Tips for Starting a Business From Home

Posted by Samantha Miller on Oct 15, 2019 2:22:13 PM

start a business from homeMany successful businesses originally started out of a home office. Mary Kay and Apple are 2 well known companies that originally started inside a home office or garage. In recent years, starting a business from home has become a growing trend. Shows like "Shark Tank" have highlight individuals who start a businesses from home, but the show also highlights how important the correct planning actually is to gaining success.

Home businesses present plenty of benefits, but there are also pitfalls that can quickly turn a home business sour if not carefully avoided. We've collected 5 tips that will make starting your business from home a success!

  • Know Your Market. Researching and understanding the business industry you are attempting to enter is the first step to success. Your research phase will help you form your business to best suit you, your audience, and your financial means. Many businesses fail due to poor planning or a poor understanding of the desired market. Networking is another great way to do your research. Connect with business owners within your desired industry to gain a better understanding of what you will be facing when you start a business from home. 
  • Incorporate Your Business. Incorporating your business is a crucial part of achieving success. This process designates the business as a separate entity from yourself. Through incorporation, you designate your business as a corporation or an LLC, and you can protect your personal assets, increase tax savings, and start raise capital. 
  • Create a Business Plan. A business plan is a great way to gain an understanding of whether or not the business you have chosen will be successful. Follow a business plan outline and carefully work through each step. Creating this business plan before you start a business from home will help you better understand your business model, goals, and finances before a problem arises. 
  • Hire a Professional for Taxation & Business Regulations. Understand the taxation rules and self-employment regulations at both national and state levels. Seek out a professional accountant to gain a better understanding of what paperwork you need to file and how this potential business will affect your taxes and tax bracket. Being educated and informed is half the battle. 
  • Set Up The Space. When you decide to start a business from home you have to be ready to delegate a work space. A garage, a home office, or even a basement or attic, are perfectly acceptable spaces to start a business. Set up the area for business purposes and business purposes only. This space has to be able to accommodate the business you are planning, so be mindful of equipment and resource needs before deciding on a space.

Making the decision to start a business from home can be incredibly rewarding and lucrative, if planning has been thorough and complete. If you decide to start a business from home in 2013, we hope these tips will help you along the way! 

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Topics: Tips & Tricks, Start a Business From Home, Year End Business Reminders, end of year small business tips

Your Business License Questions Answered

Posted by American Ltd on Sep 17, 2019 10:55:50 AM

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kylesteeddesign/3When opening a small business, it’s important to research any business license and permit requirements that may apply to your industry. It does not matter if you're an LLC or Corporation not having proper licensure can be extremely detrimental to your business. It can cause unnecessary stress, confusion, and potential fines.

To help you avoid this and better understand the basics of business licenses, we’ve answered these 4 common questions. 

1. Why Do I Need a Business License?

Obtaining proper business licenses and permits ensures that your business is maintaining compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Keeping your business license up to date is just as important as paying your taxes and annual state fees.

When applying for a bank account, you will most likely be asked to present your business license. Your business license can also help you with business financing, and may make things smoother when filing your taxes.  

2. What Are the Different Types of Business Licenses?

Keep in mind that business license types and requirements can vary from federal, state, county, and city levels. The following are a few common types of business licenses and permits to help you gain a general understanding of what you may need.

Basic Business License: This is typically issued by the city or county in which you’ll be operating.

Health Department Permits: If you prepare, serve, or sell food products, this will most likely be required,

Sales Tax License: This license is typically required for the sales of products and services.

Zoning Permits: This permit states authority to use a certain area of land for a certain purpose.

Professional & Occupational Permits : These may be required for services that are regulated by the state. These services may include, but are not limited to:

Medical Services                Legal Services

Tax Servoces                    Real Estate Services

Be sure to review your state laws if you are in an industry that may require an occupational license.

Federal Permits: if your business involves any of the following, it is best to contact federal departments for specific requirements.

