Business Basics started out as a way to educate would-be and current entrepreneurs on the basics of running a business, and has slowly morphed into a place where we can try to tackle some of the most common questions we get about the ins-and-outs of business ownership. But, after looking through a few old posts, we were surprised we hadn’t delved into a very, very important part of running a business – protecting your intellectual property! To help rectify this, here is the first post in a series looking at IP protection. This week we are going to look at the trademark.
Studious readers of our MyCorp blog may recall that, back in June, we covered non-profit corporations in a ‘Business Basics’ post, and answered a few simple questions like what a non-profit corporation was and how to form one. This week, we felt it would be a good idea to tackle one of the most often asked questions about non-profits – how do you run a successful non-profit corporation? Now, it’s impossible to distill what makes a non-profit successful into a 700 word post, but we can point out a few things you can do to help your non-profit succeed.
Draft, and adhere to, a solid mission statement
When you form a non-profit corporation, you have to clearly identify your mission. What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with this organization? Who do you hope to help? What type of a vision do you have? You may have a few fuzzy answers to these questions running through your head, but you have to absolutely solidify every idea and goal you have before you ever hope to begin raising money. If your ‘elevator pitch’ is a jumbled mess of ideals with no, clear, actionable goals, no one will want to donate to your non-profit. The IRS will also review your mission statement when they decide whether or not to grant your group tax-exempt status.
Welcome to Part 2 of our Business Basics posts on Canada. Last week we took a quick look at corporate law in Canada, and explored some of the major differences between American and Canadian corporate law. If you are thinking about incorporating up north, you should start there as it will give you a basic idea of what to expect in terms of regulations and rules.
This week we are going to shift gears a bit and answer a few of the most commonly asked question about incorporating in Canada.
We’ve talked extensively about how to incorporate a business in the United States, but we have yet to explore the corporate laws of our neighbor to the north – Canada. Since MyCorporation offers incorporation packages for Canada, we thought it would be a good idea to dedicate two Business Basics posts to exploring Canada, with one on corporate law and the other detailing how to actually start a corporation in Canada. So, without further ado, here is a quick look into corporate law in Canada.
If you’ve been following our Business Basics series, you’ll know we’ve already covered registered agents, and briefly explained what it is they actually do. However, people still had questions about registered agents, as well as the benefits and pitfalls with choosing a third-party service like registered-agent.com. So we decided to re-visit the topic and dedicate a post to answering some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received. Also, if you haven’t read it already, we recommend first reading our last post on registered agents as it answers the more basic questions.
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.
An Employer Identification Number, or EIN for short, is basically a social security number for your business. Like with social security numbers, the IRS uses EINs to track what businesses need to certain types of tax. However, not all businesses are technically required to have an EIN as sole proprietorships can be identified by the owner’s SSN instead. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should avoid filing for one, as there are three main reasons why obtaining an EIN is important for a small business.
It allows the business to hire employees.
If you run a sole-proprietorship and you are the only employee that works for the business, all of the profits and losses are going to be reported as part of your personal income. You then pay whatever state and federal taxes you need to, just like you would if you received an income from anywhere else. However, when you hire an employee, you are responsible for withholding any necessary taxes from that employee’s income. The IRS then cannot simply use your SSN to keep track of what they are owed as there are now two different employees, and that’s where the employer identification number comes in. EINs let the IRS and other tax-collecting bodies know what businesses need to be sending in the usual payroll taxes.
Even for small business owners in the Northeast that have recovered from Superstorm Sandy, the storm taught an important lesson: Be prepared. We’ve learned from Sandy and so many other recent disasters that no area is immune from nature’s fury.
In addition to the billions of dollars a big storm can cost in rebuilding expenses, their economic impact also lies in lost workdays for small businesses. Even if your physical building remains functional, an extended power outage can mean days without profit, and even send customers and clients elsewhere.
To prepare your business for a disaster, take the following steps:
We have talked a little bit about the different reports that the state requires corporations and limited liability companies to file, but what happens if you forget to send your annual report in? Or what if you find that you simply don’t have the money to pay for the franchise board tax, or the filing fees associated with all of that regulatory paperwork ? Well, you may find your business placed in ‘bad standing,’ branded with a non-compliant mark and, if you don’t take any action to get back into good standing, your business could be involuntary dissolved. Over the years we have talked to a few business owners who were forced through the dissolution process, and often one of the first questions they ask is ‘how do I reinstate my business after dissolution?’ Luckily it is usually a straight-forward process, though it can get a bit expensive.
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.