Are you thinking about starting your own trucking business in Florida?
Before you get started, let us answer these commonly asked questions for you.
Do I need to incorporate (or form an LLC) for my business?
Forming a legal business entity is imperative to the future success and safety of your company. This ensures that you have personal liability protection, meaning your personal assets are legally separate from your business assets. Incorporating or forming an LLC gives more validity and trustworthiness to your name, and also ensures that you have the rights to that business name within your state.
What type of business should I form?
While it is ultimately your decision whether or not you want to form a corporation or LLC, there are pros and cons of both:
Because of the flexibility and tax benefits of an LLC, it may make more sense for a trucking business to go with this option; however, it is perfectly possible to form a corporation as well.
Where should I form my business?
There are many options for where to establish your business. This post gives a quick outline on the pros and cons of incorporating in different places.
However, it is possible that your trucking business may be required to have a registered agent in each of the states it either operates in and/or drives through. This video outlines everything you need to know about a registered agent:
First, you’ll need to check with the Secretary of State to see if your business name is available. Then you’ll need to obtain an EIN from the IRS, find and appoint your Registered Agent(s), and prepare your Articles of Incorporation along with the required Florida state fees ($78.75 for a corporation, and $130 for an LLC).
If you need any help incorporating or forming an LLC for your trucking business, Direct Incorporation can help you with all of the above and more, such as logo and website design. Visit our website or call 1-877-281-6496 for more information.
If you are a chronic procrastinator, this TED talk by Tim Urban might hit close to home. While most articles and videos out there about “how to beat procrastination” offer advice on how to be more productive, or offer ineffective motivational quotes, Urban looks at procrastination from a different perspective. Instead of trying to force motivation upon us, he simply leaves us with a different, if not sobering, way to think about the procrastination in our lives. It’s still up to each of us to motivate ourselves to start whatever we’re procrastinating on, but his perspective makes this step (the part where you finally get started) seem less of a burden and more a form of empowerment.
The basis of Urban’s talk is that all people have a little person in their brain called the “Rational Decision Maker.” It helps us make decisions based on things like our future and what’s best for us. Procrastinators, however, are also host to another brain creature: the Instant Gratification Monkey.
The Instant Gratification Monkey is pretty self-explanatory: it seeks instant gratification from what is fun and easy, rather than motivating us to do what will give us long-term success and happiness. The Rational Decision Maker has no power over the Instant Gratification Monkey, no matter how rational its arguments against it are. The Monkey, free to take the wheel in our brain, takes us to what Urban calls the “Dark Playground.”
This is where, instead of completing a task, we avoid it by doing things that are physically or emotionally easier. Instead of starting a project, we check our email for the fortieth time today, we go grocery shopping, or maybe we just take a nap instead. Yet, instead of being fun or relaxing (which the Instant Gratification Monkey is seeking), the Dark Playground is only full of guilt, self-loathing, and even helplessness. There is only one thing in the world that can override the Instant Gratification Monkey: the Panic Monster.
The Panic Monster only arrives when a deadline is approaching, or there is impending risk of public embarrassment or disapproval. The Panic Monster is the only thing that makes the Instant Gratification Monkey run away and leaves the Rational Decision Maker to take back the control and frantically do whatever task needs to be done. Most of the time, this works out. Crunch time will inevitably be stressful and will potentially involve one or more all-nighters for the procrastinator. But in the end, the procrastinator gets the job done.
There’s only one problem.
Sometimes, the things we want to do don’t involve deadlines. There’s no big, scary Procrastination Monster to scare us into action. We dream about writing a book, or starting a business, or learning a new language. But the Instant Gratification Monkey keeps hold of the wheel because he can. He has nothing to worry about, and he knows it.
But the thing is, now we know he’s there. You know he’s there. In his blog, Urban defines procrastination as “The act of ruining your life for no apparent reason.”
Don’t let procrastination define you. Now that you understand what’s going on inside your head, you have the power to change it. It’s as good a time as ever to take the first step.
There are countless ways you can improve your business, and even more articles on how to do so. Tips range from “Be patient” to “Leverage 1099 subcontractors,” and range from incredibly vague to incredibly expensive. However, there are three low- or no-cost, backed-by-science ways for you to improve your business in a big way. Not only will they make your business more financially successful, but will make it more attractive to consumers and potential employees in ways that other businesses don’t.
