A 2014 study by Google found that a little over half of small businesses have a website, though it’s likely that number has gone up since the survey was done. Still, the fact that a little under half of small businesses don’t even have a website it appalling – without one you are losing customers every day. Over 50% of people surveyed said they look up a business online before making a purchase, and that same study found local searches are twice as likely to lead to a purchase. Creating a solid web presence, though, is more than just parking a site under ‘yourbusiness.com’ – you’re going to have to put in a bit more effort to see any real returns. (more…)
Independent, or 1099, contractors run their own businesses. A properly classified independent contractor is allowed to set their own hours, decide from where to work, and are allowed to negotiate payment. When you work as a 1099 contractor, you have to think of the businesses who you do work for as your clients, rather than your employer. And as a small business owner, an independent contractor should treat his or her work like any other entrepreneur would, and that includes considering the formation of a separate business entity. So should 1099 contractors form an LLC? That all depends on their personal situation, but there are some great benefits to it.
Fewer Misclassification Concerns
The state has cracked down heavily on 1099 misclassification after years of erroneous assumptions as to what employers could and couldn’t expect from an independent contractor. Employers had been using the 1099 designator to keep employees from earning the wages and having the protections required by law. (more…)
A fear of failure can be paralytic, especially to a small business owner or would-be entrepreneur. It means losing all the time, effort, energy, and money risked on an enterprise. But what if someone said that failure was a good thing? That, in fact, feelings of failure and defeat carry the true key to success?
Our good friend Fran Tarkenton argues exactly that in his new book “The Power of Failure“. Fran Tarkenton is no stranger to failing – he helped bring the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl three times during the 1970’s, and each time lost. After turning to business, the first two companies he founded eventually folded. But he didn’t allow himself to be engulfed by that failure and now, as CEO of Tarkenton Companies, is a wildly successful entrepreneur.
Failure, he posits, is a gift that brings incredible power. In “The Power of Failure” Tarkenton shares never-before told stories of his time in the NFL, and the personal, occasionally painful, moments he experienced. Through his own hard-learned lessons and invaluable advice given to him from friends and mentors like Sam Walton and Bernie Marcus, Tarkenton lays out the myths and truths of failure, and how to follow through to success. (more…)
As you small business grows, it’s hard to pin down the best time to hire new people. Managers are especially difficult to time correctly. In many cases, they are seen as a luxury for small business and should only be brought into your management team if absolutely necessary. But as your company grows and your job as owner changes, managers are the key to a successful, growing small business.
When you first started you may have ended your day at 6pm, then it became 7pm, and now you leave later than you ever intended. If you find that your days are getting longer because you have to fix every little problem in you company, it’s probably time to hire a manager. As Reza Chowdhury, of AlleyWatch said in an interview with Bplans, ”You’ll likely find yourself trapped in a perpetual hamster wheel, focused on tasks that are not a good use of neither your time nor skill set. At this point, it’s time to bring in the help to allow you to focus on the big picture.” (more…)
All businesses pay a federal income tax, whether its as its own entity or through the income tax of the owner. But, sales tax is a completely different story. Sales tax is determined by each individual state and the requirements for multiple state businesses are often complicated. Those requirements get further complex when you are an online business as you may not have any physical presence in the state itself. Whether or not your online business has to pay sales tax all depends on the states’ definition of one word: nexus.
The IRS, nearly every state tax agency, and even some cities require employers to withhold a certain amount from their employee’s paychecks to cover income tax, social security, and medicare obligations. These are payroll taxes, and it’s your responsibility, as a small business owner, to collect and send them in. The amount varies from state to state, and in some cases city to city, but there are three main steps to collection.
Everyone you hire fills out a W-4, which gives you some basic information like family size and other deductions. (more…)
Payroll may seem like a straightforward topic, but there is a lot more to it than just tracking hours and cutting checks. Unfortunately a lot of small business owners don’t realize that and, before they know it, they’re up to their ears in tax forms and reports they’ve never even heard of. Calculating, and staying on top, of payroll can actually be pretty complicated, especially if you don’t have a background in accounting. So what do small business owners absolutely need to know about setting up a payroll system?
You must withhold taxes
The federal, state, and local governments can all levy tax on income, and it is your responsibility as an employer to withhold the necessary amounts from your employee’s paychecks and send that into the proper agency. (more…)
Estimated tax payments are a pretty straightforward topic. You probably remember that, back when you worked for someone else, you had your taxes taken out of your paycheck. You don’t get out of having to pay tax when you start your own business – the IRS still expects you to pay what you owe. But what if you’re just starting out and not making much money? Or you’ve had a bad quarter and don’t have the money to cover what you normally send in? Do you still have to send in your estimated tax payment?
If you expect to owe more than $1,000, then you very likely have to pay estimated taxes. (more…)
An Employer Identification Number, also called an EIN or a Federal Tax Identification Number , is a unique set of digits assigned to a business by the IRS. With it, tax agencies can easily track the financial activity of your company, and make sure that you pay your taxes. But, if you run a sole-proprietorship, the IRS can already do that using your personal social security number. So in what cases do you need an Employer Identification Number?
When you hire someone
The only time you can really get away with using your social security number is when your business is considered a sole-proprietorship, and you’re the only employee. The IRS figures, in cases like that, the company’s profit flows directly to you, and you pay your taxes from that. But that changes the minute you bring anyone on to help run the company, and that includes a business partner. Once you start hiring, your company must have an EIN.
When you form an LLC or Incorporate
Incorporating or forming an LLC separates you and the business. (more…)
The short answer – yes. But, regardless, it may still be a good idea to hire someone else to be your registered agent. Registered agents exist because of due process. When you turn your business into its own, separate legal entity by forming an LLC or incorporating, you’re effectively giving it a right to due process. That means, before a lawsuit can go forward, your business must be properly notified. A registered agent, then, is the point of contact for notifying your business about impending lawsuits.
However, many states use a business’s registered agent as a contact point for other important matters. They’ll send state documents, franchise tax forms, and other reminders to the company’s registered agent, rather than to the company itself, since reaching an established point of contact is a pretty reliable way of getting in touch with the business.
For a nominal fee, you can appoint someone to be that point of contact.
So why wouldn’t you want to be your own registered agent? Acting as your own registered agent will save money, but there are downsides to that choice. For one, a registered agent must have a physical address within the state the company was formed in. So if you formed and do business in a state other than your own, you have to designate someone in that state as a registered agent.
Further, registered agents are the contact point for sensitive matters like lawsuits or summons. Having a registered agent outside your company keeps the office from panicking, like they would if you were served in your own office.
And finally, your registered agent is going to get a lot of important paperwork. It’s their job to keep track of what they receive, and send it along to you. When you run a business, it’s easy to overlook or forget about things like annual reports and fees. A registered agent will really help you from losing track of that important paperwork.
You – or in some states, your business – can act as the registered agent. Or you can hire an outside agency. Just be sure, regardless of what path you choose to follow, that your registered agent is dependable and discreet.