/Tag:Starting a Business

10 Ways to Create a Successful Small Business Brand

One of the key steps to starting a business is creating a strong business brand. Do it right, and you’ll have a memorable brand that customers line up to do business with. How can you get your brand off on the right foot? Here are 10 steps to creating a business brand.

 1. Understand brand basics 

To craft your brand message, start by asking yourself (and answering) these questions:

  • What does your company do? Can you distill that down to a few sentences or bullet points?
  • Why does your company do what it does? The “why” is the passion for your company that you want your brand to convey.
  • What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? Your brand should convey what your business does and how you do it differently than anyone else.
  • Who is your target market? What are their interests, passions, characteristics and needs?
  • How would you describe your product or service? List the features in order of importance.
  • What are the benefits of your product or service? What needs does it fulfill for consumers?
  • What is the “personality” of your business? Fun? Serious? Caring? Strong?

The answers to these questions will form the foundation of your brand.

2. Choose a domain name to enhance your brand

Your business’s name should express the value and uniqueness of your product or service. Equally important to branding is getting the right domain name. According to the Domain Name Association, choosing one of the new top-level domains available can boost your branding while making it easier to get the domain name you want. Names such as Explanatory.Video, Winelist.Consulting, Whitehat.Video, Really.Social or Sundance.Studio can make your business memorable while quickly communicating what you do.

3. Tap into emotional branding

Feeling an emotional attachment to a brand can motivate customers to purchase. According to the FIT 2017 Millennial Consumer Expectation and Brand Perception Survey, 48 percent of millennials are more likely to buy from a brand if they know the people behind it. When you’re starting a small business, use your entrepreneurial story to give your brand an edge. Include an “About Us” or “Our Story” page on your website to share your passion for your business, the story of how you started, and the people behind your business.

4. Focus your brand by choosing a business niche

Sometimes when entrepreneurs are looking for businesses to start, they try to be all things to all people, which can lead to branding problems down the road. The more narrowly you can define your niche, the more specific and memorable your business’s brand will be. Dig into your market research to find the best niche. You may want to concentrate on customers in a specific geographic region or age group, or look at your competitors’ target market and choose a market they aren’t serving.

5. Brand your business on social media

Maintain a consistent brand message across all your social media platforms, and seek out social media influencers to help spread the word. An influencer is someone on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry, has access to a large audience and has extensive persuasive reach. Acknowledge and reward customers who act as brand advocates, and reach out to influencers in your industry to let them know about your brand. Search hashtags and keywords relevant to your business or industry to find influencers; use Klout and Buzzsumo to quantify social influence.

6. Use the power of color to brand your business

Choose the right color scheme to use in all your branding materials. Consider:

  • Bright, vibrant colors can cause headaches; use these shades sparingly and combine them with neutrals.
  • High-contrast colors are easy to see from a distance. Use them in your store signage, outdoor advertising and presentations to large groups.
  • If you’re not sure what color combinations work well together, look at color schemes used by other businesses. Search online for websites you like and note what colors get your attention.

7. Put your product in the perfect packaging

If you start an online business, your packaging needs to stand out online, whether on a computer, tablet or smartphone. If you are packaging a product for sale in brick-and-mortar retail stores, it needs to attract attention on a shelf full of competitors. Make it appealing to pick up and touch. Get ideas by looking at your competitors’ packaging and assessing what you like and don’t like about it. The more competitors you have, the more distinctive your brand must be.

8. Know the difference between B2B and B2C branding

While B2B purchases are motivated mostly by facts, statistics and numbers, B2C purchases are motivated primarily by emotion. For B2B buyers, the emotional factor is a fear of making a poor decision. You’ll need to sell your expertise and experience to overcome this fear. Because B2B buyers are typically driven by need to solve a problem or do something better, try presenting your product or service as a problem solver.

B2C customers may also be driven by need, but just as often, they’re motivated by wants or impulses. To craft effective B2C branding, learn what motivates your target customer, such as the desire to appear younger, more successful, have more fun, save time or save money, and incorporate that motivation into your brand message.

9. Use employees to convey your brand message

From their words and their appearance to their actions, employees embody your brand to your customers. Educate employees about your brand and set standards for how you expect them to convey it. You may have them follow specific procedures on the job, use certain words when talking to customers or even dress a certain way, such as wearing a uniform or a business suit.

