New Business Owner? Avoid These Common Startup Mistakes

The startup life can be exciting and for many the learning curve is huge. In the midst of growth and opportunity, many entrepreneurs make costly legal mistakes which can be easily avoided with the proper preparation. Here are some of the most common legal missteps made by businesses in the startup phase:

Not Drafting a Clear Founder Agreement

A crystal-clear agreement between co-founders before you start making a profit (or losses, as the case may be) will prevent financial misunderstandings about who gets what and when. Decide early on how profits will be distributed and losses made up to avoid much bigger conflict down the road. Use the “Agreement Process” (part of our LIFT Foundation System) to determine how you handle the hard issues, right up front, before you make big investments.

 Starting as a Sole Proprietorship

Sole proprietorships are easy to set up but expose you to personal risk and potentially higher taxes. Consider an LLC or S-Corporation to protect your personal assets and possibly even reduce your tax burden.

Ignoring Securities Laws When Issuing Stock

They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same adage applies to startups. If you want to issue stock to those who’ve helped you along the way, heed all state and federal securities laws. Contact us before you issue any stock, so we can get you set up right.

Not Having Enough Employment Documentation

Every startup should have a set of comprehensive employment (or independent contractor) agreements in its arsenal. Avoid the high cost of resolving employee conflicts in court by making sure your policies and agreements are absolutely clear, and that you’ve properly categorized team members as either employees, or independent contractors. If you aren’t sure, contact us.

Neglecting IP Protections

Your intellectual property is an asset, and should be protected from day one. That means trademarks registered, and copyrights filed. If you aren’t sure what needs protecting, contact us to get an audit scheduled.

Failing to Develop a Tax Strategy

If you’re not making a lot of money, why worry about taxes, right? Think again. Work with a tax advisor to develop a tax strategy, and don’t wait until tax season to do so! We meet with our clients’ and their tax advisor at least annually in the Fall to begin identifying the tax opportunities that must be planned for well before year end.

Negligent Naming

Before you register your name or your domain, make sure there aren’t any trademarks or similarly named companies already using your name.

Not Having Clear User Agreements

Don’t launch your website without getting terms of use agreement and privacy policy in place and on your site. We can help with that too.

Perhaps the biggest legal mistake a startup can make is not having good legal counsel. Don’t wait until it’s too late to hire an attorney to help you avoid sticky situations. Having a trustworthy and experienced attorney in your ring from day one will help you start-up with the solid foundation you need for success.

Startups can be risky ventures, but with sound planning, you can beat the odds. If you want to avoid the costly legal mistakes many startups make, begin by sitting down with a Business Lawyer. As your Business Lawyer, we can establish a sound legal, insurance, financial, and tax system for your business so you can focus on running your growing startup.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today at 832.408.0505 to schedule.

Writing Off Start-Up Costs

One of the biggest benefits of owning your own business is being able to write off certain expenses to lower your annual income tax liability. When done right, writing off business expenses, especially when they are investments in things or experiences you would invest in even if you did not have your business, is a lot like having the government subsidize the things you want to do in the world.

If you are starting a business, the good news is you can typically write off costs for starting, launching, and organizing your business. But you may face certain restrictions, and you need to know how to write off those expenses in a way that will benefit your business. To learn more, let’s take a look at the most common startup expenses businesses may write off for tax purposes.

Starting Expenses

You can write off many research expenses incurred when starting a business. Surveys, feasibility studies, market research, and similar costs are valid startup write-offs.

Launch Expenses

Many costs incurred while executing your business launch—like recruitment and training costs—can be deducted. Conversely, equipment purchases cannot be deducted because they’re subject to rules for deducting depreciation.

Organization Expenses

You can also write off the costs for creating your business entity. These typically include legal fees, accounting fees, and expenses for organizational meetings.

Now that you have a better idea of the type of startup expenses you can write off let’s go over how those expenses should be deducted.

The IRS puts a cap on first-year startup deductions at $5,000 and an additional $5,000 for organizational costs. But, if your startup expenses exceed $50,000, that first-year deduction cap will be reduced by the costs that exceed $50,000. Thus, if your startup expenses equal $54,000, your first-year deduction is reduced to $1,000. You would then lose the deduction entirely once your startup expenses exceed $55,000. In your second year, the rest of your expenses can be amortized and deducted in equal installments over 15 years.

If your business never gets off the ground and running, your startup costs could be considered personal costs and therefore non-deductible. In certain cases, however, these costs could be regarded as capital losses, so always consult with a tax advisor to ensure you are taking advantage of every tax break available to you.

