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Running a Business

Payroll

A payroll system is the process through which your employees log their time worked, the way in which wages for that time are distributed. While this appears simple at first, as the number of your employees grows, and calculations for sick days, holidays, and vacation days, and various rates of pay, including overtime must be factored in, it can become stressful task.

As an employer, you must ensure your employees are paid on time, withhold the correct amount of taxes from them (including federal, state and local), their Social Security and Medicare taxes and any other taxes that the employee has designated. As specified by law, all employers must also report any tax liabilities to appropriate agencies and to employees. All of this can seem like a hassle when setting up a small business, but here are some great tips to help you set up your small business payroll system:

Get your Employer Identification Number (EIN): EINs are given out by the IRS and are required to be obtained before any employees are hired within your organization. You can apply an EIN very easily by calling the IRS or applying online. Note: Some states require employers to obtain State and Local ID numbers.
File W-4s: Any new employee must fill out a W-4 form so employers know how much they must withhold in federal taxes. This is usually filled out and returned on the first day of employment. Other forms include the I-9, W-2, and the W-5. Each of these can be found on the IRS website.
Document hours worked: No matter if the employee is a independent contractor, part-time, or full-time employee, documenting all of the hours an employee has worked will save you work and stress in the long run, especially if the IRS ever audits you.
Maintain a Set Pay Cycle: Most companies choose to pay their employees every two weeks, or twice a month. Depending on the nature of your business, you may decide to pay more or less frequently than that. Whatever your decision, it is important to stay consistent in your system.

By staying on top of your bookkeeping, run payroll efficiently, keep easy-to-access files and records, and report all payroll taxes to the IRS, your payroll system should streamline much of the effort you put into your small business. In many cases, investing in payroll software, or an accountant specialized in crunching the numbers can give you long-term savings.

It is vital that your small business complies with all current labor laws as dictated by state and local policies. If an employee works overtime, it is important to remember to pay him or her 1.5x per hour as dictated by overtime law. If employees qualify for Earned Income Credit (EIC) and have a child who also qualifies, they are entitled to receive those payments through their working, fiscal year. Overall, your payroll system depends on numerous factors depending on the type of business you run, the number and type of workers you employ, and the amount of paperwork with which you are willing to work.

Trademark

A trademark can be anything, such as a word, symbol, design, name or slogan (or a combination) that is used to identify your product or service as unique, distinguishing you from another entity that may sell similar products or services as yours. Having a specialized trademark that represents your business gives your company an identity all it’s own. While trademarks may help individualize your products, they are also extremely important in protecting them from duplication. Obtaining a trademark on a logo, for example, means that only you or your company are legally allowed to use it. Visit Trademark in SBA.com’s Legal Services page to get started.

Types of Trademarks

There are three different types of trademarks: service marks, certification marks and collective marks. Service marks are used to identify a service instead of a product, certification marks are words, names, symbols, devices or a combination there of that are used in commerce by employees to certify the origin of the product being sold. Lastly, collective marks are used by organizations with multiple members, such as a union, association or other organization.

Symbols

The trademark symbol,™, and the registered trademark symbol, ®, denote a the status of the trademark in question. Any product or service bearing the trademark symbol is protected under common law, which does not require registration, only that you be the first to use whatever is trademarked. A registered trademark is one that has been registered formally with a government agency.

Registered trademarks provide more protection than those under common law. As they are registered with federal authorities, they are protected at a national level. If, for example, a trademark is only used in New York, it may only be protected in that state. A registered trademark also allows for more damages and puts your business in a better legal position to be awarded damages, as it provides a paper trail.

The Legal Process of Registering a Trademark

There is a legal process that must be undergone to establish a trademark. If no one else has the trademark or registering it, you can have legal papers declaring it as your own.

The first step to having a trademark registered for your business is to apply with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). During the process of approval, the USPTO will verify that no one else owns the trademark and that you’ll be using it for business purposes, and not simply just to own it. Acceptable usage of trademarks is for labeling on packages of goods and if for services, the trademark can be used during advertisements and invoicing. A trademark search is conducted to ensure that it hasn't already been claimed and that no other applicants are filing for the same trademark. You can conduct this search on your own beforehand using the TESS database. Once in the clear, you will receive your registration records of your new business trademark.

Your trademark is only valid within the United States, unless you fill out a special application. If you are a qualified owner of an application that is pending with the USPTO or are already registered with the USPTO, you can seek to have your trademark registered overseas with an International Application. This application is available with the International Bureau of the World Property Intellectual Organization through the USPTO.

More Related Articles:
Business Insurance: http://www.sba.com/running-a-business/business-insurance/
Copyright Office: http://www.sba.com/running-a-business/copyright-office/
Patent: http://www.sba.com/running-a-business/patent/

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