5 Items Business Owners Must Include on Their To-Do List

5 Items Business Owners Must Include on Their To-Do ListStarting up a new business takes a lot of proverbial blood, sweat and tears. From the most basic tasks like choosing what products you will sell and a company name to more complex decisions like how you’ll handle payments and if it’s a good idea to hire your Uncle Bob as manager, it’s a time-consuming and even stressful process. For people who are getting their new business ducks in a row, the following to-do list can help streamline and simplify the entire process.

Register Your Business Name

Have done your homework to make sure your new business name is not shared by anyone else? A business name availability check can find out if your business name is currently being used and can help you avoid spending money branding a name that you cannot adopt. The free, non-binding business name search is simple—the form requires information including your contact information, business name and state. After you have secured your name, you can move forward by filing your Articles of Incorporation with your state or regulatory agency. Each set of Articles of Incorporation forms and fees differ from state to state; follow these four steps to make the filing process quick and seamless. For more on name search and business and trademark information, visit the Learning Center and click “Business Name.”

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50 States of Incorporation: Wyoming

It’s the last week of our 50 states of incorporation series and we’re focusing on the Cowboy State – Wyoming. Smack dab in the middle of the Rockies, Wyoming is America’s least populous state, but is easily one of the most beautiful. The vast majority of the land in Wyoming is owned and protected by the Federal Government, and Wyoming is home to the world’s first national park, Yellowstone. Incorporate in Wyoming Wyoming’s natural beauty has ensured the state’s tourism industry would flourish, and today it generates two billion dollars in state revenue. Along with tourism, Wyoming’s historic agricultural and mining industries continue to drive the state’s economy – Wyoming is the number one producer of coal in the country. Though largely rural, Wyoming is a great state for a small business, thanks largely to the low cost of doing business. So what does it take to get started there? And how do you incorporate in Wyoming?

How do you start a business in Wyoming?
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50 States of Incorporation: Wisconsin

incorporate in WisconsinKnown as the Badger State and also as America’s Dairyland, we’ll try to lay off the cheesy jokes this week as we explore how to incorporate in Wisconsin. (Aaaand we’re already off to a punny start!)

With companies like Sargento, Carmex, and Oshkosh B’Gosh calling the state home to their branding headquarters, Wisconsin ranks at #41 on the Forbes best states for business list and is noted for its manufacturing, healthcare and agricultural industries. As far as its namesake for dairy goes, Wisconsin is noted for producing a quarter of the nation’s cheese, making it number one in the United States for cheese production and second for milk and butter production.

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Business Basics: Business Website

Your business needs a website – end of story. In 2014, only 53% of small business had an active website, and yet 97% of consumers reported searching online for products or services. That discrepancy is absolutely insane! The most commonly given reason for not having a website is that the business doesn’t need one which is far from true: a small business without a website will fail to reach a huge part of its market.business website So if you don’t already have one, you need to start building a business website now. We can’t tell you what to put on that site, but we can help you plan it out by covering four things your site should have.

Domain Name

This one is pretty obvious – you need a domain name if you’re going to build a site. Anyone without a site is already late to the game, but as long as your business’s name isn’t too common – i.e. John Smith Flowers or Jane Smith Tires – you should be able to grab a domain name that’s fairly close to your DBA name. However, if you’re too late and your desired domain is taken, you can choose a domain that doesn’t directly match your ‘Doing Business As’ name. You just need to remember that it’s now your job to make it clear what business your customers are dealing with, so make sure your DBA name is clearly seen on your site.

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50 States of Incorporation: West Virginia

incorporate in West VirginiaFamous for white water rafting, coal mines, and the Appalachian National Scenic Recreational Trail, we’re taking a closer look at how to incorporate in West Virginia today, and all the great benefits it has to offer small business!

Home to West Virginia University, the 95th best public university in the country, and to Morgantown, a city ranked by Forbes as #10 for being one of the best small cities in the country to conduct business in (ranking from 2010), West Virginia also has a corporate income tax rate of 7%, which has been scheduled to be reduced to 6.5% in 2014.

If you’re a west Virginia resident, there’s a good chance you’re involved in the coal business. In terms of coal-producing, West Virginia is ranked the second biggest coal-producing state in the U.S. (first place goes to Wyoming). So if you want to start a business in the coal industry, West Virginia could be the perfect place for you and your business.

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Business Basics: Business License Compliance Package

We decided to do something a bit different with our weekly business basics post this time around, and instead look at a new service we’ve just started offering – business license compliance packages. We’ve covered business licenses before, but we thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the topic and explain why we decided to start offering this service to our customers. business licenseOur team kicked around the idea for awhile, trying to figure out whether or not there was any demand for this type of service, and we realized that there were three questions we’d have to be able to answer before launching.

Why offer business license compliance packages?

MyCorporation has always aimed to meet all of the needs of new business owners. The next logical step after creating your business is to apply for all of the licenses you need to legally open your doors. Without the right licensing, you’re effectively dead in the water. So expanding our offerings to include licensing just makes sense.