1. Office diversity
Diversity in the workplace can come in many forms: gender, age, race, ethnicity, and more. While many workplaces suffer from a lack of diversity (for example, there are fewer female CEOs than there are CEOs named John, and only 1% of Google’s tech staff are black), there is research-backed evidence that diversity in the workplace leads to innovation, economic growth, employee satisfaction, and lower turnover rates. Input from people of different backgrounds is a recipe for a product or service that will best serve the ever-diversifying American population; the opposite is best demonstrated by a quote from
MIT economist Sara Ellison: “A baseball team entirely composed of catchers could have high esprit de corps, but it would not perform very well on the field.”
Homogeneity in the workplace leads to homogeneity of both business ideas and future hiring choices (people tend to hire those who are similar to them), but companies within the top quartile of racial and ethnic diversity exceed industry standards by a whopping 35%. Taking initiative to increase the diversity of your workplace is a win-win situation for everyone.
Also, research has shown that 66% of people will pay more for a product or service that is sourced from a business that is committed to “positive social or environmental impact.” This means that people will choose your business over others that don’t have sustainable practices, even if your product or service costs more. Also, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, employees derive more job satisfaction from working for green companies than working for financially successful ones.
3. Workplace Happiness
While there are many ways to improve office productivity, the underlying theme for most strategies is this: make your employees happy. Companies with happy employees outperform competition by 20%, and have 11x lower turnover rates. This can be done by many small things, such as maximizing natural lighting in the office, encouraging breaks, and treating employees as the complete humans they are: in other words, understanding that they, too, have lives outside of the office, and if they need to step out to pick their kid up from soccer practice, or come in late after a doctor’s appointment, they should be able to do so without fear of retribution.
While advice for improving your business abounds on the internet (varying from accounting advice to tips on improving SEO), if you aren’t addressing these three things, it may not make the difference you’re hoping for. You can’t run a successful company without happy employees and happy customers—but when the two line up, it will make it much easier for everything else to fall into place.
The term DBA stands for “Doing Business As,” and filing a DBA for a business or sole proprietorship allows you to use your DBA name, also known as the “fictitious business name,” “trade name,” or “assumed name,” when conducting business (instead of your legal business name). Most states require that you file a DBA statement before operating under the DBA name, as to not confuse or mislead customers who might otherwise be unaware that the DBA name is operated by the same company.
Why file a DBA?
The most common cause of DBA filings are sole proprietors who are looking to operate their business under a different name. If you’re a sole proprietor, your legal name is your business’ legal name (for instance, if Liz O’Connor does environmental consulting as a sole proprietor, her legal business name is “Liz O’Connor”). If you file a DBA, you are able to operate under a name that better represents your mission or purpose. Also, some banks may require that sole proprietors file a DBA in order to open a bank account for their business, and some corporations may require you to file a DBA in order to hire you for freelancing services.
However, DBAs are not limited to sole proprietors. Any corporation or LLC can file a DBA as well. This might be because you want to operate your business under a more creative or memorable name without changing the legal name of the business. It might also happen because you want to add on an additional product or service to what you already provide, and want to have a business name that accurately represents it. For example, if Liz owns an environmental consulting corporation, but decides she also wants to provide solar panel installation, she could file a DBA for “Liz’s Environmental Consulting and Solar Installation,” to make clear all the services she offers. Similarly, if Liz’s environmental consulting corporation also wants to offer financial consulting, she could file a DBA for the financial half of her business, and operate her financial consulting service under the DBA name (and her environmental consulting service under the legal business name).
Because of the ease and affordability of filing a DBA, it is possible to have a corporation or LLC that serves as the umbrella under which separate services are offered under different DBAs. This will eliminate the extra paperwork and expenses of creating new or subsidiary companies.
What are the rules?
If you file a DBA, you are still required to provide the legal name of your business on all government forms and applications, including applications for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits. For sole proprietors, it may not be necessary to file a DBA (it’s always good to double check) if your business name follows the format of “First Name, Last Name, Service” (for instance, “Liz O’Connor’s Environmental Consulting”); however, if Liz the sole proprietor wanted her business to just be “Liz’s Environmental Consulting,” this would require a DBA. It is also important to keep in mind that establishing a DBA does not establish a trademark on that name, and you should be careful to not infringe on any business name that is already taken or trademarked. There are also some limitations on the words used in your DBA name: for instance, it would not be acceptable for a trade name to include the words “Corporation,” “Incorporation,” “Inc.,” “LLC,” or “Corp.” if it is not in fact a registered corporation or LLC.
