How to Face the Challenges in the Five Stages of Small Business Growth

How to Face the Challenges in the 5 Stages of Small Business GrowthA successful business person is often headstrong, brave and diligent. Conversely in business, however, we must also recognize that no one has all the answers and learning from others’ experiences is vital to our own development.

The Harvard Business Review published a report outlining the 5 stages of small business growth. In the report, Churchill and Lewis claim that understanding the current progression of a business facilitates logical and effective strategizing. Although it’s now over 30 years old, this definitive article is often referenced today as a useful framework for defining and managing Small Medium Enterprise (SME) growth. Every business is unique and will therefore face different challenges; however there are many typical stages which largely relate to the vast majority of SME’s. The comprehension of this structure can prove to be beneficial to business owners, allowing them to calculate both risk and sensible investment.

1) Existence

The vast majority of the work for a start-up is carried out by its owner, although there may be one or two employees on a small staff helping out. It is imperative at this stage to gain and maintain a customer base, as many companies fail before they even have a tangible revenue stream. It is likely that there will be some start-up capital in place, but this can quickly run out. Many businesses also invest in the foundations of a long term strategy, before they have taken their first steps, which can be ultimately fatal. For example, I have seen a few small freight/shipping start-ups who invest in IT systems, resources and staff before they even have a client base to justify their outlay.

Continue reading

Business Basics: Trade Dress

This week we thought it’d be a good idea to look at one of the most important parts of a product’s branding, its trade dress. You are affected by trade dress every single day, whether you realize it or not. If we describe a white coffee cup with a green circle on it, you’ll know it’s from Starbucks. Or if we show you a bag with a red square and yellow arches, you’ll think McDonalds. Essentially, trade dress is the various characteristics that make up a product’s or package’s appearance. But how do you protect your own trade dress? And does building a brand mean marrying that packaging?

Trade Dress

We bet you still know what company this is.

Why should you build trade dress recognition?
Because your company needs a way to immediately distinguish itself. Your brand embodies all of the goodwill and trust you’ve built into your company, and something as simple as a color, font, or even the shape of your product’s box can evoke all of those feelings within whatever customer is looking at your product. That’s why you want your trade dress to be consistent over all of your properties. Your logo, signage, site, and product packaging should all be built around some common element that inextricably ties your business with your product or service.

Continue reading

4 Sales Tips to Lead Small Business Sales Teams to Success

How to Increase Holiday SalesThere are many critical variables for sales success, especially when it comes to small business sales. Because small businesses typically have more obstacles to overcome due to their size and lack of resources, it’s extremely important that small business leaders learn how to master the sales process. Ultimately, mastering sales skills can provide long lasting revenue. Below are a few simple sales training  tips and tricks to help small business sales teams to succeed.

Quick Tips to Remember:

  • Target: The right client means everything
  • Good Energy: Be upbeat and positive
  • Preparation: Stay prepared and continuously practice your selling skills
  • Delivery: Always deliver polished presentations

Continue reading

50 States of Incorporation: North Dakota

North Dakota is easily one of America’s most intriguing states. It was fairly unaffected by the Great Recession, and has one of the lowest unemployment rates of any state. North Dakota is also the only state with a state-run bank, the Bank of North Dakota , and a state-run flour mill, the North Dakota Mill and Elevator, which is also the largest flour mill in the USA.  incorporate in North Dakota Both of these institutions are carryovers of the Nonpartisan League, a populist political party that did so well in North Dakota that it gave the state a three-party system before eventually merging with the Democrats. North Dakota is also the reason we have a National Park system – its natural beauty inspired Theodore Roosevelt to champion conservation.

North Dakota’s excellent economy makes it a prime state to start a business. So just what do you have to do to start a company in the state? And how do you form a limited liability company or incorporate in North Dakota?

Continue reading

MyCorporation en Español!

MyCorporation is proud to announce that, after months of hard work and translations, we are officially launching the Spanish version of our site! 

MyCorporation en Español!

Starting your own small business can already be fairly confusing, and bilingual people are usually more comfortable with their native language. So we felt that our bilingual customers would appreciate a Spanish version of our site to make the incorporation or LLC formation process as smooth as possible.

