Imitation is the sincerest form of trademark infringement

The importance of naming your business is a given; you don’t want competitor using a business name similar to yours to trade on your good name. But what about the identifying marks, logos, graphics and intellectual property?

A recent Business Insider article discusses Apple’s trademark infringement lawsuit against Samsung. It seems that Samsung’s Android phone uses icons eerily similar to Apple’s iPhone. Take a look at the icons and see if you agree with the author that Apple has a case against Samsung.

In many industries, competition is fierce. Protecting your business and intellectual property is of utmost importance. When you start a business, it is absolutely essential to do thorough trademark research.

It is just as important to protect those identifying icons and logos as the name of your business. They are what help customers and potential customers identify your business. They’re all part of the branding and they make your company unique. Make sure you protect those as vehemently as Apple does.

There are many issues you should look into before starting any business. We make it our mission to make it as easy as possible.  If you need information on protecting a trademark, we’re here to help!

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What should go on your contact us page?

Nearly every website has a “Contact Us” page. They’re ubiquitous, and they’re often a throw-away.

Name, address and phone number go without saying. A fax number can also be included, but is optional. Here are other things that should be included on the Contact Page:

Pictures
You should include a picture of the building, if for no other reason so people will recognize what they’re looking for after seeing your website. If you don’t want to put a picture of your building, at least put a picture of your sign.

Map/Directions
So many companies forget this, but including directions is vital. You can use the map provided by Google, Yahoo or Bing. The interactive map works best. Also, if your place of business is difficult to find or tricky in any way, include some directions written out to help customers get there.

Email address
Not everyone is willing to rush right out or even pick up the phone to call for more information. But they’re right there looking at your website, and they’re thinking about your product.  Tell them who their customer service agent is. Putting a name to your customer service agent is advisable and ensures clarity about who customers should talk to and that inquiries go to one specific person. If several people will share the responsibilities of handling customer service inquires, something like “customer.service@yourcompanyname.com” is acceptable. Just make sure those emails are answered in a timely manner.

Social media links
This is an opportunity for your customers and potential customers to discover how to communicate with you. In the era of social media, it is absolutely essential to let them know where they can get additional information about your product and company. In addition to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, make sure to include your blog, if you have one.

Optional: Contact Form
Depending upon your business and industry, it might be advisable to include a contact form with a call to action. This allows you to collect email addresses for future campaigns and special offers.

There are many issues you should look into before starting any business. We make it our mission to make it as easy as possible.  If you need information on launching your website, we’re here to help!

 

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Direct Incorporation Customer Spotlight

incorporating a businessCompany Name: Mark E. Wilson Accounting & Payroll Services, PC
Location: Rockwall, TX
Years in Business: Start-Up
Number of employees: 1

Business Profile

Direct Incorporation recently partnered with Mark Wilson, an accountant in North Texas to help incorporate a new business. Well, actually, he’s more than an accountant. In the services he provides for his clients, Mark is equal parts consultant, accountant and operations manager.

More than anything, Mark focuses on building relationships with his clients. “I’m not a typical bean counter,” Mark is fond of saying. “I’m hands on. I learn the business inside and out before making any recommendations.”

Although he works with businesses in many industries, Mark’s background makes his advice particularly valuable to medical practices. He previously held a position as operations manager for one of the largest medical practices in Texas.

Because every medical practice is different, the advice Mark gives each client is unique based upon the goals of the practice. Through analysis and experience, Mark is able to counsel physicians about making their practices more efficient and profitable.

Mark is a Quickbooks Pro Advisor and provides accounting and payroll service in Dallas, north Texas and southern Oklahoma, but chose Rockwall as home for his business. The city more than doubled in size between 2000 and 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Because of its proximity, many consider it a Dallas suburb, but residents don’t think of their town that way. Attitude, much more than Lake Ray Hubbard, separates Rockwall from Dallas. Growth, quality of life and available services convinced Mark to open his business as an accountant in Rockwall.

How Direct Incorporation Helped

Mark chose the Venture Package because in addition to incorporation, he also needed domain registration, logo and website. “Working with Direct Incorporation was extraordinarily easy. They were very patient. Ed Stahlin really bent over backwards to help.” Mark said.

