Your Business License Questions Answered

Posted by Samantha Miller on May 17, 2013 3:42:00 PM opening a small business, it’s important to research any business license and permit requirements that may apply to your industry. 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 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 are great resources.

As you can see, knowing exactly what business licenses and permits you may need can be difficult. American Incorproators Ltd. offers a service that researches, details, 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 section.

Having the proper business licenses and permits is just as important as being incorporated. 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 dialing 800.421.2661. 

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

7 Small Business Trade Show Marketing Tips

Posted by Samantha Miller on Apr 19, 2013 2:47:00 PM

7845446886 4e1d7d825f z resized 600Trade shows are rebounding as industry networking events that help promote brands and products. They can be valuable experiences for meeting new clients, as well as developing market positioning and learning about other dealers within your industry. While the key to effective trade show marketing is presenting an attractive booth represented by friendly communicators, budget concerns and planning should also be taken into account. To help you get the most out of your trade show marketing, we’ve compiled 7 key things to remember while planning:


  1. Plan Far in Advance

    Research upcoming trade shows you would like to attend in the next year. Since booth space is usually limited, try to secure the best possible booth location as early as possible. Locations near the front of the hall, corners, food vendors, and restrooms will help give your booth high visibility. In the event you cannot afford a booth, you can still attend trade shows to network and market your business.
  2. Distribute a Press Release

    One of the best ways to get attention from media, potential clients and other trade show attendees is to send press releases about your booth in advance. Postcards also make excellent vehicles for press releases because they can be read quickly and stored easily. PRWeb  is a great resource for creating, distributing, and tracking press releases.
  3. Create Marketing Materials

    Prepare and order handouts that attendees can take home well in advance. Keep your trade show marketing messages simple and be sure to include contact information. Business cards and flyers are low cost, yet effective marketing tools. Try to make your business cards stand out in some way, so that they don’t get lost in a pile. Get inspired by this article featuring creative, intelligent business cards.
  4. Invest in Portable Exhibits 

    Keep exhibits as small and as portable as possible without sacrificing appearance. Some of the most affordable yet presentable booths are lightweight and can fold into shippable tabletop units.
  5. Design Attractive Signage

    Create an eye-catching banner of your logo to display at the top of the booth. Use another sign that summarizes your mission or positioning statement in six words or less. Messages will be most memorable if they are quick and easy to read. Skyline Exhibits is one resource that can help with both signage and exhibits, and also offer frequent webinars for trade show education.
  6. Practice Presentation

    The most important aspect of any trade show presentation is more about the presenter than the booth. Aim to send outgoing representatives with adequate product knowledge that can capture and engage your prospects. If part of your goal is to book sales, keep in mind that you will probably want to send someone with sufficient sales experience.
  7. Follow Up

    Collect as many business cards and details as possible at the event so that you can follow up with potential clients and resources. An app like Card Munch can help organize these cards without the mess. Taking notes on relevant trade show contacts can help accelerate the process of developing relationships and meeting individual needs in the future.  Keep in mind that email may be a way to save time, but calling individuals on the phone will likely have a more dramatic impact on sales or building relationships. 

Good luck and we hope that you’ll find these tips useful at your next trade show. Remember to review the trade show and see if it was worth your investment before considering reserving a spot for the next year. If you’re interested in reading more about trade show strategies and the best ways to follow up, take a glance at these articles:

 If you have any strategies that you’ve found to be successful, please share them below! 

Topics: Tips & Tricks, Corporations, Trade Shows

Announcing Our New Online Client Dashboard!

Posted by Samantha Miller on Apr 12, 2013 3:43:00 PM

Our New Online Client Dashboard is Live!

Click Here to Login!


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We are excited to announce our new Online Client Dashboard! This new feature will make it easier to maintain your business records. Inside, you’ll have convenient and immediate access to:

-   Company Profiles
-   Billing Notifications
-   Annual Report Reminders
-   Business Compliance Steps
-   New Order Placement

-   Corporate Records
-   Payment History
-   Online Payment Options
-   Live Help Chat
-   …and more.

If you are a client, you should have received an email including your login username and password. If you did not receive this email, please visit the live chat on our website or call 800.421.2661 to receive your credentials!

