Key Tips to Protect Your Business this Year

Key Tips to Protect Your Business this Year

by Sherry Ciurczak, December 2009

Are you ready to make sure that the first quarter of 2008 gets off to a prosperous start? If you run your own business, there are many strategies you can consider for growing your company and reaching out to new customers. But don't overlook the basics as you think about your game plan for 2008. One great way to start the new year right is to take a few fast, inexpensive steps to protect your business. Here are a few ideas.

1. Get a Power of Attorney

Have you thought about what would happen to your company if you suddenly became ill or incapacitated? A durable Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone to make business decisions and take charge of finances in the event of an emergency. One great advantage a Power of Attorney offers is control: You can choose who will make the decisions and what kind of decisions the person you designate can make. For example, you can specify that the person you choose can pay vendors, send out requests for payment, pay business taxes on your behalf or make decisions regarding your lease or property.

2. Trademark your company tagline

As a business owner, you understand the power of your brand. You worked hard to build awareness and generate trust. You can protect the results of your hard work by making sure no one else takes unfair advantage of your company's reputation by using your logo or company catch-phrase. Plus, it is easy to protect your brand tagline by applying for a federal trademark. When your logo and/or tagline is trademarked, you can prevent others from confusing your customers and weakening your brand.

3. Convert your sole proprietorship to an LLC or corporation

If you run your business as a sole proprietorship, you and your business are a single entity in the eyes of the law and taxing authorities. While that may have certain advantages, such as simpler tax returns since only one has to be filed, there are distinct disadvantages too. For example, if someone sues you due to a business related matter, you are personally liable if a judgment is found against you. Also, you must pay 15% self-employment tax on your profits, whereas if you incorporate or form a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you do not have to pay taxes on profits that remain in corporate accounts. That can offer substantial savings in some situations.

A prosperous new year

Every business is as unique as the individual who runs it. Only you fully understand your company's needs, and you alone know what is right for your business. However, as you think about ways to make your company more successful in the coming year, it pays to consider how to protect the assets you already have and to be prepared for future events.

The three ways to protect your business outlined here are all quick and easy to do. They can be relatively inexpensive, and you can accomplish all three online in a matter of minutes.