Laying Your Business Foundation, Part 2: Business Formation

In this series we will take about business formation. If you have not read Part One, stop what you are doing and read the article now.

Again, laying your business foundation requires the same intensity as building a bridge, school, museum or any beautiful structure. It takes planning, time and execution, which means doing whatever, needs to be doing to complete the project.

I cannot tell you which business formation is best for your business, only you can make those types of decision. Your attorney, spouse, children or friends cannot shape your reality for you, it’s personal. Before making a decision or selecting which business formations consult with a licensed attorney and accountant to advise you of your legal rights.

Let’s begin…

Sole Proprietorship (SP)

The term “sole proprietorship” means that the business is the same as its owner. The assets and liabilities of the business are one and the same as the owner. There is no mandatory filing requirement on the state level; however, a sole proprietor may register a trade name. Although I do not recommend this entity; however the choice is yours.

Advantages

No other documents needed to open a bank account; purchase materials or supplies needed for the business and you can file taxes under your name. There are other reasons but these are the main reasons for doing so.

Disadvantages

You are responsible for any lawsuits against your company; therefore, this will affect your family well-being. Lenders do not see your business entity as a mom and pop business without any growth. Vendors are less likely to extend credit for major purchases. Contractors, governmental agencies prefer to utilize the services of a company that is not a sole proprietorship.

Incorporated (Inc)

A corporation is a type of legal entity, often formed to conduct business. A corporation is an institution that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. The incorporated entity can be very complex; however, you can delegate these complexities to someone who is skilled with incorporation such as an attorney or accountant who are knowledgeable about business laws and taxation.

Advantages

Your business will be accepted as a major contender within the business arenas. You and your businesses are separate entities which mean if your company is ever sued or liable the plaintiff can only charge the company not you personally. Lenders are more apt to lend funds to an established corporation entity compared to other business structures. You are telling the world that you are serious about expanding, growing and or selling your business. There are a number of good advantages to this particular entity and the decision is entirely up to you.

Disadvantages

The number one disadvantage is double taxation. You or your account will have to file taxes in the company name and your name. This drives most potential companies to sway from incorporating under this business entity. Contact your attorney and account to help you navigate through the incorporation process.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)

A form of business whose owners enjoy limited liability, but is not a corporation. The State of Wyoming is known as the LLC formation capital since 1976.

Note: Wyoming is not the only state that welcomes LLC formations.

Advantages

LLC members are afforded limited liability and have pass-through taxes similar to a partnership. By forming LLC instead of a corporation, you get all the benefits of forming a corporation but you avoid a few drawbacks that you would run into if you formed a corporation. Specifically, when you form a corporation, you subject yourself to double taxation and excessive paperwork. Both of those annoyances can be avoided if you form LLC. The LLC allows for multiple owners, or members. Additionally, there is a managing member, who also enjoys the benefits of limited liability and is typically the person responsible for managing the business. Members of LLC can be other companies, trusts, organizations or individuals. Members share power, ownership and responsibility over the LLC operations based upon an agreement each member signs upon formation of the company.

Note: If you are the only LLC member or manager you are allowed to use the 1040 or 1040-A filing forms. Check with your accountant or tax provider for advice.

Disadvantages

The entity we were forming will be seeking outside investment and will be offering stock options to employees. Many angel investors and venture capital firms are not lenient about investing in LLC because it’s a new business formation that is not well understood. When raising capital, it helps to keep things simple and avoid anything that makes an investor think twice.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

A partnership where a partner’s liability for the debts of the partnership is limited except in the case of liability for acts of professional negligence or malpractice. In some states LLP may only be formed for purposes of practicing a licensed profession, typically attorneys, accountants and architects. This is often the only form of limited partnership allowed for law firms (as opposed to general partnerships).

Advantages

Both LLC and LLP entities are treated as pass-through entities for federal tax purposes. This means that the owners report company profits and losses on their personal income tax forms. The business itself is not subject to a federal income tax, as a corporation.

Disadvantages

LLP offer the same type of limited liability that of LLC; however, some states require a minimum of one partner of LLP liable for the obligations of the company. There are other business formations; however, these are the most popular.

Until Next Time! Stay tuned to “Laying Your Business Foundation.”

The overall scope for choosing a business formation is to give your business an identity that is separate your personal identity. Doing so will level the placing field within the business community should you choose to grow or expand your business. The topic of discussion for the next article of “Laying Your Business Foundation – Part 3”: Customer Service.

Family Business, Non-Family Business, Urban Myths.

After 20 years of working with Senior Executives across the world it’s interesting to see the mistakes when appointing Senior Executives. There can be many reasons why, but one reason is not understanding the differences of working in a Family Business and a Non-Family Business. I’ve recently met several Senior Executives who are unhappy with their employment because of this lack of knowledge and understanding and I’m meeting Business owners who didn’t realise there was a difference. These Business Owners feel that money and title is enough and stick to the Mantra of “Surely experienced ‘C’ level Executives can work in any company?”

