Protect Your Assets By Incorporating

signing articles of incorporationOkay, so you’ve got a business. What next? What kind of entity should it be? There are pros and cons for LLC vs. corporation which we’ll discuss here, but the bottom line is you want to separate yourself from your business. Tax purposes play a role but you don’t want someone suing you personally if it comes to legal action. Protect your personal assets by the type of business entity you choose.

Incorporation:

When you incorporate your business becomes its own entity–a legal one, and it’s separate from its owners, unlike a sole proprietorship. A limited liability company or LLC falls under this category and so does a corporation. You may have heard of C-corps and S-corps. They’re two such types.

Each keeps you safe from personal liability (hence the name “limited liability” in the LLC). There’s also an element of professionalism in having that LLC or Inc. after the business name.

LLC vs. corporation:

Of course there are differences between the different entities, but which is best for you?

LLCs

LLCs keep you, the owner, protected should you be sued. Your personal assets are separate from those of the company so you can’t be held personally liable. There’s also more flexibility in how you can operate an LLC. Unlike a corporation you don’t have the rigid management structure. It’s also a pass-through entity, meaning you don’t pay taxes at the business level, but rather on your personal return.

Corporations

Looking at S and C type corporations, the S-corp is most similar to an LLC being a pass-through entity. C corps, however, are different and are not pass-through. Owners who earn dividends or get distributions of some kind may be taxed on those in addition to the tax paid by the corporation itself at the first level. It’s sometimes referred to as double taxation.

LLC vs. corporation: some comparisons

C-Corps and LLCs can have unlimited numbers of owners while S-corps may have a maximum of 100.

S-Corps allow owners to deduct business losses on their personal returns.

C-corps, unlike S-corps allow owners to hold different stocks making it possible to receive different dividend levels and that can hold onto earnings from one annual period to the next.

S-corps can help with savings on some taxes such as Medicare or self-employment. They also provide the ability to use business losses to offset income that didn’t come from the business.

There’s a plethora of information on the web, but really your accountant will be able to explain the benefits and downsides of each entity. The bottom line is that you incorporate in some way so as to protect your personal assets should you find yourself facing any sort of legal action. And of course there are online incorporation websites like LegalZoom that can make incorporation easier than in the past.

You will want to engage the services of a good accountant so make that one of your first tasks in addition to choosing the type of business entity that’s right for you.

How Google (and SEO) Changed the World and Your Business

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when Google didn’t exist. In today’s hyper-connected world, people literally carry the whole of humanity’s knowledge in their back pocket. Using the internet browser on any smart phone or computer, users can navigate to Google and find sports scores, how-to videos, biographies for their favorite actors, social media sites and more.

google logo and search box

Google constantly scans web pages and indexes them according to what they say. When users search Google for certain terms, it brings up web pages with words that match what the user is searching for. Without search engines like Google, users wouldn’t be able to find the information they want in the sea of content on the internet.

Physical Changes

Offering 24-hour access to anything you could ever want to know has caused some hefty changes in humanity. For starters, research has shown that humans have become worse at remembering things. Less of the human brain is devoted to memory than ever before because Google acts as a sort of mental crutch. Why expend resources remembering something when you can just look it up later?

Technology Changes

It has also changed the mobile phone industry. There was a time when cell phones were just used for calling people. People loved their phones, but they still relied on their computers for information. The demand for constant access to information led phone makers to create smartphones. Suddenly, everyone had the power of Google in the palm of their hands. As the way people access the internet has changed, online marketing strategies have changed as well. Businesses are reaching customers via their mobile browsers, tracking where they are with location devices and encouraging interaction through check-ins, mobile coupons and more.

Communication Changes

Email has become the number one way that people communicate with one another. Why buy a stamp when you can send an email for free? Why call someone when you can send a quick email and not worry about whether or not they answer the phone? Google’s email program, gmail, changed the way people use e-mail. They introduced the bottomless inbox, making it easy to store files online, message friends and family or create a virtual time capsule for your baby.

