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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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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50 States of Incorporation: Wyoming

It’s the last week of our 50 states of incorporation series and we’re focusing on the Cowboy State – Wyoming. Smack dab in the middle of the Rockies, Wyoming is America’s least populous state, but is easily one of the most beautiful. The vast majority of the land in Wyoming is owned and protected by the Federal Government, and Wyoming is home to the world’s first national park, Yellowstone. Incorporate in Wyoming Wyoming’s natural beauty has ensured the state’s tourism industry would flourish, and today it generates two billion dollars in state revenue. Along with tourism, Wyoming’s historic agricultural and mining industries continue to drive the state’s economy – Wyoming is the number one producer of coal in the country. Though largely rural, Wyoming is a great state for a small business, thanks largely to the low cost of doing business. So what does it take to get started there? And how do you incorporate in Wyoming?

How do you start a business in Wyoming?
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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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Business Basics: Business License Compliance Package

We decided to do something a bit different with our weekly business basics post this time around, and instead look at a new service we’ve just started offering – business license compliance packages. We’ve covered business licenses before, but we thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the topic and explain why we decided to start offering this service to our customers. business licenseOur team kicked around the idea for awhile, trying to figure out whether or not there was any demand for this type of service, and we realized that there were three questions we’d have to be able to answer before launching.

Why offer business license compliance packages?

MyCorporation has always aimed to meet all of the needs of new business owners. The next logical step after creating your business is to apply for all of the licenses you need to legally open your doors. Without the right licensing, you’re effectively dead in the water. So expanding our offerings to include licensing just makes sense.

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Customer Highlight: Vintage Iron Garage LLC

Vintage Iron GarageHere at MyCorp, we love profiling small businesses that have incorporated with us and we’re excited to introduce you to the founders of Vintage Iron Garage LLC, Jesse Vaughan and Ken Brown, on our blog!

Jesse and Ken are factory Mercedes-Benz trained technicians that completed their apprenticeship under one of the top 30 Master Guild Mercedes-Benz technicians in the country. This created an unprecedented foundation built on doing work with a high level of quality, service and attention to detail that few ever reach. They took those core values, combined them with their vast and ever expanding knowledge base and skill level and adapted them into the classic/vintage car industry. Both were born with a huge love of classic cars and were involved with building one-of-a-kind custom cars since they were big enough to hold a wrench!

Vintage Iron Garage strives to educate the public on the value, and equally important, fun aspects of vintage automotive ownership. Classic cars aren’t just utilitarian modes of transportation, but are members of the family to which a lifestyle is often born. Their business works with the customer step by step to ensure everything they need is provided for a completely positive experience.

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50 States of Incorporation: Virginia

Virginia – the mother of all states. Home to the first English colony in the New World, and the birthplace of more U.S. presidents than any other state, the Commonwealth is easily one of the most storied and important states in America. Virginia continues to be one of the nation’s top producers of tobacco – a crop it has grown since the colonial era – and has one of the most diverse economies of any state. Ranching, farming, tourism, high-tech manufacturing, and government agencies contribute to the bustling and thriving Virginian economy. Incorporate in VirginiaAn educated workforce and pro-business government has also placed Virginia at the top of Forbes’ ‘Best States to do Business In’ list for the past four years. Virginia is an obvious choice for any budding entrepreneur. How do you start a business in the state? And what does it take to form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia?

How do you start a business in Virginia?
It’s actually quite easy! All you need is a ‘Doing Business As’ name, the right licenses and permits, and, if you want to hire someone, a federal tax ID number, often called an Employer Identification Number. Virginia has a handy tool to help new business owners register their business and its name online. Once you are all registered, you can technically open for business as a sole-proprietorship. However, while sole-proprietorships are easy to run, they make you, as the business owner, responsible for all of the business’s debts. If you hope to mitigate your risk, you should form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia.