We look forward to hearing your feedback and hope that this helps maintaining your business much easier!

Topics: Tips & Tricks

7 Useful Apps For Small Business Owners

Posted by Samantha Miller on Mar 25, 2013 5:02:00 PM today's dynamic business environment, it is important for your small business to be on the cutting-edge of technology both in the office and on the go.  Having office capabilities and access to your small business information is now becoming available anywhere you are thanks to mobile apps. Take a look at these 7 useful apps for small business owners: 

  • Square Register: Square Register allows you to accept payments from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, anywhere you are, by plugging a compact card swipe machine into to your mobile device.  A 2.75% fee is charged per transaction. There are no contracts or monthly fees and funds will be deposited to your linked bank account within a few days.
  • Quickbooks: This mobile app allows you to have access to and manage customer invoices, monitor payments, while tracking and creating sales receipts, all from the comfort of your phone or tablet.
  • Pageonce: Pageonce allows you to see an overview of all of your business's bank accounts, bills, and credit cards on one user-friendly mobile interface. You can see more details about bill due dates, account transactions, and can even pay your business's bills with this app.
  • Dropbox: This app is essential for all of your documents, presentations, and files.  Store important business files "in the cloud" so that no matter where you are, you can access them.
  • Elance: When you're running a small business, your manpower can be sometimes limited and the knowledge base of you and your employees may be concentrated on your business goals.  As you decide that you need someone with marketing experience to help with the launch of a new product, hop on Elance mobile and put an ad out or contact for a job seeker for freelance work.  Find programmers, mobile developers, designers, writers, and more. 
  • Salesforce: This app is perfect for keeping your customer's contact information, correspondence, files, and sales efforts at your fingertips.  Whether you’re at the airport, waiting for a haircut, or lying on the beach in the Bahamas, you can easily access information on your customers.
  • Zendesk: Zendesk is a customer service app that allows you to create, organize, and complete customer service related queries. If you get a call from a customer with an issue, you can create a ticket to monitor and track the issue from the time its received it to its final correction.  This app will help you see all your customer's outstanding issues and prioritize and work through them as quickly as possible

Topics: Tips & Tricks, Start a Business From Home

How To Set Up Payroll For A Small Business

Posted by Samantha Miller on Mar 13, 2013 10:22:00 AM

dreamstimefree 155115Setting up payroll for your small business doesn't have to be a daunting task.  You'll find that here are many benefits to establishing a payroll system.  In addition to saving you time, it can keep you from incurring any IRS penalties.  We’ve outlined these seven steps to help you set up your small business payroll system in no time.  

  1. Obtain an EIN. You must make sure that you have an Employer Identification Number, or an EIN. This number is used when you report employee information or taxes and other documents to the IRS. If you have not obtained an EIN, you can click here for more information. 
  2. Check State & Local ID Requirements. Different state and local government agencies require a business to also get an ID number so they can process local taxes.  Check with your state or local government agency.
  3. Fill Out the Proper Forms. Have your new employees fill out W-4 forms (Federal Income Tax Withholding form).  Once your employee completes the form, these forms will allow you to withhold the right amount of taxes from the employee's pay.  You also want to be sure to withhold the right amount of taxes depending on if the employee is an independent contractor or an employee. provides an easy-to-understand distinction between the two.
  4. Decide on a Pay Period. Some states predetermine employer pay periods, so be sure to review your local regulations.
  5. Maintain Careful Documentation. This includes compensation, paid time off, overtime pay as well as health plan premiums, retirement and any other contributions.
  6. Choose a Payroll System. You can choose to run payroll in house or use an outsource service . If you’re considering in-house payroll, you can find software to maintain your payroll. Keep in mind that in-house payroll can be time consuming, and if you do not pay close attention to detail, you may face penalties as a result of small mistakes. Outsourcing your payroll can also save you time. Using an experienced accountant or payroll service provider may save you time and money in the long run. Don’t forget to consult within your network – ask other small business owners how they’ve handled their payroll to gain a better understanding of your options.
  7. Preserve Well Kept Records. Make sure you’re aware of proper record keeping techniques.  You must keep W-4s on file for every active employee. After an employee is no longer working for you, you are still required to keep copies of their forms for an additional three years thereafter.  

