4 Hidden Costs of Running a Business

Every entrepreneur discovers a few surprises soon after launching a business. For some, the unexpected revelations are related to expenses they either never heard of or didn’t think applied to them. The awakening can be a bit of a shock and has the potential to change budgeting plans, expectations of profitability, and more. For transport fleets, there are multiple hidden costs, like training and licensing fees for drivers.

Independent contractors’ wince when they fill out their first tax returns and calculate unemployment taxation rates. Inventory carrying charges are the primary fear for precious metals dealers. For other types of owners, the price of continuing education classes and monthly space rental can be stunners. Here are details about a few of the most common financial surprises that await company owners soon after launch day.

Commercial Fleets: Licensing & Training Expenses

Fleet managers who have been in the business for a while understand that operating a vehicle fleet can be a costly enterprise in terms of license fees and training expenses. Founders sometimes forget to account for the rather substantial per-driver charges and other federally imposed regulations. Most trucks, buses, cars, and vans used in the ordinary course of business fall under the legal definition of commercial vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees determining which drivers need special licenses and which ones do not. Commercial driver’s license rules can be costly for owners, who typically cover the fees associated with training drivers and paying for their examinations. The best way for owners and supervisors of fleets to find out all the relevant details is to gather the facts from a reliable source and study the FMCSA guidelines about which vehicles are considered commercial and which drivers must obtain additional training to operate them legally.

Independent Contractors: Self-Employment Tax

The freedom of self-employment can be a major incentive for starting a company, but there’s one thing that most people are disappointed to discover. When you act as your own boss, you must pay the boss’s share of the social security tax. The amount varies, depending on a few circumstances, but is set at 15.3% of your company’s annual net earnings. It’s payable upon filing in April but can be paid quarterly if you are set up to file four times per year.

Precious Metals Dealers: Inventory & Storage

Individuals who set up gold and silver bullion brokerage businesses soon discover the two highest costs of operating their companies. The initial purchase of bullion is the single most costly component, but storage is a close second. It’s never a good idea to keep metals at home. Bank safety deposit boxes are the best way to go, but most entrepreneurs need several to accommodate their inventoried bullion.

Personal Trainers: Facility Rent

Acquiring credentials to be a personal fitness trainer is a relatively low-cost affair. However, unless you pay monthly rent on a space of your own, be ready for facility fees at the gyms and private clubs where you work with clients. Be sure to shop around for discounts and special deals because some gyms offer lower rates for licensed trainers.

An Easy Guide To Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Protect your intellectual property! Copyright law is what protects your business’s intellectual property (IP) from being stolen by other people who would sell your product for their benefit. The law applies to anyone whose work is original and creative enough to have ownership over that idea or image. This can be a graphic designer, up-and-coming clothing line, film producer, or writer. Anyone who has created something they can call their own is subject to copyright law.

How To Protect Your Intellectual Property (IP)

IP includes any original work that someone creates. If you produce or distribute any products, including but not limited to clothing, writing, photography, design, art; anything that someone else may use to compete with your business without permission is considered IP.

File For Protection

The first and most crucial step is to file for a copyright certificate. This not only protects your business but can also help you win any legal proceedings brought against you by other people trying to steal your IP. The best thing about registering for a certificate is that it gives you the right to sue anyone who infringes on your intellectual property rights. The good news is that suing isn’t necessary to protect your IP. If another business attempts to sell your work, sending them a cease and desist letter will suffice. If they ignore this, you should consider the protection of an offshore trust by filing a suit against them. Better still, hire a Cook Islands trust attorney to claim damages on your behalf.

Company Protections

Incorporating a business is the best way to protect yourself from claims of intellectual property theft. In general, regardless of whether you are an individual or a company, any products that you sell belong to your business and not you personally. This means if your product is stolen, they are stealing from your business and not personal. The bad news about this is anyone who sues a corporation for copyright infringement will usually target the actual human being responsible for creating said work. Which would be you in most cases, unless another administrator has control over your original idea. For this reason, it’s essential to have proper legal documentation on hand at all times so that no one can claim ownership over something they had nothing to do with.

Copyright Protection

Copyright protection is the most common intellectual property protection for both individuals and companies. It protects any work you have created or are in the process of creating or distributing. This includes photographs, designs, and paintings. Once you have registered your copyright under U.S. law, it cannot be taken away from you, even if you give up ownership over that specific piece of work, unless someone else can prove that they came up with it first, which would be very unlikely. An example would be if someone sold a painting claiming it was theirs when you were the one who painted it. In this case, it’s pretty easy to claim copyright infringement by simply showing them your original documentation proving that you are the rightful owner.

Patent Protection

Patents protect invention rights for inventions, machines, and new valuable products you have created, which may be sold like physical items or digital downloads. It prevents anyone from copying, reproducing, or distributing your idea, which can be applied to almost any creative endeavour, even if it’s an original recipe. Unlike copyright protection, someone who claims patent infringement must prove that they were indeed the ones to invent the said machine or product. If they cannot do this, your claim will stand, and you will retain ownership over what was initially yours by law.

Trademark Protection

Trademarks protect logos, names, and phrases from being used without permission from the company that owns those trademarks. This is a lot more complicated than other forms of intellectual property protection. It requires proper documentation, including a trademark form filled out correctly and any other applicable trademark symbols. Since trademarks are so specific, it’s usually best to hire a Cook Islands trust attorney when in doubt regarding this form of protection.

Trade Secret Protection

A trade secret is any information that gives your business an advantage over competitors. You have taken reasonable steps to keep undisclosed, including business plans, customer lists, and marketing strategies. Protecting your trade secrets can be done by simply not disclosing said information to anyone other than trusted employees who need to know it for the regular operation of your company. This way, if someone steals or tries to steal these secrets, they will still require close cooperation with you to use the information they stole from your company, making them useless without you anyways. Most businesses deal with trade secrets every day without even knowing it.

Licensing Protection

Licenses are agreements that you sign allowing someone else to use your intellectual property for a period, which you can revoke at any given time if they violate the terms of said agreement. Typically, licenses are used in two different ways, one is by independent artists who create music or art and submit it to publishers to have their work published along with a royalty fee for each piece sold. Most artists make money from their creations since most publishers will not pay an upfront fee when purchasing these types of rights from an artist.

The other is through licensing deals where companies sell items such as logos, phrases, or designs in exchange for a small fee paid regularly. This allows other companies or individuals to include these items in their products and services while giving the original owner a small portion of each sale made using them. With licensing deals, it’s important to note that you should always get down exactly what percentage of sales will be going to you before signing any contracts.

Protecting your business’s intellectual property is one of the most critical steps that can be taken towards future success. For the most part, protecting and registering your intellectual property is pretty easy to do and usually takes little time or effort. While it does require some legwork, knowing what to do when someone attempts to steal from you is easy enough with just a little bit of research and guidance.