Releasing a spanish version of our site is also something we’ve wanted to do for years as a way to better serve America’s bilingual entrepreneurs. Did you know that, in 2013, 19.5% of new entrepreneurs were of hispanic descent! And 57% of all Hispanic business owners are bilingual!

We’re extremely proud of our new site, and we hope our Spanish speaking customers find it as intuitive and helpful as the English version.

Have any questions about starting your own business? Ready to become an entrepreneur? Give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772 - we’re happy to help and have several bilingual team members to help answer your questions! 

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.

Continue reading

Member-Managed LLCs Versus Manager-Managed LLCs

Traditionally, Limited Liability Companies are treated like partnerships. Two or more people get together, found a company, form an LLC, and then start running the business. But there’s more than one way to run an LLC. Member-Managed and Manager-Managed Limited Liability Companies are run very similarly, but there are also some key differences that anyone looking to form an LLC should know.Limited Liability Company

Member-Managed LLCs

Member-Managed LLCs are, by far, the more common choice. Each member of the limited liability company is treated as equal to every other member, and everyone shares responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the LLC. Continue reading

How to Turn Your Side Business into a Small Business

How to Turn Your Side Business into a Small BusinessSmall businesses get better tax breaks than hobbyists, reports the Small Business Administration. As a hobbyist, you must pay tax on any income earned from your activities, but are limited in your deductions. When performing an activity with the intent of making a profit, you are considered “in” business.

Hobbyists, go a little further and become a business-in-fact with all of its tax and legal benefits.

Telltale Signs you are Running a (Real) Business

  • Your garage and/or spare bedroom are so full of supplies and inventory that you can’t park your car or find your way to the window.
  • Your sales have grown, along with your need for supplies and related expenses, and you’re making a name for yourself, your products and/or services (branding).
  • Your supplier tells you that to be able to order in larger quantities and to get price breaks, you’ll need a state tax ID number (obtainable only for registered businesses).

Continue reading

Business Basics: The Single Member LLC

Limited Liability Companies were, originally, meant to be a replacement for the standard partnership. In 1977, the IRS ruled that it would treat the very first LLC, a Wyoming-based oil company, as a partnership for tax purposes. That meant any money earned by the company would flow through it, directly to the members of the LLC. It wasn’t until 1988, however, that the IRS chose to recognize all LLCs as partnerships, rather than corporations. LLCs are thus, at the federal level, treated as partnerships, which complicates matters for Single Member LLCs. Single Member Limited Liability Companies thus face challenges unique to its business structure – challenges that anyone considering forming a SMLLC should know about and expect.

Single Member LLC

What are the differences between a Limited Liability Company and a Single Member LLC?

The main difference is right in the name. A single member LLC only has one member, or owner. Limited Liability Companies were primarily created to protect the interests of everyone involved in running the company. The assets and debts of the company were its own, and the assets and debts of each member was their own. If one member misbehaved and owed creditors money, the creditor could not seize control of the LLC – they could only collect on the proportional share being paid to that owner. Likewise, if the company went bankrupt, the personal assets of the members were safe. Single Member LLCs, on the other hand, are not partnerships and it has been up to the state courts to decide how much protection a single-member LLC should really provide.

Continue reading

5 Things Entrepreneurs Need To Know Before Starting Up A Small Business

5 Things Entrepreneurs Need To Know Before Starting Up A Small Business Are you a potential entrepreneur considering venturing into starting up your own business? If so, it’s important that you start familiarizing yourself with information on how to succeed in the current business climate right now. Operating a small business requires you to possess the necessary skills to plan and manage the business efficiently and a vision that seeks to grow from nothing to something substantial after a period of time. Here are the top 5 things an entrepreneur needs to know before starting up a small business.

1. A perfect business plan is indispensable.

A business plan is the foundation of any successful company today. It serves to chart out the goals of the business as well as the possible ways of achieving them and acts as a blueprint that outlines the road to the future of any business. It’s also a necessity when seeking financial help to set up your business, hiring future employees, and keeping track on how you run your business once it’s operational.

Continue reading