Mark added, “I would definitely recommend Direct Incorporation to any small business I’m working with. It is a one-stop shop to be able to do everything a small business needs.”

There are many issues you should look into before starting any business. We make it our mission to make it as easy as possible.  If you need information on incorporating your business, visit our website.

 

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Incorporating in Virginia.

virginia small businessesOur state incorporation series today focuses on The Old Dominion: Virginia. In the past few years, Virginia has established itself as one of the top states in the U.S. in which to do business.

Our website includes summary of our services, and what you’ll need to know to incorporate a business in Virginia.

 

Benefits of incorporating in Virginia

Virginia is one of the top states for business in several key areas, according to a study by Business Facilities.

  • #1 in Economic Growth Potential
  • #3 in Business Climate
  • #9 in Employment Leaders.

According to the Small Business Administration, small business in Virginia accounts for 98% of the state’s employers and 48% of its private-sector employment. The number of minority-owned businesses has increased 51% since 2002.

Time and cost to incorporate in Virginia

The ease and speed with which a business is incorporated in Virginia can vary based on the company name and category of business activity. When incorporating an ordinary corporation or LLC, the average processing time is 4-6 weeks. For an additional fee of $100, the state will expedite the process in a week. The state’s fee to incorporate an ordinary corporation is $79; an LLC is $104.

Direct Incorporation’s Virginia incorporation services

We offer three packages to assist you with incorporating in Virginia, with prices ranging from $149 to $773. For more information on our Virginia incorporation services, click on a link below.

  • Standard Package
  • Premier Package
  • Venture Package

Do you have questions about incorporating your business in Virginia? Please leave a comment below and I will try to answer them. Thanks!

 

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Why You Need a Business Plan

For a startup, it’s not enough to have concept for a company or an idea of what the next big product will be.

You need a business plan.

The Internet is ripe with different viewpoints on what should go into a business plan.  The plan itself should be customized to fit your business and you, the business owner. A business plan is not just a tool to help you get a loan, although it’s almost always a requirement for any lending institution or financer.

The essence of the idea that will drive your business’s success should be contained amongst the executive summary, business model description, charts, graphs and analytics, executive team intro and anything else that the gurus say should be included in a sound business plan.

In short, you should write the business plan for yourself.

A business plan gives you a practical roadmap for the life of your business. It forces you to think about the future, including how your business will grow, how you’ll deal with competition and how you’ll deal with lulls in business.

As a communication tool, it helps you to express your ideas and goals with employees, vendors, customers and mentors. This can be vital to your success because it gives them a practical outline of how you intend to achieve success in business.

Entrepreneur.com has a page with a ton of information about business plan basics, including samples and how-to’s, perfect for someone just starting out in business.

Of course there are other issues you should look into before starting any business. We make it our mission to make starting a business as easy as possible.  If you need information on incorporating your business, visit our website.

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Using Social Media to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader.

Recently, I came across an entry by Brad Feld on Huffington Post that changed my perspective on social media. The line Focus on becoming a thought leader in your space.” was the real takeaway for me.

In the old days (the 1990s), you’d have to be famous to be a thought leader. With some social media acumen, it’s fairly easy to get yourself found, read and positioned in your niche, which is a great opportunity for a new business owner.

The advent of blogs several years ago gave everyone the chance to become an author, and the evolution of social media gives every business owner a chance to promote their business. You can take it to the next level, though, by focusing your effort not on promoting the business, but becoming involved and driving conversation.

Focusing on why you do things is more important than how you do things. Social media is a great way to monitor conversations about your business and your industry. If you’re out there, responding to people, interacting on a consistent basis, you will attain that status as a thought leader.

A lot goes into starting a small business. We make it our mission to make it as easy as possible.  If you need information on incorporating your business, developing a website or creating a logo, visit our website.

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Incorporating in Illinois.

starting a business in IllinoisOur state incorporation series today focuses on the Land of Lincoln. Our website includes summary of our services, and what you’ll need to know to incorporate a business in Illinois.

 

Did you know?

Quick facts about Illinois business:

  • Illinois is the #1 state in machinery manufacturing.
  • 33 of the companies listed on Fortune 500 are located in Illinois.
  • 31.6% of all privately held firms in Illinois are owned by women.

Benefits of incorporating in Illinois

Illinois prides itself on business innovation and environmental issues, ranking #6 in installed wind power capacity, according to a report by Business Facilities.