World View Changes

Your view of the world is heavily impacted by the news you read and Google has the power to choose which news you see when you do a search. Ranking high in Google has become a big business and there are companies all over that are devoted to SEO. Having your news story ranked high means more people will see it and read it. That means you’ll have more chances to influence those people and change their opinions on matters, whether they’re big or small. This can be invaluable to politicians.

Privacy Changes

There was once a time when you were able to be anyone you wanted to be in public. Regardless of what you did at home, your employer and friends only knew the person you projected. Unfortunately, because of Google, that has all changed. Anyone can Google your name and find your social media profiles, your forum profiles and countless other bits of information about you on the internet. People have less privacy now than they ever have before, despite all of the advanced security settings available to tweak one’s online persona.

There are so many ways that Google (and SEO) has changed, and continues to change, the world. Use the power of Google to your advantage by hiring a company specializing in search engine optimization. There are many throughout the country (and the world) in this burgeoning and ever-changing industry, but a select few are at the top of their game. Burbank SEO Experts in California, Kotton Grammer in Chicago or St. Louis or Gary Graye in Manchester, England belong in this category. A good search engine marketing company is critical to propel your business to the top rankings, influence customers and increase conversions. It does take time, effort and money to get to the top of the coveted page one of Google, but with the demise of the phone book this is where you’ll be found and getting there is money well spent.

How to Start a Small Business

While starting a small business sounds like a piece of cake, in reality it is quite daunting. Those I knew who succeeded did so by the right mixture of talent, conviction to succeed and luck. But the most crucial ingredient is identifying your business opportunity. Choosing what kind of business to start can be an immobilizing task when confronted with the multitude of opportunities. It’s important to determine where your passions lie and to understand your personality type.

Are you an improver? Do you want to focus on using your company as a means to improve the world? If you have an unwavering ability to run a business with high integrity and ethics then you are likely suited to create a morally correct business rewarded by working on noble cause. But you must be aware of your tendency to be a perfectionist and over-critical of employees and customers.

Are you an advisor? This business personality type will provide an extremely high level of assistance and advice to customers. Advisors though can become totally focused on the needs of their business and customers that they may ignore their own needs and ultimately burn out.

Are you a Superstar? Here the business is centered around your charisma and high energy. This personality often will cause you to build your business around your own personal brand. You must be careful not to be too competitive and end up being a workaholic.

Are you an Artist? This business personality is the reserved but highly creative type. Often found in businesses demanding creativity such as web design and ad agencies. As an artist type you’ll tend to build your business around the unique talents and creativities you have. But you must let go of the negative self-image since you may have the tendency to be overly sensitive to your customer’s responses even if the feedback is constructive.

If you have identified what you are going to start-up, here is what you should consider to help you further.

Plan

To make your business idea a reality, make a plan. It should outline your goals, your motivation and your strategy for marketing and funding.

Finances

You won’t require a lot of money to start. Here are a number of ways you can find initial investment:

  • Financing
  • Loans
  • Grants
  • Angel investors
  • Bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start.

Business Structure

You may start an initial business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation). Then re-evaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs change.

Pick & Register Your Business Name

Pick a name that make you smile when you say it, think through all of the potential implications before you decide on it. Then check if it’s trademarked or currently in use. Then register it.

Licenses and Permits

Your licenses and permits should apply depending on the type of business you are starting and your location.

Business Location

Your business location should work for the type of business you will be doing. Consider your overall set-up before you zero out on the location.

Accounting System

One of the most important systems is an accounting system. Your business will run most effectively when there are systems in place.

Promote

Start with the basics by writing a unique selling proposition (USP) and create a marketing plan. The best way to decide on how to promote your business most effectively is to explore as many marketing ideas as possible.

Once you have completed these small business start-up activities, you will have all of the most important bases covered, and be ready for  success.