The first step in starting a business is to choose a name. In my article on How to Start a Business in Las Vegas, I say, simply, “make sure no one else has it.” Maybe I need to elaborate.
In addition to ensuring no one else has the entity name by checking with the Secretary of State, making sure no one else has licensed the name with local business license bureaus, and making sure you can reserve a domain with your company name, you want to check the federal trademark database.
Whether you go to all this trouble really depends on the type of company you have and its potential for growth. If you are Joe’s Mobile Detailing, chances are you’ll stick within
Continue reading Small Business Horror Story #5: Trademark Denied
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website is incredibly helpful in educating people about the trademark process. However, there are some pitfalls not covered by the site that I’ve encountered in helping my clients. And because I’m all about warning my clients about pitfalls, I am writing this article. First, you don’t necessarily need to file a formal application for a trademark. Simply by using the mark in commerce, whether it be a name, a logo design, or both, you get some degree of protection as long as you can prove you were using it first. You can even use the little “TM” or “SM” next to your logo without having filed a formal registration with the USPTO. Getting an official trademark from
Continue reading Trademark Basics
I just got a call from someone who wants to resign from his company, leaving his partner behind. He was surprised to learn there is far more to this process than simply filing the resignation paperwork with the Secretary of State.
First, is there an operating agreement (for an LLC) or a shareholder agreement (for a corporation)? If so, that document should dictate how one owner can terminate his or her interest in the business. A good owner’s agreement will also spell out a formula for calculating how much money the remaining partner must pay the leaving partner for his interest in the business.
Even if the leaving partner doesn’t want any money and just wants out, chances are he is tied to the business in more ways
Continue reading Leaving a Business
One of my clients recently called in a panic because she had just received a notice that the trademarks I’d filed on her behalf were cancelled. As it turns out, the notice was a fake. It looked official and made reference to the USPTO, but tried to deceive her into paying the company that sent it extra money to revive the applications.
The USPTO enclosed a notice about these deceptive solicitations with a trademark I recently received. An article on their website describes the types of notices to watch out for and what to do if you receive one. In short, if you suspect a solicitation is deceptive, file a complaint with the FTC at www.FTC.gov.
Also, e-mail the USPTO at TMFeedback@uspto.gov, preferably including a copy of the
Continue reading Beware Unofficial Trademark Solicitations
Yay! Believe it or not, Clark County and the Cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas have agreed on something. I know, right?
A June 21, 2012 press release announces the first phase of multijurisdictional licensing for contractors!
The insanely maddening process of having to go to each jurisdiction to secure a separate license and pay separate fees has been simplified. I’ll wait while you pick your chin up off the floor.
Thanks to the implementation of a central database that the jurisdictions share, now contractors can go to one place and pay their fees and submit their applications and…wait for it…the office will forward the application and fees to the proper jurisdiction. No more bureau-hopping, which is like club-hopping except with elevator music
Continue reading Streamlined Business Licenses for Contractors
“Why do I need a business plan? Writing one is so difficult and I don’t have time!”
A business plan is the blue print for your business. It tells others the projected course of action for your business over a period of time.
If you are in need of OPM (Other People’s Money) for your business, a business plan is critical. Banks, lenders, and investors will thoroughly examine your plan in order to decide whether or not to finance your business venture.
A well-executed plan will describe your business including: the market conditions, the industry, your competition, plan of operations, marketing strategies, problem-solving strategies, and management policies.
The financial projections may be the most important component of the plan. Institutional lenders and sophisticated investors will expect to see the following in your plan:
an income statement, a
Continue reading Why Do I Need a Business Plan?
Now, if you are a loyal reader of my blog, and I’m sure you are (wink, wink)…you read my article on the benefits of incorporating. And if you’ve done some homework, you’ve discovered that Nevada is a pretty friendly place to incorporate your business. In addition to having no state income tax, and relatively low business licensing fees, along with a Secretary of State who’s not only a total badass but also highly motivated to make Nevada the next Delaware, Nevada continues to improve the business climate with developments such as the Series LLC.
With our tragically depressed housing market, investors are swooping in and buying multiple properties at once. Traditionally, in order for a landlord to protect those investments, each parcel would have to be placed in
Continue reading What is a Series LLC?
I sometimes get calls from people asking whether they should incorporate. When I am somehow able to stifle my automatic “YES YOU SHOULD!” knee-jerk reaction, I calmly provide some semblance of a well-reasoned argument in favor of incorporating.
Now, to clarify, by “incorporating” I don’t necessarily mean forming a corporation. I simply mean forming an entity so that you are no longer operating your business as a sole proprietor. The choice of entity includes a corporation, LLC, LLP, LLLP, and some other more obscure entity forms that I have yet to run across. The two most common entities I deal with are the corporation and the LLC. For either a corporation or an LLC, you start with registering the entity at the state level and obtaining a state business license.
Continue reading To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate?
On April 23, 2012, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Amazon.com announced an agreement that Amazon would begin collecting sales tax on purchases made by Nevada residents starting at least January 1, 2014.
Even when Nevada residents make a purchase that doesn’t involve paying sales tax, Nevada law requires them to remit the equivalent sales tax to the state. Few residents do so, however, and for this reason Amazon.com has come under fire from states who argue that its failure to collect sales tax has given it an unfair advantage over local retailers, mostly small businesses, operating within each state.
With this new agreement, small businesses will enjoy a more level playing field with the online retailer and states can recapture some $23 billion in lost revenue.
Previously, entities such as LLCs and corporations in Nevada could apply for an exemption from the $200 annual state business license fee if the business was home-based and made less than approximately $26,000 a year.
Today, the Secretary of State issued a press release about its regulation clarifying that the exemption was intended to apply only to natural persons – sole proprietors and general partnerships – and not to entities.
Therefore, effective immediately, all entities must pay the $200 annual state business license fee.