10. Protect your brand

Once you’ve created your brand, do everything you can to protect it (including incorporating your business). A registered trademark protects your brand name, your logo and your business’s slogan. You can search for existing trademarks here. Get acquainted with the trademark process at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The site guides you all the details of applying for trademark protection. Once you have your trademark and are using it, make sure to maintain and renew it as necessary.

By taking these 10 steps, you’ll be well on your way to developing a valuable brand that attracts customers for years to come.

By | July 19th, 2017|Small Business Branding|0 Comments

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

                               

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

 

                               

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.

 

Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

Hiring the right people requires a sure-fire interviewing process. To effectively interview prospective employees, you need more than a little dedicated time and a list of questions; you need an understanding of how you can draw out the information you need about an individual’s knowledge and capabilities. You also need to tune into character nuances that might indicate how well a candidate will work with your team. And, of course, you need to do all of that without breaking any anti-discrimination laws.

Interviewing can be intimidating for not only prospective employees, but also for employers! By following some best practices for interviewing applicants, you can better ensure your interview process does the job well, allowing you to home in on that one individual who will be an exceptional fit for the position.

Get The Job Done Right: 6 Best Practices For Interviewing Job Candidates

  • Prepare.

Whether you alone will interview the job candidate or you decide to have multiple interviewers, everyone involved should prepare in advance.

Interviewers should know what experience, capabilities, and professional characteristics are critical to the job (it helps to rank them in order of most important to least important), so everyone is on the same page when assessing job candidates. Also, each interviewer needs to understand her role in the interview and have questions prepared that will draw out relevant information about the job candidate’s knowledge, skills, and experience. To do this, you all need to be intimately familiar with the job position’s requirements and the information a job candidate provided thus far (job application, resume, phone interview, etc.) that has awarded her an in-person interview.

  • Make It As Less Stressful As Possible.

To get things off to the best start, be on time. Making an on-time candidate wait around for you and other interviewers to finish up phone calls or run for coffee at the last minute will send the wrong impression and add to any nervousness she’s already feeling. Begin the interview on a friendly note with some casual small talk to make the job candidate feel comfortable and at ease. When excessively nervous, even an individual who is fully capable and competent will lose the ability to put her best foot forward in an interview. I would never want to count anyone out simply because of interview jitters. I’ve always found that breaking the ice with some light-hearted, easy-going conversation helps everyone relax and sets the stage for a productive exchange of information.

Also, set aside enough time for the interview so you aren’t rushing through it. If you’re constantly checking the clock, you won’t be concentrating as fully as you should be on the interview. Your applicant will sense that and may not answer questions in adequate detail because she doesn’t want to impose on your time.

  • Comply With The Law 

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws exist to protect applicants from biases of age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, genetics, or disabilities. Everyone involved in the interviewing and hiring process should understand which job interview questions are acceptable to ask and the job interview questions that are illegal. Use questions that are focused on drawing out information about your interviewee’s skills, knowledge, and experience relevant to the job. That will help you avoid inquiring about personal situations and lifestyle preferences, which could raise suspicions of discrimination if a candidate isn’t hired.

  • Ask Questions That Allow The Job Candidate To Do The Talking.

The best way to learn more about a prospective employee’s capabilities, attitude, and professional style is to let her have the floor. Consider asking open-ended questions that solicit a more detailed answer than just “yes” or “no.” Also consider including questions that ask applicants to share about some past on-the-job experiences and hypothetical situations. These can help shed light on how well a candidate might deal with certain circumstances and challenges on the job.

Some examples of questions that might draw out meaningful responses include:

  • What interests you most about working for our company?
  • What did you like most about your most recent position with your former employer?
  • Describe a time when you had to share unwelcome but necessary news with a customer.
  • Tell us about when your presentation skills helped change someone’s preconceived ideas about something. How did you prepare for the challenge?
  • Suppose you were recently hired as a manager at a local restaurant. Every week, a certain customer comes in for lunch. And every week, that customer asks to talk to you to complain about the wait time, the server, or the food. How would you deal with this customer?

These types of open questions can help you gauge a job candidate’s communication abilities, problem solving skills, and professionalism. They will also help you get a sense for how an applicant may react under certain circumstances and how well she might adapt to your company’s culture.

  • Listen Well And Take Good Notes.

Minimize distractions so your attention doesn’t wander to other things while you’re conducting an interview. As your applicant is answering your questions, be fully present mentally when listening. And take notes. You may think your memory is good, but it’s probably not going to live up to your expectations! You’ll want to capture what you liked and didn’t like about how the job candidate responded to you. After interviewing multiple candidates, you’ll have your notes to refer back to as you assess each individual and decide whom you want to ask back to attend subsequent interviews.