Alcohol, Tobacco, or Firearms  Ground Transportation

Drug Manufacturing                Broadcasting

This is a sample of industries that may require federal licensure. Please check with federal agencies for your specific requirements. 

3. Are There Penalties for Not Having a Business License?

If you do not obtain required business licenses and permits, you are highly jeopardizing the security of your company. Not having a business license can leave you legally vulnerable, result in high financial penalties, and in some cases may lead to imprisonment. Aside from this, it negatively impacts your credibility as a business owner and will cause long term negative effects for your business. 

4. How Do I Get a Business License?

Since business licenses are handled on many levels, we suggest doing research with your state to find out exactly what you may need. You may find that your local city hall, state’s government websites, or www.sba.gov are great resources.

Since researching all of the requirements on the Federal, State, Country, and City level can be a time consuming task. American Incorporators Ltd. offers a service that researchesdetails, and lists all of the licenses and permits you will need. The only thing you would need to do is answer a few quick questions about your business. If you’d like to learn more, visit our Business License page.

Having the proper business licenses and permits is just as important as incorporating your business. Do not leave this process out of your business plan. We hope that this eases your business license research process! If you have any questions, feel free to post below or contact one of our Incorporation Specialists by dialling 800.421.2661

For more information and answers to your 50 most common incorporation questions read our FREE eBook

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Topics: LLC Creation, Tips & Tricks, Corporation Creation, Business Maintenance, Business Licenses, Alabama

5 Tips on Naming a Business

Posted by American Ltd on Sep 12, 2019 2:25:23 PM

Today we're revisiting a helpful post, co-written with insight from Incorporating Specialist Curt Sweltz, a 15+ year contributor here at American Incorporators.

78375487Deciding on a business name will be one of the most exciting steps of your incorporation process. Your business name is going to be one of the largest parts of your brand's identity. You can get creative – but try to have the name maintain some relevance to your service or product. You’ll want the name to have a meaning to the customer. At the same time, don’t be too generic. If you use something like “National Service Co.,” chances are it will be less distinguishable from companies with similar names.

After you’ve ironed out the creative details, you’ll have to worry about state level issues. To make things easier, keep these tips in mind when naming a business:

  • Your name may be available in one state, but not another.

Corporations and LLCs are “state-level filings.” This means that if a name is available in Iowa, this does not mean it will be available in Kentucky. When a name is submitted to your chosen state of formation, the state checks it only against the incorporated and LLC names in their state records.

  • Create 2-3 Distinct options.

Adding “s,” “the,” “and,” or “&” is not enough to distinguish a name and will rarely change the acceptability of a name. For example, if a company is named “Frank’s Lawn Service LLC,” the state will most likely reject a request to form “Frank’s Lawn Service LLC.” 

  • An LLC may be able to have the same name as a Corporation.

While this is not the case in all states, California will allow an LLC to have the same name as a Corporation, even if they are not related. So, Joe Jacobs from Arkansas can form “ABC LLC” in California, and Amy Alan in Ohio can in incorporate “ABC Inc.” even though the companies have no relation.

  • Decide on a Corporate Ending.

This can be simple. Most states will require your business to have a “corporate ending.” Corporations can typically decide from Incorporated, Inc., Corporation, and Limited. LLCs can use LLC or Limited Liability Company. Keep in mind, these corporate endings do vary by state, and some states will offer more options.

  • Take advantage of your resources.

American Incorporators offers a free name search service in all 50 states. Checking the name before submitting your filing will save you time and money. 

So while it may seem like an easy step, naming a business can become complicated. Take a look at these articles with suggestions and stories about naming your business:

                8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business.

                Tips on Naming a Product 

Don’t forget, our free name search is always available. If you’d like to do more research, our State Specific Information Section also offers information on state requirements. Please post any questions or share some the business name blunders you’ve encountered!

 

Editor's Note: This post appeared previously on our blog.