As you can see, there are some big risks when it comes to identifying and allocating your expenses properly to maximize your deductions and minimize your tax liability. The decisions you need to make are important and shouldn’t be executed without first consulting with a trusted advisor, such as a Creative Business lawyer®. If you need tax help for your startup, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer® we are experienced in helping startups achieve success through careful financial and legal planning. We will guide you to  establish sound legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems for your business so you can focus on increasing revenue and enjoy the benefits entrepreneurship.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

The Foolproof Training Method to Expand Your Business

One of the most critical components to building a company, as opposed to a solo practice, or even a business where you are managing everyone and everything, is to learn to step into your full leadership.

A primary key to that leadership is your ability to train your team so that you can confidently delegate key tasks and responsibilities that will free you up and allow your business to grow.

As a business owner, management is not the highest and best use of your time, energy, and talents. Carefully selecting support staff and then training them using a business model that emphasized leadership over management is an effective place to begin.

Most business owners train their team members using a project management style of training. Specific tasks are given, followed by specific instructions on how to do those tasks. The next logical step is for the owner to then monitor whether the tasks were done to the proper specifications.

This is not leadership. It’s project management. Using this model, the people you’ve hired will be disempowered, and you will get stuck in the role of babysitter, rather than leader.

Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple put it well when he said, “When you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.”

Unless you want to be your company’s project manager, micro-managing details and always feeling stuck in the weeds, there’s an alternative methodology for training your team members that will establish your leadership and get the results you want, right from the start.

Outcome, Resources, Deadlines, and Check-Ins

When you are bringing on a new team member, instead of giving them specific tasks and specific ways to perform those tasks, and then holding them accountable to those tasks, give them outcomes, resources, deadlines, and check-ins.

Here’s how that looks:

First, identify the specific outcome the company needs.

For example, we need to publish a weekly article to our website and then send it out as a newsletter to our clients. Or, we need to send out a monthly newsletter to our clients each month. Or, we need to use this tracking software to ensure that everyone who calls our office gets a response weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

Second, give the team member the specific company resources available to meet this outcome.

In our case, using the weekly article as an example, I would let the team member know where I’ve found or curated articles in the past. Or let the team member know to ask me for the article each week. I would then give the team member a login to our website and the service we use to send out the newsletter. I would also provide a document with standards for posting the weekly article and sending out the newsletter.

Third, give the team member a deadline.

Let your new team member know specifically when he or she is expected to have this outcome completely handled without any input from you. Then, let your team member begin, with you working in parallel, also completing the task yourself as a transition period, and set a  deadline date for the team member to take it over completely.

Finally, schedule periodic check-ins between the time that the outcome is given and the deadline date.

This allows the team member to communicate challenges  and identify any missing information.

This method allows your new team member to get in there and just start figuring it out, and make some mistakes (which is a key part of learning) while also having the support necessary to fill in any gaps in the training or resources.

Still not clear? Imagine you are trying to teach someone to tie their shoes. You could explain it for hours and hours. You could even show them how to do it. But until they get their hands on the laces,play around with them and make mistakes, they won’t ask for help – and they won’t learn to tie their shoes.

Make a shift today from the project management style of training and into the leadership style of training and watch your business expand. As your Business Attorney, we can help you to make decisions around your hiring process and ensure you are bringing A-level people to your team, to allowing this effective leadership style to be effortless.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Steps You Can Take Now to Create a Succession Plan

Many small businesses are family owned. While family owned businesses enjoy the benefit of familial solidarity, their strength is often threatened when it’s time for leadership to be passed down. Succession plans help ensure the transition from owner to owner is an easy one, but many small and family-owned businesses do not have such a plan in place.

You may think that succession planning doesn’t reap immediate benefits, and as a result overlook it as a critical component of your current business success. However, what we’ve repeatedly found is that succession planning now strengthens your business, supports it to grow now and allows for the longevity and legacy you desire.

And, the best part of succession planning is that it can allow you to chart the vision for your future, as the business owner, so that you can begin to experience the freedom you may have desired when you first started your business.

Growth

Employees brought in from outside the company (and the family) might become disappointed with the opportunities—or lack thereof—for growth. A family-owned business that cannot attract talent to take the reins and keep the company viable throughout a leadership transition is risking a lot and can keep your company from the growth you desire.

Small-business owners need to clarify each employee’s role, including its limitations. Being upfront about the room for growth from the beginning can help employees make the most of their positions and allow them also to be clear about what they want out of the role and how they want their talents to be used. Small business owners should be flexible when attracting top talent. If they are not able to provide them room for growth, they should be sure the position is worthwhile in other ways if advancement is not a possibility.

