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The HBS Blog offers insight on Delaware corporations and LLCs as well as information about entrepreneurship, start-ups and general business topics.

Six Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs
By Carleigh Lowe Friday, July 16, 2010

There is no special equation that equasl success but there are certain traits that can help you along on your entrepreneurial journey. Inc Magazine recently reported the results from a report by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute.

Here are the Top 6 Traits:

  • Ability to Collaborate
  • Being Self Fulfilled
  • Future-Focused
  • Curious
  • Tech Savvy
  • Action Oriented

 

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101: Writing a Business Book...Why and How? Part 4
By George Merlis Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Whether a book is bought by an established publisher or self-published, the sales promotion chore falls on the shoulders of the author.  As a matter of fact, any book proposal sent to a publisher without a comprehensive promotion campaign attached is likely to be rejected out of hand.

If you have written your book solely as a business promotional tool, then books store and online sales may not matter much.  My primary goal in writing and self-publishing “How to Master the Media” was business promotion and to have a take-away for participants in my media training workshops.  But as long as I was going through the effort of researching, writing and designing the book’s layout, it was just a few more steps to insure that the book could be sold to the public at large.

I’m glad I made the effort because from time to time I get an e-mail from Amazon.com ordering another consignment of seven-to-ten books.  And from time to time I find a deposit from Amazon in my checking account for sales of the Kindle version of my book.  Now I’m working on an iPad manuscript which will be greatly enhanced with numerous live links to relevant web sites so the book can take advantage of the iPad’s browsing capabilities.

I also sell some copies directly from my own web site, www.masterthemedia.com.  Like John Tantillo, Ph.D., author of the self-published “People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” I don’t have a separate web site for the book.  He gives the perfect rationale for that: “I wanted the book to drive sales to my brand rather than to sell books.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to sell books, but I’d much rather get a consulting assignment or land a speaking engagement where I can sell even more books.  What this means is that I have incorporated the book on my web page, www.marketingdoctor.tv, and have a link to Amazon where visitors can buy the book.”

Dr. Tantillo went with Amazon.com’s Create Space to publish his book.  Create Space may be all the printing and sales service you require.  You can submit your manuscript, get a free ISBN (International Standard Book Number), create a Kindle version of the book and begin selling through Amazon and your own e-store. Using Create Space’s Expanded Distribution Channel, the book will be offered to libraries, schools and brick-and-mortar bookstores. Be aware, however, that if you plan to give out hundreds, or even dozens, of copies of your book for sales promotion purposes, you’ll likely pay more per copy than you will if you go with a printer, as I did.

William Saleebey, Ph.D., is author of three self-published books, the latest being “Connecting: Beyond the Name Tag.”  His book is about power networking; creating strategies and tactics for developing business referrals through networking.  Appropriately enough, he is using networking to sell books.  “I have done three signings since the release of the book in December,” he writes.  “I continually announce and promote events, media interviews and speaking engagements through social media channels of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.”   Dr. Saleebey also created a web page for the book, which connects to a PayPal page where the book can be purchased, and he promotes the book on his blog.

If you think your book might serve as a text -- whether it has been published or self-published -- contact schools directly.  I recommend going directly to the teacher of a relevant course, not to a department head. (Finding that teacher at the college level: most of them post their course catalogs online.) “How to Make the Most of Every Media Appearance,” the McGraw-Hill version of my book, had no textbook sales that I know of but “How to Master the Media,” my self-published version was ordered by the Columbia University bookstore in connection with a course and is currently used as a text in a public relations course at George Washington University. I directly pitched the book to the GW teacher and he assigned it to his students.

Here are some additional ways to generate book sales:

Write a blog about your area of expertise and plug the book on each blog entry.  I do that with my media tips and critiques website.

Give speeches and include the cost of a book in your fee for each attendee.  If your book is designed to drive business to your company, you are getting paid to promote your business.