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50 States of Incorporation: Washington

incorporate in WashingtonIf you want to form an LLC or incorporate in Washington, you’ve got quite a few perks on your side. The Evergreen State is noted for its marine climate, with high levels of rainfall, forests that cover 52% of the state’s land area, and scenic mountains for a beautiful backdrop. It’as also the home to where many of the world’s biggest brands got their start including Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing, and Nordstrom.

Big business aside, the state is also just as good to the small business. Ranked with Forbes as #9 on the best states for business list, Washington doesn’t levy personal income tax or collect corporate income tax or franchise tax. The state base sales tax is currently at 6.5% (though in Seattle it’s at 9.5%), but businesses may still be subject to specific forms of taxes from B&O (business and occupation) tax to gross receipts tax and even excise tax for any company that sells alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, or gas.

Thumbtack.com ranks the state with a B- in overall friendliness and gives it an A- in ease of starting a business – and we can make that even easier to get your start with our tips on how to form an LLC or incorporate in Washington!

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Business Basics: Business Entity

If there is one thing we’ve learned from over a decade and a half of helping small business owners, it’s that every business is different. For new small business owners, it’s important that you choose the business entity that will suit your unique needs. There are four basic entities that you can choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. While there is no “right” choice, depending on what you sell, where you plan to take your company, and how ownership of the company is divided, there will be certain entities that will fit your business model better than others. Business Entity Choice

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships

Sole proprietorships and partnerships are the simplest type of business entity. They are also the default option. It doesn’t take much to start a sole proprietorship or a partnership either. Just file for a ‘Doing Business As’ name, apply for the right licenses and permits, and open your doors. If the business is run by two or more people, you will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and you’ll have to file another form come tax time. But this simplicity comes at a price. Everything the business owes and owns is tied to your personal assets. In other words, you, and your partner if you have one, will be held liable for the business’s debts if it fails. Also, if you do have a partner, you may not be protected if they decide to walk away from the business. So, while running a sole proprietorship or partnership is a lot simpler, it does put an undue amount of risk on the owner(s). To limit your liability, consider forming a corporation or limited liability company.

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Which Business Structure is Right For You?

Which Business Structure is Right For You?Before going ahead with that new business plan for your start-up, ensure you know all legalities involved, especially the different types of business structures available. The law surrounding each entity can differ from state to state (and country to country!) but generally the rules and regulations are quite similar. However, it is a good idea to seek legal advice beforehand so you are fully aware of the risks involved.  Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of starting up a business as a corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or partnership.

Starting up as a… Corporation (equivalent to a limited company)

Setting up a corporation can be the preferred (and most beneficial) structure for employers looking to take on a large team of staff and have maximum legal protection. This type of business structure is owned by shareholders and has a board of directors.

Pros: A corporation is its own separate legal entity and is responsible for its own debt in insolvent situations, like administration or liquidation. This means, you, as a director, are protected if the corporation struggles financially.

It’s important to remember that the business owes money, not the director. If, however, directors have acted fraudulently, they will be exposed to the corporation’s liability.

Cons: There can be a lot of paperwork and filing of accounts when setting up a corporation, however this ensures everything is kept up to date and regulations as well as compliance are met. There are also higher tax fees which leads to more expensive accountancy fees.

Starting up as a… Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a business structure that has more flexibility when it comes to taxes and regulations and is usually a good fit for small businesses. LLCs are owned by its members.

Pros: Like a corporation, you are protected against personal liability if the company enters insolvency. There is less paperwork to do as the structure is based around an informal agreement can be made when starting up and often adapted later on. An LLC can also choose how the business should be taxed

Cons: This type of entity is a fairly new structure and could be less favored than that of the ‘wise’ corporation structure. With perhaps an unfamiliar set up, investors may be more reluctant to lend.

Starting up as a… Partnership

As the name suggests, this business structure is set up with two or more partners and follows different common laws across the nation. However, there are some general rules that apply.

Pros: As structures get smaller in business size, so does the paperwork and filing of accounts. There are also fewer taxes to pay.

Cons: The big disadvantage of being in a partnership is you are personally liable for the partnership’s debt if the business falls in financial difficulty. Every partner is responsible for the entire debt, so if one partner is unable to afford the debt, creditors will look to the next partner and so on. Before going into this kind of business, drawing up a contract deeming who is liable for what is essential.

There is the option of setting up a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). This type of formation can differ in law from state to state but is similar to a partnership. It does, however, offer more legal protection to partners if LLP becomes insolvent, hence limited liability. An LLP is essentially a cross between a partnership and a limited liability company.

Remember, you can change structures down the line if you want to. If you are unsure what the best plan of action is, be sure to get legal advice specific to your situation.

Keith Steven of KSA Group Ltd has been rescuing and turning around businesses for over 20 years and has worked with insolvency firms, turnaround funds and venture capital investors. He is also author of the site www.companyrescue.co.uk.  You can follow Keith on Google+.

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