5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Business

5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a BusinessBuying a business may sound easier than building one from the ground up, but as someone who has bought a company, I have experienced how hard the whole process is. Yes, you are buying name recognition, branding, and the infrastructure behind the business, but there are plenty of challenges that can overshadow that initial boost. Your management style may not mesh well with the rest of the staff, or you could be walking into a dying market.

Before you consider buying a business, you need to ask yourself these five important questions upfront. Read the full entry

3 Ways to Protect Your Business’s Intellectual Property

3  Ways to Protect Your Intellectual Property Inevitably, some part of your small business is going to be built on your intellectual property. Whether it’s your invention, branding, or even the jingle you throw into commercials, intellectual property is going to define a major piece of your business, and you need to protect it.

While I think most businesses would agree with me on that point, the trouble is few of them know where to start, or what they should even protect, when it comes to their brand. Patents are pretty obvious, but what does a trademark do, and when would you need to register a copyright? To bring everyone up to speed, here’s a quick rundown on the three major types of intellectual property filings – trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Read the full entry

No Privacy Policy? Big Mistake & Here’s Why

No Privacy Policy? Big Mistake and Here's WhyHow many times have you scrolled through the legal gibberish in a lengthy Terms of Service agreement, eyes glazing over, only to blindly click the “Accept” button at the end, all without successfully reading a single word? Let’s be honest— the answer is most likely “many times.” Read the full entry

7 Items Small Business Owners Can Write Off That Most People Can’t

small business taxesIf you are a small business owner, you need to familiarize yourself with the Internal Revenue Service’s information on all the ways in which your small business can write off certain costs – expenses that, in many cases, most taxpayers aren’t allowed to deduct from their individual tax returns. You can check out IRS Publication 535, among others, for specific rules and regulations. Here’s a list of seven items that a small business owner can write off that other people can’t: Read the full entry

The 6 Most Common 401k Mistakes

Just watch an hour of TV and you’ll find a half dozen 401k companies vying for your attention.

This one wants you to follow a green line. That one wants you to listen to that guy from “Law & Order.” The other one has a talking baby. And they all make your eyes glaze over when they start talking about markets and investing and retirement.

Given how confusing and daunting retirement savings can be (especially in the wake of a struggling economy) it’s no wonder there are so many gimmicks — not to mention so many mistakes made — in regard to 401(k) plans.

But neither companies nor individuals should let talk of tax codes and portfolios bully them into denying their employees a valuable benefit or opting for a retirement-savings-sized piggy bank instead of investing. To administer or participate in a plan successfully, all you have to do is avoid these common pitfalls:

Read the full entry

6 Things You Need to Know About Workers Compensation Insurance

workers compensationIf your small business is expanding to the point where you need to hire an employee, you’ll need to read up on federal and state laws regarding workers compensation insurance.

Workers compensation is an insurance program set up to provide workers who were injured on the job benefits to make up for lost wages while they’re out taking care of their injury. Read the full entry

5 Recent Laws Regarding Background Verification and Your Legal Protection

5 Recent Laws Regarding Background Verification and Your Legal ProtectionDuring the past decade, increasing numbers of employers have chosen to perform criminal and financial background checks on job applicants. Today, around 93% of employers conduct background checks on at least some job applicants, and 73% conduct background checks on all applicants. Nearly one-quarter of adults in the U.S. have criminal records, and sometimes people without criminal records are wrongly flagged due to mix-ups like having a similar name to that of a convicted criminal.
Read the full entry

Expert Advice on Marketing Tips for Lawyers

If you’ve ever watched “Judge Judy” or been channel surfing at 3 in the morning, chances are you’ve come across an ad or two for a local attorney.

You know what we mean. A guy in a suit, sporting  slicked-back-hair, stands in front of a wall of law books and promises to help you stick it to the man (“the man” being insurance companies, hospitals, your employer, your estranged spouse, etc.). Rather then compelling you to jot the firm’s phone number down, these awesomely bad ads just remind you about why lawyers have such a bad reputation to begin with.

Thankfully, cheap television ads aren’t the only — or even the best — ways for lawyers to find new clients. Read the full entry

What Is the Simplest Way to Incorporate?

You know you have to incorporate. What you’re not sure is exactly how to do it without investing a great deal of time and money.

Perhaps the main advantage to incorporating is that it limits your personal liability for negligence or breach of contract. If your business is incorporated and you maintain the documentation and separation of personal and corporate finances as you should, then you may significantly reduce your personal financial risk if you are sued for breach of contract or some other liability.

Here’s what you need to know about the simplest, easiest (and cheapest) ways to incorporate your new business, from least expensive to most expensive.



The DIY Approach to Incorporation

This method has the advantage of being the least expensive, but it also requires you to personally do the most work. You will have to…

  • Choose which state you want to incorporate in
  • Create and register a business name with that state
  • Determine for yourself which type of corporation you want your business to be
  • Register with the Internal Revenue Service as well as state and local revenue agencies in order to obtain a tax ID and all necessary permits and licenses
  • Complete the articles of incorporation documents yourself and file them with your state’s Secretary of State Office
  • Prepare your corporate bylaws, record minutes from your first Board of Directors’ meeting, and issue stock yourself

Incorporation Services

Incorporation services are able to explain the different types of corporations (such as LLCs, S-corporations, and C-corporations) to help you determine the best type of incorporation for your needs. These services generally offer affordable packages of services for small or mid-sized businesses to help them incorporate. Costs range from under $100 to near $1,000. Services performed by incorporation services include:

  • Name availability search
  • Preparation and filing of formation documents
  • Preparation and filing of your Tax ID number
  • Obtaining certified copies of state-filed documents
  • Creating LLC Announcements and certificates of publication
  • Preparing and filing state sales tax applications

Incorporating by Working with a Small Business Lawyer

Hiring a start-up or small business lawyer is the traditional method of incorporation, and it usually costs more than using an incorporation service. Your small business lawyer will register your business name, ensure that you have all necessary permits, and generally keep you on the right side of the law.

An advantage of incorporating with the help of a small business attorney would be his or her expertise about the law and your risks if your business is in a high-profile or high-risk industry. With businesses that have multiple founders, hiring a small business lawyer for incorporating is a good way of making sure that each of the founders has the appropriate agreements between himself or herself and the corporation.


Once you’ve determined that incorporation would benefit your business, using an incorporation service is something you should strongly consider. You will save money over the cost of hiring a small business lawyer, and you save time over doing the incorporation yourself.

Of course, there are exceptions. Someone with a business in an industry where liability can be high will probably find the greatest peace of mind by working with a small business lawyer, particularly one who is experienced in that industry. On the other hand, a business owner with a legal background may not find the do-it-yourself approach to be overwhelming at all.

For a large number of business owners, however, using an incorporation service provides the best combination of affordability and simplicity, so if you’re considering incorporating, you should definitely check out incorporation services and see if they’re a good choice for you.

Photo Credit: Victor1558

Do You Have the Start Up Passion for a New Business?

The thought of starting up a small business in today’s troubling economy could scare many people into submission.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), 7 out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years, half at least 5 years, a third at least 10 years, and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more.

In the event you’re not afraid to take a gamble and want to purse your small business dreams, there are a number of steps that should be undertaken in order to give you the best chance for success. Read the full entry