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Monday, December 2, 2013

How Safe Shield Started

How Safe Shield Started
With 12 years in operations management, Kent Gustafson was looking to start his own business. The idea for opening a company like Safe Shield started when Gustafson learned that the majority of businesses do not meet basic corporate compliance requirements. He felt compelled to help protect the “little guys”, which resulted in the founding of Safe Shield. The first goal of Safe Shield was to help small businesses already in existence, protect themselves. Shortly after, entity formations services were added. Gustafson wanted to offer resources and support to start-up business owners to ensure they got their business started off on the right foot.

Making sure that businesses start off on the right foot is even more crucial since according to, entrepreneurship is growing at an exponential rate. “ ‘Young people all over the world are looking at the startup career path as a way out of the gloomy years their parents have brought upon them since the financial crisis started’ ”, stated Torsten Kolind, the CEO of YouNoodle

It’s been nearly 7 years since Safe Shield first opened. When asked why he keeps coming back to work Gustafson said, “I love helping people. Clients come to us with excitement about pursuing their new business venture, but have many questions and often times don’t know where to start. I love answering their questions, giving them clear direction, and handling all of the details that they don’t know how to, or simply don’t want to, deal with… We want our clients and future clients to know, unequivocally, that we are 100% focused on looking out for their best interests.”

In order to help even more businesses, Safe Shield has started communicating on social media. Keep an eye out for free tips on starting your business and advice on growing your already existing small business on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is Starting A Business As Easy As 1-2-3?

Is starting a business as easy as 1-2-3? If you have ever started a business before, my guess is that you are shaking your head NO because you know as well as I do that starting a business is complex and typically involves many moving parts. It requires a lot more than a great business idea, hanging a sign on a building, then selling your product or service...

When starting a business, surrounding yourself with the right people is paramount to your success. You should choose an established business advisor who can assist you with your strategic plan including sales and marketing, operations and delivery, human resources and customer service. It is also imperative that you find the right accountant, banking institution and insurance provider. If you miss the mark in any of these areas, it may put your new business in a difficult position that could be hard to recover from.

It is also extremely important to work with a trusted advisor who can form your new business entity properly. It amazes me how many new business owners go to great lengths to perfect their business plan and all of the items referenced above, but take the do-it-yourself approach to entity formation or choose to work with a sub-standard service provider when addressing the most important aspect of the start-up business process... namely creating the foundation and structure of the business entity that will protect them. If given the time to think through this logically most people would recognize that this is a foolish approach, but starting a business is a time consuming process and many things simply fail to receive the attention that they deserve.

In my years of experience working with hundreds of business owners, I have yet to see a do-it-yourselfer who has come close to getting it right. In fact, this choice always ends with the same result...failure.

I have also seen many business owners who recognize that they are not equipped to handle this process on their own, but choose instead to utilize an "affordable" online service they assume is trustworthy. Ever heard the saying "you get what you pay for"? I will be exploring this matter in great detail in my next post, so please stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, please contact Safe Shield with any questions or concerns that you might have...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Do "Official" Notices Scare You?

Over the past 2-3 weeks, I have fielded more than a dozen inquiries from clients who were concerned by the "Official" notice that they had received from the State of Minnesota.  Each of these notices quoted statutory guidelines regarding corporate formalities and annual meeting documentation requirements for business owners.  Each notice included a Call To Action for the business owner to complete the form and submit it (along with a check to cover the fee).

While I have addressed this issue in the past, I thought it might be a good idea to focus on this matter again due to the number of inquiries we have received.  You see, the problem with these "Official" notices from the State of Minnesota is that they aren't from the State of Minnesota.  In fact, the State of Minnesota's policy is that they do not send out these types of notices to business owners.  I don't know if they feel it is an unwise use of resources or not, but I do know that it is the State's position that being familiar with statutory requirements and obligations is the business owner's responsibility, not theirs.  The bottom line is that these "Official" notices are solicitations, period.

I have to give the companies that send out these notices some credit as they do a good job of making them look "Official", as if they are indeed the State of Minnesota.  Technically, they aren't doing anything wrong and one could argue that it is simply an effective selling technique that makes good business sense.  I wonder how many people who don't know about Safe Shield, simply assume that this is a legitimate requirement from the State and write out the check?