With a little research and simple organization, you will have your small business payroll set up and running.  Review your options and understand what will work best for you. Don’t forget to network with your peers to gain a better understanding of the best options for people in your industry. Remember to follow all IRS and/or local government instructions carefully; when in doubt, ask a professional accountant for advice. 

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

How To Find Your First Employee

Posted by Samantha Miller on Feb 22, 2013 3:04:00 PM small business owners like you, trying to find your first employee can be a challange. When hiring employees, small business owners must ensure that they are meeting their tax and legal obligations, and you must also make sure that you are hiring the "right" candidates for the job. In order to most successfully hire your first employees, we’ve outlined 8 key steps to finding the perfect fit.

  • Obtain an EIN or an Employer Identification Number if one has not already been assigned to the company. 
  • Open bank accounts in your company's name if one does not already exist. Employees' pay should be taken from these accounts.
  • Obtain copies of all of the documents necessary to report the new hire to the government and to operate the business legally. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has published a description of all of these forms on its website.
  • Create a job description. The job description should be accurate and understandable, and it should include an overview of both the company and the position (i.e., tasks involved, qualifications, salary range, etc.). More tips for writing effective job descriptions can be found online via and the Small Business Administration’s website.
  • Publish the job description. You have many outlets to find your perfect fit. Try publishing the description on your company's website, on job-search websites, social media sites, and even in the newspaper. Here's a great article outlining 10 places for you to start your search. The open position can also be promoted by recruiting firms, or presented at career fairs. Make sure it is visible to the best potential candidates for the job itself.
  • Create a list of questions to ask prospective job candidates. For ideas, check out's list of 100 potential interview questions.
  • Conduct the interviews. Make sure to include company and job-specific questions, and always be cognizant of the "7 C's."
  • After conducting interviews, select the best candidate for the job and extend an offer.
  • Start working!

By following the steps described above, you can be sure that you’re meeting all of your obligations and that you’re hiring the best possible candidates for your jobs - the first time and every time!

Topics: Tips & Tricks, Corporation Creation, Start a Business From Home

New Year's Resolutions For Small Business Owners : A 2013 Checklist

Posted by Samantha Miller on Jan 2, 2013 3:28:00 PM

There are only 4 days left in 2012 and this means that it’s time to start thinking about the sometimes dreaded New Year’s Resolution.  Chances are you’ve been reviewing your past year - deciding what worked, what didn’t, and what to do in 2013. Since this can be a hectic time for many businesses, we’ve created a checklist of 4 Key New Year’s Resolutions For Small Business Owners.

Small Business New Year's Resolutions

Protect Your Assets.

  • Form  a Corporation or a Limited Liability Company. If you have not done this already, you should form a Corporation or a Limited Liability Company in order to gain protection. In doing this, you’ll separate your personal assets from the assets of your company, leaving you less vulnerable to personal damage in the event of a lawsuit.

  • Review Annual State Requirements. Most states require Corporations and LLCs to file an Annual Report or pay an annual fee. These requirements do vary by state, so it’s best that you review your state’s specifications. You can find the requirements on most Secretary of State Division of Corporation websites and can also review our State Specific Information section. Take note of due dates and schedule reminders for filing and payment deadlines.

  • Maintain an active Registered Agent. You’ll also find that your state of incorporation or formation requires you to maintain an active Registered Agent. To review the duties of a Registered Agent, you can take a look at our previous blog article.

  • Obtain or update all required business licenses. Business licenses are handled at state and county levels. If you need help obtaining a business license, you can visit our Business License section. If you have already obtained a business license, check the expiration date and arrange for any necessary renewals.

Update Your Website.

  • Do a Review. Check pricing, contact information, and general content for accuracy. If you have changed your phone number or email address, it’s crucial to provide this updated information. Your website is the main way your clients will contact you and you wouldn’t want your clients being lead to a dead end. If you provide time sensitive information, make sure you have someone consistently updating the content.

  • Update design for a better user experience. Outdated web design can be a turn off for many potential clients. Make sure that your site is easily navigable and provides a friendly, easy experience for both current and potential clients.

