Unemployment insurance, at its root, is pretty easy to understand – it’s just a program meant to protect workers that become involuntarily unemployed. But because it is run on a hybrid state-federal system, and is often calculated based on weird variables like experience ratings, the entire concept quickly becomes muddled. Most states also change rates and maximum taxable wages on a year-by-year basis, so what was paid last year may not be the same this year. Thankfully, as long as you learn a little bit about unemployment programs and stay on top of those annual changes, UI shouldn’t cause too many problems. (more…)
Corporate meetings aren’t exactly fun; they’re tied to board rooms, suits, and a lot of financial talk. And so smaller corporations – especially those with just a handful of shareholders – often ask whether they really have to hold a meeting every, single year to effectively rubber-stamp the same board of directors and file their annual report. The answer, of course, is yes. Annual shareholder meetings are legally required for private and public corporations, regardless of size. But your annual meeting doesn’t have to be a stodgy affair. In fact, one of the best parts about being a smaller corporation is the extra little bit of freedom you have in how these meetings are run.
Forget the Board Rooms and Offices
You have to set the date of your annual shareholder meeting in your bylaws, but the location is up to you. Plenty of corporations opt for the traditional, formal meeting – everyone gathers in the office, there’s a podium, people wear suits, and everything is very cut and dry. But what if you run your business from home, as nearly half of all small business owners do? Or what if you want your annual meeting to be a bit more enjoyable? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with meeting at a restaurant, or around your kitchen table. In fact, we’ve talked to plenty of CEOs who make their annual meeting a potluck; the few shareholders they have all bring a dish, they sit down, do their formal meeting, and then spend the rest of the day eating and talking. Some states actually do set a minimum for the number of shareholders that must be present, so hosting a more laid-back meeting can help ensure people do come.
Have the agenda laid out and ready to go
The chair can technically “wing” the meeting if they have a good idea as to what needs to be voted on. Normally these meetings are to appoint and/or remove directors, modify corporate bylaws, vote on shareholder initiatives, and approve transactions requiring shareholder approval like mergers or asset sales. But it’s a better idea to list out what, exactly, needs to be brought up so you can keep the formal part of the meeting as quick and easy as possible. Different states may also require different numbers of votes depending on the transaction – sometimes a simple majority is not enough – so planning this out lets you know what numbers you actually need.
Keep your minutes light
You must keep the minutes of your annual meeting, but you do not have to transcribe every, single thing said. Note the date, time, and place of the meeting, take attendance, lay out the agenda, and record votes. If anything new is brought up during the meeting, make sure to note that as well. Otherwise, your minutes can effectively be a quick sketch of your annual meeting. Just make sure, before everyone leaves, you pass around the minutes so everyone can review them. These constitute an official document and it’s important they portray the meeting accurately.
Every corporation must host an annual meeting for its shareholders, but there’s no reason why it has to be this dreaded, boring affair. Corporations, especially those with just a handful of shareholders, have a bit of leeway as to what the meeting will actually look like. Set out the agenda, keep minutes, and vote, but feel free to make this a meeting of friends, as well as a meeting for the shareholders.
Have any questions about corporate governance? Want to form your own corporation but not sure where to start? Click here for a free consultation, or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772 and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have!
Employee reviews get a bad rap – a lot of people assume they’re meant to judge a person’s work and weigh whether or not they are worth their wage. In reality, reviews are a great way to force a person to reflect on the past year, figure out what they’ve done well, and highlight potential growth areas. And you don’t suddenly outgrow their use after creating your own business. Too few small business owners actually take time to reflect on the past year; we assume we made money so, therefore, we did well enough. That’s a dangerous attitude, as it leaves you open to stagnation and contraction. This year, instead of just closing out the books and handing them to your accountant, do an employee review and really figure out just how well you did.
What do you ask?
Think back to your last employee review, and remember your manager brought up. Reviews are usually pretty standard, so you’ll be asked to come in with some accomplishments and possible improvements. There’s then a quick ten to twenty minute back and forth to sketch out goals and ideas for next year, and you’re done. Your one-person review does not need to look any different. It’s the end of the year, so you have a good idea how you did financially, but think of a few ideas or initiatives you’re particularly proud of and jot them down. Then ask what you’d change if you could do it over, and write those down as well. You’ve just outlined a plan of attack for next year. Keep doing what you do well, adjust as needed to help spur improvement, and plan out whatever new initiatives need adoption to ensure those improvements happen.
Do you have to talk to yourself?