Due to the change of economy, I have become more involved with assisting Family Businesses rather than just the corporates in finding ‘C’ level people. To do this successfully I believe that everyone in the process of hiring Senior Executives must understand the differences that separate the two entities. Having worked for an English and Indian Family Business in a past life this has helped me at first hand to see the ups and downs of these Businesses; this with a theoretical base has helped with running my own companies or advising others with theirs.

One recent company I have been involved with was run and founded by a successful New Zealand Entrepreneur. He does not have anybody in his immediate family to hand the reins over to. He has tried (outside the family) executives to fill his ‘C’ level roles and has had three people in three years! What is the problem? Was this a real Family Business? Was the Problem his, or the Executives?

We discussed the reasons for the failures but in terms of assisting the owner I got him to firstly look at where his people came from. All three had been ‘C’ level people in corporates and had done an excellent job in their corporate environment. They all returned to corporate life and continued to do well in their new roles. Why did they fail then in this successful company?

What I needed the owner to do was to identify a “Family Business”. I don’t normally use dictionary definitions but feel that in this instance Wikipedia gives a satisfactory explanation of a Family Business;

“A commercial organization in which decision-making is influenced by multiple generations of a family-related by blood or marriage-who are closely identified with the firm through leadership or ownership. Owner-manager entrepreneurial firms are not considered to be family businesses because they lack the multigenerational dimension and family influence that create the unique dynamics and relationships of family businesses” Wikipedia 2014.

We looked at his company and although he didn’t have anyone in the immediate family to take over the reins he had people who owned the company in minor leadership roles. We both agreed he did in fact have a Family Business.

He thought that buying in top salaried ‘C’ level Executives from corporates would enhance growth and sustain his business. He had not seen any differences between Family and Non-Family Business.

Urban Myths for Family Businesses;

All are unstable Small to Midsize businesses’.
As an Executive I don’t want to baby sit the junior family members so they can take over my job.
A non-family member will never run the company.
Mother and Father Companies, the only people that matter in the company are family members.
Emotional hard to work places due to family disagreements/arguments.
Incompetent family members in positions of authority.
Are these statements true or are they just Urban Myths?

Family businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy and now merit serious consideration by Senior Executives looking to advance their careers. This is an amazing turnaround from 25 years ago when nobody wanted to work for a family-owned business. There now seem to be many positives;

Patricia Epperlein from InterSearch reports that;

In the USA, 90% of businesses are family-owned. They contribute towards 40% of that nation’s GNP and pay approximately half of its total wages.

59% of France’s Top-500 industrial companies are family-owned.

It is estimated that 70% to 85% of all businesses worldwide are family-owned.

Tom O’Neil NZ Herald. Jan 2014 states;

Small to medium businesses are the lifeblood of New Zealand industry. Various sources cite family businesses as representing 75 per cent of Kiwi firms, providing up to 80 per cent of employment and 65 per cent of national GDP.

It’s interesting to note that when companies around the world state that they are a “Family Business” they are trying to reinforce positive family values of, Integrity, honesty, trust and loyalty.

Not all Family Businesses’ are SMEs. Companies like;

Porsche
WalMart
Tata Group.
In New Zealand the Talley Family (Agribusiness) and the Pandey family (Hotels).
Simon Peacocke of BDO Auckland, an accredited Family Business Advisor works with numerous NZ Family Businesses and feels that they do well because of the following reasons;

Family businesses think very long-term and are very resilient, much more so than non-family businesses.

Second and third generation family business members start their apprenticeship at a very young age. At 5 years old they are hearing their parents talking about the business so they have an incredible depth of knowledge to draw on.

Their relationships with staff and communities also tend to be different – closer, more connected, more loyal.

Staff tend to become part of the family business and to stay on as long-term committed employees.

While corporates like to be seen supporting their communities, family businesses generally don’t promote they are doing this – they just do it.

They don’t throw lots of money at things trying to get rich quick.

They also have a powerful focus on building relationships with staff, customers and suppliers.

So is it worth working for a family company? Is it better to work for a Non-Family Business? Is there any difference when the economy is good or is in a slump?

Nicolas Kachaner 2012 in the Harvard Business Review states,

“Results show that during good economic times, family-run companies don’t earn as much money as companies with a more dispersed ownership structure. But when the economy slumps, family firms far outshine their peers. And when we looked across business cycles from 1997 to 2009, we found that the average long-term financial performance was higher for family businesses than for non-family businesses in every country we examined”.

Senior Executives looking for longevity in the work place should look at the Family Business as this would take them through economies varying peaks and troughs. They will need to be aware that this will always be done in a cost effective way.

