5 Real World Networking Tips You Can’t Do Without

How Quick Business Loans Can Encourage Business TurnaroundThere are two main levels of networking for the modern-day entrepreneur: virtual and real-life. While virtual ties have their own strengths, the strongest partnerships and the deepest trusts are still built in the real-world. That is why, as an entrepreneur, you should want to go beyond your virtual network and build stronger ties offline. Start your real-world networking today with the help of these tips: Continue reading

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.

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

ABCs of Small Business Industries: B is for Builders (and General Contracting)

5 Safety Precautions to Practice While Relocating to a New OfficeWe’re onto our next ‘B’ in our “ABCs of Small Business Industries” installment! Today’s ‘B’ is for builders (or,  general contracting)! If you’ve dreamed of construction since you were organizing your building blocks as a young child, now might just be the perfect time for you to make your move. Not sure where to start? We’ll help you out. Continue reading

How to Apply Performance Management at a Startup

How to Apply Performance Management at a StartupI’ve thought long and hard but I just can’t think of a large, successful company that does not implement performance management. Famously, Jack Welch, CEO of GE, was a huge advocate of it.  The reason is probably fairly obvious. Performance management helps businesses achieve results. How so? By ensuring that all employees are performing at their best and pushing in the same direction.

So why don’t start-ups embrace performance management? Typically, there are a number of perceived barriers and questions small businesses have about how it’s done. How do you set up the process? Do you need an expensive system to manage it? Is it too much effort for the ROI (return on investment) in the end?

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5 Employee Productivity Hacks Every Workplace Can Benefit From Right Now

5 Employee Productivity Hacks Every Workplace Can Benefit From Right NowThe most important element to improving employee productivity in the workplace revolves around creating an atmosphere where an employee feels most at home. We recently noticed a huge upswing in small business owners embracing the start-up culture aesthetic – by this, we mean wearing flip flops to work, bringing pets along for the ride, and the controversial “work from home” policy. And truth be told, all of these definitely work in giving employee productivity the kick it needs. However, the most important element that business owners often overlook is the importance of ensuring that everyone gets along and here are a few hacks that can help workplaces out right now.

1) Setting The Thermostat At The Right Temperature

Nothing distracts an employee more than when others hover around them trying to fix the thermostat. For some, it may be too cold and for others it may be too hot. How do we set the right temperature? We recommend erring on the side of caution: research shows that when there is a cool atmosphere, employee productivity dramatically improves. Which means a business owner is better off creating a cooler atmosphere over a heated one, and recommending sweaters and blankets for employees who might find it too cold. This also means making sure the business has a working air conditioner and regular maintenance checks.

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B Corp Experts Weigh In: Q&A with Lisa Garrison

Lisa Garrison, Attorney, Smith Moore Leatherwood

At the firm of Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, Lisa Garrison maintains an active business litigation practice advising and representing clients in anything from claim appeals to multiple jury trials, but she also has an active presence with companies that have socially beneficial missions. Lisa serves as the founder of the firm’s “Benefit Corporation Team” or the “B Team” which focuses on exploring and serving the legal needs of aspiring or existing “benefit” or “B Corp” companies – for-profit businesses that seek to better the world through identified social missions and by focusing on sustainability and TPL/3BL (the “triple bottom line” pillars of profits, people, and planet).

Today, we’re discussing with Lisa how the “B Team” came to be at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP and the assistance it provides Benefit Corporations in need, the financial advantages that come with forming a B Corp, and why every entrepreneur needs to read up on the pros and cons of Benefit Corporations before starting one up.

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How to Build Up Team Spirit for Small Business Success

Improving and building team spirit is an essential part of business growth, more so for small enterprises. The main challenge to a business leader is to encourage the team members to bond, readily share relevant information and work together towards pushing the business brand forward. Small enterprises mostly do not have resources at their disposal to cover employee redundancy, therefore employees should be aptly encouraged to work together and market the company. The employees should readily engage in promoting and sharing of the company’s vision and mission.
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How Taking Minutes Can Bring Small Businesses to Success

With technology ever evolving and online collaborations on the rise, minute taking can seem like an old-fashioned approach to recording a business meeting. However, it does still have its place and can benefit a business in numerous ways, especially those who are new to running a company and start-ups.

As a quick refresher, minutes are notes recorded by an allocated individual, often a PA or secretary, in order to summarize what has been discussed at a meeting. Done correctly, they will highlight the meeting chronologically and succinctly, including important information such as event dates, deadlines, who said what, budget concerns and suggestions.

Why are minutes important?

Minutes are important for a number of reasons. To begin with, it’s important to have a record of meetings that have taken place in order to act on information. Often, once out of the meeting, important information may be forgotten, so having that record gives everyone involved a reference point when it comes to carrying out what has been discussed.
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