  • Give The Job Candidate An Opportunity To Ask Questions

Remember, the interview process is also to help qualified candidates learn whether a position might be right for them. Be sure to provide ample opportunity for them to ask questions about the job responsibilities, your company’s policies, and the working environment at your company.

Interviewing, when done effectively, will reveal a lot about an applicant’s skills, experience, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. With proper planning and attention to the best practices I’ve shared here, your interviews can help ensure you hire the most suitable person for the job. For further guidance and to make sure you comply with all the legal requirements (thus avoiding a job discrimination lawsuit), consider enlisting the help of a human resources expert and/or attorney.  Doing it right from the start can save you time, headaches, and employee turnover and training costs.

Six Tips To Help Business Leaders Gracefully Handle Adversity In The Office

In an ideal business world, everyone working at a company would always get along famously and harmoniously collaborate day in and day out toward shared objectives they all believe in passionately.

Sounds nice, right? Unfortunately, it’s not very realistic—neither for the entrepreneur starting a business nor the business owner running an existing business for years.

In all companies, leaders face adversity within their ranks at times. Adversity isn’t usually fun, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating either.

How can you manage adversity gracefully so it doesn’t hurt your business?

Below are some ways I’ve found to effectively work through it.

  • Leverage Relationships

By focusing on your shared goals rather than what you’re butting heads about, you can neutralize an at-odds situation and discuss issues openly. Realize you’ll have had to lay the groundwork first by building relationships with your employees. I’ve found having mutual respect is of the utmost importance when talking things out with employees.

  • Give Them A Chance To Vent 

Sometimes people just need to get dissatisfaction off their chests. The mere act of listening without judgment can diffuse irritability. I try to give my team the confidence and capacity to vent (with proper boundaries in place, of course) when something is bothering them. It gives me an opportunity to listen and learn about what’s upsetting them, to acknowledge and validate I understand their feelings, and to collaborate on a resolution.

  • Never Make Assumptions

You know what they say about assuming! It’s true. If you jump to conclusions and try to figure out what your employees are thinking without asking them directly, you will shatter their confidence in you. Only they can accurately express what’s bothering them and why it’s causing them to act they way they are.

  • Show Integrity—ALWAYS!

Even when you find it difficult to reason with someone, you need to keep a cool head and act professionally. It’s never OK to talk behind an employee’s back or otherwise discredit their feelings and concerns. Always take the higher road—and always follow through on what you say you will do when resolving an issue.

  • Do A Post-Mortem

Aim to figure out what series of events or conditions caused the adversity to occur. If it was something within your control, make an effort to avoid that perfect storm again in the future. And if justified, apologize! A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward healing hurt and restoring trust.

  • Don’t Let It Ruin Your Day

Sometimes adversity happens despite your best efforts. As imperfect humans, we will sometimes have misunderstandings, be less patient than we should be, and point fingers at one another. Don’t take incidents of adversity personally. Often, they arise because every person’s frame of reference and degree of adaptability is different. Realize adversity happens in every business—and it’s something we can use to become better leaders. Each time we handle difficult situations, we learn more about our employees and ourselves. The key is to harness that knowledge and use it to more effectively communicate and resolve issues in the future.

Unfortunately the ideal world I described at the start of this article doesn’t exist. But by handling adversity more adeptly, we can get closer to creating it.

Why deal with the adversity and headaches that come with trying to file the paperwork required to form an LLC or incorporate your business? At CorpNet, we’re here to complete your business filings accurately and on time. Contact us today

Should Your Company Use a PEO?

Small business owners may be new to the world of PEOs, or professional employer organizations, but these companies have been around now for several years and changing the face of human resources management.

A PEO provides comprehensive outsourcing for all tasks and functions typically performed by an in-house human resources department. This may include employee job descriptions, benefits, payroll, insurance, and regulatory requirements.

PEOs act as a ‘co-employer’ with your company so that they share contractual obligations with your employees. Management decisions, however, remain with your company. You continue to guide the daily job duties and responsibilities of your employees while the PEO manages their benefits administration and related tasks.

According to the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), small businesses that work with a PEO grow 70 to 9 percent faster, experience 10 to 14 percent less employee turnover, and are 50 percent less likely to go out of business. Although these sounds like terrific benefits for any small business owner, there are also some drawbacks to working with a PEO. Here, we discuss both the pros and cons of working with a PEO so that as a small business owner, you can make an informed choice before taking the next step and contacting PEOs.

