Z is for Zeitgeist

26 letters of the alphabet and accompanying blog posts later, we have reached the end of our ABC’s of small business and conclude with letter Z for Zeitgeist. While the definition of zeitgeist is associated with the intellectual, cultural, and moral climate of an era, we’re using the word to describe the zeitgeist theory of leadership.

The zeitgeist theory of leadership stems from Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy who believed that leaders, and the characteristics that they exhibited, were products of social circumstances during a specific time, acting out to situations that are beyond their control. This theory clashed with the great man theory from Thomas Carlyle that discussed how leaders weren’t made, but born, having said characteristics from very early on that would lead them into positions of power.
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Y is for… Yikes, I forgot to Incorporate!

All new entrepreneurs have the choice of incorporating or not. By not incorporating, you’ll get out of some hefty paperwork, though you’ll be missing out on some great benefits that come along with incorporating your business. If you are a small business owner and you haven’t gotten around to incorporating yet, here’s what you’re subjecting your business to:

A lack of trust from customers.

Your customers want to know they are giving their business to a legitimate, professional establishment. Having an Inc. or LLC at the end of your business’s name helps make your customers feel comfortable with you. Without it, you may receive some skepticism.
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X is for Xenodochial… or (e)Xcellent Customer Service!

Obviously, we struggled a little bit with the letter X. There aren’t a lot of topics that lend themselves well to this particular letter, so unless we wanted to discuss the ins and outs of running a xylophone business, we had to expand beyond our normal vocabulary. Enter xenodochial, a long word that essentially means being nice to strangers – a quality that businesses must exhibit if they ever hope to attract new customers! But for simplicity’s sake, you can also think of X as standing for (e)Xcellent customer service.

Truly the most confusing letter.

There are a lot of theories on how to best serve your customers, but in reality there is no one answer on how to provide good customer service. Instead, there are multiple factors that have to built into how a business interacts with its customers.
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V is for Venture Capital

Venture capital is a bit misunderstood due to the press venture investments often receive. It seems like every week or so the news is covering some start-up that raised an inordinate amount of venture capital for an idea that sounds, at best, a bit shaky. 

But that tenuous relationship between a business idea and its application is what turns an investment into an injection of venture capital. Venture capital is, in a nutshell, the money that is invested into an early-stage, high-risk company that is believed to have the potential to yield huge returns, if it succeeds.
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S is for S-Corporation

For this week’s post we will get to know one the incorporation options a bit better and learn what it has to offer a new entrepreneur: the S-Corporation!

First off, what is an S-Corporation?

Well, an S-Corporation (also known as the S-Corp) is a special type of corporation that draws its designation from subsection S of the tax code. To start an S-Corp, a small business owner starts a C-Corporation in the state where it is headquartered, then files for S-corporation status with the IRS. While an-S Corporation is similar to a C-Corporation, it has different income and self-employment tax regulations.
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R is for Registered Trademark and Copyright

This week’s letter-based-topic might seem like a stretch since, really, the subjects are trademarks and copyrights – neither of which begin with an r. But putting registered in front of those terms is not just a cop-out that a lazy writer has used to fit with a weekly theme. There are actually very important distinctions between registered and unregistered intellectual properties.

Technically, you do not have to register trademarked or copyrighted property. An unregistered trademark simply needs the little  symbol next to it and, voilà, the property is unofficially trademarked. You can even establish a proprietary right to the mark by using it in the market.

The same general principle is also applicable to copyrights. When the United States signed onto the Berne Convention in the late 80′s, it effectively agreed to see an author copyrighting his or her work as an automatic right. That means that, thanks to the Berne Convention, no registration is required to copyright something in the United States.
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Q is for Foreign Qualifications

We’re onto one of the trickier letters of the alphabet today in our ABC’s of small business segment, but it couldn’t be paired better than with the foreign qualification which answers the question of what a small business should do if they want to legally operate their business in a state that may not be the same one they created the formation in.

Foreign qualifications break down a little like this. If a business wants to operate outside of the state that they formed a formation with, they need to register their business as a foreign corporation in order to obtain that kind of authority. And in many cases, this is a requirement, especially if your company expects to transact business outside of the state lines that they were formed in.
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