Category Archives: Blog

When Should I Incorporate?

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

When it comes to incorporation, timing is everything. Incorporate too soon, and you may be stuck paying unnecessary fees and taxes, filing unnecessary reports, and just generally wasting your time and money. Incorporate too late and you could face unlimited liability. Here are some factors to consider when timing your incorporation.

Multiple Founders

No matter how well a business with multiple founders may start, there is always the potential for disagreement and, worse yet, dissolution. To avoid this, incorporation may be a good option. After incorporation, founders are limited to the number of shares purchased. This means that each founder’s investment in the company is determined simply by the number of shares owned. This eliminates the potential for disagreement based on the amount of investment in a company by the founders. Incorporating will also allow the founders to transfer shares without potential dissolution of the business. If property (especially intellectual property) is part of a business, incorporation is a wise choice to maintain the right of the business to that property rather than any individual founder.

Contract Agreements with 3rd Parties and Employees

Incorporation status can also impact the liability of the business to 3rd parties. Liability to a 3rd party in an unincorporated business points to the owner(s)/partner(s) and may remain there even after the business has incorporated. In this case, it is the timing of the agreement with the 3rdparty, more than the timing of incorporation, that matters. Here’s an example. An unincorporated business contracts with a 3rd party to purchase supplies. In this case, the owner(s)/partner(s) of the unincorporated business are liable for this purchase agreement, even if the business incorporates at a later time. Any employees hired by the business before incorporation could also be held liable for this agreement. However, employees hired after incorporation would not be held liable. For those employees hired after incorporation, liability would fall upon the business. For this reason, before an unincorporated business hires any employees, it is wise to consider the liability issues that may arise. Note that 3rdparties can also include customers of the business.

Of course, there are other factors which should be considered when deciding whether or not to incorporate. But the general rule of thumb is that once your business idea is more than just a twinkle in your eye, you should start looking at incorporation options.

Need to incorporate? Launch by LegalShield makes it easy.

Contact George Ellison with any questions at gellisonm@aol.com to get started today.


Advanced technology

Texas Industry Partnership Program

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has dedicated $1 million to address skills gaps and ensure a talent pipeline is available to address regional industry needs.  Private employers or corporate foundations can collaborate with Workforce Solutions to apply for funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) activities that support workforce development for six designated industry clusters.

About the Program

The Texas Industry Partnership (TIP) program supports collaborations between local workforce development boards and industry partners through the leveraging of matching contributions of cash or qualifying expenditures for occupational job training. Match funds must support certain WIOA activities and focus on six designated industry clusters:

  • Advanced Technologies and Manufacturing
  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Biotechnology and Life Sciences
  • Information technology
  • Petroleum Refining and Chemical Products
  • Energy

Allowable WIOA activities include:

  • training
  • mentoring
  • support services
  • skills assessments
  • cluster analysis

Funds are available through August 30, 2020. For more information click HERE. May also contact oeitexasindustrypartnership@twc.state.tx.us.


Business Name vs Trademark

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

Two things that you to be aware of as a business owner are business names and trademarks. You will have to register your business name with the Secretary of State. If there are no other businesses using that name in the state, then no other business in that state can take and use your business name, and your business is the one that will be identified under that name. A trademark is not a legal name but rather a type of property. It has value, and is a way for you to brand your goods or services.

Differences Between Protecting a Business Name and a Trademark

One difference between a business name and a trademark is time and complexity. A business name is a very simple matter. After all, it’s just that: a name, so that others can identify you and your business. A trademark, since it is a type of property and has value, will be a more complex process. The application process, whereby your trademark would be registered by the federal government, can take up to six months, or even longer. Part of why it takes so long is that there is so much more to look into with a trademark, enforced by both state and federal governments.

Another important difference is the scope of the protection. The protection of a business name is just in the state where it is registered. And different states have different rules about just how unique a business name has to be from any others that are registered in the state. In some, a subtle difference is enough, while in others there are much tougher guidelines to keep names from being too similar. Either way, though, a business name in one state does not have to differ from names that are registered in other states. By registering with the Secretary of State, no other business in the state can use that name, but other states are completely open. And it’s even possible for corporations to use a name that’s already claimed in a particular state so long as they file a DBA, assumed business name, or trade name (which one will depend on the state, of course).

