The letter from the city also included instructions for arranging a settlement conference. Since neither the client, nor myself, were exactly clear on the charges being brought against the business, the settlement process seemed like a good opportunity to assess just what the city actually had as evidence of a violation (Hint: If you receive one of these petitions, always schedule a settlement conference). We called the city attorney, and a settlement hearing was arranged for the following week.
The food truck ordinance adopted by New Orleans this summer specifically lists areas where food trucks can and can’t park. These restrictions are important if you’re considering starting a truck, or if you’re a customer who wants to know why food trucks aren’t appearing in a certain location.
The key to understanding available food truck spaces is understanding zoning. The city actually provides a pretty useful tool for finding the zoning of any given location. Just go here, click the “Layers” button, then check Zoning.
Trucks cannot park:
The new ordinance does not include a restaurant proximity restriction. If you want to hold a food truck event in one of the restricted areas, you have to apply for a special events permit at City Hall.read more
I’ve written before on the importance of properly classifying your workers as employees or independent contractors. When you classify a worker as an independent contractor, you’re passing the tax liability to the worker. Rather than splitting the employment taxes between the business and the worker, the worker accepts the full burden. Some workers like this because they think their paycheck is bigger. Their paycheck is bigger, but so is their tax liability.
But, the key is that you, the employer, really doesn’t have much say in how to classify a worker. That determination is made by the IRS. One risk of improperly classifying a worker is that the worker could come after you to pay her back taxes.
Such is the case of a Gretna Doctor who recently filed a lawsuit against a medical group and their accountant for failing to take out his taxes. The doctor was paid as an independent contractor, and the medical group hadn’t removed any taxes from his paychecks. When the doctor received a $200,000 bill from the IRS, he scoffed, and filed a suit to recover that amount from the medical group.
You may not have employees who earn salaries of $480,000 like this doctor, but the principals are the same. If you’re not sure how you should be paying your employees, you should consult with an attorney, an accountant, your payroll person, or even by filing out a form SS-8 with the IRS. You don’t want to be stuck with a back tax bill.read more
At the end of July, the New Orleans City Council approved a new food truck ordinance by a vote of 6-0, and sent it to Mayor Landrieu for a signature. The Mayor signed the ordinance on July 31, 2013, and some provisions went into immediate effect. Food trucks, for instance, can now serve in the Tulane Hospital and Superdome districts that were previously off-limits (in fact, the first round up in this new area was held on this past Friday, September 6. Checkout some pictures below!). While trucks haven’t started regularly serving in those areas yet, you should see more of them shortly, especially as some come back from taking August vacations. While you’re waiting, here’s a copy of the new, amended ordinance as signed by the Mayor.
No one likes Quickbooks. It’s clunky, costs a few hundred bucks, and never seems to work like you would expect it to. But it’s function is mission critical to your small business. Whether you choose Quickbooks or another accounting app (I’m anxious to try Xero), I cannot stress how important it is to always have an accurate accounting of your finances, as these two examples show.
Necessary to Prove Damages
Example one came to me with a potential BP Claim. In order to file a claim, BP needs to have monthly profit and loss statements from 2007-2011. The business owner hadn’t used accounting software, and was surprised by the need for such detailed reports. Had she been using accounting software, those reports could have easily been generated, saved, and sent to me within an hour.
The second business owner came to me with a potential lawsuit. One of the claims for damages was a loss of future profit. Unfortunately, the business owner had not been using accounting software and could not produce detailed records of revenues and expenses. I explained that the portion of damages he was seeking would be nearly impossible to prove without those records (or costly, since we’d have to hire an accountant). I ultimately decided that I couldn’t take the case. I may have felt otherwise had he had those records.
Unfortunately, both of these business owners were at a disadvantage, simply because of lackadaisical record keeping.
It’s also important to download and file your bank statements. Banks have lured us into this feeling that all our information is accessible at anytime via their website. That’s generally true, but some banks have used this sense of security as a profit center.
The business owner in one of the examples above needed to get bank statements that were all over 2 years old. The bank (Capital One) didn’t provide them on the website, and charges $15 for each statement. He needed 5 years of statements. That’s $900!
I haven’t been following my own advice, and haven’t been saving copies of my bank statements. So this past Saturday, I sat down to go to each bank and download all my available statements (Using Hazel), I automatically organized all 152 statements within Evernote. All I had to do was click download. Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to blog about that process). I learned that not all banks have the same retention policies:
At this point, it should be pretty clear that any business owner keep accurate accounting records, and keep (hopefully digital) copies of their bank statements to support those records. This sounds like plenty of work, and it can be, and if you don’t want to do it yourself, there are plenty of qualified bookkeepers on sites like elance.com and odesk.com ready to get the work done. You may not need those records now, but if (and when) you do, you’ll be happy you’ve kept up with them.read more
If you find that you need to remove yourself as a member of your Louisiana limited liability company, you’ll need to update the records with the Secretary of State. The process is similar to the process I’ve already described for Adding a Member to your Louisiana LLC, although the Secretary of State’s website has been updated since that post, so here’s an updated step-by-step guide.