  • Include links to your social media pages. Make sure that you’re linking to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts. These are great ways to expand your online presence and attract new clients. You’ll find the guidelines for adding buttons on the social media form’s website. For example, take a look at Twitter.

  • Provide relevant educational information. This can be displayed on your blog or frequently asked question section. Any educational information is a great takeaway for your clients and it is something that they’re inclined to pass on to other people. This is a great way to start having the web link back to your site.

  • Check for mobile viewing optimization. You’ll find that many people are probably viewing your website from their cell phone, or other mobile viewing device. Make sure your site is still easily navigated, even in the mobile view.

Introduce Something New.

  • Create Social Media accounts. Create a Facebook page, Twitter Account, and LinkedIn page for your business to get started. These are great outlets to find new customers, announce promotions, and stay in touch with your audience. You’ll find many other social media outlets out there, including Pinterest, which is great for retail based businesses.

  • Start a Blog. Starting a blog can help your organic search engine optimization. This will help drive traffic to your website, and it is also a great way to provide your clients with resourceful, educational information.

  • Offer Coupons or Deals. This can be done through new platforms such as QR Codes linking to social media, or can be done in more traditional format, such as postal mail. Either way, a coupon or deal is a great way to ramp up visits to your website and increase revenue.

Expand Your Network.

  • Join LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social network for business professionals. This is a great way for you to connect with industry professionals and spread the word about your business and services. LinkedIn recently introduced company pages, where you can list your products or services and share your company background. You can also help answer questions in group discussion boards and find local networking events in your area.

  • Attend networking events. Your social network should extend beyond your social media websites. Take time to find local events where you can share your knowledge and make connections. 

We hope that these resolutions can alleviate some stress from your new year! If you have any questions or needs to check that you've completed your annual requirements, please contact our office. 

You can download the Checklist for free below to help keep you on track in 2013!



New Year's Resolutions For Small Business Owners




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

5 Tips For Raising Capital With Stocks

Posted by Samantha Miller on Oct 12, 2012 11:31:00 AM

As we’ve mentioned in past posts, you have a number of options when it comes to finding resources to jumpstart or expand your business. Today, we’re going to highlight one common way of raising capital for your business – issuing stock.  If you incorporate your business as a Corporation, you are able to issue to stock. Limited Liability Companies, also known as LLCs, do not issue stock. For a detailed comparison of business entity types, review our comparison chart. is typically issued by share. When you incorporate, you designate an initial number of shares that can be issued at a certain par value. You can then issue these shares to investors in order to raise capital to start or expand your business.

In order to help you understand some of the basic information regarding raising capital with stocks, we’ve answered 5 of our most frequently asked questions below.

  1. What is stock? Stock represents ownership in a corporation. It can be represented by a certificate and can be common or preferred, voting or non-voting, redeemable, or convertible. The classifications and special designations, if any, of the stock are set forth in the articles of incorporation.
  2. Who is a stockholder? Stockholders may also be referred to as shareholders. Stockholders are the owners of a corporation based on their holdings of share. They own an interest in the corporation rather than specific corporate property.
  3. What is par value? Par value is the minimum price of a share below which the share cannot be issued. The par value is designated in the Articles of Incorporation of your business. 
  4. What is the required minimum number of shares? The minimum number of shares required to be issued by a corporation varies by state.  After reviewing state regulations, you can decide the minimum number of shares you’ll be issuing for your corporation.
  5. What is a stock purchase agreement? A stock purchase agreement is an agreement between the shareholders and the corporation. It provides a mechanism to regulate the transfer and sale of corporate stock. Often, a stock purchase agreement will provide a right of first refusal in favor of the corporation or remaining shareholders in the event of a proposed sale of stock by a shareholder. A stock purchase agreement can also provide for a purchase upon the death, disability, retirement, discharge, resignation, or bankruptcy of a shareholder.

If you are interested in learning more terms involved with issuing stocks, you can visit our Terms & Definitions page. Here, you’ll find an alphabetical list of terms that will help you maintain your business. 

Our Free Raising Capital With Stock eBook also answers stock questions in detail and includes a list of commonly used terms. 

 Raise Capital With Stock

Topics: Tips & Tricks, Investment, Stocks

How Do You Change Your Corporate Name?

