Small Business

Business Tax Checklist

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Meet with your bookkeeper. Making sure your books are correct is the most important thing you can do before tax season starts. The sooner you can meet with your bookkeeper, the sooner you can solve any potential errors that may exist in the books. Take the time to go through your financial statements with them. Feeling confident about the financial standing of your business will take some of the pressure off during the tax season.

Organize your bank statements. Start early by having these documents on-hand and organized. A tax preparer may request your statements to ensure that all of your business expenses and income are reflected properly in the bookkeeping. Being prepared beforehand will also save you time in the event that your books need to be altered.

Figure out which form is right for you. Knowing which tax forms are specific to your entity will help you know what type of information you will need to have handy for your tax preparer.

 

Here are some organizational resources:

S-Corporation Organizer

Partnership/Multi-Member LLC Organizer

C-Corporation Organizer

Sole Proprietor/Single-Member LLC

Individual Organizer

 

Filling out these documents and having the associated documentation before meeting with your tax preparer will expedite the process. The process can be completed twice as fast if you sign up with Bookly for their bookkeeping and tax preparation services.

Know the important deadlines. Knowing your tax deadline will help you know how much time you have before you get slapped with a penalty. Your deadline will depend on your entity type:

 

Entity

Original Due Date

Partnerships, S Corporations, and LLC’s

March 15, 2018

C Corporations and Individuals (Includes Single Member LLC or Sole Proprietorships)

April 17, 2018

Exempt Organizations*

May 15, 2018

You will also want to keep in mind the due date for employee W-2 and Contract Labor 1099’s: January 31st, 2018

Schedule an early appointment with your tax preparer. This single action will put you far ahead of most. Bring all your necessary documents to this meeting, including your financial statements. Your tax preparer should be able to tell you what information may be missing. When you return for your actual tax consultation you will be fully confident that you have all the necessary documentation. Try to schedule this appointment as soon as you can into the new year. This will give you more time to prepare and will allow you a better chance to meet with your tax advisor before they get sucked into the tax season.


Shayler Stagg manages the books for 45 small businesses from various industries at Bookly.co, is an avid reader of Greek philosophers, and is a huge Metallica fan. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

The Pros and Cons of Accepting Money From Angel Investors

Angel Investors

Last year, we shared a post about the difference between venture capitalists and angel investors and what both parties can do to benefit small businesses in need of funding. For a fledgling startup, it might initially seem as though there are only upsides to getting investors interested in your business — after all, it’s extra money that you could really use! However, there are still a few areas of the process to watch out before saying yes to the investment. Here’s a shortlist of the pros and cons to keep in mind when getting started.

Pro: You’ll have more money

Let’s bring everyone up to speed on what it is an angel investor does first. Angel investors take their existing wealth and invest a chunk of it into your business. In return, they only request a piece of equity in your startup. These investors are all around us — doctors, lawyers, and even existing entrepreneurs can all be considered angel investors. However, unlike venture capitalists, they don’t have millions to financially cushion your company with. A typical angel investment varies at $25,000 to $100,000 per startup.

If an angel investor believes in your business and its offerings, they’re willing to take a leap of faith for you and invest in it. Now, you’ll have more money to put towards your company and various initiatives to help it grow like hiring new employees. This type of money is not a loan, so you’ll never have to worry about repaying it back, but before anyone invests…

Pro: Attracting angel investors means you’ve (probably) got a great idea

Angel investors are naturally drawn to entrepreneurs that are passionate about their companies, but even more so to the ones that understand how it can succeed over time. Before they invest, they will want to see your business plan to make sure you’re on the right track. (After all, once they put some capital into it, this is a track they’ll be on too!) Here’s your chance to draft up a business plan, elevator pitch, and executive summary that views your business and how it fits into the market as critically and objectively as possible.

Con: The business will no longer be 100% yours

For some entrepreneurs, this might not even be much of a con. If you don’t mind having others take charge, stepping back to allow an angel investor to step up and take control isn’t an issue. Other small business owners might not be so on board with having an outside party take over though. As advised by QuickBooks, if you’re not ready to let go try to find an angel investor you know or who understands your business first. Talk to them about the process and ask any questions you may have before investing. This will give you a chance to find out if you’re okay with having someone else run the startup too or if it’s a better idea for you to keep your freedom as a solopreneur.