Give speeches for free on the condition that you can sell the book at the end of the address.  (The late Paul Harvey, radio personality and author of a steady stream of bestsellers, honed this to an art form.  Four nights a week he would give a speech -- albeit for for a hefty fee.  At the end of the speech, he would retire to the back of the auditorium and autograph and sell copies of his latest book.  That little sideline was sufficiently profitable for him to finance the Lear Jet which flew him from city to city for those speaking/book selling ventures.)

Reach out to the local media.  If you have an area of expertise, chances are there’s a radio show or a newspaper that will have an interest in that expertise.  Volunteer your expertise and, when you’re being interviewed, refer to your book.  (Even if you sell no books, the media exposure -- and the citation that you’ve written a book -- can help drive business your way.)

Set up book signings.  Booksellers who might ordinarily resist stocking your book, will carry copies if you offer to come in, speak briefly and do a signing.  You will need to publicize the signings, but you can do that virally through e-mails and social networking sites.

Do you need a book publicist?  A budget for a publicist is almost a requirement to get a book published these days.  Publishing houses have outsourced public relations efforts to authors.  A self-published book can benefit from a publicist’s efforts, too, but be aware it can cost you between $1,500 and $2,500 a month.  Now what should the publicist publicize?  If you’re with a publishing house, they are going to insist that the publicist concentrate on book sales.  But if your primary purpose in writing the book was business promotion, then book sales are beside the point and you might want to hire a publicist to promote your business.  The publicist can use the book as a credential to promote your more lucrative real business.  Any book sales you make are coincidental to your real goal: getting new clients or customers.

The two business book writers I’ve cited here, Dr. Saleebey and Dr. Tantillo wrote books less as a direct revenue stream than as a promotional tool, as I, myself did.  If you’re like us, assess the costs this way: A $1,500-a-month publicist using a $4.00 book as a tool generates a couple of $5,000 client fees or consulting assignments.  That’s a wise investment.  A $1,500-a-month publicist generates $1,500 worth of book sales. That’s  a wasted effort.  As in any business venture, you measure success by what brings in the greatest return on investment.

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The Boater Registration Myth The HBS Blog | About LLCs
By Michael Bell Monday, July 12, 2010

In a recent article, Safe Boating: The Delaware LLC Way, we discussed the benefits of placing your boat in a Delaware LLC and registering it here in Delaware. In this article we will go deeper into the registration myth.

I recently read a very interesting article from BoatU.S. Magazine called “The Boating Myth That Won’t Die”.  With the economy still stagnating every state is revenue hungry and looking for uncollected taxes. Cruising boaters crossing state borders may find themselves in troubled waters if they linger too long in one area. The article was about a family who sailed their vessel on the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maryland. Along the way making stops in a few counties in North Carolina, when they arrived at their new home in Maryland they found mail from the state of North Carolina concluding they had personal property in North Carolina and therefore were subject to taxes in North Carolina.

I found the information below to be interesting in that typically clients will register their boat here in Delaware and cruise around the world docking in numerous parts of the world. Below is an excerpt:

A common misconception in recreational boating circles is that federal documentation of a privately owned boat by the USCG exempts the vessel from state registration, and thus taxation. This is NOT the case. In fact, most states require vessels kept in their waters for prescribed length of time, most commonly 60 to 90 days, to register and obtain a state sticker to indicate that the owner has paid the required taxes.” 

 

So the message to take from all this is make sure that if you’re cruising your vessel from place to place and are registered in another state beware of the length of time that you are stationed in each location as you could be subject to taxes.

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EIN Nominee Service…A Thing of the Past
By Devin Scott Friday, July 9, 2010

We occasionally get a call asking for a nominee service to obtain EIN numbers. For various reasons, clients would rather not give their personal information to the IRS.  In the past, some nominee services offered to obtain an EIN for a client or company by providing the IRS with a name and Social Security Number that is not affiliated with the company.

The IRS has made it clear that this is no longer acceptable. The most recent statement from the IRS concerning this matter, dated February 10, 2010, states:

The Internal Revenue Service revised Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, to clearly identify the applicant’s true owner. Effective January 2010, all mail, fax, phone, and electronic EIN applications must disclose the name and taxpayer identification number of the true “responsible party” for the entity requesting an EIN.