Once you’ve completed your DBA registration, your business is free to use the DBA name to open bank accounts, write checks, and use in promotional material. Neglecting to file a DBA before doing business under a different name could not only lead to penalties and fines, but potential lawsuits. It’s common for businesses to (either by will or by mandate) publish an announcement in a local newspaper about their DBA before doing business under that name, in order to provide transparency to the community.
If you have questions about filing a DBA, feel free to contact Direct Incorporation at 1-877-281-6496.
Here is everything you need to know about your business’ federal tax ID, or EIN:
What is an EIN?
An Employer Identification Number, or more simply, a federal tax ID, is essential for starting a business. An EIN is a nine-digit number appointed to a business or organization by the IRS—kind of like a Social Security Number for your company.
The purpose of an EIN is to establish your business as a separate entity outside of yourself while filing tax returns for your business.
Why do I need an EIN?
It’s required for corporations and partnerships, businesses selling alcohol, firearms, or tobacco, for most LLCs and in some cases, sole proprietorships. In most cases it is also required for trusts, nonprofits, real estate investment entities, and cooperatives. If your business will be hiring employees—whether temporary or permanent—it is required that you obtain an EIN. However, even if it’s not required for your business, an EIN can provide specific benefits or opportunities. For example, it is a great extra step in order to protect against identity theft, and it will make opening a bank account for your business much easier.
If you’re a sole proprietor (even operating under a DBA) you are not required to obtain an EIN, and you will merely use your Social Security Number when filing taxes; however, if you would like to use an EIN, this will only help you in differentiating your business and personal finances. It should also be kept in mind that some banks require an EIN in order to open a separate business bank account.
How do I get an EIN?
Fortunately, obtaining an EIN is a short and simple process. If your business is located in the U.S., you can apply online through the IRS—but you must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (such as a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). If you apply online, you will be able to obtain your EIN immediately; via fax the process will take about a week, and by mail, up to four or five weeks.
When should I get a new EIN or cancel one that I have?
According to the IRS website, “Generally, businesses need a new EIN when their ownership or structure has changed.” This does not include changing the name of your business (but it does include forming subsidiary companies).
Regarding the cancellation of an EIN, there is no way to fully eliminate an EIN once it has been established. The EIN will remain the identification number for that business, regardless of whether the business ever started or if federal tax returns were filed under it; it’s never officially “destroyed” (or re-assigned, for that matter). This means that even years later, you can come back to your unstarted business and use the original EIN obtained from the IRS. However, if you decide you no longer want to use your assigned EIN number, you are able to close your business account linked to that EIN.
Have you already started a business, but are wondering how to go about changing the name? Here are five different ways you could go about making this change:
1. File a name change amendment
Filing a name change amendment with the Secretary of State is one way to change the name of your business completely. This will make it so that the old name is no longer associated with your business. But remember, it’s important to make sure that your new name is available for use in your state. Here’s an example for a fictional “Liz O’Connor,” who runs an environmental consulting business:
2. File a DBA
This stands for “Doing Business As.” Though this option is not limited to them, it is useful for sole proprietorships. As a sole proprietor of a company, your name and your business name are legally the same (and the same is true for general partnerships). For example, for Liz O’Connor the environmental consultant, her business name would be “Liz O’Connor, Environmental Consultant” before filing a DBA. Filing a DBA allows you to transact business under the DBA name (such as H2O’Connor Consulting) instead of your personal name. This can also be done merely to make a business name more simple and/or recognizable, instead of having to use the formal name for the company.
3. Register a trademark
Registering a trademark for a logo, phrase, or word for your company allows you to use that logo or words to build the identity of your business. While the actual business name is not changed by trademarking, people will recognize your business by its different words or symbols. For instance, anyone is able to see the word “Nike,” the words “Just Do It,” or the Nike swoosh logo, and know exactly what brand it is. Registering a trademark also has the added benefit of securing a name, logo, or phrase on a national level.
