A question we often encounter is “Should I incorporate?” The short answer is “Absolutely”.
As usual, I am not an attorney or financial advisor, so nothing you read on this site should be construed as legal or professional financial advice. That said, in my experience incorporation provides many benefits to a small business, compared to operating as a proprietorship or as an LLC. The only real cost is that of an extra tax return each year and some annual shareholder meetings and so on. The benefits to incorporating include:
• Clear division between business and personal income, expenses and deductions.
• Well-defined ownership interests and responsibilities.
• A more professional cachet.
• Greater access to more and better business-to-business opportunities.
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When running a small business, you wear many hats, and time management skills become essential to success. The Naval Academy taught a simple time management system to incoming plebes each year, and I’ve adapted that system over the years to running SoftBaugh. A “time management system” can also be thought of as a “task management system”, since you use time to accomplish tasks. Over the years, I’ve tried most of the big names for planning systems and software, including web- and cloud-based systems, but I keep coming back to the old reliable pen and paper method that works for me. Plus, what I use doesn’t take up half the briefcase with giant planning books, and I can walk around on a project site without stuff falling out everywhere. Better, my planner is always “connected”. This system incorporates four major low tech components:
• A wall-mounted whiteboard
• A large, year-long paper calendar
• Full sheets of scrap paper
• 100-page, wide ruled, bound composition books
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Back in 1998, we started SoftBaugh to give ourselves a vehicle to do two things: a) design, manufacture and sell our own products, and b) help others do the same.
The road to that point, and the road since, has been a long and winding one. At the Naval Academy, some friends and I started a company. The Marine Corps sent me to learn sales and marketing skills at Xerox to prepare me for recruiting duty. While an Operations Officer at Marine Corps Recruiting Station Cincinnati, I first became exposed to the bimonthly Midnight Engineering magazine, and even had an article published in that magazine about time management skills as taught at the Naval Academy. That magazine, and some phone calls with Bill Gates (the real one who ran the magazine; that software guy is a different one) planted the seed for me to run my own business.
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