Con: You might wind up having less money

Remember when I said earlier that all angel investors want in return for investing their capital in your business is a piece of equity? Because your startup is so new to the world, the risk of success and/or failure is higher, leading to investors taking a bigger slice in the pie. These equity percentages can start at 10% or more — and that’s a lot for a new company! Be sure to discuss in advance the expectations that angel investors have with your business and whether or not you’ll be able to meet them at what they’re looking for.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

3 Things Small Businesses Should Look For in Partnerships 

business partnerships

When one small business partners up with another business, it’s typically a win-win for customers. Two of their favorite brands are joining forces to bring them more of the products and services that they crave in a natural collaboration. However, it’s just as important that while the partnership provides customers with what they want, both businesses involved are building a strong rapport together and have an understanding about each of their roles. Whether you’ve partnered with another company before or this is your first time doing so, here’s what you need to consider before getting started.

What are your shared interests?

Spotify and Starbucks, Apple and IBM, H&M and fashion houses like Alexander Wang and Balmain. No great brand partnership happens on accident, but rather they serve as strategic building blocks to help take each respective business further.

When determining who your partner should be, look for the shared interests and values. If both companies are similarly aligned, there’s a good chance there will be potential for customer overlap with an audience that knows (and loves) what both of these businesses are offering.

An outline of expectations and obligations

What am I supposed to do in this partnership, anyway? In order to get on the same page, it’s a good idea to have a strong, written agreement in place that outlines the expectations and obligations of the collaboration. Otherwise, instead of both parties working together you could be stuck with one party basically asking for the other’s customer list — and that kills the point of the partnership. If you’re working on creating that agreement now, here are a few must-cover elements to include.

  • Balance. Make sure that duties are balanced between both businesses so that one side isn’t doing all or not enough of the workload. Additionally, the businesses should be just as balanced as their responsibilities. It can be a nightmare if one partner is too pushy or aggressive!
  • Shared reciprocity. The best partnerships leverage the strengths that each side has to offer in order to create smart offerings for customers that are truly valuable. Define the obligations of each party so they know what they’re doing and outline expectations in the event that one side expects too much/little out of the agreement.
  • Offer up a trial run. Before going live, try out a test run so that expectations remain tempered and the trial gives both sides a taste of what the partnership could shape up to be like. If you’re a little nervous to collaborate with a business for the first time or fairly new to the startup world, this might be your best introduction to partnerships.

Practice patience —strong partnerships take time to build

From the start, make sure that everyone is on the same page about one of the least-discussed aspects of a partnership: the fact that it takes time to build up and understand one together. Rather than expect overnight success, treat the partnership like you would any other relationship you’re in. Be open-minded about making adjustments along the way and remember that much like life, a partnership is not a sprint. It’s a marathon and one that you can only continue to work hard and grow in together.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

4 Tips for Establishing Your Brand in a Big City

small business bookkeeping

Last month, we shared advice for how a startup can establish roots for their business — while still leaving their mark — in a small town. Now we’re flipping the setting to taking your company to a big city for the first time. While cities offer plenty of benefits to startups like a thriving customer base and workforce, they’re also loaded with competing businesses with the same products or services, many of which have been there longer and have loyal clients. It’s a big pond with even bigger fish inside of it — so, what can your brand do to stand out from the crowd? The answer lies in amplifying all of the advantages that your business has to offer as well as utilizing the resources that a urbane area has to offer.

1) Make excellent customer service your No. 1 priority

Before you begin planning ahead with a big advertising budget and elaborate social media strategy, remember that one of the simplest ways to stand out is with great customer service. When customers routinely have a good experience at your establishment, they spread the word to their friends who, in turn, visit and share the news to their networks. Word of mouth can go a long way, but only if you dedicate yourself, and your team, to maintaining excellent customer service each and every day.

2) Dabble in traditional and digital marketing

With so many people in the city, how do you find your true target market? The best way to target and reach your audience may require just as much digital marketing as it does traditional. Here are a handful of strategies to take on a test run.