4. Create a subsidiary company
If you would like to keep the name of your business, but want to add on a separate service or product under a different name, another route you could take is creating a subsidiary or “daughter” company. A subsidiary, though owned by the parent company, operates as a separate entity with its own liability and bylaws. For instance, if Liz O’Connor also wanted to provide solar panel installation for clients, she could create a solar panel installation subsidiary while still maintaining her environmental consulting business.
5. Form a separate corporation or LLC
Lastly, if the reason you are looking to change your business name is because you are offering a completely different product or service, another option is to form a separate corporation or LLC. This means starting fresh and creating something completely new.
Direct Incorporation can help with all of these name change options—if you’re interested, visit directincorporation.com or call 1-877-281-6496 to learn more.
CPAs, or Certified Public Accountants, are a valuable asset to any business. A CPA is more than just a regular accountant—they’ve been licensed through vigorous examination that includes knowledge of tax codes and gives them the ability to represent you before the IRS. They’ll be able to help you with financial planning, analysis, taxes, and more. If you’re wondering whether a CPA is worth it, here are some signs that it might be a great addition for your company:
1. You need help writing your business plan
If writing a business plan is not something you’ve had experience with before (and even if it is), having the extra assistance of a CPA can take your business plan to the next level. They can assist with financial projections and creating a realistic and professional plan for your company.
2. You need help figuring out the legal structure of your business
If you’re not sure whether you want to form an S-Corporation, C-Corporation, or LLC (or even a nonprofit), having a CPA will help you figure out which structure will make the most financial and legal sense for your business.
3. Your business is growing quickly
If your business is undergoing (or has recently undergone) rapid growth, the additional customers and employees you’re now dealing with will necessitate more paperwork and financial analysis, not to mention the fact that now you probably have even less time to deal with the accounting that a CPA could do for you (and more efficiently, too). Also, if you’re looking to expand into another state, a CPA can make sure you’re abiding by the state’s employee and income tax laws.
4. You’re not sure why your profit is stagnant
If your company’s revenue has continued to climb, but your profit has stayed about the same, a CPA can help by advising you on how to adjust your spending in order to increase profit margins.
5. You just don’t have time
Running a business is a lot of work, and while you might think that a CPA isn’t worth the money, stop and think about how much money your time is worth. If you’re spending hours dealing with accounting and deciphering tax requirements, you’re losing hours doing other work that could be bringing in more revenue. If you’re losing out more by doing the work yourself, it’s a good idea to leave the task to someone who is more certified to get the job done.
If you’re planning on incorporating your business early next year, now is the time to make sure that you have things ready (or almost ready) to go. Here’s a list of some of the items that are very important in your next three months of preparation:
Solidify your idea
First, make sure that this is really the business you want to start. Make some tweaks if you need to—it’s not too late to change things. Importantly, make sure that this job is something you’re still going to want to be doing for years to come.
Research your competition
It’s important to know what’s already out there, and how you can make your business better. It’s pretty difficult to come up with a 100% original business idea, so you should be able to find others who are doing something similar. Researching these businesses (especially those that are successful) is a great way to make sure you start off with a better grip on what you’re getting into.
Make sure the name is available
This is a super important step for two reasons. First, you don’t want to be guilty of trademark infringement, which has the potential to ruin a business. Second, you don’t want to spend months figuring out how to market your new name, including designing a logo, only to figure out that someone else has already claimed the name and your creative energy has been wasted.
Survey your target market
It makes sense for you to think that your business idea is awesome; you came up with it and you find value in the goods or service you want to provide. However, not everyone thinks like you, so if you want your business to be marketable, make sure that you get feedback from the kind of people you’d be targeting. If there’s an overwhelming negative response toward part of your plan, it probably doesn’t mean that just the people in your sample feel this way. Take their feedback seriously—it’s okay for your original plan to not be perfect.
Find your tax and legal advice
Getting both tax and legal advice is a good idea for anyone who hasn’t started a business before. Using an accountant or QuickBooks will ensure that you haven’t missed anything financially, and an attorney or other legal service will give you peace of mind that you’re not defying any regulations.
According to a 2014 Philadelphia survey, 85% of small business owners get customers through word of mouth. It’s imperative that you establish a network of people with some interest in your business or who will also be willing and able to spread the word about it. This is a time where social media plays a huge role. Make sure that your target market knows what’s coming for them far in advance, and get them excited for it!