Business Consultants believe that they can tell easily if the company is Family or Non-Family Business. You just walk into the Head Office. A Non-family office has a very substantial corporate office with a “Wow Factor”. The Family business being more Frugal has very few “Bells and Whistles”. This Frugality is about the Family Business CEO looking to invest in the long term 20 year plan with the business passing down the generations. The Non-Family CEO is looking to make an instant mark and will try and outperform the person they have taken over from. There are many studies that show that Family Businesses did better in the recent Global recession for the above reason. The Family Business is frugal in the good times and the bad allowing them to weather the storms of economic crisis.

This is one of the factors that had been wrong in my client with three ‘C’ Level people in three years. His ‘C’ level people came in with a quick turnaround plan which they hoped would give a quick fix and outspending the last person in the hope that they would do something instantly. No twenty year plan for them as they had never been afforded this way of working in the past.

Do Family Businesses perform differently in other countries?

Justin Craig, PhD states,

“Interestingly, in many aspects family businesses as a sector do not vary much from country to country. There are obvious cultural differences but a business with family involvement is challenging in every country. It is also more rewarding than the ‘corporates’, let’s not forget that. Of course, there are older businesses in Europe, for example, than in Australia and New Zealand and the United States, and the mind-sets of companies in Europe will differ than in the later developed countries. But day to day the differences are not noticeable. Older businesses have more at stake and lots more to lose but they also have advantages. Family leaders still have to manage three independent and interdependent systems being the family, the business and the ownership group”.

Appointing the right Senior Executives is crucial to any company and is a costly acquisition. There are many reasons why hiring at this level goes wrong but getting it right can make a huge difference to your company.

To answer one of my questions, can a ‘C’ Level person work in any type of Business, Family or Non-Family?

Yes, but only if they are armed with the knowledge of the differences of the two. What they must also be sure of is the type of business that they are going to work in as sometimes this can be a cloudy issue, making it difficult for them to decide which one it is. Look at those mighty corporate companies of Porsche, Tata and Walmart to name a few.

Finding the right ‘C’ Level Executive is a lengthy process and shouldn’t be rushed, if you need to rush you are better to go down the Executive Leasing Route in the short term which will allow you to take a breath and get the right permanent person in place. Work with your inside team or your outside partners to establish a good process, so the firm can articulate the process to the Senior Executives. Everyone appreciates the fact that there is a well thought-out plan in place.

For me, I decided a long time ago not to build a Family Business. I wanted to give my children the best in life, but wanted them to make their own way in life too. My children might disagree but as one is studying to be a Barrister and one is settled in a corporate I will wait and see if I need to step in? I have however, always agreed with Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett who said, “He would give his kids just enough so that they could do anything, but not so much as they did nothing”.

How to Use a Facebook Group to Grow Your Home-Based Business

Facebook is no longer just a fun way to reconnect with old friends or to post pictures of your kid’s birthday party. It has quickly evolved into a powerful tool that is reshaping how people do business. There are more than 400 million Facebook users. If Facebook were its own country, it would be the third-largest country in the world today.

No longer do you have to conduct a long and expensive market survey to see what customers think about a company, product or service. Those key customers are on Facebook telling you what they think. Businesses can now communicate directly with their customers in real time, getting instant feedback – a marketing dream come true.

You don’t have to be a billion-dollar corporation to build a following on Facebook. One good way for home-based business owners to capitalize on the power of Facebook is to create a Group. Here’s how:

1. Develop relationships. Don’t just start inviting anyone and everyone to join your group. Develop relationships with people first. Don’t post things that are only talk about your business. Make it subtle at first.

2. Create your group and invite people to join. Invite current customers, fellow business members and anyone who you think might be interested in keeping up with what’s going on in your business. Just use the “Invite People to Join” link to the left of your group’s main page. Your members can also invite others to join your group. Come up with some incentives, such as free products, to encourage people to invite their friends to join.

3. Send messages about important announcements or events. The cool thing about the Facebook Group is that it allows you to send messages to everyone in your group. If you have new products or deals to announce, if you want to invite people to an event or just have something important to say, message everyone at the same time. But don’t overdo it. You don’t want to spam everyone. Keep it to about one message per week or less.

4. Encourage people to write on your wall. When people post something on the group wall, everyone who is a member of that group can see it on their Facebook Home screen; so can all of their friends, which might intrigue other people to come check out your group. This is a natural and, more importantly, viral way to increase your contacts. Interested people who run across your group may join, and then invite others to join. As the administrator of your group, post frequent

5. Post photos and videos. You can post photos of events, new products or whatever you think might promote your group. You also have the option of letting members post their own photos or videos. Many cell phones now have video features, and you can upload your videos and pictures straight from your phone. You can pick up a decent-quality flip-cam for around $200. Film videos of demonstrations, testimonials or events. Encourage group members to comment on photos.

Facebook continues to evolve as an effective business- and network-building tool. These are just a few basic tips on how to use Facebook to promote your business.