The HBS Blog offers insight on Delaware corporations and LLCs as well as information about entrepreneurship, start-ups and general business topics.
Rick formed Harvard Business Services, Inc. on March 2, 1981 and has led the company from a bootstrapped start-up to the recognized leader in the industry. Rick studied at TASIS (The American School in Switzerland), Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of California (Berkley), but never got a degree.
In 1969, he quit college and went to work for Rolling Stone magazine in its infancy and became their first National Circulation Director. Later Rick formed several publishing companies and eventually became a consultant to publishers. He moved from California to Wilmington, Delaware in 1980 to become Business Manager of The Company Corporation, a do-it-yourself incorporation service. Rick has also served Delaware as a member of the Governor's High Tech Task force, the Governor's International Marketing Committee and as an elected official (Recorder of Deeds).
Rick is a Trustee of Franklin College and a member of the Board of Directors of TASIS in Lugano, Switzerland.
In Delaware every fall, The Secretary of State holds a three-day conference for Delaware Registered Agents and the key people at the Division of Corporations. This year, we just finished the 24th annual conference and, having been in business 30 years, I’ve been to almost every one of them. But this year was particularly interesting.
The highlight of the event is the “Annual Report” given by Richard J. “Rick” Geisenberger, the chief Deputy Secretary of State and Director of Corporations. This year he reported:
Delaware is now the home to 890,000 domestic entities. They include 260,000 corporations and 630,000 LLCs, LPs and Statutory Trusts. An additional 11,000 entities from outside Delaware are registered here as “foreign Entities”. Delaware, which has always had more chickens than people, now has about one company for every person who lives in the State. Most states have about 1 company per 20 people.
Delaware is home to 63% of all fortune 500 companies this year and was the choice of 734 of the 907 new IPO’s (Initial Public Offerings) in the past 7 years. IPO activity reflects the dismal economic business climate in the USA today. It wasn’t long ago that more than 400 IPO’s were launched in a single year, then the total fell abruptly to 28 new IPOs in 2008, then 37 in 2009 and 53 so far this year. The upward trend the past three years could be called a recovery, but still a poor showing when compared to the boom years of the past.
A new trend is emerging however, giving hope for more business. Foreign companies, especially from China, are incorporating in Delaware and going public in the USA. Watch for this trend to continue as China becomes the dominant player in manufacturing for the global markets.
Delaware’s Court of Chancery still makes the news regularly for its many high-profile cases. This year we saw a battle between EBAY and CRAIGSLIST fought in Delaware just up the road from my office. Meg Whitman, and the EBAY group, won this one.
Delaware has been working with the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Justice to reduce the incidents of the fraudulent use of Delaware companies in the International arena. Since Delaware prohibited Bearer Shares in 2003, it has been proactively issuing regulations that are designed to help prevent the fraudulent use of companies.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has proposed several drafts of a plan to make the ownership of companies easier to trace. Currently, Registered Agents are not obliged to keep Beneficial Ownership information on the companies we form for our customers. In Delaware we are required to keep an up-to-date record of the “Communication Contact”. However, in the future the Department of the Treasury is recommending that Registered Agents will be responsible for keeping Beneficial Ownership information accurate and current.
As a final bit of good news, Mr. Geisenberger reported that the Division of Corporations brought in $878 Million dollars in the last fiscal year which accounted for 27% of the State of Delaware’s budget, emphasizing the importance of this effort for the whole state.
Harvard Business Services, Inc. produced three videos about a year ago to help explain our services. This year, our goal was to grow our video library, so recently we brought in a local production company to assist us. These new videos feature the actual staff that assists you every day with forming and filing Delaware LLCs and Corporations. Our informative representatives explain the process of paying Franchise Tax and how to change your Registered Agent to Harvard Business Services, Inc; how to utilize our Mail Forwarding service; the differences between LLCs and corporations and a variety of other helpful topics.
Since I majored in Communications in college, I wanted to use my knowledge to assist Harvard. I remember the day I came home and told my father (Harvard Business Services, Inc.'s Chairman, Rick Bell) I knew the importance of producing these videos for our business. I still quote him to this day, “Let’s do it! Fantastic idea, Mike, hold that thought and let me get a pad of paper so we can start brainstorming ideas.” After putting our thoughts together, I took on the role of Executive Producer and produced 10 new videos to help today’s technology-savvy entrepreneur become informed about our services. Be on the look-out for these illuminating new videos to appear on our web site as well as on YouTube.
Whether it be in the marketplace, in the home or at work, everyone loves to be listened to and taken seriously. Ironically, active listening brings attention to itself because it focuses all its energy on the one talking. Sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but true listening “speaks” concern, respect and a sincere desire to understand the other person’s problem or point of view.
OK, we all sort of know this and most will admit that we can improve on our listening skills. But, do we know how to develop and practice active listening? Habitual skills only come from conscious and repetitive practice over the course of time – we say 21 to 28 days. Good habits take persistence to develop while bad habits subtly invade our behaviors like weeds in a garden. So too with listening, without a conscious effort, we think we hear or know what’s on the other person’s mind without truly taking the time and energy to really hear and feel the emotion expressed.
It’s been said of FDR, that his listening abilities were paramount to his political success. He had this uncanny sense of reading and listening to others and connecting with them emotionally. He accomplished this on both an individual level as well as on a national stage. People felt they were listened to and that their opinions were valued. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated that the President had a second-class intellect but a first-class temperament. We can argue his assessment, but one fact seems indisputable: FDR was very persuasive.
Dr. Carl Rogers, one of the most influential behavioral psychologists of the 20th Century, determined that true active listening is the highest form of persuasion. Think about that for a moment. If this is true, then most of us go about our lives depriving ourselves of this valuable tool. We think and act as if only talking can persuade others to our point of view.
Perhaps if we talk a little faster, a little louder, a little more forcefully we will get our point across and win the day. For sure, we need to express ourselves in clear and appropriate ways, but how much more effective could we be if we practice active listening?
Dr. Rogers had three principles of effective listening for therapists:
1. Congruence -- genuineness, honesty with the client.
2. Empathy -- the ability to feel what the client feels.
3. Respect -- acceptance, unconditional positive regard towards the client.
These principles nicely apply to a sales and service application. Let’s make a commitment to listen more actively, more compassionately, more effectively. Good things can only result. CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Whether it’s promoting a new product or reminding customers of a deadline, email marketing is a quick, easy and affordable way for you to get your message out to your customers. There are a number of companies that provide tools for launching and tracking your own email marketing campaigns. But before you sign-up for a service and start aimlessly blasting away at your customer base, perhaps you should consider the marketing train program and the three cars of the train that Chia-Li Chien of WomenEntrepreneur.com explained in her article "How to Create Effective E-mail Marketing." In her words, here's how to create effective email marketing:
Active marketing. Active marketing involves programs that allow you to be in front of your target clients and customers. For example, my business markets to women business owners. Therefore, my active marketing programs consist of speaking engagements, quarterly business retreats, teaching classes, strategic relationship building and networking with women business owner associations. This allows me to stay in front of my target clients in the most effective way.
Passive Marketing. Passive marketing involves little interaction but is a great resource for someone who is searching for information. In my business, examples include books, websites, brochures, manuals, this column for Womenentreprenur.com, articles, blogs, etc. These are reference materials that stay passive. The important part of passive marketing is becoming an expert in your industry so you stand out and take the leadership position.
Follow-up. This is where your newsletter comes in. It allows you to follow up consistently and stay in front of your target clients. We use ConstantContact to e-mail our Journal of Value Growth on a Monthly Basis.