  •  Creating and maintaining a website. That means making sure the site is easy to navigate across all devices from smartphones to desktops, optimized for SEO, includes an updated contact information page, and is updated on a regular basis to reflect seasonal offerings and promotions.
  • Depending on the city you’re in, you might want to opt for a billboard or a placard in a subway or on a bus to advertise your business. Billboards tend to work better in cities where commuters get to work via freeways while the latter is best for areas with plenty of public transit commuters.
  •  Take out a radio ad spot — or even advertise during a podcast that you know your customer base enjoys.
  • Establish an active social media presence where you can share relevant content with your audience about news and updates from your business as well as address any issues and highlight praise from customers.  

3) Do some in-person networking

From coworking spaces to startup incubators, cities offer a wealth of resources to entrepreneurs at all stages in business. Take the time to see what events and networking nights are in your area next so you meet and greet with potential partners and customers and share more information about who you are and what you offer.

4) Personalize your approach

When a customer has a positive experience with an establishment, it’s usually personalized just for them. Whether it’s taking the time to remember their order preferences at a restaurant or greeting them by name at a hotel, these extra touches go a long way to endearing customers to businesses. Skip the one size fits all approach in your marketing to your customer base in favor of building a deeper connection to your audience. Address e-newsletters to the name of the subscriber; take mailers to college campuses if you market to a twentysomething demographic, and follow your fans on social media.

Above all when marketing your business in the city, celebrate being different. It might feel easier to blend in with the competition, but be proud to be unique and always keep thinking of how you can wow customers by going above and beyond.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

5 Questions to Ask to Determine If You’re Ready for an Intern

More often than not, we see this type of post written in reverse with interns trying to figure out if they’re ready to take on an internship. It’s just as important for a small business, typically more lean on staff and resources, to know whether or not they’ll be able to bring on a new hire and create a meaningful experience for them. Before you hit “publish” on posting an internship job opening, take the time to ask yourself the following questions to determine if an intern is exactly what your business needs.

Do you have enough (substantial) work for them to do?

Spoiler alert: going on endless coffee runs and fixing the printer doesn’t count as substantial work. When prepping an internship job posting, consider the needs of each specific department.  Where do they need extra assistance? How can an intern benefit them? Then, consider the age range of your interns in regards to their responsibilities. You wouldn’t want to assign a freshman in college the kind of workload that someone in a senior role would have!

When creating a balanced list of duties for an internship, be mindful that it reflects these three areas:

  •  Assign significant work that gives interns hands-on experience within their field
  •  Tailor the workload specifically for their age group.   
  • Create enough responsibilities that can be accomplished within the internship time frame.

Will you be available to train and mentor them?

How often are you physically around in the office? If you know you’re not there frequently enough for one-on-one meetings or that you plan on taking time off during the internship period, take this into consideration before moving forward. You may want to wait to hire when you are much more present. However, if you don’t want to wait, talk it over with your team and figure out if anyone has enough availability to train and mentor the intern in your place.

Will they be available to come in?

Every internship is different — some interns commute to an office and some work remotely. Determine what style fits the needs of your business best and make sure that the hire can meet your needs. If you prefer to have them come into the office, make sure that they have reliable transportation and can accommodate parking. If you’d rather have interns that work remotely, plan for how that will work out on both sides and if you can schedule in some time to meet up once a week to check in.

Can you offer them pay?

I’m a firm advocate in paying interns and, if there is no money available, providing school credit as an alternative. Consider whether or not your business has the budget to pay its interns on an hourly basis or provide a stipend by the end of the semester. If you truly cannot offer any financial compensation, offer school credit and as many incentives as possible like a free gym membership or parking pass.

Are there any projects you want to get started?

Earlier, I mentioned that establishing substantial work is critical for an intern to succeed during their internship. If there’s a project that you or your team have been trying to set aside the time to get started, this project may just be the perfect assignment to pass off to an intern. Utilizing their skill sets, you’ll be able to give them guidance to work on the project and see it through to completion, empowering them to leave behind a significant mark on your business. 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

5 Small Business Podcasts For Growth That We Can’t Stop Listening To

Let me set the scene for you.

My business partner and I stood with beer-in-hand, kicking new ideas (and a little PandaDoc stress ball we got at a conference) back-and-forth across the room trying to come up with a better way to build a network of solid promotional partners.

This was about 60-days ago as I write this, and man were we stressed.

“We’re having tons of success with the few channel partners we can get in front of, but it’s so hard to turn our initial conversations into actual promotion.”

We needed a better way to get a foot in the door and create some momentum.

