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ANOTHER INSTALLMENT OF READER QUESTIONS!
by: Cary Christian


It's that time again. I felt it in the air this morning and the draw was so powerful I just couldn't resist! I love it when you guys ask questions. It's so much easier than trying to guess what you want to read about. If you have a question of your own you'd like answered, just send it to me at mailto:cary@peakconsultinginc.com

So here we go.

Question 1 (Internet Marketing):

There are so many new and seemingly unique marketing programs being introduced online almost on a weekly basis. I've been a subscriber since the beginning of your newsletter and I've noticed that you tend to ignore most of them. In fact, more so now than in the beginning. Why is that?

Answer 1:

When we first started the Peak Small Business Center, we committed a lot of resources to evaluating different marketing methods to see what works and what doesn't. We tried all the latest and greatest offerings and multiple variations on the theme and studiously tracked our results. One thing became crystal clear to us: there are certain tried and true marketing methods that work well now and that are likely to work well far into the foreseeable future. The rest is fluff.

I like search engines because they are generally honest and free and when people find you, it's because they're looking for you and the products you sell.

I like pay-per-click engines because they allow anyone the opportunity to bid into a top search engine position without becoming a search engine expert and spending their entire lives optimizing their website and learning the latest SEO tactics. They also provide a means of buying very targeted hits at bargain prices if you put enough work into it.

I like building opt-in lists, forming joint ventures and trading links because they allow you to build relationships with other people.

These marketing methods are the meat and potatoes. You can live off them. They are the staples of your marketing diet.

Take a look at most of the free marketing programs available. What are they really? They are not only ineffective for you, but they are actually the vehicle that the owners are using to apply normal tried and true marketing methods for themselves. What do I mean by that?

Think about it. You join one of these free marketing programs and do whatever it is you're supposed to do to drive traffic to your site. What do the owners get in return? They get YOUR name on THEIR list. You'll notice you will receive emails from them regularly, possibly on a daily basis, promoting whatever products or programs they are currently involved in. Your terms of service with their program requires you to accept these emails. They're concentrating on one of the basics, building their opt-in list, by giving you free participation in some program that doesn't work!

It all comes back to the basics, and it always will in one form or another.

Question 2 (Non-US Persons Doing Business in the US):

I received a question from one of our non-US subscribers about setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the US. He was concerned that he would not be able to do so since he is not a US citizen. His primary concern was being able to open a US bank account for a new business he hoped would attract lots of US affiliates. International transactions can take too long to clear, so he felt a US bank account was an absolute requirement to success.

Answer 2:

There's good news on two fronts. First, you do not need to set up an LLC or a corporation or any other type of entity to open a US bank account. A non-US individual can open a bank account in a US bank just like anyone else.

Second, you do not have to be a US citizen to set up an LLC. LLC's are created under state law, and most US states have LLC provisions in their statutes. I do not claim to be familiar with the law in all fifty states, but the ones I am familiar with have no citizenship requirements. You will need to have a "registered agent" or something similar within the state you organize in, but there are lots of companies and attorneys who will represent you in this capacity for a very affordable fee.

I will caution you, however, that if your business in the US is going to be substantial, you should hire the services of an attorney to help you. There are many business and tax consequences related to setting up a business in the US and mistakes can cost you a lot.

For example, you are interested in setting up an LLC. Single-member LLCs are generally taxed as though you were a sole proprietor. By setting up a single-member LLC in the US, you will be opening yourself up to US federal and state taxation on a PERSONAL level because the LLC's income will pass through to you. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But if you are unaware this is what happens and are unprepared for it, the consequences can be severe. You must get qualified help to understand the issues that arise as a result of your decisions.

Question 3 (Switching from Corporation to LLC):

In a similar vein, a US subscriber asked if he should convert his existing corporation to an LLC. He had been told that LLCs are the "way to go," and that it's a "no-brainer" he should be organized as an LLC.

Answer 3:

The answer is . . . there is no standard answer. The choice of form of organization is directly dependent on the facts and circumstances surrounding your specific business. An LLC might be perfect for business A and an absolute mistake for business B.

Most people look at corporations and assume they will save taxes if they can avoid being taxed on corporate earnings and then again on the remaining earnings when they are distributed. This is not always the case. If your current personal income tax bracket is high, or if corporate earnings will push your personal income into a higher tax bracket, you may be better off paying tax on up to $75,000 or so at corporate rates. This is especially true if you plan to leave money in the corporation for working capital.

Of course, you can also elect to have your LLC taxed as a corporation.

There are many options available when it comes to the form of organization you choose for your business, and they all have differing tax and legal liability consequences attached to them. Your form of organization needs to be tailored to you specifically. There is no one size fits all.

Question 4 (New Scams):

I've been receiving a lot of emails lately with no real links to click through on, just phone numbers to call. In most cases they are notifications that I have won something or it's about an urgent matter that I need to attend to. Some of them might have gotten me to call, but I've received so many of them that I've come to realize it's some kind of scam. Do you have any idea what this is about?

Answer 4:

I've received quite a few of these myself. Chances are good that that some of these are variations of the "Nigerian" scam. It's likely if you called that sooner or later you'd need to give them banking details or something similar to complete whatever transaction it is they're trying to lure you into. Then they would empty your bank account, of course.

It's also possible it's a phone scam like the "809" scam that originated in the Dominican Republic. You get a phone number to call, they keep you on the phone as long as possible, and you get billed $100 or more for the call. You're actually dialing a service that charges exhorbitant rates by the minute like the 900 services here in the US.

You have to watch the phone numbers carefully because the "809" scam has spread throughout the Caribbean now. Here are the latest set of numbers you need to look out for:

242 (Bahamas), 246 (Barbados), 264 (Anguilla), 268 (Antigua & Barbuda), 284 (British Virgin Islands), 345 (Cayman Islands), 441 (Bermuda), 473 (Grenada), 664 (Montserrat), 758 (St Lucia), 767 (Dominica), 784 (St Vincent & Grenadines), 787 (Puerto Rico), 809 (Dominican Republic), 868 (Trinidad & Tobago),
869 (St. Kitts & Nevis) and 876 (Jamaica).

Under international telecommunications treaties, each country establishes its own telephone rates and there is no limit to the per-minute or total charge for such calls. There have been similar scams involving numbers originating in various Eastern European countries, and more are anticipated as many small Pacific nations begin to receive separate area codes.

When you are targeted, the number will look like a conventional area code plus seven-digit phone number. If you see one of the above number sequences in the area code section, don't call!

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Well, that's all for this week. Got questions of your own? Send them in!


Copyright (c) 2003

 


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