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4 Warnings Every Entrepreneur Wishes They Had Been Given Before Diving In

4 Warnings Every Entrepreneur Wishes They Had Been Given Before Diving InIt’s no secret that many businesses fail within the first year, or for some, before they even get off the ground. According to Forbes, about 8 out of 10 businesses will fail within their first 18 months. While there are an endless number of factors that can contribute to the failure of a business, many entrepreneurs agree that having some simple guidelines of what to do when starting out would be nice to know beforehand. If you’re getting ready to start your own business, read ahead to learn about the things that every entrepreneur wishes they had known when they got started.

Don’t Try to Provide a Product or Service for Everyone

At some point, every business owner is going to have to accept the fact that some people will not only be ambivalent to their company or its services, they may outright dislike it. By focusing on more specific demographics, you’ll have far greater success. Now, don’t go to the other extreme and make your demographics too narrow. By doing research about your product or industry, you can get a better idea of what type of groups you should be targeting. Depending on the product and industry, you might need to be more selective and specific about who you market to and who you’re targeting. Some businesses struggle in the beginning because they are sending their message to everyone all at once, and it isn’t really reaching the target group of people.

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Experts Weigh In: I’m an Entrepreneur in My 30s

Experts Weigh In: I'm an Entrepreneur in My 30sThe last few weeks on the MyCorp blog have been filled with stories of teen entrepreneurs and twentysomething entrepreneurs getting their start in the world of business – now it’s time to put the spotlight on thirtysomething entrepreneurs! Read on as our 40 professionals tell us why they love the freedom, flexibility, and fun that comes with starting up a business.

1. “The best part about being an entrepreneur in your 30s is the level of experience and business maturity you gain at such a relatively young age. There are some lessons you can only learn through experience, and it’s invaluable for the career entrepreneur to gain these insights ahead of the curve.”

- Dylan Whitman, 32, Co-Founder, Brand Value Accelerator

2. “I am an online marketing consultant and have yet to hit big 40. With a formal MBA and six years of industry experience under my belt, I started working from home when my little one got diagnosed with moderate ASD. It took me a few years to get traction because for a while I was working part-time hours. Since last year, I have switched to working full time from home and have hit six figures this year. I love the flexibility, lack of commute and being able to work in my PJs. I work with VNB’s – very new businesses and most of them happen to be women. My advice to anyone looking to create a successful one-person shop would be to invest in yourself early on – get the training and help you need. It will help you skyrocket your confidence and gain much needed clarity. It’s not going to be easy but you will save yourself tons of tears and heartache. You can do this!”

- Marya Jan, 34, Online Marketing Consultant, Writing Happiness

3. “I am a new attorney and 35-year-old entrepreneur who started his own virtual law firm out of law school. I help other entrepreneurs, particularly in the video game and computer software industries, to start their businesses and realize their dreams. I leverage technology to enable myself to work from anywhere in the world (currently in Bangkok, Thailand) and keep overhead low. This lets me provide affordable legal services to my clients, who are mainly small business entrepreneurs in the game industry.”

- Zachary Strebeck, 35, Attorney at Law

4. “I started LSP, a video and television production company, when I was 25 years old. While I still had a ton to learn about my trade and overall entrepreneurship, it was an amazing time to branch out on my own. For starters, I was still living at home, single and no kids; I had zero distractions in the pursuit of my dreams. I don’t know if I could have grown my business as quickly as I did if I had those personal responsibilities (especially as a female!).”

- Lisa Marie Latino, 30, Founder and Executive Producer, Long Shot Productions

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‘Doing Business As’ Names vs. Trademarks

Entrepreneurs are always going to be protective of their business’s name. After all, this is the name under which all of the goodwill and branding they’ve worked so hard to accrue will go. But there is still some confusion about the best way to protect that name. On the one hand, registering a ‘Doing Business As’ name does keep other businesses in your area from using the same name, and for some businesses that’s enough. 'Doing Business As' Names vs. TrademarksWhile a trademark on your business’s name offers a lot more protection, filing a trademark does take more time and money. So we decided to take a look at both DBA names and trademarks, and help explain what the pros and cons of each are.

Doing Business As Names
A DBA name, which is also referred to as a trade name, is just that – a name. It’s a quick and easy way to identify a business or entity, and filing for a DBA name is pretty straightforward. Continue reading

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