About an hour in with no progress, and my business partner looks up and says matter-of-factly, “well, I guess we’re just going to have to start a podcast.”

After a quick chuckle (there was beer involved), we decided that actually wasn’t such a bad idea.

Fast-forward two months and it could be the best decision we’ve ever made. We’re 10 episodes in with at least 5 new promotional partners in the fitness and wellness industries that we never would’ve locked up without starting the process by dropping a simple line like, “hey, we should really get you guys on the podcast, our audience would love it!”

Since then I’ve gained a whole new respect for this medium, and wanted to share the top 5 business podcasts on growth that you should be listening to in your car, while you’re eating, or while you exercise (2 with a little health and fitness bend - hey, that is my focus).

1 Simple Thing with Dave Kirby

iTunes | Stitcher

Dave Kirby may not be some Silicon Valley legend or a career CEO, but he does an incredible job with this podcast, highlighting potential pitfalls, blending in personal anecdotes, and contextualizing exactly what you need to be thinking about as a small business owner in an amazingly relatable way.

I also like the length - 15-20 minute episodes - and the fact that Dave does a great job hitting a specific topic with each guest making it extremely easy to reflect on what was said after listening.

Basically, it’s the perfect podcast for all of you small business owners out there.

Marketing School with Neil Patel and Eric Sui

iTunes | Stitcher

Unlike Dave from 1 Simple Thing, Neil Patel is about as famous as a marketer can be, and Eric Sui is no slouch either. So for a marketing podcast, these are some serious heavy hitters. However, much like Dave’s show, Neil and Eric focus on one, super-specific marketing solution in each episode in a way that makes it feel like you’re actually learning a lot given the hyper-speed 6-10 minute episode length.

It all makes this podcast perfect for anyone who needs to learn more tactics to improve their marketing results … so probably everyone.

The GaryVee Audio Experience with Gary Vaynerchuk

iTunes | Stitcher

Gary Vaynerchuk is loud, intense as hell, and probably takes some getting used to for slow-talking southerners like myself. With that said, he ain’t wrong. The dude is a go-getter through-and-through and when you listen to one of his rants, you’ll find you have a tendency to become a go-getter too.

This podcast is ideal for any business owner who could use a quick, honest kick in the butt to get in gear on that next campaign to grow their business.

Evolution of Medicine Podcast with James Maskell

iTunes | Stitcher

This podcast with James Maskell and Gabe Hoffman, the creators of the Functional Forum is an incredible business growth show masquerading as a niche medical podcast. I’m not saying it isn’t niche - don’t bother if you aren’t into new innovations in medicine, wellness or fitness - but James comes from a practice management background and the backdrop of every episode is how these innovations can help you run a more profitable practice or business.

Spending 30 minutes to an hour with James, Gabe and their guests is the perfect prescription for any wellness business or medical practice owner, looking for new ways to unlock more revenue.

Scale Well Podcast with Phil Beene and Mac Gambill

iTunes | Stitcher

Remember the story I opened with? It’s time to bring it full-circle.

That after-hours idea session on a cold December night turned into the Scale Well Podcast where my business partner at Nudge Coach, Mac Gambill, and I chat with entrepreneurs and thought leaders about how simple technology tools and platforms are enabling more scalable business models.

The list of people we’ve been able to book in our first 10 episodes has honestly been nuts, including a great chat with Zach Olsen, the CEO of Bookly which you can watch in video form here.

This podcast is perfect for any fitness or wellness entrepreneurs and business owners out there, but the episode with Zach is a great listen for any small business owner.

Hope you enjoy these 5 podcasts as much as I have!

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Phil Beene is Co-founder and President of Nudge Coach, a software company that gives gyms and wellness businesses a whole new way to support and engage members through a custom-branded mobile app. He also co-hosts the Scale Well Podcast with Nudge Coach Co-founder and CEO Mac Gambill. You can learn more about Nudge Coach at http://nudgecoach.com.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

3 Surefire Ways to Hurt (If Not Kill) Your Business Credit Score

business credit score

The importance of good business credit is impossible to overestimate. “Good business credit eliminated my need to dip into personal funds to run my business, and enabled me to hire new employees and buy better equipment,” says Nav CEO Levi King, a serial entrepreneur who started his entrepreneurial endeavors with a sign manufacturing business in Idaho—initially with no credit. Speaking from experience, he believes a good business credit score is essential to operating a successful small business. “It invigorated cash flow and opened the door to increased financing on improved terms. It brought order to chaos, as a surge in liquidity meant that I could react quickly to new opportunities without upsetting operations.”