Topics: Tips & Tricks, State Specific Information, Naming a Business

Incorporating or Forming an LLC for the First Time?

Posted by American Ltd on Jul 17, 2019 9:28:48 AM

Answers to Your Questions

Incorporating or forming an LLC for the first time American Incorporators Questions Answers business formation

The incorporation process can seem confusing and scary to a first time entrepreneur. What to name your venture, where to incorporate, and whether to form an LLC or corporation are just a few of the many questions that arise before you even begin the process. However, incorporating does not have to be intimidating. 

In reality, assuming you have taken the time to consider and evaluate all of your options, it should be a relatively quick and painless process. On the other hand, putting off this process can have dire consequences; from making it hard to open a bank account, to leaving your personal assets open to a liability suit, to limiting your access to investors. So don’t delay – please continue reading to find out how easy and painless the process can be!

Choosing a Name:

There are numerous places to learn about naming your entity – with everything from name reservations to trademark searches.  Read more about the process: 5 Tips on Naming a Business

LLC or Corporation?:

Likewise there are numerous sites and articles devoted to explaining the differences between LLCs and Corporations: Comparing Entities 

If you have further questions about which entity type is best for your venture we encourage you to consult an attorney or accountant.

Where Do I Incorporate?:

Similarly there are many factors that go into determining if you should form your company in your home state or in one of the so called “special formation stated” like Delaware where pro-business courts and practices attract thousands of new businesses annually. For information on what makes Delaware distinctive please read: Where Do I Incorporate?

 

This article is designed to de-mystify the actual company formation process once all of the above decisions have been made. Once you know where you want to form, what you want to form, and what you want to call your company, you are ready to start the process. In order to do this you have three main options – enlist the help of a professional accountant or lawyer, use a company formation service company or file directly on your own. There are clear advantages and disadvantages to each approach, but we will focus on the advantages of using a formation service company like American Incorporators Ltd. As a service company with extensive relationships in all 50 states, American Incorporators is able to form your company quickly and inexpensively (using a lawyer or accountant will often cost a lot more money, while doing it yourself will tend to take a lot longer).

What You Need to Do:

All you will need to do is answer a few questions related to the nature of your business. Requirements vary slightly depending on the jurisdiction (state) where you are forming, but in general you will need to know the names of your members or directors, your business address and purpose, how many shares of stock you want to issue (only for corporations), and who you want to appoint as registered agents (this can almost always be provided by the person or company forming the company for you).

A corporate service provider like American Incorporators will prepare all of the necessary paperwork, file it with the relevant state authorities and follow up to make sure your business is properly recorded. Depending on the state (and the amount you are willing to spend for expediting in certain jurisdictions) this process can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks. In most instances you will have your paperwork back and your company officially listed within a week. Once completed, you will receive a filed certificate of incorporation (or formation) that you can use to prove you are a legitimately established business. Other steps that should be taken at this stage include obtaining and Employer Identification Number (the business equivalent of a Social Security Number) and creating your operating agreement.

Your EIN allows you to hire and pay employees and is usually needed to open a bank account. The operating agreement sets the by-laws for how your entity will be run and helps you to begin the process of establishing the corporate veil that protects your assets. For more explanation on what that means please see: What is the Corporate Veil and How Can it be Protected?

Corporate service providers like American Incorporators regularly obtain EINs for their clients as part of the formation process – saving you valuable time and energy. They also can provide Corporate Kits which will include templates for Operating Agreements and many other important documents you may need in your business life.

incorporate answers first time business formation American Incorporators

Once you have all of these documents back you are ready to begin your official business life – working with clients and other businesses, reaching out to potential investors and realizing your entrepreneurial dreams! And in most cases it can be completed in a very short time for a very reasonable amount of money! So don’t hesitate to take this important step to get on your way, incorporate today

 

Find the answers to all of your major incorporation questions in our new eBook

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Topics: incorporation process, how to start a business, forming a business, easy incorporation, create a corporation

Separating Your Company Assets

Posted by American Ltd on Jun 26, 2019 11:02:00 AM

Bank Accounts and EIN's 

running a business bank accountOpening a business bank account is one of the first major steps in running your company successfully. By establishing a business bank account you can legally separate your personal and company assets and keep track of income and expenses. You will need to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to open a bank account.