Remember that you should always have paperwork documenting why the member is leaving the LLC. Just because the records are updated with the Secretary of State doesn’t mean that the member can’t challenge the removal and demand to see paperwork (hint: that’s why you should generally consult with an attorney when you need to remove a member).
But, since you’ll probably want to do it yourself anyway, here’s the quick and dirty guide.
1. Start here and search for your business name.
2. Look for your Charter Number and copy and paste that to your clipboard.
3. On the left navigation panel, click File Business Documents and then File Amendments. Or click here.
4. Enter the Charter Number.
5. Click File Amendment.
6. Select Notice of Change.
7. Confirm that you’re filing a Notice for the proper LLC and click File Notice of Change.
8. On the first page, you’ll be asked to update your mailing address and registered office.
9. In the second page, you’ll be asked to update your registered agent.
10. On page three, you can add and remove members. Be sure you understand the differences between managers and members.
11. Sign, pay, and finalize.
If it seems easy, that’s because it is. The hard part is drafting and preparing paperwork that provides evidence of the changes you’re making. You’re not required to have that evidence, but if a dispute ever arises between the business owners, you’ll be glad you do.read more
Let’s assume that you operate a business in Texas. That business is organized as a limited liability company (LLC) under the laws of Texas and has been running well for quite some time. Now you’re looking at expanding your company into a similar line of work in Louisiana (or any other state really). This situation raises a few questions on how to legally establish yourself in Louisiana:
(1) Should you form a Louisiana LLC?
(2) Should you register as a foreign entity and operate the new business under your Texas LLC?
(Foreign doesn’t necessarily mean Mexican or Canadian. Here, it means from another state).
(3) If you do register a Louisiana LLC, should it be a subsidiary of your Texas business, or should it be it’s own separate company?
Staying organized can be really easy if you use the tools available today. For example, you can streamline things by saving your Google Apps emails as PDFs. There are many tools and apps that can help you get this accomplished, but which should you use? Head on over to my blog post at Paperless Chase to learn how you can start organizing your emails today!read more
I’m Dana, Andrew’s Virtual Assistant. Some of you may have received an email from me or may have heard a bit about me from my fearless leader. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about me – who I am, and how I found myself where I am today.
The majority of my life has been spent in the pursuit of education, in one way or another. From a young age I aspired to gain a solid education, a dream I followed. Today, I have a BA in English and an ivy-league Law Degree. One might think that this background would lead me to a career at a law firm or as in-house counsel at a corporation, but life took me in another direction. Now, I am more of a teacher than a student. I am mother to a 2 year old boy who is happy, strong, healthy, intelligent and inspired by the world around him. I work from home as a Virtual Assistant for Zirtual and am able to stay home and raise him rather than sending him off to someone else daily.
I consider myself quite lucky to have the lifestyle I’m living these days. However modest in comparison to the path I thought I’d be on at this point, it is perfect for where I am right now. Raising a child on one’s own used to be virtually unthinkable, but in the world we live in today, it is definitely doable. If you asked me 5 years ago where I’d be today, I don’t think my answer would have come close to describing the reality of my daily life right now, but I can honestly say there’s nowhere I’d rather be than here, raising my son by myself while working in a growing, 21st century industry as a Zirtual Assistant, working for a company I love and have faith in and serving clients I respect and admire. Who could ask for more than that?
To sign up for your own virtual assistant, check out Zirtual here.read more
Everyone I talk to loves food trucks. They’re convenient, cook great food, and add a new option to the local dining scene. And typically, the truck is operated by the owner, so it’s nice to know that your purchase is going directly into the hands of a neighbor, without much in between.
Lately though, we’ve seen a few major corporations attempt to enter the food truck market, and this article about Stouffer’s attempt to enter the food truck market caught my eye. The company known for frozen supermarket and convenience store meals is rolling out a fleet this summer to serve their Mac ‘n’ Cheese with ‘fresh’ toppings. Obviously this type of corporate truck differs from the typically locally-owned truck that have made food trucks so popular, and many people have asked what we can do to keep these corporate trucks out of our cities. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do.
The Constitution prevents governments from restricting commerce, or favoring one business over another, unless they can show a rational basis to public health or safety (that’s a really simplified version of the law, but you get the idea). This is the same argument we’ve used in our discussions with the City of New Orleans to remove the restaurant proximity restriction. Since it would be hard to devise a compelling health or safety reason to restrict the corporate trucks, cities are hesitant to do so. So if cities can’t prevent the corporate food trucks from peddling on their streets, are we going to see a glut of corporate food trucks on every corner?
I hope not, but I do not think we will. First of all, these corporations have a few reasons for opening food trucks, like expanding markets and trying out new dishes, but in the end, it all comes down to money. They want to earn money off the trucks, just like their locally owned competitors. And at the moment, consumers aren’t exactly flocking to these corporate trucks, and a few in Los Angeles have even shut down.
So if you’re freaked out about a street full of corporate food trucks, just ignore them, and they’ll eventually go away.read more