Building a good credit score can a long, painstaking process (if you haven’t started it yet, check this out). Once you get there, you want to stay there, and avoid any mistakes that might compromise or even negate your hard work.

Let’s take a look at three of the top things to watch out for when seeking to build and maintain your business credit score.

1. Debt Usage

Debt usage counts for 15% of your Experian Intelliscore. If you’re utilizing most of your credit, this could be a sign that your business isn’t financially sound. Some lenders and suppliers require evidence of healthy cash flow before they’ll work with you, and consistently maxing out your credit cards can be a sign that you’re doing poorly in this department.

Keep the balance on your business credit cards low as often as you can. Unforeseen cash emergencies are to be expected when running a business, but don’t make a habit of running up a high amount of debt and carrying a balance from month-to-month on your credit cards.

Here’s a good business credit card hack: Try to pay down your card balance before your credit card provider reports your payments to credit reporting agencies (this is usually before the due date). By doing this, the debt usage on your business credit report will appear low—a sign that you’re managing your finances responsibly, and can help keep your business credit scores strong.

2. Derogatories

Derogatory information on your credit reports—like outstanding tax liens or collections accounts, bankruptcies, charged off loans, and late loan payments—count for another 15% of your Experian Intelliscore.

Derogatories can generally stay on your record for up to seven years—10 years, for bankruptcy—and if you pile up enough of them, your access to credit and loans can be severely restricted. Any financing you do receive will likely be given on draconian terms, making it difficult to keep your head above water even when business is good.

Prioritize paying off debts before taking steps to expand your business. Tighten your belt and make do with what you have until you’re in the clear with your debtors, and then move forward. Seven years of derogatory information on your credit report is seven years of bad luck; avoid it at all costs.  

3. Payment Status

Payment status is the most important factor in your business credit report. It counts for 50% of your Experian Intelliscore, and 100% of your D&B Paydex score. Always make your payments on time. If you can, make them early.

It’s not always easy to stay ahead of things, so use money management tools to help you create budgets, manage cash flow, automate your bill payments, and alert you to unusual activity on your credit report.

The first step toward building and maintaining sound credit is to know what your credit report and credit scores actually say, so take advantage of Nav’s free business and personal credit reports to familiarize yourself with where you stand.

It’s important to be proactive when it comes to your credit, according to Levi King. “You can't afford to wait any longer to fatten up that credit file,” he says. “You may not see the need for more financing today, but tomorrow will be here soon enough, and with it a host of setbacks and opportunities you never could have predicted.”


About Nav: Nav is the free, easy way for business owners to access their business and personal credit scores and get matched to the best financing.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

Venture Capitalists vs. Angel Investors: Who Can Benefit Your Small Business Best?

Everyone knows the Cinderella story by heart. An intrepid protagonist with big dreams works tirelessly every day and meets a fairy godmother who offers her the opportunity to go to a ball, meet a dashing prince, and live happily ever after. There’s a similar rags to riches story in the small business community too. Just swap out the protagonist with an entrepreneur, the fairy godmother with a venture capitalist or angel investor, and the ball/prince/happily ever after ending with financial backing/an IPO/overnight success boom that turns your brand into a household name.  

Things could have turned out quite differently for Cinderella had her fairy godmother not understood exactly what she needed. For rising entrepreneurs that need funding, it’s important to determine whether your startup is better suited to work with a venture capitalist or angel investor. Take a closer look at the differences between these two types of professionals and what they have to offer your startup to ensure it receives its own fairytale ending. 

Venture Capitalist

What do they do? Venture capitalists, also known as VCs, back high-growth companies early into their startup journey with equity funding. Instead of paying VCs to get their backing, entrepreneurs provide these investors with a stake — typically shares — in the company or an equity position. The capital gives the startup the ability to succeed and gives the VC an active role in the business.

Which entrepreneurs/startups should work with them? The younger and more specialized the business, the better. VCs often invest in tech-based companies like apps and software startups. They also tend to favor businesses with strong management that show signs of steady growth in an emerging market. 

