Category Archives: Ask SCORE

Ask SCORE | Should I run my small business from home?

Operating a business from home offers small business owners some significant advantages — and some disadvantages, too. Some entrepreneurs find running a home-based business works exceptionally well for them, while others do much better at a coworking space of in an office away their home. Consider the following pros and cons.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: Do I need to copyright my website to protect it?

Your business’s website can be one of the most powerful marketing tools you’ll ever have at your disposal. Unfortunately, the better it is, the better the chances it will catch the eye of unscrupulous competitors. They might have no qualms about hijacking your written content, images or other elements and presenting them as their own.

How can you prevent people from stealing content and images from your website? Copyright!

Copyright protects the rights of creators of original works—such as literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (for example, play scripts, movies, poetry, books, songs, photography and even computer software). It protects the way things are expressed/presented in works (e.g., the images, arrangements of words or music, etc.); it does not, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, protect “facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.” When you create (draw, write, photograph, etc.) something original, copyright law automatically gives you ownership of the work. At the moment you create a work, copyright exists.

This is also the case with digital content, including websites.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE | Does your business need an advisory board?

BoardStarting and managing a small business requires paying attention to multiple areas of responsibility. Accounting, marketing, operations, sales, customer service…and the list goes on. Rarely do entrepreneurs have the knowledge and skills to adeptly strategize ways to successfully execute all of them on their own. To improve areas of their businesses and discover ways to streamline processes, some businesses enlist the help of advisory boards.

According to Penny Pompei, SCORE mentor and chairman of the Palm Beach chapter, ”It truly is very lonely at the top, especially at the top of a small business. You are expected to be all things to all people, and while lots of people have plenty of advice for you, they don’t fully understand your business, nor do they always have your best interests at heart.”

An advisory board consists of professionals with expertise in various business disciplines, who provide strategic advice to help an entrepreneur manage and grow the business. Unlike having a board of directors, having an advisory board doesn’t obligate a business owner to act on the guidance provided. Advisory boards offer an opportunity to glean knowledge from experts without the formality and structure of a board of directors.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: Should I work with contractors or hire employees for my small business?

As your small business grows, you will reach a point when you can’t do everything by yourself. To get the help you need, you can choose to outsource various tasks to independent contractors or hire employees and delegate the work.

To decide which will make the most sense for you and your company, it’s important to understand some of the key differences between working with independent contractors and having employees on staff.

Years ago, I owned a “virtual” marketing services firm. I worked with a group of talented creative people — designers, illustrators, photographers, and others. I asked them to work on projects for my clients, and they often asked me to work on projects for their clients. We all had licensed businesses and we enjoyed working with each other.   Continue reading

Ask SCORE: What should I do before I hire my first employee?

Hiring employees for your small business can help lighten your workload. But it also creates the need to manage something you didn’t need to worry about when you were handling all aspects of your business by yourself:

Payroll.

Even if you have just one employee, you need to do payroll accurately and in compliance with all legal and regulatory responsibilities. If you don’t, you could incur costly penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.

Before you hire your first employee and put processes in place to handle payroll, make sure you pay attention to two important details.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: What type of insurance should I have to protect my small business?

No matter what type of business you own, you operate under some degree of risk. Sadly, no business is completely immune to lawsuits. Fortunately, however, a variety of insurance options exist to help protect small businesses.

Among the most common types of small business insurance are…

General Liability Insurance

Also known as commercial general liability insurance, this type typically covers claims associated with accidents or injuries on your property or your clients’ premises. General liability policies offer financial protection in the event of bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, libel, slander, and the cost of defending lawsuits.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How do I get a business license?

Kitsap County does not require business licenses but the cities of Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island and Bremerton each have business license requirements.

NOTE: Businesses NOT physically located in the city, but still doing work there, are required to obtain a license for the city. Business should check to make sure their use is compliant with land use and zoning.

All business must apply for a Master Business License from the Washington State Department of Licensing, which registers the business with the state departments of Revenue, Licensing, Labor and Industries, Employment Security, Secretary of State, and the Washington State Department of Commerce.

A new corporation locating in the State of Washington must file for Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State‘s office, which will issue a UBI (Unified Business Identifier) number.