The point that I am trying to drive home today is that sometimes things that look "Official" are anything but that, and hopefully this serves as a good reminder of that for all of us.  For our clients who made the right decision in contacting us, I applaud your good judgment and encourage you to tell other business owners about us because you know what a great job Safe Shield has done in taking care of all corporate formalities and annual review documentation requirements for you.

Whether you are our business associate, client, or trusted friend... please feel free to contact us with questions such as these.  We are here to help!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Are Your Business Assets Properly Separated?

In my last blog post I discussed the dangers of operating as a Sole Proprietor because there is no separation of your business and personal assets.  To operate in this manner exposes the business owner(s) to maximum risk and is completely unnecessary.  However, there are many business owners who have incorporated yet still face other risks that carry extreme consequences.

Today I want to focus on one of those other common, and unnecessary, practices that many business owners fall into that is equally dangerous.  I see many business owners who do not properly separate their business assets, which can lead to disaster.  Allow me to share a couple of examples of this, as well as the potential repercussions:

Example 1:  If you own the building that your business operates from, and you own the building under the same entity that your business operates out of, you are unnecessarily exposing the building asset.  If someone were to pursue legal action against your business, the building would be one of the assets within that entity that could be lost in the judgment.  All of this could be easily avoided if you took one very simple protective measure.  By setting up a separate LLC to own the building and thus lease it to your operating company, you have separated the asset from your operating business and limited your exposure.

Example 2:  If you own a business that requires the use of expensive equipment, you could be facing serious exposure if you own all of that equipment under the same entity that your business operates from.  Anyone pursuing legal action against your business could pursue the assets of the company, including your equipment, resulting in significant loss to you.  By setting up a separate Leasing Company that owns the equipment and leases it back to your operating company, you ultimately insulate the expensive assets from your operating company and minimize your potential loss.

While these are just 2 examples, there are countless others where business owners (yes, even those who have "properly" incorporated) unknowingly face similar, and significant, exposure within their business.  As you ponder this information, I will leave you with one question:  Does any of this risk apply to you?

As always, please contact Safe Shield with questions... 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sole Proprietorship = Maximum Risk

I often write about the importance of Corporate Compliance and Corporate Formalities, specifically the risks that business owners face if they do not address these crucial areas regularly.  But what about the thousands upon thousands of Sole Proprietors out there in the business world?  What type of risks do they face?

The answer is simple: Sole Proprietors who operate without the liability protection of a Corporation or LLC face Maximum Risk!  While it's true that the Corporateve Veil provided by a Corporation or LLC requires ongoing maintenance and management in order to remain intact, at least the possibility of protection is there.  For those business owners who operate as Sole Proprietors, never having formed a Corporation or LLC, the possibility of protection is non-existent.

When a business owner operates as a Sole Proprietor, there is no separate entity from the individual business owner.  This means that the business, and its owner, operate as one and the business owner is ultimately liable should anything go wrong in the business.  This means that the business owner's private assets would be exposed in any lawsuits or judgments against the business.

Honestly there is no good reason for a business owner to operate this way and live under the cloud of exposure, day after day after day.  It is possible that some business owners believe that the cost of incorporating their business, or the requirements to maintain it are just too much for them.  I would contend that it is typically much more affordable than the business owner might think, and I can assure you that it is a very small fraction of the price that a business owner would pay should they ever face legal action against them as a Sole Proprietor.

I will be writing about this more frequently in the weeks to come as Safe Shield is kicking off a major Sole Propietor Conversion campaign.  We are committed to spreading the word and alerting business owners who are operating as Sole Proprietors of this unnecessary risk.

As always, if you would like additional information about this please contact Safe Shield.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Anything Can Happen...

We have been experiencing a strange spring here in Minnesota.  We dealt with heavy snowfall throughout April, including two blizzards late in the month.  Cooler temperatures continued well into May before we finally started to realize more typical spring weather, and temperatures.  We even had a couple of severe swings with some of those first nice days, going quickly from warm sunshine to cool and rainy and dropping 40+ degrees in a twenty-four hour time frame.

I bring all of this up because it served as a real reminder of how quickly things can change.  Whether it's related to weather, our health, or our businesses it just makes good sense to be aware of this and strive to be vigilant.  I know how easy it is to be focused on the busyness of life and we forget how quickly things can change and that just about anything can happen.