No – in fact, if you can, involve someone else. You’re more than capable of doing this “review” on your own, but outside perspective is invaluable. We are our own echo chambers – we always wind up thinking our own ideas are good. But what you need is someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to poke holes in your plan, and refine that sketch you just put to paper. Involving someone else also adds a bit of culpability to the process. Not only does it force you to actually think about, and write down, that list of accomplishments and improvement areas, but talking about that list means someone else knows your plan, and may ask about it periodically over the next year. Extra, external motivation is always helpful.
What’s the point?
Honestly, this process is something every business owner should do already. But running a business is tough, tiring work. And at the end of the year, when life is already hectic and you have tons to get done before January first, the last thing you’ll want to think about is next year’s plan of attack. Small business owners are great at mapping out big plans and focusing in on microscopic details. We usually aren’t great at connecting them. This employment review exercise helps by forcing us to see what works, and how we can leverage our talent to meet attainable, worthwhile goals over the course of the next year. Then, when 2016 hits, you aren’t forced to fly by the seat of your pants.
Ready to start your own business? Need some help with the process? Click here, or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772!
It’s no secret that providing excellent customer service can lead to earning repeat business, and overall success. We wanted to find out what customer service tricks other small businesses were utilizing to keep their customers happy. So we asked our small business experts what their number one customer service tip is. Here’s what they had to say… (more…)
A fear of failure can be paralytic, especially to a small business owner or would-be entrepreneur. It means losing all the time, effort, energy, and money risked on an enterprise. But what if someone said that failure was a good thing? That, in fact, feelings of failure and defeat carry the true key to success?
Our good friend Fran Tarkenton argues exactly that in his new book “The Power of Failure“. Fran Tarkenton is no stranger to failing – he helped bring the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl three times during the 1970’s, and each time lost. After turning to business, the first two companies he founded eventually folded. But he didn’t allow himself to be engulfed by that failure and now, as CEO of Tarkenton Companies, is a wildly successful entrepreneur.
Failure, he posits, is a gift that brings incredible power. In “The Power of Failure” Tarkenton shares never-before told stories of his time in the NFL, and the personal, occasionally painful, moments he experienced. Through his own hard-learned lessons and invaluable advice given to him from friends and mentors like Sam Walton and Bernie Marcus, Tarkenton lays out the myths and truths of failure, and how to follow through to success. (more…)
Every day around the globe, firms and corporations rise to the top or sink to the bottom. Such rises and falls are attributed not only to external factors but also to the successful or unsuccessful implementation of business plans and to the strategies, marketing goals, estimations and forecasts established by these corporations. Successful marketing goals and strategies that help companies rise rather than fall choose the right media services that will boost the company’s exposure on the proper media platforms. In search of these services, businesses are finding useful tools and resources to reach wider audiences in many different languages, and one of those primary tools is voice-over recording. (more…)
The trend of big data has led to the rise of social media platforms handing their consumers analytics on their presence online. LinkedIn is no different. As a small business, understanding your page’s analytics is vital to its success as it gives you a great amount of information on your target audience’s preferences. But with all analytics, there are some key figures and terms to monitor that give the most insight into your successes and failures.
If you have ever watched the TV show, Shark Tank, you know just how aloof business evaluations can be. The mere fact that a valuation can be negotiated shows just how much subjectivity business evaluations hold. But regardless of how you come up with the number, the valuation of your business is vital. The value of your business can help you determine your company’s financial and competitive standing. For larger public corporations, a valuation is typically created through the stock price. What about private corporations? There are three easy ways to find the value of your business regardless of size.
Estimated tax payments are a pretty straightforward topic. You probably remember that, back when you worked for someone else, you had your taxes taken out of your paycheck. You don’t get out of having to pay tax when you start your own business – the IRS still expects you to pay what you owe. But what if you’re just starting out and not making much money? Or you’ve had a bad quarter and don’t have the money to cover what you normally send in? Do you still have to send in your estimated tax payment?
If you expect to owe more than $1,000, then you very likely have to pay estimated taxes. (more…)
An Employer Identification Number, also called an EIN or a Federal Tax Identification Number , is a unique set of digits assigned to a business by the IRS. With it, tax agencies can easily track the financial activity of your company, and make sure that you pay your taxes. But, if you run a sole-proprietorship, the IRS can already do that using your personal social security number. So in what cases do you need an Employer Identification Number?
When you hire someone
The only time you can really get away with using your social security number is when your business is considered a sole-proprietorship, and you’re the only employee. The IRS figures, in cases like that, the company’s profit flows directly to you, and you pay your taxes from that. But that changes the minute you bring anyone on to help run the company, and that includes a business partner. Once you start hiring, your company must have an EIN.
When you form an LLC or Incorporate
Incorporating or forming an LLC separates you and the business. (more…)