How to Crowdfund Legally

Limited Liability PartnershipStarting a new business is an exciting venture! That is, until the realization of just how much money you will need takes you down a few notches. Before you get too discouraged, know that you have several options available to you.

One of those options is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the process of raising small amounts of money from a large amount of people- this can be with the help of friends and family as well as people you don’t know. If you approach it correctly, attracting crowdfunding investors can be just what you need to get your business up and running, as long as you’re careful.

Now, the safest way to go about something that has potential legal implications is to know exactly what is allowed and what isn’t. Law enforcement has never taken “I didn’t know I was doing something wrong!” as a valid excuse.

So what should I steer clear of when crowdfunding? 

Promising Ownership

According to Biz Journals, a crowd funder may receive a reward for their donation once the company is up and running, but they cannot claim any ownership or financial gain in the business. For example, would-be authors can promise crowd fund investors copies of their signed books or acknowledgements for donations, but business owners can’t exchange equity for investments.

If you want to give away equity in exchange for funds, you need to work with accredited investors—people who make over $200,000 and have over $1 million in assets.

Forgetting about Taxes

The funds you get from your crowdfunding efforts are considered taxable income. Don’t forget that you must follow the federal and state tax laws you are subject to. If you plan to go the crowdfunding route, calculate taxes into your financial goals.

Breaking Promises

The typical crowdfunding effort is set up in a way that the person asking for funding promises rewards (not equity) to people who invest. Some crowdfunding sites use an all-or-nothing system where if a person reaches their goal, they keep the funding and must follow through on their promises. If they don’t reach their goal, the money goes back to the investors.

If you reach your goal and fail to follow through with your promised incentives, you could be considered in breach of contract. Unless you want to face a class-action lawsuit, follow through on any promises made during the crowdfunding process.

Where should I look for funding?

If you want to start a company or dive into a project that needs funding, sites like KickStarter or IndieGogo are useful mediums for making money. These have been especially great resources for artistic projects, such as publishing a book, starting a food truck, creating an art exhibit, or designing a new product.

Are there any other rules to keep in mind?

Crowdfunding is subject to rules placed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act- these rules are under constant discussion. As seen on Forbes, here are the rules you must follow if you plan on utilizing crowdfunding for your startup:

  • You can only accept up to $1 million dollars per 12-month period through crowdfunding.
  • If you are starting an investment company or a public-reporting company, you cannot use crowdfunding.
  • Crowdfund investors are only allowed to give a certain amount of money during a 12-month period. For investors who make over $100,000/yr., they can only give 10% of their income or net worth. For those who make less than $100,000/yr., they can only give up to 5% of their income (or up to $2,000, depending on which is greater).
  • You can only find crowdfunding through registered broker-dealers or “funding portals.”
  • You cannot advertise except to direct potential investors to your broker or funding portal.
  • If you complete a crowdfunding crowd, make sure you file the correct reports with the SEC.

The laws surrounding crowdfunding and business startups are complicated. To be absolutely sure you don’t cross any legal lines, talk to a lawyer who works with business law.

Originally from San Jose, California, Erika Remmington is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley in linguistics with a minor in business administration. She enjoys spending her time with her husband and 18 month old daughter. She also enjoys rock climbing and outdoor activities. Legal information from this article was provided by Kitchen Simeson Belliveau Llp.

Business Basics: What to Consider When Deciding Which State to File in

Foreign CorporationWhen it comes to opening your very own small business, you have a lot of decisions to make. What’s your logo going to look like, how many employees are you going to hire, have any initial marketing ideas? And on top of all that, maybe the biggest decision of all, is deciding which state to file in. You can go one of two ways with this: file in the state you’re physically located in, or file in another state. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Ultimately, the decision should be specific to each business because, depending on the states you’re considering, and your industry, one option may be more expensive than the other.

So when it comes down to it, be sure to consider these three factors when deciding where to file your business!

 The cost of foreign qualifying.

If you choose to file your business in a state other than the one you reside in, you’ll have to go through the process of filing for a foreign qualification. This is required of any company that wishes to conduct business outside the state lines that the formation was created in. Once you’ve filed the paperwork, you’re legally able to do business in a state that was not your business’s home state. You can, of course, file the paperwork yourself, but many businesses opt for a filing service to file the paperwork for them to ease the process. Our services, personally, start at $149.

The economic health of the prospective states.

The economic health of a state can be different for different industries. Where the automotive industry might be booming in the state you’re looking at, coal mining might not be doing so hot. There are a couple different reliable resources to check up on the health of a state and your specific industry: Forbes has a good list of the best states to do business in that includes the top industries with each state, and our latest series post, ABCs of Small Business Industry is another good place to check up on the health of your industry overall.

The small business friendliness.  

There are some states that are widely recognized as friendly business states- states that are simply huge supporters of small business and entrepreneurship. Delaware, for example, has earned the nickname of “The Incorporation Capital of the World” due to it not having any corporate income tax and maintaining such a modern corporate climate and economic outlook. Check in on your home state’s business friendliness to see if it would make more sense financially, considering taxes and overall fees, to stay in your state or head somewhere else.

Experts Weigh In: How is Your Business Transitioning From Summer to Fall?

Back to SchoolJust as it’s time to take the little ones back to school, it’s time for the adults to “go back to school” in a way as well. The summer is typically a time for fitting in vacation where you can, and taking it a little easier due to the slow season. But with fall quickly approaching, small businesses everywhere are figuring out how to make transitioning from summer to fall as seamless as possible.

