questions? Feel free to post in the comments below and Nellie will be happy to provide additional insight!

Business Licenses

Q: What’s the difference between a business license and registering a business? If I already registered my LLC or corporation, do I still need a business license? 

A: Registering your business and getting your business license are two different things – and you most likely will need to do both. Registering a new business with the state (either by forming an LLC, corporation, or filing a DBA) provides a legal foundation for your business. Then, the business license(s) gives you the right to operate your business…similar to how a driver’s license lets you drive a car.

Q: How do I know what kind of business licenses I need? 

A: The specific license and permit requirements vary based on your type of business and your location. As expected, a home contractor or restaurant will have more permit requirements than a web designer. Find your business type on our Business Licenses page to check the specific requirements for your business. If you don’t see your specific business listed, give us a call at 1.888.449.2638 and we’ll help you out.

Q: What are the penalties if I don’t have the right licenses for my business? 

A: You can face fines, and even have your business shut down if you are caught operating without the right licenses/permit paperwork in place.

Q: How much does it cost to get a business license or permit? 

A: Exact costs depend on the license type and your location. Find your business type on our Business Licenses page to view the pricing for your particular business license and location.

Q: What if my business is involved in more than one type of activity or has multiple locations?

A:  Each business location and each business type is subject to licensing requirements, so you most likely will need to get the proper permits/licenses for each location and business activity.

Q: How long does a business license last? 

A: Typically speaking, a business license will last one year (although some locales give you the opportunity to apply for a three-year license). If you sign up for our free B.I.Z. service, we’ll automatically notify you when any licenses are coming up for renewal.

Q. If I change my legal structure, can I keep my old business license? 

A. No. Any change of legal entity (e.g. if you change from a sole proprietorship to an LLC or corporation) requires a new business license. If you change your legal structure, you will need to apply for a new business license for the new entity.

Q. Can I transfer my business license to a new owner? 

A. Typically speaking, you cannot transfer a business license from one owner to another. The new owner of the business will need to apply for their own business and specialty licenses.

Do you need help setting up a business license or have a question about another aspect of starting a business? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

Image: Adobe Stock

 

 

                               

Legal Steps to Start a Business & Special Offer

image002So you have an idea and want to get that business off the ground – congratulations!!

When planning the steps to start your business, there are some legal aspects you don’t want to overlook. These steps may not be the most glamorous parts of starting a business, but you want to make sure the business is set up properly from the start to avoid issues down the road.

Here are my must-do steps to legally start a business followed by a special offer on CorpNet.com services:

1 – Choose a business name

Have an ideal name in mind for your business? That’s a great start, but before you get too attached and order those business cards you’ll want to make sure it’s legally available for use. You can do a corporate name search and/or check with your state’s Secretary of State database to see if the name is registered by someone else. I also recommend running a trademark search to see if someone has already filed for a trademark. If you search both places and the result is clear – great job! You should move forward with that name. If you find that the name is already in use – you may want to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm some other options.

2 – Choose a business structure

If you don’t officially form a business structure your default is to operate as a sole proprietor. A sole proprietorship does not separate your personal and business finances so if down the line your business is sued, your personal assets can be threatened.

Forming an LLC or Corporation will protect your personal assets from any liabilities of the company.

Forming an LLC, otherwise known as the Limited Liability Company, is a great option for businesses that want legal protection without a lot of paperwork.

The C Corporation requires more paperwork and formalities, which can be a headache for small business owners. However, this structure is ideal for businesses that plan to reinvest their profits back into the company, seek venture capital funding or plan to go public.

Another popular structure is the S Corporation. The S Corp does not file its own taxes but is treated as a pass-through entity. It is a great structure for a small business owner who can qualify as the IRS places limited both on the number of owners and who can be an owner.

Not sure what structure is best for you? Try the CorpNet Business Structure Wizard that can help you decide!

3 – Register your business name

If you are forming an LLC or corporation, this step automatically registers your name with the state. However, if you choose to operate as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, then you will need to register your business name by filing a Doing Business As (DBA).

Registering your business name ensures that you are legally able to operate your business under that name in the state and also ensures hat no one else can use the name in your state.

Ready to take these legal steps to start your business? Use CorpNet.com and for a limited time get 10% off any Deluxe or Complete order! Call us at 888.449.2638 for a free business consultation and mention SOCIAL10 for your discount!

                               

Why Customers Love Us – CorpNet Reviews

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 2.43.23 PMWe’re back with another month of fantastic 5-star reviews of CorpNet.com services! The summer days are getting hotter, but we have the AC cranked up and we’re working hard ensuring happy customers across the board.

Here’s a look back at some fantastic 5-star reviews of our services these past few weeks. Do you need to incorporateform an LLC or file a DBA? Check out all of our reviews on TrustPilot and reach out anytime for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638.

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By | July 14th, 2016|CorpNet Reviews|0 Comments

Nellie in the News – May 2016

nellie in the newsIt’s officially summer time here in Westlake Village, CA where the CorpNet offices are located. Many of us hit up the beach this past weekend and had our first ocean swim of the season!

We had a great month helping entrepreneurs incorporate a business, form an LLC, file a DBA and more across all 50 states.

Our CEO Nellie Akalp also had another great month sharing her expert tips and advice across many podcasts and blogs. Check out some press highlights below!

