August 22, 2014
by Attorney at Law Michael Schachter of Pearson and Schachter, Walnut Crek
At some point, a an entrepreneur, you may decide that an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) is right for your small business. But how do you go about it? All the mumbo jumbo on the internet can be confusing at best!
So this week I’m very happy to bring you a guest post from our friend Attorney at Law Michael Schachter. Michael is a business, corporate and real estate transactional attorney at Pearson and Schachter Law Firm in Walnut Creek, CA. I like working with Michael because he does does a great job of simplifying the information, and giving top notch legal advice in a way that small business owners can understand. So, here are his 6 Things You Need to Know about Filing an LLC in California!
1. Name. An individual must ensure that the name of the LLC is available with the California Secretary of State (“SOS”) or else the filing of the Articles of Organization to form the LLC could be rejected. You could check the name availability online by entering your proposed name, and any variations thereof, on the SOS website and clicking the “Limited Liability Company/Limited Partnership Name” tab at the following website: http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/. An individual may also call or write to the SOS to ascertain whether a certain name is available. If the individual ascertains that the proposed name is available, an individual could reserve the name by paying a fee to the SOS or move forward with the formation of the LLC. The SOS is a filing service and does not provide legal advice regarding the sufficiency of the name in the marketplace. Thus, it is prudent to check search engines for the proposed name and reserve the domain names to ensure that you are practically able to use the name without an issue even if the individual is able to register the LLC with the SOS.
2. Professional Services. An LLC may not provide “professional services” in California. “Professional services” are defined as any type of professional services that may be lawfully rendered pursuant to a license, certification, or registration authorized by laws. It is recommended that you contact the appropriate licensing authority in order to determine whether your services are considered professional.
3. Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1) (“Articles”). The Articles registers the LLC with the SOS and the form is found at: http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/llc/forms/llc-1.pdf. Once the Articles is correctly completed and signed, the individual would submit the Articles with the SOS via mail or hand delivery. The SOS generally takes 7-10 business days to file the Articles but could take longer depending on the time of the year. An individual could expedite the filing, if necessary, for a fee. It is also possible to check the status of the Articles by referring to the “Processing Times” page on the SOS website: http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/llc/forms/llc-1.pdf. Filing the Articles will obligate the LLC to pay an annual minimum tax of $800 to the California Franchise Tax Board.
4. Employer Identification Number (EIN). Every LLC is required to have an EIN. An EIN is the identification number for the LLC for tax purposes with the IRS. An individual could obtain an EIN online at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online.
5. Operating Agreement. An Operating Agreement for an LLC sets forth how the LLC will be managed and run. It will also state the ownership interests and officers, if any. Although an Operating Agreement is not required in California, it is highly recommended. Operating Agreements are to be maintained by the LLC and are not to be filed with the SOS.
6. Statement of Information. A Statement of Information for the LLC must be filed with the SOS within 90 days after filing the Articles and biennially thereafter during the applicable filing period. The applicable filing period is the calendar month in which the Articles was filed and the immediately preceding five calendar months. The form of Statement of Information is found at: .http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/llc/forms/llc-12.pdf
Have additional questions or need help figuring out if an LLC or Corporation is right for your business in the Walnut Creek area? Contact Michael for a consultation!
March 31, 2014
You’re a successful business owner by anyone’s standards: you’ve been around a few years and at one point had all the business you wanted. You hired a staff, your sales pipeline was full, and the phone was ringing off the hook! Maybe you even felt overwhelmed at times, but felt excited about expanding.
Marketing didn’t even feel like marketing: you either got lucky and business boomed with no marketing plan at all or you joined a few networking groups, bought a yellow pages ad, and the business just flooded in. You didn’t need any so-called ‘experts’, you did it all – and were pretty damn good at it too! Or so you thought…
And then it all changed. Suddenly the phone stopped ringing, the pipeline was empty, and you practically had to beg, borrow, and steal to get your next client.
Marketing was easy when there was an abundance of money and credit. Getting clients was a breeze for well established companies with great reputations. But almost overnight the game changed. While the national economy was spiraling into a black hole, distressed consumers were becoming more prudent about how and where they spend their hard earned cash.
Today, social media allows consumers to shop, share experiences, and compare products like never before. They’re armed with the power of knowledge and small business owners are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what happened, asking:
- What do you mean you don’t look in the yellow pages anymore? (Check out my blog, “Does Your Advertising Make You Look Cheap?” for more info about advertising)
- My competitors do ‘what’? How am I supposed to compete with ‘that’?