Reluctant Leadership

When a business owner starts from the ground up and sacrifices years of time and money to grow his or her business, it can be hard to let it go. Some business leaders are reluctant to retire because they have a psychological investment in the company. This can create significant barriers to succession planning before it’s too late.

Begin by creating a phased transition plan. A phased transition plan can help you to retain some involvement while incoming leaders learn the ropes. This works to break down the barriers in passing the baton. Easing out of and into new roles creates a more successful transition as the incoming leader takes time to get to know and understand how the current leader sees the future of the company.

If you are ready to create a succession plan, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including when and how to hand off leadership roles. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers. We, at GP Schoemakers, PLLC, offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule your private and confidential session and find out your business LIFT status.

Opening a New Location? Follow These Three Steps First

Opening a new business location is an exciting venture. It also comes with inherent risks. A new site can increase profits and brand exposure, but it also opens up possibilities for failure. Rushing into expansion and opening a new location can do more harm than good if proper preparations are not made. Increase your chances of success by following these simple steps first:

Do Your Research

Deciding where to open a new location for your business should go beyond finding an affordable lease or the new hot retail spot. Just because your business is successful at its current location doesn’t mean it will retain its viability in a new one. Find a location where your product or service is needed but where you won’t face stiff competition. A nearby competitor shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but it should get you thinking about how you can convince potential customers or clients to choose you over them.

Test the Waters

If you can, test out your product or service in the area you are considering for a new location. Think mobile, low-investment ventures such as food trucks or kiosks. These can both increase your brand’s exposure in the new area and give you a chance to test the public’s response to your company. If the public responds positively to your business, it may be time to set up shop. But if you didn’t get the response you’d hoped for, solicit customer feedback to learn more, and carefully consider other locations.

Put the Word Out

Opening a new location doesn’t guarantee immediate success. The key to a successful opening is to create a marketing strategy that will alert potential customers to your new location. Foot traffic is great, but it can only do so much, so don’t rely on it to ensure success. Work with a marketing specialist to maximize your exposure at your new location. It takes time to build a neighborhood reputation, even if you have another successful location. Expect to invest in marketing while your new site is getting established.

A new location for your business can be a profitable venture if you are strategic and prepare well. Following these steps can reduce your risk of costly mistakes and free up your time and creative energy to can hit the ground running toward great success.

If you are ready to open a new business location, start by sitting down with a Business Lawyer. As your Business Lawyer, we will guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including when and where to open a new location. We look out for your business’s legal and financial future so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

How to Achieve Sustainable Business Growth

You’ve put in the time to get your business off the ground and now you’re up and running. You have a product or service that’s selling well, team support to keep everyone happy and a proven income model.

Congratulations! You’ve overcome the biggest obstacle to business sustainability.

Surviving the startup phase is often the toughest obstacle. If you’ve made it through that, you’re ready to take the next logical step on the road to sustainability: growth.

There are many ways to expand your business, so read on to discover the next step that will be right for you.

Open Another Location. While this method isn’t a sure thing and should be carefully considered, proper planning and research can significantly increase your chance of raising your growth potential.

Consider franchising. Franchising is an excellent way to expand your business without having to put the same amount of time, money, and sweat equity you did when you first started. Franchising isn’t for everyone, though. You need a clean-running internal operating system (think scalability) and clear leadership vision to make franchising successful. Plus, franchises must follow very specific rules around disclosure and sale to franchisees. Contact us for support.

Begin licensing. Licensing can be a low-risk and low-cost way for service or branded product-based businesses to grow. But don’t jump in without consulting with a skilled creative business lawyer. Intellectual property rights are the key here; you have to protect your interests diligently in order to grow—and not compromise—your business. We can help.

Gain allies. Alliances can be mutually beneficial—if you are smart about whom you approach. Find someone in the industry that already has an impressive client base. And don’t be turned off by the prospect of paying commissions. Dramatically growing your clientele doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen a lot quicker if you tap into that of another industry leader. Remember to document all of your agreements with allies, and don’t simply rely on handshake deals that could turn allies into enemies down the road.

Diversify. Diversification can increase your income streams and counteract slow periods in your fiscal year. It can also help you to reach a larger audience and increase your market presence, something that can work to your advantage when attracting major retailer allies.

Infiltrate new markets. Think outside your market. Are there other markets you can reach? Take your service or product where it hasn’t gone before—just make sure you are going into a market where there’s demand.

Welcome the government as your newest customer. Government contracts are hard to win—they take planning, patience, and compliance—but the U.S. government is the largest consumer in the world. And, once you secure a government bid, future submissions won’t be such a process.