 

 

How Do I Open a Bank Account? 

It is best to speak with your personal bank to be sure that you meet all of their individual terms and policies, but in general you will need to provide the bank with the company's Certificate of Incorporation or Formation, its EIN, a copy of the by-laws or operating agreement, and copies of any necessary business licenses.

What is an EIN?

An EIN represents an entity's registration with the IRS. Although you are not required to obtain an EIN for your business, you will need one if you want to open a bank account for your company and to file your annual tax return.  Sole proprietors use their Social Security Number for these purposes, but do not posses the same liability protection provided by LLCs and Corporations.  International clients who form US companies but do not have any US income and have no need for a US bank account do not need to obtain an EIN. We highly recommend all other individuals obtain an EIN when they form their business. American Incorporators can help by preparing the EIN application for your company or by obtaining the number from the IRS for you here.

 

Find the answers to all of your major incorporation questions in our new eBook

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4 Small Business Website Tips

Posted by Samantha Miller on May 14, 2019 10:24:10 AM

small business website

If online advertising is a part of your small business plan, you may also want to consider building a website that will delivers what your clients need. With the continuously growing availability of website creators, you are now able to create a website that will compare to even your biggest competitor. While creating your website, it is important to consistently keep your customer in mind, while making sure you deliver a clear message and serve a clear purpose. To help you get started, keep these 4 factors in mind while building your small business website.

Display Your Contact Info

One of the most important aspects of your website is displaying your contact information. Make sure that at least one form of communication is visible on every page. Your homepage should highlight these forms of communication and you may even want to consider using a chat to answer client’s quick questions. Also be sure to include links to your social media on all pages.

Update Your Content

Make sure that any content you have on your website is up to date. This includes descriptions, fees, requirements, and anything pertinent to order placement. Having accurate content allows your customers to obtain a clear understanding of what to expect when using your services.

Including educational content regarding your industry is also a great way to gain visitors. An easy way to provide educational content is by creating a blog. If you don’t have time to write your own content, try a content service provider like Zerys.

Adapt For Mobile Optimization

Make sure that your website can be viewed on smart phones and tablets. Many people do plenty of research and shopping via these devices. If your website is not optimized for mobile viewing, a potential customer may leave, causing the loss of a sale. Mashable has provided a great article detailing the importance of mobile optimization that you can view here

Collect Visitor Information

One great way to collect potential lead contact information is by offering a weekly or month newsletter. This gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with potential clients without being to forward with a sales pitch. You can include new products, price changes, employee updates, or industry news. Always include the option for the clients to opt out of these emails.

Another option is having a landing page offering the chance to download a whitepaper or an eBook. Collecting their email allows you to track why they came to your website and helps you set up a sales funnel to follow up on their decision or purchase.

We hope that these 4 tips make your small business website design a little bit easier. If you need help finding resources, take a look at our Small Business Resource Center. Inside, you’ll find companies that we trust to help small business and entrepreneurs succeed.

Topics: Business Maintenance, Start a Business From Home, Marketing

What to Do After Incorporation

Posted by American Ltd on May 13, 2019 11:10:00 AM

Corporate Requirements After Incorporation

An important first step after receiving your company's incorporation documents is to hold an initial meeting to appoint officer and directors, as well as to issue shares of stock.

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Directors typically operate as part of a Board, making up the governing body elected by shareholders. They are responsible for the management of a corporation's business and affairs. Officers consist of roles such as President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. They are responsible for carrying out the Board's policies and for making day-to-day decisions. Shareholders are included in annual meetings and must approve any major company decisions, such as issuing loans, purchasing real estate, and issuing additional shares.