With a trademark, however, you have exclusive property rights. If you own a trademark, then you can prevent anyone else from using it—anywhere—and trademarks can be used to cover not only business names but also logos, phrases, symbols, designs, images, or any combination thereof. What you trademark, called the mark, must be different from any other mark owned by another. Depending on the mark, it might be enough to change design elements such as fonts, colors, and images to keep the marks from being deceptively similar—as long as a mark does not decrease the value of an existing mark or cause confusion among consumers about the identity of the different marks.

You must apply with the US Patent and Trademark Office, which initiates an examination period lasting up to and beyond six months. After the examination period, where a number of procedural and substantive questions are studied and taken care of, your trademark then enters the next stage: a 30-day waiting period. During this period, other parties can challenge the proposed trademark by initiating an Opposition Proceeding. If you get through the waiting period and no challenges have been substantiated, then, finally, the trademark is registered.

Federal Tax ID

Another important step for your business is getting a Federal Tax ID number, or an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Whether you are a sole proprietor or a corporation, you need an EIN to legally conduct business. The IRS uses the EIN as a way to identify a business entity. Fortunately, the number is easy to get. There are multiple ways you can get an EIN from the IRS:

  1. Fill out Form SS-4 and return it by mail or fax to the IRS (the form is available at www.irs.gov)
  2. Fill out an online application, where you answer a series of questions about your business. Be aware, though, that you must complete the entire application in one session, so you have to have all your information ready when you fill it out.
  3. An authorized third party may apply for the EIN. The third party must be authorized by, depending on the business entity, the sole proprietor, the general partnership, or the corporation itself (not just a shareholder).

An EIN is included when you form your business with Launch by LegalShield.

Contact George Ellison with any questions at gellisonm@aol.com to get started today.


Meet Samuel Alexander, founder and CEO of Concept 2 Conception (C2C)

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Samuel Alexander is the founder and CEO of Concept 2 Conception (C2C), an Austin, TX-based business providing its clients with access to a revolutionary B2B2C fashion eco system. Alexander’s experience spans more than three decades—and brings together expertise in both the fashion and technology industries. Samuel is an expert in product design/development; global sourcing/production; strategic branding/marketing; and technology integration. He was instrumental in promoting the growth and development of numerous major labels including Levi Strauss, Votre Nom Paris, Gloria Vanderbilt, Jones of New York, Shelli Segal, David Dart, Laundry, Icon Aura, Lois, Peter Golding, and Sue Wong—among many others. Alexander specializes in Smart Fashion, including Nano and Bio-Tech.

NANO AND BIO-TECH SMART FASHION

Concept 2 Consumption (C2C) Fashion and Technology is an Austin, TX-based business providing its clients with access to a revolutionary fashion ecosystem.  C2C is the vision of industry veteran, Samuel Alexander. By coupling more than three decades in fashion—with his experience leveraging technology— Alexander positions his clients to take advantage of the ever-evolving fashion industry. His latest creation, C2C, is a Global Fashion and Technology Ecosystem. 

C2C Fashion and Technology enterprise is focused on reinventing the fashion industry through a unique integration of fashion, technology, medical and the arts. The company endeavors not only to develop domestic production, but also to do so in an ecologically-sound and technologically-progressive way.

C2C Business Connect is  the business to business (B2B) platform; C2C V-Shop is the business to consumer (B2C) platform,  C2C Business Builder  is the ERP business network platform that will Integration all of end users’ into one secure seamless networks, while providing the ability to transact business in real time. These three integrated platforms enable businesses willing to harness the disruptive nature of technology to improve their competitive advantage in the global fashion industry with one complete ecosystem.

C2C Co-Lab provides Co-Lab incubation to fashion and technology-related startups

With partners from private industry, government and education, C2C is building a creative company characterized by organizing, collaboration, incubation, and acceleration that will serve as model for the global fashion industry.  If you are interested in exploring how you might join in the collaboration, please contact Samuel Alexander directly.

 Harnessing the Disruptive Nature of Technology to Transform the Fashion Industry


The Benefits of Incorporation

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

One of the most important decisions a business makes is choosing how it is organized. Incorporation may be wise, but for some, it may be unnecessary. Each business should carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of incorporation before choosing. The biggest benefits of incorporating are the 3Ls: Life, Liquidity, and Liability.