And of course, you should be excited too! Starting a business is no small feat. Be proud of yourself for getting this far, and start out your journey with optimism for your future accomplishments.
Whether you’re still in the idea stage of your business or are already operating out of your home, you might be wondering if your business is too small for you to take the next step and incorporate. But the thing is, you may be overestimating the size or profitability your business needs in order to file for registration. If any of these apply to you, you might want to think about filing for a corporation, LLC, or non-profit organization:
It’s more than just a hobby
If you’re bringing in $30,000 a year from your Etsy account, that’s more than just selling your crafts as a hobby. The same goes for Ebay or other online vending sites. If you’re making a job-worthy profit, you should make it an official business. Registering your business will not only give you more credibility, but will also give you liability protection and tax benefits.
You’re selling food or drinks
If you’re selling homemade food or drinks, your business needs a Food and Drink License, which means that you need to have a legally established business in the first place. This is another realm where both liability protection and credibility play an important role in the success and protection of your business.
You’re entering people’s homes/people are entering your home
If you’re running a bed and breakfast from your house or a housekeeping service to clean the houses of others, this means that either people are entering your home or you are entering theirs. This has the potential to bring a huge amount of liability to you, and establishing your business as a separate legal entity is not only good for you but good for your clients. They’ll trust you more, and again, you’ll gain tax benefits from establishing your business.
You’re operating a charity
If you’ve started a charitable foundation, you’re going to be benefiting others as well as yourself if you register as a non-profit. If you qualify as a 501(c)(3), you’ll be elligible for federal exemption from corporate income tax, as well as state and local income taxes. And of course, people are far more likely to donate to a charity with legal credibility.
For the most part, people will expect any kind of profitable business to be registered, as it validates the trustworthiness of the company. If you’re wondering whether you should take the step and file for incorporation, LLC formation, or non-profit formation, call Direct Incorporation at 1-877-281-6496 today!
If you’re in the early stages of starting a business, something you might be thinking about is what you’re going to do for arguably the most important part of distinguishing your brand: your logo. While it might not seem like a deal breaker for your business, the quality of your logo can make a huge impact on the success of your company. It’s essential that it be both attractive and unique in order to capture and retain the attention of your customers. Here’s why:
Your logo is one of the first things your customers and clients will notice about your business. If your logo is something that is easily recognizable, people will remember it and automatically associate it with your company. Think of the Apple logo: the simple apple silhouette is now one of themost-recognized logos in the world. Having unique logo will cause people to immediately recognize and remember your business.
Having a good logo is essential to establishing the legitimacy of your business. If you have a logo that looks like a third-grader drew it on MS Paint, it’s likely that people will not take your business seriously. Running a business without a logo entirely is also likely to lead to doubts about the legitimacy of your company. In this realm, it’s important to think about the cost of a cheap logo design versus the cost of redesigning a cheap logo. Kind of like a tattoo, it’s worth it to spend the money upfront on a job well done rather than spend more money later in an attempt to fix the original.
3. Showing your values
A logo is a way for people to quickly understand what your business is all about; the design of it can convey more than you think. Here’s a loose guide to what specific colors tend to signify in logos (hint: if you’re running a massage parlor, it might not be a great idea to have a bright orange and red logo).
-Red tends to signify: action, passion, trust, love, intensity, or aggression
-Blue tends to signify: comfort, faith, confidence, or calm
-Yellow tends to signify: joy, energy, life, or freshness
-Green tends to signify: relaxation, trust, peace, hope, nature, or sustainability
-Purple tends to signify: glamour, power, royalty, romance, or introspection
-Orange tends to signify: enthusiasm, creativity, or determination
-Black tends to signify: bold, seriousness, or luxury
Any pictures associated with your logo are also important to conveying a message: specific symbols are so ingrained in our culture that they can either add immensely to your message or unintentionally convey something else (for example, it wouldn’t make much sense to incorporate hearts into the Harley Davidson logo).
Ensuring that you have a good logo is just one step of many when incorporating your business, but it is not one to be overlooked. Direct Incorporation’s design team can help you out by designing a custom logo for you today! Visit directincorporation.com for more information.