6 Leadership Lessons We All Learned in Kindergarten

6 Leadership Lessons We All Learned in KindergartenIt might be an overstatement to say we learned everything we needed to know in kindergarten, but it’s not far from the truth either. We did pick up some valuable skills in that tender phase of life, like sharing our blocks and saying you’re sorry when someone’s feelings got hurt. Here in the adult world, some of these universal, yet oft-forgotten, truths can still improve our daily lives and those of our employees if we continue to practice them in the workplace.

1) Share.

Sharing sounds like childish, but it’s actually a complex concept. It requires an understanding of empathy and compassion, seeing the needs of others and responding accordingly. Stable leaders have a natural instinct for practicing these traits in the workplace, and when you show your team that you care, it harbors a sense of trust and stability that improves both morale and productivity.

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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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ABCs of Small Business Industry: A is for Accounting

Here at MyCorp, we love talking about small business, as the sheer variety of small businesses available to start up is simply astounding. There is no, one, ubiquitous small business industry. Retailers, lawyers, restaurateurs, accountants – nearly every profession can be spun into a business!

With that in mind, we’re bringing you the ABCs of Small Business Industry as our latest post series on our blog. Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at the major industries that make up the small business world, taking a look at the different types of businesses, and helping people within these various industries start their own companies.

Without further ado, we present the first in what we hope will be an educational and enjoyable series – A is for Accounting.

Accountant

What do you need to create your own accounting practice?

First, you need to be licensed. A Certified Public Accountant has to pass a Uniform CPA exam, and you can’t legally offer your services as an accountant without some sort of credentialing. Licensing and certification will also vary state-to-state, so make sure you research what your state requires of an accountant before you open up your practice. If all of your ducks are in a row, opening up your own firm is like opening any other small business. You need a DBA name, and you have to apply for all of your local/state business and operating licenses. You should also have some sort of professional liability insurance, just to protect yourself, and if you hire anyone or bring on a partner, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Once all of that is taken care of you’ll have a sole-proprietorship, or a partnership if you have a partner. However, this type of business can leave you personally liable for any debt resulting from lawsuits, debt, or negligence and it’s a good idea to consider forming a separate business entity.

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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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Never Miss Another Sales Tax Due Date!

Never Miss Another Sales Tax Due Date!Guess what? You owe sales tax to at least one state this month.

Did that get your heart going? Then you’re like business owners all over the country trying to get sales tax under control but struggling to do so. It’s one of the most annoying aspects about doing business these days, particularly for eCommerce businesses.

Why? Because so many states are trying to get as much money as they can, including from online business owners who sell taxable goods to customers in their state. Do you have an employee in one state? You likely have sales tax nexus there. Do you store your inventory in a warehouse in another state? Then you’re likely required to collect sales tax in that state, too.

Some states want your payments monthly. Some want them quarterly. Some even just annually. But if you’re paying sales tax to a bunch of states, how are you supposed to keep up with all these due dates?

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How to Keep Your Sales Team Motivated

How to Keep Your Sales Team MotivatedThere is no denying that your sales team can either make or break your business. If the members of the team hit their marks, then success is going to be in abundance for the entire team. But if one team member is unable to uphold their responsibilities, that requires everyone else to work even harder.

While this competitive drive can sometimes be exactly what a business needs to grow, the fierce competition that comes with working in sales can sometimes lead to a loss in motivation among its team members. Seeing the same person always surpass their sales goals can be disheartening to other members who are having a hard time hitting the mark. That is why keeping your entire sales team motivated matters so that everyone can continue to do their best and keep the company moving forward.

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Business Advice I’d Give to My 22 Year-Old Self

I’ll be the first to admit that, at 22, I was in no position to run a business. I was fresh out of college and thinking about signing up for law school. I had no idea that, in a few more years, I’d be thinking about mortgaging my house to buy a company and make the leap from IP lawyer to executive. business advice That transition wasn’t easy, and there is plenty of business advice I’d give myself if I could go back in time and let 22-year-old me know what was on the horizon.

Pay attention to long-term return on investment.

When I was a lawyer, a return on investment was assumed. We normally took cases that made the firm money – that was straightforward enough. But when you run a business, maintaining a positive ROI is a lot more complicated. It isn’t about money-in, money-out. A good ROI could be defined as more exposure, a bigger web presence, or a better reputation. All of these factors play into how much money the business brings in, but you don’t see hard results right way. One of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever received is to always look at the long-term. Long-term thinking staves off stagnation, and keeps a business’s doors open. You can cut corners to make more money in the short-term, but that may damage your reputation and cost you in the long run.

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Business Basics: Business Website

Your business needs a website – end of story. In 2014, only 53% of small business had an active website, and yet 97% of consumers reported searching online for products or services. That discrepancy is absolutely insane! The most commonly given reason for not having a website is that the business doesn’t need one which is far from true: a small business without a website will fail to reach a huge part of its market.business website So if you don’t already have one, you need to start building a business website now. We can’t tell you what to put on that site, but we can help you plan it out by covering four things your site should have.

