Risks of Using Legal Zoom Instead of a Lawyer

In working with small businesses every day, a very common question that comes up is whether or not to use Legal Zoom for certain business transactions. There seem to be a lot of questions out there relating to online filing services, so I recently posted an article on the risks of using Legal Zoom instead of a lawyer. The article is not intended to discredit these types of online filing companies, but rather to raise awareness for those who are thinking of going that route. Any input or additional tips that are not included would be greatly appreciated.

Need some referral program ideas? Here’s 25 of them to inspire you.

Hey r/smallbusiness,

Thinking of putting together a customer referral program, and need some ideas or inspiration?

Here’s a list of 25 referral program examples for businesses of all types:

Fashion & Apparel

  1. Amuze – $25 off your next flash sale purchase | Image

  2. The Clymb – Invite a Friend and get $10 credit | Image

  3. True&Co – Give $15, Get $15 | Image

  4. DapperTime – Gives advocates 20% in cash of what their friends order | Image

  5. Rothy's – $20 to both advocates and friends | Image

Beauty & Grooming

  1. Bevel – Free month for each successful referral | Image

  2. Julep – $15 credit for friends and advocates | Image

  3. Thrive Causemetics – $10 off for both friends and advocates | Image

  4. JeNu – $50 off for Advocates and $20 off for friends | Image

Electronics & Gadget

  1. Bluesmart – Give $40, Get $40 | Image

  2. Pavlok – Friends get 15% of friend's purchase in cash | Image

  3. Peel – Advocates 30% off, Friends 20% off | Image


  1. 22 Days Nutrition – gives Advocates 15% off their Friends’ purchase in cash, and gives friends 10% off | Image

  2. Youfoodz – gives free meal, get free meal | Image

  3. Craft Coffee – free coffee delivery | Image


  1. Leesa – gives friends $75 off a mattress and advocates $50 in cash | Image

  2. Canningvale – gives Friends 20% off and gives Advocates store credits | Image

Education and Toys

  1. CriticalPass – gives advocates $10 for each friend referred | Image

  2. Flintobox – gives away free Flintoboxes | Image


  1. 99Designs – gives Friends a $99 PowerPack for boosting and a $50 in cash for successful project completion | Image

  2. Trello – free month of Trello gold | Image

  3. Videoblocks – gives Advocates $20 off and referred friends a staggering 90% off | Image


  1. Go-Today – gives Friends $25 off and Advocates 5% | Image

  2. SunWorks – offers $1,000 for each friend referred | Image

  3. ZenRooms – gives both Friends and Advocates a US$20 discount | Image

How's that for you?

25 examples across different industries to inspire your own referral program.

Countless of ecommerce stores, gyms, yoga classes, banks and other service providers have referral programs.

If you have a great product worthy of referrals, then you should do like Dropbox and add a refer-a-friend feature to your business.

If 25 examples are not enough for you, there are 50+ more examples here in this post. Check it out, get inspired and build a refer-a-friend feature for your business! It's free marketing you should take advantage of.

CRUCIAL answers you should know BEFORE hiring a virtual assistant!

Hey r/Smallbiz! My name is Brett, I am a VA expert (I recently ran and sold an online VA placement service and have used VA's in my businesses for years, including a full time VA for my current business!). To help others grow their business, I'm giving out all of my tips and tricks!

I recently did an AMA in r/entrepreneur and got a TON of questions. Based on what was asked, I figured they could be helpful to you! I have condensed them into an FAQ and pasted them below.

If you have ANY questions at all, don't hesitate to ask as I'm more than happy to help however I can!

What’s the cost of a full time VA? Approx $400/month, $2.5/hour (plus bonuses — it helps to incentivize!).

How to find a VA that speaks [language other than English]? Many cultures where VA’s tend to come from have required language classes taught in their schooling system. Most know their native language and English while a surprising number knows a third language as well (German, Spanish and French are very common). There are two major ways of finding a VA that speaks your language: Find someone in your network who currently has a VA and offer that VA a $25 “bounty” for finding someone who speaks your language. Put up an ad in which you list your language as a requirement.

