Monday, August 20, 2012

FL Chamber Survey - Why Businesses relocate to Florida

I read this article today and thought it was interesting enough to share. I can't say that the survey results fully discussed why businesses move out of Florida, although it gave some insight as to why they relocated or stayed here. I think it would be good for the State to know why companies are leaving. This would give them an opportunity to tweak what is being done already to make it more attractive for businesses to say.  See full article here:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don't Forget! You Need to Incorporate Your Nonprofit and Develp the Rules of Engagement

In the process of forming an organization, you will be required to file Articles of Incorporation with the appropriate State agency.  For example, if you live in Florida you will be required to submit your forms to the Department of State, Division of Corporations.  Articles of Incorporation provide your state with information about your business, such as its name, the names of the persons organizing the business and the purpose of the business.  Forming a corporation also limits the liability of the owner(s) and staff of the organization, as well as its board members.  The rules for incorporating your organization may be different depending on which state your business will operate in.  Be sure you know the rules before you “set up shop”.

I learned this the hard way.  Some years ago, I was a member of the Board of Directors of an organization that did not research, and ultimately did not file the required documents necessary to protect all parties involved.  Granted, some paperwork was filed, but it wasn’t enough to protect the organization.  As a result, although the organization was operating as a nonprofit, it legally did not have the rights of a nonprofit.  This later resulted in the organization being caught up in an IRS nightmare.  Fortunately, today that organization has settled all of its debt with the IRS, but, at what cost?

Another requirement for setting up your nonprofit organization is to develop its bylaws.  The bylaws stipulate how the organization will operate.  It is essentially an agreement between the nonprofit and its owners detailing the “rules” of running the organization.  As this is a binding contract, bylaws should be approved by the Board of Directors.  Bylaws are not a requirement for filing your 501(c)3, but it is in your best interest to have one prepared – before you start your business. 

Again, you must plan the whole process of starting your nonprofit.  Some documents are mandated by law, while others are required to ensure your organization’s success.  I suggest preparing a checklist of all the required items and a realistic timeline.  Check each item off as you go through the process.  Not only will you be motivated when you see how much work you’re getting done.  But, this process also helps you see the separate pieces of the puzzle as a whole – the BIG picture.

 So, step #4 when starting a nonprofit organization is to create and file the Articles of Incorporation and the bylaws.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recruit Your Board of Directors

As I’ve mentioned before, there is a logical process that should be taken before embarking on the journey of becoming the owner of a nonprofit.  If done properly, you will be on the road to a successful nonprofit endeavor.

In an earlier post, I discussed the benefits of developing a realistic business plan, which will dictate the operational processes of your nonprofit business.  I also discussed the idea of knowing the purpose of your business – i.e. Who will be served, what will be served, and are these services beneficial to your community?

Form a Board of Directors

The next step in the process is to recruit qualified members of your community to assist in determining the needs of your organization.  Unfortunately, in my experience, many start-up organizations create their Board of Directors using people they can influence.  This is definitely not the way to go if your goal is to grow a successful nonprofit business. 

The key word here is “qualified”.  Since the Board of Directors’ main goal is to ensure that appropriate decisions are made on behalf of the organization, it is in your best interest to choose board members who bring a variety of qualifications and experiences.  For example, I believe that every organization should have an accountant, or someone who can interpret financial data on its board of directors.  This usually prevents surprises in the future.  I also suggest having a member of the board who has experience in whatever service is being offered by your organization.  This will provide more credibility to your organization.

Ultimately, it is your decision who you select to be a member of your organization’s Board of Directors.  However, forming your board of directors should require careful thought.  Recruit your board of directors based on what you want to accomplish.  Consider the skills and qualities that fit your organization’s needs.  Then, identify those individuals who meet those needs, and who support the vision of your organization.  As you can imagine, this is not an easy process.  However, if you put in the time and effort in the beginning, you will avoid conflicts in the future.

So, step #3 when starting a nonprofit organization is to recruit qualified Board Members.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I mentioned in an earlier post that the first step in starting a nonprofit is developing a plan.  It is interesting that some people believe they don’t have to create a realistic business plan for a nonprofit.  I’m not sure why this is the case, when a business is a business, whether it is for-profit or nonprofit – the rules of business startup apply to both.

Your Business Idea Must Serve a Suitable Purpose

Like other business types, you have to decide what the true purpose of your business will be.  Have you considered what type of services you will provide?  Do those services complement each other?  Does your service meet the needs of your community?  Yes, your idea for a business may be great, but you have to meet certain criteria to qualify as a nonprofit or charitable organization.

So, step #2 when starting a nonprofit organization is to determine your purpose.

Monday, August 13, 2012


It seems as if 1 out of 5 of my recent conversations has been with individuals who are considering starting a nonprofit organization. In the Tallahassee community there are a large number of people who are truly passionate about helping others.  This is definitely commendable!  These conversations have piqued my curiosity as I wonder how many people have done the research required to start and operate a successful nonprofit organization.  A nonprofit is like any other type of business in that certain steps must be taken before the business can be successful. 

You Must Have a Plan
I believe the first step in the process (developing the business plan) is the most time consuming, but it is probably the most important step.  Unfortunately, this is the step where most people take a shortcut.  I believe it was Harvey MacKay who said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

You may ask, what’s so important about writing a business plan when I have all of my ideas in my head?  My answer: We usually have so many things on our minds, that it is difficult to keep track of everything. Plus, when you start writing your ideas on paper, you can begin to put the missing pieces together.  Think of your plan as a road map to a successful business.  If you do the research and you plan properly, your chance of succeeding will be greater.

So, step #1 when starting a nonprofit organization is to create a thorough business plan.