A nominee is an entity with delegated authority to act in name only and can never be the “responsible party” for the Form SS-4 application. The IRS does not accept the use of nominees to obtain EINs. The SS-4 must be signed by an individual with the authority to legally bind the entity; therefore, it cannot be signed by a nominee.

Prior to the SS-4 revision, taxpayers obtained EINs using nominee individuals for the EIN application process. Entities that used nominees on their applications should consider updating the information shown on the original application. Third party designees filing online applications must retain a complete copy of the paper Form SS-4, signed by the responsible party, and a signed authorization statement, for each EIN application filed with the IRS.

Using nominees in the EIN application process prevents the IRS from gathering appropriate information on entity ownership. It may also facilitate tax non-compliance by entities and their owners. Clearly identifying an entity’s true owner makes it difficult for taxpayers to conceal their income and assets. The IRS will pursue penalties, injunctions, or other enforcement action to prevent the misuse of EIN applications.

Businesses need an EIN to open bank accounts, hire employees, and conduct business. To apply for an EIN for your business, you can file directly with the IRS or we at Harvard Business Services, Inc. can eliminate the hassle and file the document for you, with your signature. We can expedite your application, for a reasonable fee, and guarantee you an EIN within 24 hours. Our job is to obtain the EIN on your behalf in order to relieve you of the frustration, and allow you to do what you do best, operate your business!

 

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101: Writing a Business Book...Why and How? Part 3
By George Merlis Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A few months ago a feature film producer attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books happened by the stall of EC Printing, a firm that prints books for self-publishing authors. There the producer spotted a full-color book of illustrations that Go for Launch Productions of Glendale, AZ had self- published to promote its feature film and animation design work. The producer was impressed, contacted the company and that led to a lucrative deal for Go for Launch with Universal Studios. Interestingly, the firm had printed an extremely limited run of books, a mere 100 volumes, yet that was sufficient to land it a very important deal.

A book can drive customers to a company or enhance a business person’s credentials. If that’s your primary goal in writing a book, self-publishing may work for you. It is less time-consuming than finding a publisher. Last time I wrote about the arduous process of finding a publisher. Today, let’s look at self-publishing.

John Tantillo, Ph.D. is the CEO of The Marketing Department of America, and bills himself as “The Marketing Doctor.”  He has succeeded in making himself into a unique brand. He self-published the book People Buy Brands, Not Companies because “commercial publishers [...] are operating with an increasingly creaky business model. Fact is, they don’t really know what sells and, sadly, most of the time they don’t know how to sell very well. With commercial publishing you basically give up control in exchange for them paying you a small amount of money, offering you their ever diminishing prestige. As a marketer, I found that unacceptable because I don’t believe most commercial publishers would be dynamic and aggressive enough to support my book.”

The biggest downside of self-publishing is that you pay all the costs: writing (if you engage a collaborator), design (if you can’t do your own design), printing and promotion. But even with a publisher these days, you are still stuck with the promotional costs, the collaborator costs and, if your book requires illustrations, you have to license them out of the publisher’s advance.

I have the unique experience of having gone both the publishing and self-publishing route with one book. McGraw-Hill published How to Make the Most of Every Media Appearance in 2003 and then I took back the rights and revised and republished it myself in 2007 as How to Master the Media. I did this principally because as the book’s biggest customer--I was buying them to promote business and also as a take-away in my media training workshops--I was subsidizing McGraw-Hill. Each book I bought cost me $8.00 and did not count against my advance. The self-published How to Master the Media costs me well under $4.00 a copy.  Is it worth it? Well, to quote Dr. Tantillo, the branding expert: “Business people spend a lot of money on knick knacks for potential clients, but there is nothing more memorable than being able to autograph your own book – especially if it’s a book that reinforces your credentials and underscores your grasp of the business. It sets you apart from the competition with relevance and without gimmickry.”