- What do customers want from me??? (Read, “Good Customer Service Isn’t Enough” for more info!)
In denial, many thwarted their businesses by asking for marketing advice from their accountant or hairdresser – or even worse – from the sales reps who make a commission off selling yellow pages ads and advertising. Frustrated and confused, many small business owners just quit marketing all together.
NO Marketing = NO Business
Giving up on marketing is not the answer. The answer is simple: if consumers are smarter, YOU have to be smarter. And the first step in becoming smarter is realizing and accepting what you don’t know. You started a business because you are a great dentist, attorney, CPA, or other service professional but chances are you’re not a marketing expert.
Hiring a Marketing Consultant can help you STOP guessing and wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work. A good marketing consultant will help you attract the right clients (the ones with money) and stand apart from your competition which will result in an increase in revenue – and profits!
A Marketing Consultant will also:
- Help you set goals, giving you and your company direction
- Develop, plan, and execute a strategic marketing plan
- Add much-needed marketing experience, expertise, and objectivity to your business
- Bring a network of specialists to make your marketing more effective!
A marketing consultant can be a valuable addition to your team, freeing you up to focus on building your business and doing what you do best! Be sure to choose a professional with experience who can challenge you and help you achieve your business goals! If you would like to learn more about how Fortune Marketing Company can help you grow your business, click here.
March 6, 2014
At first glance, Pinterest can befuddle. To the new user it appears to be nothing but a screen of random photos. The experienced, however, see it as an elegantly designed photo-sharing site optimized for planning and inspiration.
Pinterest is a powerful social media tool for small businesses, increasing brand recognition, website traffic, and sales.
- By 2011, Pinterest drove more traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+
- 81% of U.S. women who spend time online trust Pinterest for information and advice
- 70% of those on Pinterest use it for purchasing inspiration
- The average Pinterest user has a household income of over $100,000
Pinterest is undeniably a muscular business tool. But, how do you apply it?
Four Steps to Leverage Pinterest for Your Business:
1. Make Your Business Visual
Document your products, services, and staff with your smart-phone camera, or hire a professional photographer or videographer. Then use those images to promote your business on Pinterest.
Create boards to showcase your company’s before and after photos, how-to information, case studies, and reviews.
Develop a special offer just for your Pinterest followers, like a coupon or free report.
2. Know Your Target Market
Pinning photos and videos about your services and products is just the beginning of leveraging Pinterest for your business. The next step is to create boards highlighting your target market’s other interests.
If you’re representing a flooring company, as an example, begin with boards that feature hardwood, tile, and carpet. Next, create boards on dream homes, remodeling, design ideas, house cleaning tips, organization, recipes, or whatever will draw your target market to your site.
3. Drive Traffic to Your Website
Write content for your website on the topics you have chosen. This can be blogs, articles, reports, FAQ’s, or videos. After you post that content on your site, upload the featured image to Pinterest. Even better, include the name of your content on the image, like this example:
Make sure you include keywords, descriptions, and hashtags in your board titles. Verify your website with your Pinterest account by going to your Pinterest Settings page and clicking on the Verify Website button. This will increase your Pinterest’s profile credibility and trust with your followers.
4. Remember, Pinterest is Social
Pin consistently and pin during peak times. Just as with all marketing platforms, to be effective, you must use Pinterest consistently. Scheduling software such as Sendible.com is a convenient way to schedule your pins in advance. Because most people suggest pinning 3 to 10 images a day, pre-scheduling pins allows you to consolidate your marketing time.
Pinterest users are most active in the evenings and on weekends. Schedule the majority of your pins for those times.
Putting the power of Pinterest to work for you is an amazing way to build your business. Remember, though, that advertising yourself 24/7 gets tiresome for your followers. Therefore, when you pin, blend content from both your own site and other business sites.
Social media is social – engage with your followers. Share pins from their boards, comment on their pins, and thank them for sharing yours.
Posting your business on Pinterest is a great way to increase your brand recognition, website traffic, and sales. In four steps, you can be successful on Pinterest: be visual, know your target market, create content on your website, and be social.
Gail Nott is the co-founder of Nott Ltd Solutions, which builds communities of loyal customers for influential business owners through social media. Gail combines her 17 years experience in web development, referral marketing, and social media to turn her clients’ business goals into actionable plans and marketing strategies that pay off into 6 & 7 figure businesses. Learn how to leverage Facebook for your business in 10 minutes a day with her free webinar. <link: http://gailnott.com/social-media-resources/free-webinar/
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