I received another reminder of this a couple of weeks ago, when I received a call from a client who is currently being sued.  Not only has his business come under fire, but the lawsuit also names him personally as well.  The general contention of the lawsuit is that he has not preserved corporate formalities and he and his business are basically one identity because proper documentation of separateness hasn't been followed.  It is a common move in lawsuits to name both the business, and its shareholders/owners personally so that the opposition can "shake the money tree" and see what falls out.

Fortunately, Safe Shield has been working with this particular business owner for several years and we do indeed have detailed documentation that demonstrates personal and corporate separateness.  At the end of the day, the personal attack against him will end up going out the window.  Unfortunately, too many of these situations have a much different outcome.  Too many business owners do very little to preserve corporate formalities within their business and find out the hard way that they are not properly protected against the risks facing every business owner.

My challenge to you today is to remember that anything can happen at any time.  It makes sense to be mindful of this and plan accordingly...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Cleaning (For Your Corporate Record Book)

It is April 7th and according to the calendar, Spring arrived 2 1/2 weeks ago.  However, here in Central MN we are still waiting for sunshine and 50 degrees and the snow to go away.  While it can be frustrating to wait for mother nature to cooperate, we do know that sooner or later the weather will comply with our wishes.

So with Spring just around the corner, the annual rite of passage known as "Spring Cleaning" is a fairly common theme.  Those of us embracing this idea are most likely preparing to clean the house thoroughly, put away winter clothing, sweep out the garage, and open windows to allow fresh air in. 

While this can be a wonderful way to embrace Spring, I would suggest a slightly different approach for business owners... How about Spring Cleaning for your Corporate Record Book?  While this is a good idea for several reasons, I will focus on just one.  You see, properly maintaining your Corporate Record Book is paramount to observing corporate formalities and keeping your Corporate Veil intact.

Unfortunately, most business owners rarely give their Corporate Record Book a second thought.  In fact, in many cases they don't even know where it is.  To put all of this in perspective, I would like to encourage each of you to answer the following questions:

1)  Do you have a Corporate Record Book?
2)  Do you know where it is?
3)  Does it reside at your registered business address?
4)  Do you hold meetings and properly document business activities?
5)  Do you updated it reguarlary and are you confidant it is complete?

If you are unsure or answered "No" to any of these questions, your business is operating outside of  basic compliance requirements and you could be facing significant risk.  I would recommend that you seek out an assessment by a professional advisor so that these issues can be addressed head on.  If you would like additional information about this process, please contact Safe Shield.

In closing let me say that Spring Cleaning is a wonderful tradition, one that should be expanded to include your business and your Corporate Record Book...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Are You Really Prepared?

As I sit in my nice warm house and watch the snow storm continue to rage on, I am thankful that we had plenty of advance notice that this storm was coming.  We made sure that we stocked up on all of the "necessities" and watched the weather closely.  When we got up this morning, we checked the weather closely once again before making the decision to play it safe and stay home from church.  Because we had advance warning, we took the appropriate measures to be as prepared as possible.

The security that I am feeling during the storm has me pondering a question: What happens when we don't have "advance notice" of a pending storm... are we still prepared?  Over the years I have come into contact with many business owners who faced substantial hardship within their business because they were not prepared for the storms that hit them.  In many cases, the hardships brought significant financial loss and in almost every case the problems could have been avoided had the business owner simply been prepared. 

The Corporate or LLC structure is meant to provide security and protection from the threat of storms, much like my house has provided protection for me from the elements of this storm.  However, there are a number of things that I must do on a regular basis to maintain my home so that it remains sturdy and all of its protective features remain intact.  I think it is fair to assume that most homeowners understand this concept and take the appropriate actions, but how many business owners view their business in the same light?

I wrote an article that was recently published by New Business Minnesota and I went to great lengths within the article to demonstrate that the LLC or Corporate Veil can be well maintained and sturdy, or it can be rendered flimsy and worthless due to neglect.  You see most business owners rarely invest the time and effort to address ongoing Corporate and LLC Formalities within their business and are ultimately facing serious exposure whenever the storm does come their way (and it most likely will come at some point).

I will be presenting at a New Business Minnesota workshop later this week and will talk about this in greater detail.  If you would like a copy of the article, please contact Safe Shield and we will provide you with an electronic copy.  In the meantime, please give this matter some additional thought and make the commitment to be prepared for future storms.  I am confident that you will be glad you did.