Life

A good way to understand a corporation is to imagine it as a separate “person” (with limited rights and privileges). Incorporating a business means creating that corporate “person,” making the business separate from the owner (in a sense, the business “lives” on its own). The corporation actually exists independent of its shareholders/owners and employees. The corporation itself continues to exist in perpetuity until and unless the directors and shareholders decide to dissolve a corporation. In a sole proprietorship or general partnership, the owner is synonymous with the business – what affects the owner might affect the business. The owner’s personal debt or liability could lead to creditors to pursuing the assets of the business regardless of whether or not the debt or liability is related to the business. An owner’s personal bankruptcy can also open up a business’s assets to any creditors the owner or partner is liable to. By incorporating, the personal finances of the owner or partner remain separate from the finances of the corporation, allowing the business to continue without disruption. In the event of an owner or partner’s untimely death, the business is generally dissolved regardless of the wishes of the owner or partner(s). All of this can be avoided simply by incorporating the business as a separate entity.

Liquidity

As much as we like to think that business owners should remain committed to the success of their business, there may be times when an owner or partner needs to leave the business. One big benefit of incorporation is that it allows the transferability of interest from one person to another. Generally, a partner cannot transfer his/her interest to another without the express consent of other partners. If a partner decides to leave the partnership against the will of the other partners, the partnership is automatically dissolved. Incorporating a business removes this limitation and lets shareholders/owners freely transfer their interest to another without the approval or consent of other shareholders. Some small businesses may see the transferring restrictions as a good thing to help control how a shareholder may transfer his/her interest and to whom. In that case, incorporation allows this flexibility as well. The free transferability of shares is a default rule, but by is not mandatory for all incorporated businesses. Businesses can place restrictions on the transferability of certain shares. Incorporation lets the business decide whether or not to take advantage of this option. More importantly, incorporation prevents a minority shareholder from being able to dissolve a business without cause.

Liability

One of the greatest benefits of incorporation is that it limits the liability of the shareholders. Any debt or liability against a specific shareholder remains separate from the corporation. The opposite is also true. Debts or liabilities against a corporation don’t open up the shareholders’ assets to creditors. A shareholder’s liability in any corporate debt is limited to what the shareholder invested, unless there is fraud. In a sole proprietorship or general partnership, the owner(s) and/or general partners are totally liable for any debt or liability against the business. If the business can’t pay the debt, the creditor can go after personal assets of an owner or partner until the debt is met. In a corporation, a creditor can only go after assets to the extent the shareholder is invested into the corporation. As a result, the corporation can make business decisions without endangering the assets of its shareholder, beyond the level of each shareholder’s investment. Risk is necessary and unavoidable in business. However, anything that minimizes investor risk will make a business more attractive to investors, so the limited liability aspect of business incorporation makes it a huge advantage for most business owners.

Taxes

The major detriment to incorporation is taxes. In a sole proprietorship or partnership, taxable income flows directly to the owner and/or partners and is taxed at the individual’s income tax level. However, the corporation is considered a separate entity, and therefore its income is taxed first under a corporate tax. If remaining income is distributed to shareholders, that income is taxed again based on the individual’s income tax bracket. This is essentially double taxation. The marginal tax rate for a corporation may also be significantly higher than the marginal rate for sole proprietors. Although this characteristic may deter a business from incorporating, double-taxation can be avoided by taking advantage of the options given to a corporation by various states. Two options include incorporating as an S-corporation or filing as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). As an LLC or S-corp, taxable income flows directly to the shareholders/members (without being taxed twice) while maintaining the benefits of incorporation. The 3Ls are important, but they are not the only benefits. There’s also a psychological benefit to incorporating that goes beyond the numbers or legal concerns. Incorporation can seem daunting, but it’s an exciting moment in the life of a business. Conceived as an idea, a business is born at the point of incorporation. This psychological step of seeing the business as a real entity will motivate and inspire you to greater achievement.

Reduced Chance of Tax Audit

Sole proprietors are more likely to file an incorrect tax return, as many are self-prepared. They also tend to under-report revenue and over-report deductions. In recent years the IRS has audited a higher percentage of sole proprietor tax filings than corporate filings. In tax year 2006 for example, a Schedule C filer had a 1 in 32 chance of being audited. For non-business filers, the odds were 1 in 124. It clearly shows that sole proprietors are a lot more likely to be audited.

Build Credibility

Establishing a professional identity helps increase credibility with your customers and sets you apart from the competition. Most businesses choose to incorporate to reinforce their legitimacy to customers and suppliers. Adding “INC.” or “LLC” after your business name adds credibility and professionalism that goes a long way with many customers.

