Business Basics: Corporate Seals

Corporate seals are a remnant of the middle ages, back when official documents were legitimized by a hot wax imprint of a seal or crest. The practice of ‘sealing’ documents kept on throughout the centuries, though the hot-wax method eventually gave way to rubber stamps and paper seals. Today, corporate law still allows for the use of corporate seals, though they are no longer as important as they once were. This week in business basics we answer a few of the most commonly questions we receive about corporate seals, and let you know if you should get one for your own corporation. Corporate Seal

What is a corporate seal?

A corporate seal is essentially a signature for your business. When you incorporate, you turn your business into its own, legal entity. Since a corporation cannot sign anything, a corporate seal is used to mark legal and official documentation. These days, most corporate seals are either rubber stamps or steel embossers, and are normally designed to fall apart if tampered with to help avoid fraud.

Do I need a corporate seal?

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50 States of Incorporation: Maine

Nicknamed the ‘Pine Tree State,’ Maine is home to some of the most beautiful, picturesque natural scenery in the United States. It is also one of the least populated states – with around 1.3 million people calling Maine home, it is the 41st most populous state. It is also America’s easternmost state, and is the northernmost part of New England.

Incorporate in Maine

The State Seal of Maine

Once regarded as the shipbuilding capital of America, Maine is still the home-state for a handful of major shipbuilders, including Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and is New England’s busiest port; a title it claimed from Boston in 2001. Maine is also a major producer of paper products, and is one of America’s largest suppliers of blueberries. Recently Maine has also become one of the most popular destinations in the USA for tourists, leading some to dub the state ‘Vacationland.’

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B Corp Experts Weigh In: Q&A with Lisa Garrison

Lisa Garrison, Attorney, Smith Moore Leatherwood

At the firm of Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, Lisa Garrison maintains an active business litigation practice advising and representing clients in anything from claim appeals to multiple jury trials, but she also has an active presence with companies that have socially beneficial missions. Lisa serves as the founder of the firm’s “Benefit Corporation Team” or the “B Team” which focuses on exploring and serving the legal needs of aspiring or existing “benefit” or “B Corp” companies – for-profit businesses that seek to better the world through identified social missions and by focusing on sustainability and TPL/3BL (the “triple bottom line” pillars of profits, people, and planet).

Today, we’re discussing with Lisa how the “B Team” came to be at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP and the assistance it provides Benefit Corporations in need, the financial advantages that come with forming a B Corp, and why every entrepreneur needs to read up on the pros and cons of Benefit Corporations before starting one up.

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50 States of Incorporation: Arkansas

Arkansas is known both as ‘The Land of Opportunity’ and ‘The Natural State,’ and these nicknames are truly befitting of a state with as much natural beauty and entrepreneurial spirit as Arkansas. With fifty-two state parks, including Hot Springs National Park, which is the nation’s first national park, and a strong, thriving culture, Arkansas continues to attract tourists from all across America. Arkansas is also known as the birthplace of multiple Fortune 500 companies, including Walmart, Tyson Foods, and Dillard’s.

But even if you are just a small, one-person company operating out of your garage, Arkansas is still one of the best states to found a business for several reasons.
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50 States of Incorporation: Alabama

Every state is different when it comes to corporate law. Some, like Nevada or Delaware, are known for their business friendly atmosphere and extremely low corporate tax rate. As for other states, well let’s just say that not every state is as friendly towards small business as it should be. Knowing how each state stacks up in terms of laws, fees, and friendliness is enormously helpful when trying to figure out where to form your corporation. Over the next fifty weeks, we are going to look at the basics of corporate law and culture in each of the fifty states on our blog to help our readers better understand how to form and run a corporation in each state. And today we start with Alabama.

Alabama, despite not being as well known as Nevada or Delaware when it comes to incorporating, was actually ranked the second most business friendly state in the United States by thumbtack.com. Over the last few decades Alabama has made it extremely easy to start and run a business, and the lack of an over-regulatory government has meant that small businesses across an array of industries have been able to flourish and help the local economy.
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Four Kind of Crummy Mission Statements

Mission statements are one of those holdovers from the domineering American corporate culture of the eighties, and while they can be extremely useful to focus a new business, most of the time they’re bland, and lack any sort of creative touch or impulse. Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but business schools have a terrible habit of taking the most inoffensive, uninspired mission statements from major corporations and printing them out as an example to which our future entrepreneurs can aspire.

So many thoughts, such little creativity

So we decided to go through a list of multi-national companies and found four odd/funny/not all there upstairs mission statements to help future entrepreneurs reading our blog avoid being the butt of a small time business blog’s jokes. Continue reading

LLC 101

If you’ve been following our blog for the past couple of Fridays, you know that we’re covering four basic tax tips to consider when forming a new entity. If you missed the first two, read up on the C-Corporation and S-Corporation.

The four considerations we’ve been covering are:

  1. Pass through of gains
  2. Pass through of losses
  3. Transfer of assets to the entity, and
  4. Transfer of assets from the entity Continue reading

Unfulfilled Business Prophecies Throughout the Years

We aren’t really sure how business pundits come up with the prophecies they espouse on prime time cable news shows. Perhaps it has something to do with tracking the stars, seeking out the fortune teller at the local Roma encampment, and gazing misty-eyed into a magical crystal ball. Or maybe it has more to do with tracking current trends and hoping that they are applicable to a wider array of companies than currently being affected.

Of course, there is always the old “throw a dart at a piece of paper and read out the results” trick. While this method may not be quite as accurate, it seems to the go-to plan for some corporate prophets.

How else would we have gotten the following four failed business predictions over the years? Continue reading

The 5 Members of the Entrepreneurial Family Tree

The entrepreneurial family tree is much more diverse than you think. Like most family trees, the branches are wide and the extended family on the entrepreneur side includes many variations off of the main patriarch in question. Much of this tree keeps growing and new terminology is added consistently. Yet the root of the tree is much like the ideal 1950′s family prototype- containing the parents (entrepreneur and mompreneur) and 2.5 kids (solopreneur, intrapreneur, and kidpreneur, respectively). Here are the 5 popular terms cropping up in entrepreneurial family trees all over and what their roles do to enhance and expand the family name. Continue reading