Join forces. Merge with or acquire another business, so you can appropriate its client-base and resources.

Expand online. The internet can be your biggest ally in your path to growth. Tap into the unlimited exposure available online where your potential customers number in the millions. With so much potential for success comes potential for failure, too. You need to be targeted and strategic, or you will be lost in a sea of competitors. And, of course comply with all FTC rules and regulations. We can help here too.

Go global. You’ll need to expand online before you tackle this step, but when you do, you realize the immense potential of being a global brand. Two things are key here: make sure your marketing is culturally aware, and find a trusted international distributor. Nail these, and global expansion will be the last frontier for your business.

The key to smart business growth is planning. If you are ready to take the next step toward sustainable business growth, begin by sitting down with us as your Business Lawyer. We are here to help you face the many challenges of owning and growing a business. We are experienced in helping small business owners grow their business through calculated legal and financial moves. If you’re ready to get smart about growing your business, we can help you implement a robust legal, insurance, financial and tax system that will streamline business operations and minimize risks while you grow.

We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today at 832.408.0505 to schedule.

Helping Employees Access Health Care While Easing the Burden on Small Businesses

In December 2016, former President Obama signed an important health care act that will help alleviate the burden of employee health insurance on small businesses.

The 21st Century Cures Act will allow, among other things, small businesses to reimburse their employees for individual health insurance if they do not offer a group plan. For small companies with less than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, managing a company-wide group health insurance plan can be a complicated endeavor that saps valuable time and resources. To counteract this, the 21st Century Cures Act will help small businesses contribute to their employees’ health insurance premiums with relative ease.

Businesses don’t have to pay payroll taxes on the reimbursement and can escape the administrative headache of maintaining a group plan. And employees don’t have to pay taxes on their employer’s premium contribution. This can help small businesses attract employees who want health care coverage without taking on the responsibility of managing a group care plan. Businesses must offer the reimbursement on the same terms to all employees but can adjust the amount based on the employee’s age and family size.

Many small businesses that offered employee insurance coverage through group plans under the Affordable Care Act have struggled with the resources required to manage them. Under the 21st Century Cures Act, however, the costs are more manageable, and the administrative responsibilities significantly reduced. The new act also reduces employer liability when it comes to maintaining coverage.

Helping your employees access health care can make you a more competitive employer to those on the job market. But as a small business, you may also be concerned about the benefits and responsibilities that come with offering premium reimbursements. For example, there are caps on premium contributions, rules on small business health care credits and regulations in place that can make switching from a group plan to a reimbursement model complicated for any small business. With so many rules and regulations to consider, professional guidance is highly recommended.

If you need help with employee health care, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you contribute to your employees’ health insurance premiums while minimizing your costs and administrative burden.

Developing a trusting relationship with a Creative Business Lawyer® will ensure your business can meet the needs of your employees while still protecting your best interests.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Foundation Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Is Your Payment and Agreement Process Losing You Money?

If you get paid for a service, collecting payment is the lifeblood of your company.

And, yet, if you are like most people, you’ve made it an afterthought.

For example, I recently got a request from a client I’ve worked with a few times before to review her client agreement.

Upon doing so, what I saw was not only an agreement that felt like a big turn-off, but a payment collection process that made it less likely that her ideal clients would say yes to working with her.

Here’s how it worked:

Step 1: Review agreement that basically says if you are accepted for mentorship, we are going to charge you the full amount (unspecified in agreement) and you are responsible to pay it, no matter what.

Step 2: Apply for mentorship and put down a $500 refundable deposit.

Now, if I am her potential mentee client, that agreement is going to turn me off to the point where I am unlikely to put down the $500 refundable deposit.

The agreement comes at the wrong part of the process. And, the wording in the agreement itself is overly harsh and does not feel protective enough of client for me as client to feel good about signing it.

Remember this: agreements are in place in your business not just for your protection, but for the protection of the relationship as a whole.

How your agreements are presented, when they are presented, and what they say are of critical importance to your relationship with your clients and customers.

In this case, I recommended to my client that we upgrade the language of the agreement to make it more mutually protective – win/win for all involved. And, that the agreement not be

presented until after the application was reviewed and the mentee was approved and validated his or her desire to fully participate by signing the agreement.

So now, the process is:

Step 1: $500 refundable deposit to get an interview. If approved during the interview, review the agreement together during the interview and solidify the relationship, being sure to point out the places that the agreement protects client, not just mentor. If not, refund $500.

Step 2: Sign agreement that is a true win/win agreement. Begin long-lasting relationship.

This process will enhance sales, ensure the right people enroll in the program, meaning those who will be most successful with the mentorship, and also create raving fans.