Want Nellie to speak at your next event or share her tips on your podcast? Contact her today

Upcoming Speaking Appearances

Bixel Exchange

Nellie will be the guest speaker for Bixel Exchange, the emerging tech center at the Los Angeles area Chamber of Commerce, sharing the best advice she got when she started her business! Join Nellie for this event on June 22nd and follow her on Twitter for more information!

Interviews & press Mentions

Eventual Millionaire – Business and Family Success with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/1SyPLih

Small Business Trends – 10 Tips to Help your Business Become More Profitable http://bit.ly/1YigcZX

Business Mistakes Podcast – This is How Overspending on Google Ads will Hurt your Business with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/1U7KuuE

ConvertKit – Top Advice for New Bloggers http://bit.ly/1TKrqH0

AMEX OPEN Forum – Inspiration Strikes: 7 Ways to Help Make Time for Creative Insights http://amex.co/1Vi9t3E

Business Breakthrough Podcast – Lessons from a Serial Entrepreneur http://bit.ly/1TA1oIj

Expert Contributed Posts

Intuit – When is the Best Time to Incorporate Your Business? http://intuit.me/23jiOIq

Freshbooks – How to Decide What Business Structure is Best for Your Business http://bit.ly/21xRF5h

Huffington Post – 5 Ways Your Family Can Fuel Your Business Success http://huff.to/1TRBrRd

Small Business Trends – It Might Be Time to Restructure Your Sole Proprietorship http://bit.ly/1ZN2O0z

Entrepreneur – Are Small Businesses Spending Too Much Time on Social Media? http://entm.ag/1Op3rMT

Small Business Trends – 5 Lessons that Show How to Grow Your Business http://bit.ly/1YW8vZL

GoDaddy – Sole Proprietorship? LLC? Know Your Best Entity Options http://bit.ly/1OPHIIS

Showcasing Women – 5 Tips to Leave Work Behind While You’re on Vacation http://bit.ly/25kh7xe

By | May 31st, 2016|Nellie in the News|0 Comments

Business Name Registration Or Trademark: Which Is Best?

Key to brand cloud shape

One of the most valuable assets your business will ever have is its name. Your business name is more than what your company is called—it represents your brand’s identity and it’s a way for you to distinguish yourself from your competition. With your business name carrying that much weight, it makes sense to protect it.

As you start your business, consider these two approaches to prevent other companies from using your name and confusing your customers:

Business Name Registration 

If you form an LLC or apply to incorporate a business in a state, your business name is automatically protected in that state after the state has approved your application. No other LLC or corporation will have the right to register their company under that name within the state. Just how different a name must be from another business name varies from one state to the next. For instance, one state may deem it perfectly fine to register “Linda’s Spa and Salon, LLC” when there’s an existing business registered as “Lynda’s Spa and Salon, LLC.” Another state might consider the name “Linda’s Spa and Salon” deceptively similar to the other business’s name.

Note that there are some limitations to state protection. Sole proprietorships and partnerships in that state can still use your name if they so desire; they just wouldn’t be able to form a corporation or LLC using your name. Also, just because you register your business name with the state doesn’t mean a business in another state can’t use the same name. In fact, they could even incorporate or form an LLC using your name, provided they do it in a state or states other than those where you’ve registered your name.

To decide if brand protection at the state level will be enough, I suggest you consider your type of business and business model. If you are opening a local retail store or restaurant, for example, it might not matter to you if another business uses the same name in a different state. How likely would customers be to confuse the two? Probably not at all.

On the other hand, if you have ideas of expanding your business nationally, or are planning to sell your products/services across the country, or have concerns that a partnership or sole proprietorship might use your name, then you might consider protecting your name with a federal trademark.

Federal Trademark Protection

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants trademarks, which identify the source of products or services. A trademark can be a word, phrase, design, or symbol (or a combination of any of them) that distinguishes a company from its competitors. The USPTO can grant trademarks on distinctive names, logos, and slogans. As the owner of a trademark, you have exclusive rights to the mark. No one else may use it at either the state or federal level.

Expect to pay a little more for a trademark than you would for registering your name with the state. The base rate is $325 per class and it will cost more if you hire a professional to prepare the paperwork for you. It may take from six to 12 months for the USPTO to process your request. Although the process is more involved than registering a business name with the state, a trademark provides you with exclusive rights to your name in all 50 states—and trademarks have an unlimited lifespan, provided you comply with renewal requirements.

If you’re thinking about filing for a trademark, I suggest you do some initial homework so you don’t apply for a name that’s already in use. Don’t risk having your application rejected and losing the application fee you submitted.

First step: Conduct a free basic search to see if anyone has a pending application with the USPTO for your proposed trademark or anything similar to it.

Second step: Do a comprehensive name search to see if anyone is using your proposed name at the state or local level.

Isn’t Your Brand Worth Protecting?

Whether your business will have sufficient protection by registering your name with the state or you’ll require exclusive rights in every state, your business name and the brand it represents is worth securing. Consider talking with a legal expert who can help you decide which option is best for your business. And if the paperwork and process of registering your business name or filing for a trademark intimidates you, remember that CorpNet is here to help. Call anytime for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638!

Image: Adobe Stock