You can certainly file all the necessary incorporation documents yourself. However, when you consider the time involved for filing, administering, and maintaining all of these documents, it makes sense to get help. Let us help you get it done, so you can spend time actually growing and running your business.

  • Forming a business with Launch by LegalShield is a cost-effective way to protect personal assets and gain potential tax savings.
  • Our incorporation services start at just $145 (plus required government fees).
  • Lawyers charge, on average, over $200 per hour. With our document filing services, you’ll know exactly what you are getting, and how much it will costs from the very beginning.

With Launch by LegalShield, it’s easy. 

Contact George Ellison with any questions at gellisonm@aol.com to get started today.


Marina Bhargava, President and CEO of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Marina Bhargava is the President and CEO of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC). She oversees its overall operation and execution of the Chamber’s goals and objectives.

Marina earned her B.A. and M.A. in economics from Northwestern University. Her career has been in a variety of industries, ranging from benefits consulting at Hewitt Associates to family owned plastics manufacturing. Prior to joining the Chamber, she was the Language Access and Outreach Coordinator for Asian Family Support Services of Austin, a domestic violence agency where she created trainings for and built relationships with the various Asian communities in Austin, and recruited and managed 20 contract interpreter advocates.

Marina currently serves on the board of Community Advancement Network and as an advisory board member of Indie Meme. She was a member of the Austin Area Research Organization’s McBee Fellows Class of 2015 and served on the Mayor’s Task Force for Institutional Racism, Economic Prosperity Commission, E3 Alliance’s Student Success Strike Force committee, and Austin Community College’s Equity Leadership Advisory Team.


All Adults Need a Will, No Matter Your Stage in Life

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

Do you have a Will? Perhaps you don’t think you need one yet. When you hear the word “Will,” it probably conjures up an image of elderly grandparents dividing their possessions to make sure their loved ones get what they want after their deaths. It sounds like a lot of hassle that is only a concern for someone who has lived a long life. “Sure,” you may be saying, “I need a Will, but I don’t need it yet. I’ll get around to that later in life, when a Will is more important and more timely.”

Did you know that it isn’t just the elderly who need a Will? Anybody who has people they love and possessions they care about would benefit from creating a Will. In a Will, you can do much more than simply stipulate who gets what. Parents can provide for their minor children, adults can decide what will happen to their pets when they are gone, and even millennials can find great peace of mind in creating a Will.

Why young adults should consider having a will.

If you are a millennial, you are probably questioning that last statement. However, millennials need a Will just as much as any other age group. While they are full of energy, young adults love to travel around the country or even the world. They will have many thrilling adventures; they will also find that their risk of injury, illness and death greatly increases. A Will safeguards a millennial’s assets as they explore the world.

Even childless adults may have concerns beyond simply dividing their possessions. Many pet owners would do anything to ensure their pet’s safety after their passing. When you create a Will, you can include your furry friends and choose a pet guardian to love your furry friend like you do.

Treasures of both physical and digital natures can be included in a Will. You can decide where your prized possessions will go after your passing, even naming specific organizations if you wish to donate certain items. You can also make plans for your  social media accounts. It can be difficult for other people to get a social media account permanently taken down after an account owner’s sudden death. In a Will, you can take inventory of your digital assets and officially choose a trusted, tech-savvy person called a Digital Executor to take care of your accounts after you are gone.

A will is a must for expecting parents or those with small children.

“Okay,” you may say, “that’s all great for a millennial. But I’m a parent of young children. How does a Will come in handy for me?” Well, there are several ways.

For young parents, a Will isn’t just about taking care of their assets. It’s about taking care of their children as well. If parents leave their minor children without a Will, the local courts will usually appoint a family member to watch out for the kids. But what if that family member isn’t someone parents would want to care for their children? Parents can designate a trusted person to act as legal guardian for their kids – someone they know they can rely on to love and provide for their children.

If parents pass away without having a Will, their property and money might go directly to their children by state intestate law. But what is a minor child going to do with all that sudden responsibility? Many people prefer to leave their assets to their spouse or dedicated caretaker, who can then use it in the children’s best interests. If a parent has retirement accounts, they can designate beneficiaries for those accounts so that the funds can go directly to the people they name without probate.