According to the Small Business Administration, small business in Illinois accounts for 98% of the state’s employers and 48% of its private-sector employment.

Time and cost to incorporate in Illinois

The ease and speed with which a business is incorporated in Illinois can vary based on the company name and category of business activity. When incorporating an ordinary corporation or LLC, the average processing time is 15-20 business days. For an additional fee of $112, the state will expedite the process in three business days. The state’s fee to incorporate either an ordinary Illinois corporation is $175; an LLC is $500.

Direct Incorporation’s Illinois incorporation services

We offer three packages to assist you with incorporating in Illinois, with prices ranging from $149 to $773. For more information on our Illinois incorporation services, click on a link below.

  • Standard Package
  • Premier Package
  • Venture Package

Do you have questions about incorporating your business in Illinois? Please leave a comment below and I will try to answer them. Thanks!

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Incorporating Your Franchise.

Becoming a franchise owner can be profitable, if you have the right mindset. Buying into an established business plan with a recognizable name has both advantages and disadvantages.

I found an interesting article about franchises in Entrepreneur that advises asking 10 questions before entering into a franchise agreement.

In particular, the one thing that stood out was the part about the total cost of the franchise, which wisely pointed out costs of incorporation and legal fees. Each company is different, and you need to understand you will spend money franchisers will not discuss with you in any great detail.

At the risk of buying the lead, the most important thing you can do is incorporate a franchise properly. It is vital to protect yourself and your assets. Different states have different regulations, and your home state may require something vastly different that the state in which the parent company is located. Although those companies are established, and they feel comfortable in thinking their franchisees will succeed, history is no indicator of future success. Protect yourself.

If possible, speak with other franchise owners prior to committing to a franchise contract. Have your lawyer review the franchise agreement. Know your rights entering into the agreement.

Of course there are other issues you should look into before starting any business. We make it our mission to make it as easy as possible.  If you need information on incorporating your business, visit our website.

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Incorporating in Pennsylvania.

Doing business in PennsylvaniaWe’re visiting The Keystone State in our state incorporation series today. Our website includes a summary of our services, and what you’ll need to know to incorporate a business in Pennsylvania.

 

Did you know?
Quick facts about Pennsylvania:

* Pennsylvania is the world’s 15th biggest economy, ranking ahead of Australia and Switzerland.

* Six of 10 of major U.S. markets are within 500 miles of the state capital, Harrisburg.

* It ranks #3 in the country in number of colleges and universities, and is home to four of the top 50 universities in the U.S.

Benefits of incorporating in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a state that prides itself on business innovation and environmental issues, ranks #8 in installed solar capacity, and #6 in biotechnology strength, according to a report by Business Facilities.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses in Pennsylvania account for 98% of the state’s employers and 49% of its private-sector employment.

Time and cost to incorporate in Pennsylvania

The ease and speed with which a business is incorporated in Pennsylvania can vary based on the company name and category of business activity. When incorporating an ordinary corporation or LLC, the average processing time is three to four weeks. The state fee to incorporate either an ordinary Pennsylvania corporation or LLC is $125.

Direct Incorporation’s Pennsylvania incorporation services

We offer three packages to assist you with incorporating in Pennsylvania, with prices ranging from $149 to $773. For more information on our Pennsylvania incorporation services, click on a link below.

Do you have questions about incorporating your business in Pennsylvania? Please leave a comment below and I will try to answer them. Thanks! – Becky

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All work and no play? Here’s a fun game + 3 tips to coming up with a good business name.

By Becky, Public Relations at Direct Incorporation

We’re not all work and no play here at Direct Incorporation. That’s why I’m sharing a little game we found called “The Brand Game.” How many brands can you decipher from literal symbols? Share your score with us.

Okay, back to work. Here are 3 tips to coming up with a good business name.

  • Think like a customer. Choose a name that will appeal to the kind of customers you are trying to attract.
  • Think positive. Choose a name that conjures up good memories in consumers’ minds.
  • Think short. Delete names from your list that are long or hard to say.

For more helpful tips on naming your business, check out Entrepreneur’s article.

Need a logo for your new name? Contact Direct Incorporation for cost-effective logo creation services. Thanks!  – Becky

 

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