Business Basics – Cross-Blogging

Content marketing is amazing. Studies have found that inbound and content marketing cost 62% less than traditional marketing, and yet brings in three-times as many leads. If you don’t blog, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity, and a great chance to network. Over the last year or so, we’ve really amped up our cross-blogging, and we’ve seen some amazing results. New markets have opened up, our web presence has never been bigger, and we’ve made some great new partners. cross-blogging

But, in finding new partners to blog with, we’ve noticed that some businesses don’t know the first thing about cross-blogging. So to help those of you experimenting with inbound marketing out, here are a few tips on how to make your cross-blogging experience positive and rewarding.

Make suggestions and share ideas

Some of the best articles we’ve ever written have come from ideas brainstormed with our cross-blogging partners. However, entrepreneurs can be a little skittish when it comes to sharing ideas. Now when a business is built on an idea, guarding it makes a lot of sense, but if that idea is nothing more than a possible topic for an 800-word article, you don’t have to treat it like a trade secret. So feel free to pitch ideas with your partners, and build off of each other’s suggestions. A major part of cross-blogging is networking. You want to forge a strong, working relationship with the people you partner with, and brainstorming is a great way to do just that.

Keep the relationship light

New bloggers sometimes get a bit overly zealous when contributing or accepting a post. Before anything is written, they want a thirty-page contract filled out in triplicate and faxed to their attorney’s office. Remember, you aren’t sharing revenue or starting a business together. You’re cross-blogging. A few simple requests like ‘don’t plagiarize’ and ‘don’t publish this somewhere else’ are really all that you need.

Don’t ask your partner to do all the work

We feel like this should go without saying, but we’ve had way, waytoo many potential partners ask us to just write the post for them. There’s no quicker way to ruin this networking and marketing opportunity than by shirking all of your responsibility and expecting someone else to pick up the slack. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you want a crummy, hastily written article, riddled with spelling and grammar errors on your blog? We doubt it. Any articles you send to your partner should be insightful, unique, and engaging, and you should expect the same of them. That way no one feels slighted, and your new partnership starts off right. 

Interested in contributing a guest post? We’d love to talk to you! Click here to read our author guidelines, pitch an idea, and get in contact with our social media team.

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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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5 Important Steps for Creating a DBA

5 Important Steps for Creating a DBANo matter what industry you are in, your business still needs a name. Not just a good one for marketing purposes, but also a name that isn’t taken by someone else and is filed legally as a DBA.

DBA stands for “doing business as” and allows your company to do business under a fictitious name (AKA one you made up) instead of your own personal name, names of your partners, or the name of your corporation or LLC. In order to do this, you must file for a DBA.

1) Does your company even need a DBA?

The first step in creating a DBA is determining if you even need one. The answer depends on whether your business operates as a sole proprietorship or as a corporation or LLC.

For Sole Proprietorships:

The only reason to not get a DBA is if you want your business to operate under your personal name only. Picking a business name will plant the seed for your brand to grow strong – and filing a DBA will protect it.

For Corporations/LLCs:

If your corporation or LLC wants to conduct any sort of business with a name that is different than the one you filed on your corporation/LLC paperwork, then you need a DBA.

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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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Bankruptcy and Your Sole Proprietorship: 3 Things You Need to Know

Bankruptcy and Your Sole Proprietorship: 3 Things You Need to KnowBeing the sole proprietor of a business has many benefits, even if it does require a heavy workload. The possibility of bankruptcy, however, can be terrifying, especially when you’re on your own.

If you ever find yourself in a position where bankruptcy is your best option, it’s critical that you’re prepared. The following are three things you should know about sole proprietorship and bankruptcy and what it means for you and your business.

1. You and “the business” are not separate entities.

You may wonder if it’s possible to file bankruptcy for the company and not involve your own credit in the process. In short, the answer is no. Even though you have a license from the city for “doing business as” you do not get to sever yourself from your company entirely in times of bankruptcy. While corporations and LLCs are able to keep their personal accounts out of their business, as sole proprietor you are not. Make sure to check all of your finances and consult a bankruptcy attorney to see how your decision to file will affect you in both the short and long term.

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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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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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