Category Archives: Legal Issues

Ready to start an online store?

With all the news about people making a ton of money online, many aspiring entrepreneurs are excited at the prospect of starting an ecommerce store. However, many people don’t think through all the things that they need to consider before they even start the process of building an ecommerce site.

Here are eight things to consider before starting an online store.

1. What Products Are You Going to Sell?

One of the most important decisions is determining which products you will sell on your online store. Your best bet is to start small – with a few select products that are based around a specific niche, i.e. breastfeeding products, scuba diving gear, hiking products, travel gadgets, hemp products, etc. Start with a handful of products in that niche – you can always add more products to your store as you grow. Check out your competition and see who you’re up against.

Be sure to pick a niche that you’re personally interested in. If you’re not interested in what you’re selling, you will quickly lose your passion.

Also, look for unique products that can’t be bought at Target, Walmart or other big brand stores — you will never be able to compete with them on price or promotion.

For instance, when I had an ecommerce site, I searched for mom- or parent-invented products that weren’t available through mass market stores. Plus, these types of product manufacturers are typically more willing to work with you on terms and drop shipping (which we will talk about in a little bit.) You can also look for innovative products to sell on crowdfunding sources like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

When you determine which niche products you’re going to sell, see if there are industry associations, trade websites or magazines. If so, join, follow and subscribe. Also, if there are product tradeshows around your product niche, attend these trade shows to discover new products, speak with the manufacturer reps directly and learn more about the industry in general. Often at the tradeshows you will be able to negotiate better pricing or drop shipping arrangements – especially if the manufacturer is launching a new product and they’re looking for new distributors.  Continue reading

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Washington business registration renewal letter scam.

Misleading Letter vs. Official Letter

Businesses in Washington should be aware of a possibly fraudulent letter claiming to be an official bill for annual business registration fees.

One letter received by an Edmonds-based business directed the business to send $121.86 to a post office box in Olympia. The letter stated, “your state annual report will not be filed until payment is received.”

The misleading letter did not include the Office of Secretary of State logo, as an official letter from the Office of Secretary of State would – see the example pictured above.  Continue reading

What are the qualified business deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

tax deductionsThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created a new 20% deduction for pass-through entities. Though the IRS has not fully interpreted the new rules—which won’t go into effect until the 2019 tax season—many of the implications are clear. This article’s companion piece examined what qualifies as a Pass-Through Entity (PTE).

This blog hopefully sheds some light on how PTEs will be impacted by the new law.

Why a Deduction for Pass-Through Entities?

Since their inception, pass-through entities have been a popular choice for entrepreneurs, especially after the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA). Better known as President Reagan’s second tax cut, the TRA was passed by Congress to simplify the tax code and adjust the federal tax brackets.  Continue reading

Is it time to change your business structure?

The process to change a business structure (for example, change from a sole proprietorship to a corporation) is the same as starting a new business.

Use the Business Licensing Wizard to get information and links that will help you do the following:

  1. Create your business structure with the Washington Secretary of State. (Skip this step if you are changing to a sole proprietor or general partnership.)
  2. Submit a new Business License Application to apply for a new Business License. You will be given a new Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number to be used on tax returns and other documents.
  3. Reapply for any applicable specialty, and/or city endorsements (for example, Nursery endorsements).

Note: You will probably need to re-apply for all of the licenses you currently have. For example, if you are a building contractor, you will need to reapply for your contractor’s license with the Department of Labor and Industries.


This information has been borrowed from the Washington State Business Licensing Service website. (link)

Paid Family & Medical Leave vs. Paid Sick Leave

What’s the difference?


Paid Family Medical vs Paid Sick Leave
It is important to note that paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave have two different sets of requirements. Both requirements include strictly-enforced measures that prevent employers from retaliating against employees in any way for the exercise of either or both rights.

Paid Family & Medical Leave

In 2019, employers in Washington will begin paying premiums for paid family and medical leave. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, employees will be able to apply for Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits. Benefits will be available for most employees who work at least 820 hours in the qualifying period.

Paid Family and Medical Leave will be a state-run insurance program that is funded by both employers and employees. Eligible employees are assured up to 12 weeks of leave as needed, with partial wage replacement. In certain exceptional cases 16-18 weeks may be taken.

The amount of this benefit varies depending on the employee’s weekly wage, median statewide incomes, and other factors.  Continue reading

An overview of the new minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements.

Changes to the state minimum wage

The minimum wage will be $11 per hour in 2017

  • The minimum wage applies to all jobs, including agriculture.
  • Employers must pay employees age 16 and older at least $11 per hour in 2017. WAC 296-126-020(app.leg.wa.gov).
  • Employers are allowed to pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to employees under age 16. WAC 296-126-020 (app.leg.wa.gov). For 2017, this rate is $9.35 per hour.
  • Seattle, Tacoma, and the City of SeaTac currently have higher minimum wage rates. The local rate applies if it is higher than the state minimum wage rate.
  • The initiative does not change overtime pay requirements.

The initiative sets future minimum wage rates Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I protect my intellectual property when working with strategic partners?

One way to grow your business is by reaching out to strategic partners who offer complementary products or services or who otherwise can work with you to the mutual advantage of both your businesses. Strategic partnerships can expand your market reach and help you achieve more sales. But giving another business intimate knowledge about your company’s inner workings may make you a bit uneasy. There’s some inherent risk involved in sharing confidential information and intellectual property (IP).

According to Marc Goldberg, a SCORE mentor with business startup and management expertise, “It is very easy to steal your ideas or even your unique approach to customer fulfillment. Very quickly you could generate a competitor by sharing information with the wrong people.”

For that reason, you need to take measures to protect your ideas, information, and innovations from theft.  Continue reading