Should I give my VA access to my financials and if so, how should I do it? Never give your VA access to your bank account. There are two workarounds I recommend: Most credit card providers let you set up a credit card for a family member or an employee. These credit cards come with a monthly limit you can use to control the maximum dollar amount your VA can spend with this card. Your VA will have to get your approval if they want/need to spend more than that amount. You can easily track your VA’s spending. Setting up a mint.com account will help you. Save time AROUND the task of actually paying. Here’s an example from my main company: I have some part time employee payroll checks that I have to send. Each week, I used to have to tally the hours they logged and calculate each amount and send. I set it up so that each OTHER week my VA can access to the payroll document, add up all necessary hours and rates for each person, and instructed her to drop the amounts into my email each week. Then, I simply have to plug those amounts in and send — many less steps and much less complicated for me (turning a weekly 20-30 min job into 5 mins every other week).

How to get a VA to do all my stuff? To get a VA to work well for you, you must have organized processes and systems (and in general, using cheap labor means you must be organized and systematic). When I hire VA's, I hire them to become a "shadow me", meaning once I've done a task once, I log the exact process of how I did it, organize it into an operations manual for easy retrieval, give it a code for easy reference, and leave it there so that I can direct my VA to perform it next time that task comes up. I think that is the ONLY way to use a VA properly, as there is just too much variability with skilled tasks. However, it is also easy to train your VA to manage those skilled task projects for you, so that you can just give your goal for a project, and then give feedback the results.

Should I get a specialist or a general VA? I don't try and hire VA's to perform roles in my company based on skills they have. Skilled workers require compensation for their years of work to learn those skills. Also, these specialists have the tendency to become irreplaceable. If they leave, you have a problem. My approach is to train a general VA to become a “shadow me”. I identify repetitive tasks, document the process in an operations manual and use this operations manual to train my VA. Not only is this approach cheaper, it also makes my business more resilient: If my VA left me tomorrow, I could easily replace her by the end of the week, thanks to the fact that all tasks are documented in my operations manual.

What tasks can I outsource to a VA? Generally, you can outsource every task that is repetitive. If it’s a process you can document step-by-step in an operations manual, your VA can do it! When it comes to financials, look at this for reference.

What is a “shadow you” VA? A “shadow you” or general VA is generally good at everything and is directed to run operations right behind the main business operator as well as outsource skilled tasks (so that the main operator can give the project goal and then give feedback on finished product without any other time wasted). This VA comes cheaper as there is no real absolute skill sets and they operate the systems given to them in the business. I highly advise using this type of VA over specialised VAs.

What skills does a (general) VA need? I think these are the MOST important: Timeliness: 100% on time with meetings and assignments. Attention to detail: Do I have to go back and fill things in? Or are they thorough every time? Organization: Do they keep things organized at all times?

If this was helpful to you, you might also want to take a look at my walkthrough video of a recent meeting with my VA here: https://impactassistants.lpages.co/virtual-assistant-behind-the-scenes-for-smallbiz/. I got a lot of positive feedback from it in r/entrepreneur!


Changing your name from marriage after starting sole proprietorship

Hello everyone, I am in the planning stages of beginning a nanny agency in the Midwest. I am looking to begin recruiting nannies as early as this time next year potentially. However, I'm also a woman and will be getting married either next fall (2018) or the fall after (2019), we haven't decided yet. Aside from the stress of potentially planning a wedding and running a new business at the same time, what legal policies should I keep in mind when opening either a sole proprietorship or single owner LLC and then changing my name when I'm married a year or two later? Realistically I'm trying to decide whether to just push the business back until after the wedding, but would prefer to not have to wait until 2020 to start when kids will be coming up and all the other joys of adult, married life.