Posted by Samantha Miller on Sep 26, 2012 4:17:00 PM

During the course of your business, you may want to make changes to your corporation or limited liability company that will be legally recognized. One common question our Incorporation Specialists encounter is, “How do you change your corporate name?” In order to formally do so, you would need to file and “amendment” with your company’s state of incorporation or formation.

amend resized 600An amendment to your corporation or limited liability company is a formal filing with your state of registration that officially changes the details of your business structure. The 3 most common types of amendments that are filed are :

  1. Name Change Amendments. You can elect to “amend” or change the name of your corporation or limited liability company for any reason. Once you’ve filed the amendment with the appropriate state, your new company name will be legally recognized.
  2. Stock Change Amendments. You may have incorporated your company with the intentions of issuing stock to raise additional capital and expanding your corporation. If you have issued all of your stock and need to increase the number of authorized shares, you can legally do so by filing a Stock Change Amendment.
  3. Change in Directors or Members. It is not rare for the members or directors of businesses to change throughout time. When one of your members or directors listed on the Articles of Incorporation leave the organization or a new member or director needs to be added, you can formally note these changes by filing an amendment.

As with all corporate filings, regulations regarding amendment filings will vary from state to state. After you’ve filed your amendment, you’ll receive your Certificate of Amendment that legally recognizes the changes you’ve made. Keep in mind that filing an amendment does not change your Federal Tax ID (EIN) because your company is still technically the same legal entity. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does require that you notify them of any amendments you’ve made.

If you have any questions about amending your corporation or limited liability company, let us know! You can also find state regulations in our State Information Center.

We’d also like to announce that we’ve recently launched our Small Business Resource Center! Inside, you’ll find trusted partners and resources that will help you maintain and expand your business. We want to continue to help you, so please let us know of any services you’d like to be added. 

Topics: Tips & Tricks, Amendments, Making Changes

Where Do I Incorporate?

Posted by Samantha Miller on Aug 3, 2012 5:17:00 PM


“Where do I incorporate?” is a question that our incorporation specialists answer on a daily basis – and it’s a very good question to ask.

88583312 (1)The fastest answer is “it depends.” When you’re deciding to incorporate your business, there are many things for you to consider. We’ve compiled these 3 important questions for you to ask yourself when deciding what state is best for incorporating your business.

  • Where will you be conducting business?

We recommend incorporating your business in the state where you will be handling the majority of your business transactions. For example, if you live in Connecticut and will be conducting your business primarily in Connecticut, we would suggest Connecticut as your state of incorporation. Keep in mind that this is not a requirement, but is highly recommended to avoid any possible complications.

  • Where do you plan on opening your business bank account?

Some banks may require that your business be incorporated or qualified (defined here)  in that bank’s state. So, if you’ve incorporated your business in Texas, but you try to open the bank account in Oklahoma, your bank may deny your request to open a business bank account. This is not always the case. It is best to review this with your bank of choice prior to incorporation. Try asking them if they require you to be incorporated or formed in that state in order to open a bank account.

  • Are you familiar with the desired state of incorporation’s annual compliance requirements?

Nearly every state requires corporation and LLCs to pay a variation of an annual fee in order to keep your company in good standing. The name of this fee varies by state, but may be referred to as “Annual Report,” “Franchise Tax,” or “Annual Registration.” The following components of the annual compliance may vary as follows:

Price. Some states have annual fees as low as $9, while others can reach upwards of $500.

Due Date. Certain states only require you to file once every 2 years, while others require a yearly filing. You’ll find that the actual due date can vary from a specific date or month, to simply the anniversary of the company’s incorporation.

Filing Options. Many states are offering online filing options, but some states still require reports to be sent in through mail.

Our State Specific Information section is a great resource to find thorough information regarding incorporation requirements and annual report information. If you do your research and ask the necessary questions, you’ll successfully incorporate your business in your state of choice. These inspirational articles are great examples of entrepreneurial success across the nation:

John Pepper’s Boston Burrito Empire

Chicago Cupcake Makeover Success

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions or share your incorporation success story!

Topics: LLC Creation, Tips & Tricks, Corporation Creation, State Specific Information