The language of your agreements and the way you present your agreements are a critical piece of you getting paid (and being able to collect on overdue payments) AND building a business that lasts.

If you would love to have your agreements reviewed, not just for legal compliance, but to ensure they support your marketing and client engagement processes and create better, more profitable client relationships for the long-term, contact us for a comprehensive audit of all of your Legal, Insurance, Financial and Tax systems and we’ll include a full contract review in the process.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Working at Home Successfully: What Does It Take?

Many people fantasize about working from home. Just imagine: How amazing would it be to roll out of bed, get to work, and have time to enjoy the things that really matter in life?

Working at home isn’t for everyone. To be successful, you must set boundaries and establish a support network, both personal and professional.

Set Your Own Boundaries

It can be very difficult to get motivated to work when there is no one watching. Most of us are used to having a boss onsite; who monitors attendance, production, and behavior. When you work from home, you have to be self-regulating:

  • You must set reasonable expectations for yourself regarding a work schedule and attendance and stick to it.
  • You need to set production standards for yourself, such as deadlines by which a certain amount of work product must be complete.
  • You must monitor your own behavior. For example, if you fall into a lazy streak, you must be the one to fix it.

These things seem very simple, but they can be very difficult to achieve, particularly for those whose self-discipline is less than ideal. Almost anything can seem more interesting than getting started with a job when distractions are all around you.

And once you get started, the opposite problem may develop: It may be hard to stop working because you can’t leave the “office” behind. You can make this easier by establishing a separate workspace specifically for work and by establishing quitting times. After all, flexibility is one of the key reasons you wanted to work at home, right?

Establish a Support Network

Working from home can bring a lack of collaboration and loneliness, if you let it. One of the most difficult aspects of working from home can be ensuring that you have regular human contact.

Of course, if you are working at home for a company, there are likely to be telephone conversations, emails, and even some in-person meetings. However, if you work from home for yourself, particularly as a sole proprietor or for a small business, finding human contact may be more difficult.

You’ll need to develop strategies for both personal and professional support. You’ll perform better if you collaborate or communicate with others in your field. Networking and professional organizations can facilitate these connections, so join one or two to stay connected.

You’ll also need to make sure you don’t work your life away. Schedule time with your family and friends to make sure it happens, take classes to keep your mind fresh, and start a hobby, if you don’t already have one.

Working from home can be very fulfilling, but you need to make time to take care of yourself and your family for it to be successful.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Creative Business Lawyer®. We are well-versed in the federal and state laws that apply to businesses and contract employees. Make an appointment today to discuss any questions you have about working on your own as a sole-proprietor, or to schedule a LIFT Start-Up Session, which will help you structure financial and tax systems for your business.

Best Locations for Women Entrepreneurs to Start a Small Business

NerdWallet reports that the S&P 1500 companies have more CEOs named John than female CEOs.

The company recently compiled an analysis of statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Small Business Administration related to female business success. Its conclusion: Seven of the best locations for women to start small businesses were in California and Colorado.

What Were the Measures Used to Evaluate Business Locations?

The analysis focused on three measures of success: business climate, economic health, and financing opportunities.

Business climate was evaluated using U.S. Census data for the following factors:

  • Average revenue for businesses owned by women;
  • Percentage of women-owned businesses with paid employees; and
  • Number of women-owned businesses per capita.

NerdWallet examined community economic health using the following data from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • Women’s median annual income;
  • Women’s median annual income relative to men; and
  • Unemployment rate.

Financing opportunity was the final factor evaluated, using SBA and census data for the following two metrics:

  • Number of SBA-guaranteed loans per capita; and
  • Average size of SBA-guaranteed loans.

What Conclusions Were Drawn?

Over two-thirds of the 10 locations judged best for entrepreneurial women were in the West. Four California communities made the top-10 list: (1) Santa Cruz-Watsonville, (2) San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, (3) Santa Rosa, and (4) San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward. Three Colorado communities were also top-tier: (1) Boulder, (2) Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, and (3) Fort Collins. The top 10 list was rounded out by Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut; Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota and Wisconsin; and Portland-South Portland, Maine.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Creative Business Lawyer®.  We are a business-focused law firm with a mission of guiding your business to grow with health and creative structures.  One of our primary services is a LIFT Start-Up Session™, in which we guide you through the right choice of business entity, location of business entity, start-up agreements, intellectual property protection, employment structuring, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need to start your business and succeed right out of the gate.  This session is normally $5,000, but if you are one of the first three people to schedule, we’ll take you through the entire LIFT Start-Up™ process for half that investment.