Life insurance is another crucial option for parents to consider. This policy could replace the parent’s earnings for a few years, ensuring survivors have quick access to funds to support the rest of the family. Parents can lay out terms and conditions for this in their Will.

Update your will regularly.

Perhaps none of this applies to you. Maybe you are a senior adult who already has a Will, so you think you’ve taken care of all the necessities. However, there are a few things that senior adults might not know about when it comes to taking care of property and loved ones through their Will.

Did you know that Wills need to be updated? If a senior made their Will several years ago, it might not still be relevant. If some significant life changes have happened since the creation of that Will, it will need updated accordingly. For example, a divorce, remarriage, birth or adoption of a new child, and other big life changes are all reasons to update a Will.

Some senior adults believe they need to create a trust for their grandchildren to receive their money after their passing. Instead, adults can pick a trustee to manage the money for the grandchildren. They can decide at what age the grandchildren may come into possession of that money, and the trustee will pay it to the grandchildren when they reach that age.*

Creating a will has never been easier!

It is plain and simple: No matter what age you are, you need a Will. One of the greatest benefits to a LegalShield Membership is the ability to create a Will. August is Make-a-Will month, reminding you that now is the perfect time to complete your Will. If you do not have a Will or want to make revisions to your existing Will, lawyers from LegalShield’s dedicated provider law firms are here to help. LegalShield provides quick answers, professional consultation and further guidance to make sure your Will is everything you desire.  With LegalShield, members can easily start the process to create their Will and even have it updated annually. Learn More about the importance of having a Will and how LegalShield can help.

Disclaimer: The examples above are for illustration purposes only and are not actual accounts. These are intended to provide a general overview of LegalShield’s personal legal plan coverage. See a plan contract for complete terms, coverage, pricing, conditions and limitations.  This is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact an attorney for any legal advice or assistance. *Trusts are provided at a discounted hourly rate.

Contact George Ellison with any questions at gellisonm@aol.com to get started today.


Meet Ana Barajas, a Colombian musician and co-founder of 1020 Music Lab

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Ana Barajas is a Colombian musician based in Austin since 2011. She is currently the singer of the renowned Hora Once Tango Ensemble, which whom she has performed in venues such as The Long Center, Austin Bergstrom Airport, Central Market, among others. They also perform regularly in Austin and Central Texas at Festival, special events and private parties.

While in Bogotá, this musician and political scientist, performed actively in the Colombian rock scene and toured throughout Latin America. She has also collaborated with different recordings locally and internationally, including projects from Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Italy.

In 2015 she finished her studies in Music Business, Performance and Technology in ACC and since then she has been working continuously as a singer and as a producer. She is the co-founder of 1020 Music Lab, a company dedicated to creating music for audiovisual projects, advertising, institutional videos and video games.


Branding your business for success

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

By Monica Peña with MUNDU Media, LLC

Does your business make a good first impression? Have been in business for a while and still seem to not attract the clients you desire? I see this too often with clients that have not invested any energy, money, or time in their brand. Branding is vital to the existence of your business or propelling you to the next level. Branding consist of your visual presentation, including your logo, color scheme, font, business name, and tagline.  Branding helps with perceived professionalism and creating an identity for your company.

Here is a few things to consider when creating your image.

  1. What colors are used in your industry and why? How do these colors make people feel?
  2. Define your key goals.
  3. Understand your target audience. What font and verbiage will attract this group.
  4. Project the correct content to create the persona for your company. This creates. personality and identity.

Once you have decided on the ideal branding for your company, make sure it is  consistent through your offline on online marketing efforts. Signage. social media, emails, web site, social media, and more.


Creative space Co.lab

CO.LAB Community Makers creative space by the community for the community

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

CO.LAB Community Makers aims to level the playing field by becoming allies who break down historical and economic barriers so that innovators of color, women, the queer community, and other underrepresented groups are more recognized as an essential part of Austin’s creative community. The donation-based and volunteer-driven studio provides the community makers with ongoing training & support, materials, and space in the North Austin area. The creative space (conveniently located off of Burnet a few blocks from 183) offers crafting materials, event hosting, coworking space, camps, community outreach, and training in fabrication tools.

For more information on this nonprofit, check out their site: http://www.colabcommunitymakers.org/


Get Updates

Receive monthly information on resources, event reminders, meet influencers, and more in our area.

Follow Us

FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Recent Posts