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This week we decided to cover a relatively broad small business sector – the insurance industry. Now, the insurance industry is a heavily regulated, slightly complex field to work in. There are tons of hoops that independent agents and brokers have to jump through before they are even allowed to open their doors. But it is a vital industry – in some cases insurance is required by law – so a business could do quite well within it. So how do you start a company in the insurance industry? And is it worth all of the effort?
How do you get started in the insurance industry?
Insurance is a regulated field, which means you need to be licensed before you can begin. You also usually have to take some sort of course as well before the state will issue you your license. Continue reading
This week we are looking at reasonable compensation, a legal necessity for anyone running a Corporation. Reasonable compensation is connected to one of the most fundamental parts of working for a company – getting paid – and yet it’s so widely misunderstood. When you form an Corporation, you create a separate, legal entity that ‘earns’ money. You then pull your wage from those earnings and pay whatever payroll taxes you owe.
In order to close a loophole wherein those running the corporation could ask for an extremely low salary, pay next to no payroll taxes, and then close the wage gap with distributions, the IRS requires that all corporate officers and executive be paid ‘reasonable compensation.’ But what constitutes reasonable compensation is a little more murky.
Who needs to be concerned with reasonable compensation?
Anyone that is runs, or helps run, a C-Corporation or S-Corporation must be reasonably compensated for their work. Continue reading
As we enter week four of our series, we decided to look at a slightly different industry – banking. Now, focusing on banking may seem a bit odd. After all, most people don’t consider banking as something an entrepreneur can even get into. And while there are loads a regulatory loopholes to jump through, plenty of entrepreneurs do start their own bank! And running a bank can be quite lucrative. So if you have experience in the financial industry, and are looking for a change, this could be just the post for you!
How do you start a bank?
Like any business, you need to identify a need. Most communities are served by big-name banks like Chase or Bank of America, and people gravitate towards names they recognize. But even if it feels like your community is over saturated with corporate banks, there could be a place for a small, community bank, like if you decide to focus on serving a particular section or area of the community. Some people also like being able to meet face-to-face with a high-level executive to talk about loans or their account – something they’d never be able to do at a corporate bank.
If the market looks good, you then need to work on getting everything organized. Most states require banks to have multiple directors, who then put in an initial offering to get the bank started, usually around 25% of the bank’s starting capital. Since banks need a lot of capital to run, this is usually a substantial amount of money. Most banks sell off shares to raise the rest of their capital.
When your ducks are in a row, you file for a state or federal charter. Filing this form typically costs thousands of dollars, and requires a substantial amount of preparation. You’ll need to include information like feasibility studies, applications for the directors, projected costs, projected salaries – the state or federal government effectively needs to decide whether or not you’ll be successful before granting a charter. After this, you apply for deposit insurance from the FDIC, which requires banks to prove they have enough capital to cover any risk and losses. It will take a few months before the charter application is processed and, once it is approved, you normally have about a year to start the bank officially.
What business structures are best suited for banking?
Because banks are required to have directors, executives, and shareholders, a bank has to be some sort of corporation. However, in some states, a bank is an entity in itself. Though it is run in the same way a standard corporation is.
How stable is the banking industry?
Very. Because banks have to apply for a charter, an outside organization effectively reviews their business plan and target market, and determines whether or not the idea is viable. Banking costs a lot of money, but if you get a charter, you can usually bet that you’ll be successful. The rate at which banks fail has also slowed substantially as the economy has recovered.
Interested in community banking? Have any questions about the banking industry? Leave a comment below, or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772!
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.
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.
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. It 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.
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.
Nicknamed the Beehive State, Utah has been nationally ranked within the top three states in the country as the best states for business, according to Forbes. The state’s biggest industries include mining, cattle ranching, salt production, government services, and tourism, the latter of which notably rose after the end of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Major companies including Overstock.com, 1-800 Contacts, Ancestry.com are all headquartered within the state as well and Thumbtack.com gave Utah an A+ in the overall friendliness and ease of starting up a business that Utah provides.
The term ‘Foreign Corporation‘ sometimes confuses people. Though it can also refer to a corporation from a different country, when business advisers refer to a Foreign Corporation or LLC, they are usually talking about a domestic company with permission to operate in a state other than the one the company was formed in. This permission is often called a ‘foreign qualification,’ and it effectively registers your company with the new state so the state can collect taxes. With it, you can open up another branch of your company, or move your base of operations, without changing states. But why would a business want to do that?
Why would you want a foreign qualification?
There are a few reasons why a business chooses to qualify as a foreign entity in other states. One of the main ones being that the company simply wants to expand its operations – sales could be strong in their home state, and they figure they’ll take a crack at opening another store or office in a neighboring state. Since you need permission to do business in another state, they pursue a foreign qualification. However, some business owners also believe that they may save money on taxes by forming a business in a state like Nevada or Delaware, and then qualifying in the state they actually do business in. There are pros and cons to incorporating in another state, so be sure to weigh your options carefully.
As 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.)
Oregon is one of the most ecologically diverse states in America, with rolling forests, wind-swept coasts, and beautiful mountains. This natural beauty is one of the main drivers of tourism, one of the state’s largest industries. Oregon is also home to growing businesses in the tech, forestry, and manufacturing industries, and, according to Forbes, the state is poised to see some serious growth. Today we’re answering the question of how to start a business in the Beaver State, and how to form an LLC or incorporate in Oregon.
What is needed to start a business in Oregon?
Oregon requires that all businesses within the state register with the Secretary of State’s Office. Now, if all you want to do is run a sole-proprietorship, you may only need to file for a DBA, or ‘Doing Business As’ name. This registration is meant to prevent fraud, and allows you to do business under a name other than your own. If you want to form a limited liability company or incorporate in Oregon, you’ll have to do a bit more paperwork.
Forming an LLC or incorporating both turn your business into its own, separate legal entity. That is good news for you because it means your company can effectively carry, and is responsible for, it’s own debts, so creditors cannot seize your personal assets to pay for the business’s debts. To form an LLC, you file your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State and pay a $100 fee. This form will ask you for the business’s name, which must contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company,’ or the abbreviations ‘L.L.C.’ or ‘LLC.’ Along with your company’s name, you have to list its address, organizers, and the name and address of its registered agent.
If you’d like to incorporate in Oregon, you fill out your Articles of Incorporation, file them with the state, and pay a fee. Your corporation’s name has to include a designator like ‘incorporated’ or ‘corporation,’ and you will have to list the names and addresses of the incorporators, as well as the name and address of your registered agent. Corporations, however, are a bit more complicated to run, and you are required to name a board of directors, who will then help lead the business. You should also prepare corporate bylaws to guide the business’s development, and prepare minutes for any meeting at which a major business decision was made.
Does the state offer any support to small businesses in Oregon?
Yes! Oregon actually has a very handy online tool called Business Xpress meant to help out new small business owners. Using it, you can track down forms, find networking and training opportunities, and even start a business plan! The tool also has links to programs meant to support women and minority business owners in Oregon, so be sure to look around and see if there are any opportunities or grants you can use to boost your business.
Are you ready to start a business in Oregon? Have any questions about how to form an LLC or incorporate in Oregon? Give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772 or leave a comment below!