What do you do if they’re interested in funding your business? Being offered venture capital is a big deal. It means that your business has the potential to yield huge returns and/or to be quickly sold to public firms. Make sure you have a good idea for your business, that the market your startup is in is large enough for a strong return on capital, and give them something in return for their early investment. Additionally, inquire about the typical check size as this will determine the kind of VC you reach out to for funding. Entrepreneurs that need less than $1 million, for example, should reach out to micro VCs as they have funds with $10 to $50 million.

Angel Investor

What do they do? Angel investors come in a wide variety of professions, like doctors, lawyers, and existing entrepreneurs, and want to invest their wealth into your business. Much like VCs, they also want equity in your startup. Unlike VCs, they can’t invest millions into your business. Typical angel investments go from $25,000 to $100,000 per company.

Which entrepreneurs/startups should work with them? You don’t have to be a brand-new startup to work with an angel investor. If you’re fairly established with some revenue, but still need extra capital, it’s a good idea to reach out and introduce your business.

What do you do if they’re interested in funding your business? Angel investors want to see your business to succeed since they’re helping fund it out of their own pocket. Entrepreneurs that pique their interest are always ones that are passionate about their company and understand how it can succeed over time within its market. Be prepared to explain your business plan, elevator pitch, and executive summary. This shows that you’re thinking about the startup’s past, present, and future — and also shows angel investors the kind of valuable role they can play in your company’s success.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

How to Determine If Your Business Needs a DBA

What’s a DBA anyway? Is it like a trademark or something completely different? Do I really need to file for one now or can I wait? These are some of the questions that fledging entrepreneurs face when trying to determine if their small business needs a DBA and what the process entails. Let’s clarify what a DBA is, the types of businesses that should file for one, and the advantages that registering for a DBA presents for your small business.

What is a DBA?

A DBA, often referred to as a “Doing Business As” name, is the name under which you do business. Pretty self-explanatory! This name is different from your personal name and is also known as a fictitious name. Because it is a fictitious name, most states require that you register it with a local government agency. By conducting a name search and filing for a DBA, you’re able to claim the name for yourself and reduce potential chances of fraud. There are also plenty of additional benefits outlined below…

Are there any advantages to filing for a DBA?

Definitely! A few of our favorites can be found in these bullets:

·       Open a bank account. Most banks generally require a certified copy of your DBA before you a business bank account. Once you have a DBA, you can also collect checks and payments under your business name.

·       Start marketing and advertising your business publicly to increase visibility of your business.

·       Discourage anyone else from registering your name by officially using your DBA.

·       Create a business identity for your customers and vendors that presents your business in a professional light.

Who should register for a DBA?

The rule of thumb here is that if your business conducts any business (including transactions, marketing, advertising, and even printing out business cards) under a name that isn’t your own name, you should register for a DBA in the state or county you’re doing business in. For Sole Proprietors or Partnerships, be sure to register a DBA if you plan on starting a business under a name that is not your real name. If you have an existing LLC or Corporation and want to do business under a name that isn’t affiliated with the existing names, register a DBA.

So, to recap, a DBA isn’t the same thing as a trademark right?

Correct. While both offer protection for the name of the business, a DBA is a name that identifies the business. Unlike a trademark, which gives you the exclusive rights to use the name and makes it your property, a DBA doesn’t grant exclusivity for the use of a name.

You sold me — I’m ready to register! Where can I file for a DBA?

Great! First, depending on where your business is located, check to see if you do need to register your fictitious name there or not. Some states don’t require a formal registration which is why it’s worth looking into before you start the filing process.

If your start does require registering a DBA, file early with your state government or county clerk’s office! We recommend filing before using the name since DBAs are often required within the time frame that you do start using the fictitious name. The amount of time it takes to file for a DBA will vary depending on your jurisdiction, but you can expect the process to usually take anywhere from one to four weeks. When filing, be prepared to pay a processing fee and identify your business with either your EIN (Employer Identification Number) or Social Security Number.

When it comes to establishing a small business, it’s always a good thing to protect it as much as possible from the start to keep any future issues at bay. Don’t put off filing for your DBA, even if it doesn’t seem like much of a priority right now. The sooner you file for one, the more peace of mind your small business, and its name, will have while conducting business.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

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