We asked our panel of small business experts about how they’re making the transition, and this is what they had to say! Continue reading

The Importance of the Domain Name: Get a Free One Today!

Domain NameAdded to the list of pros that comes along with incorporating your business is that now, when we help you out with your filing, you get a free domain name to call your very own!

Thanks to our partnering with Arvixe, when you incorporate with MyCorporation you’ll also be scoring on a great domain name deal that includes…

  • One free domain name for life (.com, .net, .org, or .us)
  • Unlimited disk space and data transfer
  • One year of website hosting, absolutely free
  • Unlimited email addresses
  • Arvixe forum support
  • Secure and reliable hosting
  • Automatic installation of software

Domain names are an important part of starting a business. Today, there aren’t many businesses out there that don’t have a website attached to their name. It’s how they’re found and, oftentimes, evaluated by customers.  The perfect website can make or break a business, and that all starts by obtaining a domain name.

Get the ball rolling by incorporating and claiming your free domain name today!

Give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772 and we’ll be happy to help you out every step of the way.

ABCs of Small Business Industries: A is for Automotive

automotive industryWelcome to week three of our ABCs of small business industries! Today’s focus in the series? The automotive industry! This particular industry works alongside anything involving the design, manufacturing, marketing, development, or selling of motor vehicles. What’s not included here, however, are auto repair shops or any sort of gas station.

If your dream has always been to run your own vintage car garage or design automobiles, keeping the following areas in mind to ensure a smooth start!

What do you need to get started?

The biggest hump you’ll have to get over in starting a business in the automotive industry is familiarizing yourself with all the industry rules. This industry in particular has a strict list of guidelines to abide by and follow, but, luckily, the Small Business Administration has you covered. Details on emission standards, how to become a registered motor vehicle importer, knowing the ins and outs of automobile certification, and information on the automobile federal trade commission will all come in handy to keep under your belt in such a robust industry.

Additionally, make sure you have a registered agent in place to handle all of your state mail and remind you of important deadlines, a business/operating license so you can do business where you’d like, and a federal tax ID (EIN) in place if you plan on hiring a strong team to come and join you.

What sort of entity should you form going into the automotive industry?

Though every business owner has the choice of filing whichever entity he feels best suits him and his business, it is common for business owners in the automotive industry to file as an LLC, probably largely in part to the appealing nature of the pass through taxation. This means that business owners who file as an LLC will only be taxed once, whereas with other entity forms, they could be getting taxed twice at both the company level and again at the owner. An LLC is also very easy to get started as well as easy to maintain.

How healthy is the industry?

Around the world right now, there are over 1 billion cars. According to Edmunds.com, “16.4 million car buyers are expected to continue to flock to the market, taking further advantage of more freely flowing credit to refresh the oldest vehicle fleet in history.”

Being that the automobile is the primary mode of transportation around the world, we have formed a strong sense of dependency on the automotive industry – and if you’re planning on starting a business to help out those who need extra assistance with their vehicles, now is a great time to do it!

Want to put the pedal to the metal and start your business in the automotive industry? MyCorp can help you get started! Just leave a comment below, or give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772, and we’ll help you get your licenses, DBAs, and EINs squared away! 

Should You Give Your Employees a Second Chance?

I’ve always believed that my business’s success hinges on the open and honest relationship I have with my team. I have to trust that my employees will do the job they were hired to do so I can focus on running and growing the company. However, I have unfortunately had to deal with members of my team breaking that trust in the past. And, while you should always consider giving people a second chance at the workplace, second chances also mean you should look at what they did, and determine whether what happened was a minor transgression, or a serious breach of trust. second chance

Look at the big picture

It can be really easy to focus too heavily on the employee when making this sort of decision, but you need to consider a lot of different factors. Firing someone can leave a long-lasting impact on your business, especially if other employees don’t agree with your decision. Was this betrayal of trust more personal, or professional? Occasionally we have to swallow our personal pride for the betterment of the company, and objectivity is key to making this sort of a decision. If this is an isolated incident, then maybe a second chance is in order.

Consider the impact on your business

If this employee has proven themselves to the company and has spent years working within it, firing them could hurt your business. So you need to ask yourself if the employee’s separation will actually be good for the company. Do they contribute to inter-office harmony? Are they replaceable? Will their absence help or hinder day to day operations? Being slighted by someone you trust is always a jarring experience, but it isn’t worth sacrificing your team’s dynamic to make a point. But if this employee did actually harm the company, it may be worth sending them out the door for good.

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50 States of Incorporation: North Carolina

Incorporate in North CarolinaThis week in our 50 states series we’re on the road to incorporate in North Carolina, also known as the Tar Heel State. North Carolina is home to the company headquarters of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Pepsi-Cola and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In the last 50 years or so, North Carolina has transitioned from an economy focused on tobacco, textiles, and furniture crafting, to an economy focused on engineering, energy, biotechnology, and finance sectors. With those transitions, the state has found great start-up success!

According to the Forbes Best States For Business list, North Carolina ranks at #4 of the 50 states to start a business in – right up in the top 5 states! This high ranking can be attributed to its similarly high rankings in labor supply, environment, and growth prospects. Thumbtack.com also gave the state high marks with a steady B+, with high grades in ease of starting a business, health and safety, employment and labor, zoning, and training/networking programs.

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