In deciding to take back my book and self-publish it, I enjoyed a number of advantages that other authors might not have. First, McGraw-Hill had already published the book so I had the benefit of the company’s editorial input. True, I revised it extensively, but the skeleton upon which I hung the new muscle had been vetted by a veteran editor. Second, because I had worked in newspapers and studied print layout in journalism school, I was able to design my book myself. A book is not a long essay; creating one requires some layout skills and/or very costly software like QuarkXpress ($500+) or Adobe Indesign ($1,900). Third, I found a reputable printer, EC Printing. Some print houses, usually billing themselves as print on-demand firms, charge for printing books and then pay the author a royalty based on book sales. In theory, this enables an author to recoup the printing costs. In actual fact, it rarely does. These companies print your book and place it in the listings (albeit not necessarily in the stores) of major chains and with online retailers. But they have a lot of control over your work because they set the sales price, they control the inventory (so you never really know how many books are sold) and they own the ISBN (International Standard Book Number). That means that for all intents and purposes, they own the book even if they don’t own the copyright, because you need that ISBN to get a bookseller to list your work. Whoever controls the ISBN controls the product. Additionally, POD outfits charge authors a lot more for their own books, usually 70 percent of the list price which they, not you, have set.

If you’re starting out from scratch, here is how to deal with those issues:

Editorial: Your word processing software may catch misspellings and egregious grammatical errors, but there are far more pitfalls awaiting an author than those. You can hire someone to edit your book for you. A Google search of “free lance book editors” yielded well over 100 entries. A free-lance editor will cost you between $15 and $40 an hour, depending on your needs and the editor’s level of experience. Simple proofreading usually costs about $25 an hour. Writing and re-writing charges start at about $45 an hour and can go as high as $100 an hour. Many of these editors will negotiate a flat rate for the entire job, so you have a fixed cost going in. These days, it’s a buyer’s market, since there are so many out-of-work writers and editors.

Design: Most printers offer design services. They already own Adobe Indesign or QuarkXpress and for a fee will design the book for you. Since I did the layout and interior design for How to Master the Media, EC Books supplied me with the cover design which, I feel, is far more compelling than the cover McGraw-Hill created.

ISBN: Get your own. A single ISBN and bar code (essential if you’re going to sell through Amazon.com or in bookstores) should cost you under $50. 

Another tip: Be aware of copyright laws. If you write your book by cutting and pasting together Internet articles or if you pull photos off Google images and plant them in your book, you are inviting a lawsuit. Many images and documents on the free Internet are copyrighted, and holders of copyrights can be aggressive about protecting their intellectual property. Use your own words, othewise you are plagiarizing.

How much will your book cost you? Dr. Tantillo says, “As long as you are willing to roll up your sleeves and be there every step of the way (and this means doing most of the writing), you should be able to produce the book for between $5,000 to $10,000 (no more than $10,000!)”  In my case, I encountered none of those costs, so I paid only for the books printed.   The more books you order, the lower the cost per unit. For a 5.5 by 8.5-inch paperback of 150 pages with a gloss laminated full color cover, expect to pay about $3.60 per unit for 250, $3.10 per unit for 500 and $2.30 per unit for 1,000. Longer books, like mine (233 pages), cost slightly more. Your other costs depend on how much you do for yourself and how much help you have in preparing your manuscript.

Finally, be aware that sometimes, established publishers will discover a self-published book, be impressed with it, and buy the rights to reprint and distribute it. That’s what happened to networking expert William M. Saleebey, Ph.D, with his book Study Skills for Success. After he self-published, Simon & Schuster picked it up and republished it. His second and third books, Sell Yourself and Connecting: Beyond the Name Tag, were self-published.  Dr. Saleebey says he’s glad he self-published. “I had 100% artistic and content control and reap all of the profits.”

Dr. Saleebey, a speaker and trainer with expertise in the psychological aspects of personal and business networking, mounted an ambitious promotional campaign to sell Connecting: Beyond the Name Tag. You would expect that chore to fall to a self-publishing author, but even if a major house buys your book, the sales promotion burden is still going to fall on your shoulders.

 

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