Domain Name

This one is pretty obvious – you need a domain name if you’re going to build a site. Anyone without a site is already late to the game, but as long as your business’s name isn’t too common – i.e. John Smith Flowers or Jane Smith Tires – you should be able to grab a domain name that’s fairly close to your DBA name. However, if you’re too late and your desired domain is taken, you can choose a domain that doesn’t directly match your ‘Doing Business As’ name. You just need to remember that it’s now your job to make it clear what business your customers are dealing with, so make sure your DBA name is clearly seen on your site.

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50 States of Incorporation: West Virginia

incorporate in West VirginiaFamous for white water rafting, coal mines, and the Appalachian National Scenic Recreational Trail, we’re taking a closer look at how to incorporate in West Virginia today, and all the great benefits it has to offer small business!

Home to West Virginia University, the 95th best public university in the country, and to Morgantown, a city ranked by Forbes as #10 for being one of the best small cities in the country to conduct business in (ranking from 2010), West Virginia also has a corporate income tax rate of 7%, which has been scheduled to be reduced to 6.5% in 2014.

If you’re a west Virginia resident, there’s a good chance you’re involved in the coal business. In terms of coal-producing, West Virginia is ranked the second biggest coal-producing state in the U.S. (first place goes to Wyoming). So if you want to start a business in the coal industry, West Virginia could be the perfect place for you and your business.

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Experts Weigh In: I’m an Entrepreneur in my 60s+

Experts Weigh In: I'm an Entrepreneur in my 60s+It’s the last week of our entrepreneurs by the ages series here on the MyCorp blog! From teen entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, our final post celebrates entrepreneurs in their 60s and beyond as they share with us their stories about starting up a small business, the obstacles they’ve encountered, and the rewards that being an entrepreneur has given them.

1) “I began my professional career as manager of a Coronary Care unit and a Non- Invasive Cardiology Unit Supervisor in local area hospitals. In my free time I developed an interest in the science and art of chocolate. Gaining chocolate making skills through a blend of personal exploration and formal education I attended a Master Chocolatier certificate program that enabling me to learn techniques with Master Chocolatiers of the Tuscany region of Italy. My journey to becoming a Chocolatier led to my founding Donna & Company in 2005 and establishing my own chocolate brands, CocoaBee® Honey Caramels and Donna Toscana® Tuscan Style® Chocolates and Fundamental. My chocolates have appeared on the NBC TODAY Show, in the New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, Dessert Professional, Park Place Magazine and numerous other media outlets.  I was named Best Chocolatier by NJ Monthly magazine and Local Hero, Food Artisan of 2010 by Edible NJ magazine.”

- Diane Pinder, 61, Chocolatier/Founder, Donna & Company

2) “I’m an entrepreneur who is 74. I started my business at 55. After a long career in management in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, I was working as a consultant in a small firm. After several years I realized I had learned the “business” and was actually good at product development, marketing, and sales. My younger sister who had started her own business a few years before was my inspiration. So, as we say, ‘I stepped off the cliff and grew wings on the way.’ Over the past 19 years, I’ve reinvented my business several times as the needs of my markets have changed. I’ve added professional speaking, writing books, webinars, and digital products to my mix of face-to-face consulting. The best parts of being an entrepreneur at my age are: being able to use my creativity to craft new products and services for my customers and wider market, thus staying mentally active; creating my own work schedule to accommodate lots of physical activity including yoga, Tai Chi, and walking to stay physically and mentally fit; and living a life that is fulfilling on every level. I have cut back on my road warrior travel and allowed technology to help me communicate around the world more. I will never be isolated because I have made friends around the world and I keep up business and personal relationships with them. I have no plans to retire. I’ll just keep innovating, reinventing, and tapping into my imagination until it’s time to go.”

- Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, Ph.D., 74,  President, Advantage Leadership, Inc.

3) “Most of my career, I worked in administration. I am almost 70, and have now become a designer. I designed a protective bag, BORSAbag. I am in an unknown environment. The way I describe it is I feel as though I’m in a vast field of tall grass with a machete. I just keep whacking away to find my path.

At this stage of my life, I have accumulated some savings and am in a better position to finance my design. I feel secure in taking that risk, mainly because I am married, and know that if I lose my investment, I will still be okay. I have more peace of mind to take the necessary risks. I constantly think about my product, how to improve it, additional uses for various sizes, and how to introduce BORSAbag to everyone. The downside of being my age is I can’t afford to take too much time to make decisions. I  must think about it, address it, and decide, and then move on to the next step. I have made sure that my infrastructure is strong, I have my inventory, and now I must make an announcement from the highest mountain to get my word out there. Time is of the essence.

BORSAbag is a simple, yet very unique product. It can be used to protect anything. The key is: Always Inside Out. The small pouch stays clean and dry, and can be stored safely in pocket or purse even though the large protective bag is wet or dirty. The Bag For All Seasons; The Bag For All Reasons®”

- Diane Piper, 69+, President/Designer, BORSAbag LLC

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