The Benefits of Working with a PEO

There are many benefits of working with a PEO for a small business.

  • Saving Time:  Working with a PEO can save you considerable time. SCORE reports that 25 to 35% of a small business owner’s time is spent handling HR-related tasks, with 7 to 25% of that time alone spent on paperwork.  A business owner’s time is precious and the more time that can be spent on tasks to grow a business and increase revenues, the better. Every minute spent on paperwork decreases the amount of time you can spend growing and running your business.
  • Avoid penalties and fines: Tax laws continue to evolve into complex tangles that can be difficult for the average business owner to unravel. Missing deadlines or paperwork can lead to penalties and fines from the IRS, state or federal agencies. A PEO is skilled at handling all types of HR paperwork and takes the responsibility from your shoulders of managing deadlines, filing periods, and paperwork. It becomes their responsibility so you will not incur fines if problems arise.
  • Improved employee retention: Because the PEO handles questions regarding benefits, there’s always someone available to help your team understand their benefits and work through any questions or problems. Additionally, a PEO can find better employee benefits and draw upon their industry contacts and resources to improve the benefits package you can offer to your employees. This tends to increase job satisfaction and makes your company more appealing to work with, leading to better employee retention rates.

Drawbacks of Working with a PEO

There are also some drawbacks to working with a PEO that you should be aware of before embarking on a co-employment relationship. These drawbacks include:

  • Lack of control: The PEO manages all aspects of the HR department include health insurance coverage and other important benefits. They can, at their discretion, offer new policies or coverage to your employees. Sometimes this works out for the best since they can tap into their resources and can often gain better coverage than you can on your own. But this lack of control can be disturbing to a business owner used to retaining total control over all aspects of his business.
  • Impersonal service: All questions about HR and benefits are now handled by the PEO. Employees must call a hotline or 800-number instead of stopping by the HR department in your company. This may feel distant and unfriendly to some used to the former method of getting help for their questions. It does add a layer to your organization that may not be comfortable working through at first
  • Monetary risk:  Most PEO contracts require that their fees are paid in advance before work begins. If the PEO goes out of business or is sold to another company and you are unhappy about the new company, you may be out of luck and unable to break the contract. Choosing a stable, well-known PEO with a history of successful work helps mitigate this risk.

Is a PEO Right for Your Company?

A PEO arrangement can offer significant benefits to a small business, but they aren’t for everyone. Companies with less than five employees may not be able to find a PEO willing to work with them; the average contract size with a PEO is for five or more employees.  

Working with a PEO will cost your organization anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per employee. You may be able to handle your employee benefits administration and other HR tasks at a more cost-effective rate internally than by working with a PEO.

As the world of HR and benefits grows increasingly complex, small business owners may continue to turn to PEOs for help. But if you’re just looking for help with payroll or taxes, there are self-service options such as payroll software that may be a better option.

If you’d like to start looking for a PEO, consider this comparison of several services that offers insight into costs and features. And you may also want to file the link away for future reference, since as your business grows, so too will the number of employees needing benefits and other HR support. If a PEO isn’t right for you now, we hope you grow so big that you’ll need one someday!

By | March 22nd, 2017|Business Operations, Business Tools, Other|0 Comments

Annual Reports – FAQs

Happy March! This month, we’re discussing Annual Reports and why they are pertinent to your business.

Q: What is an Annual Report?
A: Also known as a Statement of Information, the Annual Report essentially keeps the state up to date with your company’s vital information. For example, you may be asked to submit information about directors and officers, and the registered agent and office address of the company, especially if any of this has changed in the last year. In most states, there’s also a small filing fee associated with the report.

Q: Do I need to file an annual report for an LLC?
A: While an LLC involves significantly less formal administration than a corporation, LLCs are still required to file an Annual Report in most states. Not every state requires an Annual Report – and each state has its own rules on how often and when the report must be paid. The first thing to do is to understand the requirements for your state; you can either contact your secretary of state office or sign up for CorpNet’s free B.I.Z. service. B.I.Z. is free to any small business (whether you incorporated through CorpNet or not) and sends you alerts for any upcoming deadlines.

Q: What are the consequences for failing to file an annual report when required?
A: Missing an Annual Report deadline can result in late penalties and fees, and who wants to pay money unnecessarily? In the worst case scenario, your company can be suspended or dissolved.

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