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: 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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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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50 States of Incorporation: Virginia

Virginia – the mother of all states. Home to the first English colony in the New World, and the birthplace of more U.S. presidents than any other state, the Commonwealth is easily one of the most storied and important states in America. Virginia continues to be one of the nation’s top producers of tobacco – a crop it has grown since the colonial era – and has one of the most diverse economies of any state. Ranching, farming, tourism, high-tech manufacturing, and government agencies contribute to the bustling and thriving Virginian economy. Incorporate in VirginiaAn educated workforce and pro-business government has also placed Virginia at the top of Forbes’ ‘Best States to do Business In’ list for the past four years. Virginia is an obvious choice for any budding entrepreneur. How do you start a business in the state? And what does it take to form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia?

How do you start a business in Virginia?
It’s actually quite easy! All you need is a ‘Doing Business As’ name, the right licenses and permits, and, if you want to hire someone, a federal tax ID number, often called an Employer Identification Number. Virginia has a handy tool to help new business owners register their business and its name online. Once you are all registered, you can technically open for business as a sole-proprietorship. However, while sole-proprietorships are easy to run, they make you, as the business owner, responsible for all of the business’s debts. If you hope to mitigate your risk, you should form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia.

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Business Basics: Governance Documents

One of the most common questions we get here at MyCorporation about forming a limited liability company or corporation is, “How hard is it to actually run this type of business?” Running an LLC or corporation is very different than running a sole proprietorship, and the government will expect those running the business to adhere to certain rules. governance documentsIt should be noted that the only governance document need for Corporations and LLCs is an Articles of Incorporation or a Certificate of Organization. However, there are other types of governance documents that should be kept and maintained.

Articles of Incorporation and Certificates of Organization

In order to form a corporation, you have to file your articles of incorporation. And in order to form an LLC, you have to file what is normally called a certificate of organization. In both cases, these documents act a sort of birth certificate for the new business entity. They disclose the entity’s name, address, registered agent information, and the information of any managers or owners. A lot of states actually offer a “fill-in-the-blank” type of form on the website of their Secretary of State or department of corporations. However, these forms only meet the minimal requirements for a corporation or LLC as set by the state. They also don’t set the rules for how your company will actually be run. Along with these formation documents, you should consider drafting a set of bylaws or an operating agreement.

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50 States of Incorporation: Pennsylvania

incorporate in PennsylvaniaAs one of the thirteen original colonies of the United States, the state motto of “virtue, liberty and independence” couldn’t be better suited for any other state than Pennsylvania. Nicknamed the Keystone State, Pennsylvania is ranked at #6 in the nation for its total gross state product and noted for being the home to eight Fortune 500 companies as well as hundreds of public schools, thousands of private schools, and several hundred colleges and universities.

Sitting at #27 on the Forbes best states for business list, entrepreneurs looking to incorporate in Pennsylvania will be happy to find that the quality of life is in the top ten bracket due to the caliber of education available and range of private and public companies headquartered in the state. (Some of which include U.S. Steel, Heinz, and Crayola, the latter of which has acquired the rights to a personal favorite company of mine, Silly Putty.)

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It’s Not as Expensive to Start a C-Corp as You May Think

It's Not as Expensive to Start a C-Corp as You May ThinkOne of the biggest reasons why many people don’t put additional thought into starting up a business is because they believe that it’s expensive to do so. In actuality, starting a business is far cheaper than these individuals realize. Of course the startup costs are dependent on the type of business you’re planning in terms of equipment and/or inventory. However, the initial paperwork to start your own corporation is quite nominal in comparison.

A C-Corporation is an entity that is taxed separately from those who set it up, such as owners and shareholders. It is regarded as a separate entity that can hold its own credit rating, liabilities and assets. Personal liens and debts cannot influence a C-Corporation’s assets or bank accounts because it is its own entity owned by the shareholders and not the founding individual.

Why You Would Want a C-Corp

Forming a C-Corporation has many advantages that are ideal for businesses. As there are many types to choose from, you should have an idea of what you need to form according to your ultimate goals. The C-Corporations have benefits such as:

  • Unlimited growth potential
  • Private shareholders and investor accountability
  • Limited liability
  • Perpetual existence – A C-Corporation has perpetual existence meaning that it will continue to operate even if the owner quits his or her position. The corporation will continue to conduct business as normal and doesn’t require the founding member to be a part of the staff. For example, Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 although he was a founding member. Without his influence, Apple continued to conduct business.

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50 States of Incorporation: Maryland

Incorporate in MarylandWith a bevy of nicknames that include the Old Line State, Free State, and Little America, this week our 50 states series focuses on what it means to incorporate in Maryland. Ranking at number 18 on the Forbes best states for business list, Maryland may be noted for holding the second highest costs for labor in the United States, but is considered one of the most educated workforces to join in the country and also home to the headquarters for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, JW Marriott Hotels, and Johns Hopkins University.

On a small business friendliness scale, Maryland has a C in overall friendliness from Thumbtack.com and stays on a fairly level B rating for the ease of starting a business and regulations pertaining to health and safety, employment, labor and hiring, and tax code with the cost of doing business in Maryland holding at 9.9%.

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50 States of Incorporation: Louisiana

Incorporate in LouisianaReady to incorporate in Louisiana this week in our 50 states of incorporation series? This southern gem is most widely known for its delicious comfort food, swinging jazz scene and vibrant colors (as seen in New Orleans), and for surviving hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The population of Louisiana comes in at about 4,614,500, and the capital is Baton Rouge.

Though the state comes in at number 40 on the Forbes “Best States for Business” list, the state office is generally very supportive of small businesses looking to incorporate in Louisiana. Any small business owner is welcome and encouraged to give the state a call with questions they might have, and their state website has also proved to be quite helpful with a checklist available to small business owners to help expedite the process. There are even incentive programs implemented for business owners in the research and development, manufacturing, and motion picture fields. Seafood and tourism are also two big industries that do well in Louisiana, the former of which features 90% of the crawfish eaten around the world coming straight from Louisiana. And as far as tourism goes, Bourbon Street, anyone?

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50 States of Incorporation: Kentucky

incorporate in KentuckyIt’s off to the races this week in our 50 states of incorporation series with a look at the Bluegrass State, Kentucky! The 26th most populous state in the United States, Kentucky is noted for its bourbon distilleries, automobile manufacturing, tobacco, and horse racing, the latter of which is a $3 billion dollar industry and noted for its highly successful yearly Kentucky Derby Run for the Roses event. Today we’re taking a closer look at what it means to incorporate in Kentucky.

Home to Toyota’s Motor Engineering & Manufacturing in North America, Kentucky has been ranked #34 on the best states to do business in according to Forbes with the cost of doing business 10.6% below the national average. Thumbtack.com gave Kentucky a B- on small business friendliness with the ease of hiring, labor, employment and zoning all in the general B range. One of the biggest perks for those who incorporate in Kentucky is that the cost of business ranks at #9 of the 50 states and employment consistently on the rise, with more than 14,000 new jobs created in 2012, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

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