It is important to hold annual meetings with shareholders and maintain minutes of those meetings. In general, maintaining a thorough corporate record means recording all meeting minutes, using a share ledger, and saving copies of all filed documents (formation, amendments, annual reports, etc.).  Make sure to maintain good standing with your state and registered agent by filing all annual reports and paying necessary taxes and fees on time. 

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Top 3 Reasons to Incorporate Now

Posted by American Ltd on May 6, 2019 1:52:00 PM

How Will Incorporating Benefit You?

incorporate now questions advice

There are many benefits to incorporating. In order to determine whether or not incorporating is the best option for you and your business entity we advise that you consult a trusted accountant or attorney for financial and legal advice.  Incorporating can be a big milestone in the life of your business and American Incorporators can help every step of the way!

These are our top three reasons for incorporating:

1) It offers liability protection

By forming an LLC or Corporation you create a barrier between your personal assets and your company assets, should your company every be sued. In this case you can protect your personal assets from being seized.  

 

2) It lends a sense of legitimacy

Forming a legal business entity also lends a sense of legitimacy to your venture.  This can help attract investors, clients, and vendors.  People tend to have more faith in a company with Inc. or LLC at the end of its name.

 

3) It allows for longevity

If the initial owner dies, the business entity continues and shares can be passed on to others. Or if the owner wants to sell his or her shares in a company it is much easier to do if a legal entity has been formed. 

 

 

Find more answers to the top 50 questions about incorporating in our newly published eBook!

 

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Who's Running Your Company?

Posted by American Ltd on Apr 22, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Member-Managed or Manager-Managed? What's the Difference?member-manager manager-managed llc questions and definitions

A Member-Managed and a Manager-Managed LLC differ in the way that the company is run.

A member-managed structure is the most common approach. This approach is recommended for companies where the members plan to have an active role in the daily activity of the company. This grants the members authority to act on behalf of the business.

In a manager-managed LLC, the members act more like silent partners and leave the day-to-day management of the company to a member-appointed manager. This operating structure is applicable only if a single member will be involved in running the company - the manager appointed can be a member.

Whichever managing approach the LLC chooses for its operation, it is important that the agreed upon rules and processes are clearly outlined in the company's operating agreement. 

What if I need to change my directors or members? It is a simple internal process to change a director or member. The company would need to have a meeting to pass a resolution indicating the new members or directors. Meeting minutes would be kept to record this transaction of resolution being signed by the current directors or members. It is also allowable, although generally not required, to file an amendment with the state naming the new directors or members. This allows for more formal documentation since the amendment would become part of the company's public record. 

 

Find the answers to all of your major incorporation questions in our new eBook
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Why Do I need a Registered Agent & Address?

Posted by American Ltd on Apr 5, 2019 10:55:00 AM

The Importance of Having a Registered Agent and Address 

76132042The first and most important reason that your business needs a registered agent and registered address is that it is required by law.  The state in which you choose to incorporate your business in will not approve the initial incorporation/ formation certificate without providing a valid registered agent and registered address.  

The registered agent and address must be located in the state of incorporation or formation and must be a physical street address.  The registered address cannot be a post office box.  The primary responsibility of the registered agent and registered address is to accept all annual report and tax notices from the state and to accept any Service of Process on behalf of the company in the event of a lawsuit.  The registered agent must be available during normal business hours Monday – Friday to accept any Service of Process on behalf of the company.  If your corporation or LLC fails to maintain a registered agent and registered address, the state may declare the company void for noncompliance.  If a corporation or LLC is declared void or noncompliant by the state, it may lose all of the liability protections provided as an incorporated entity.

Need a registered agent and address? We can help! Click Here

 

Topics: Registered Agent, how to start a business, registered agent Delaware