Is Dominaining Putting Your Personal Assets at Risk?Mike Sullivan
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation Business Services, Inc., is an advocate for protecting personal and business assets. She also has extensive experience in the start-up and entrepreneurial industry as she has been involved in the formation of hundreds of thousands of MyCorporation.com’s customers. I asked Deborah some questions about how those of us in the domain industry can protect ourselves, even if just part-time domainers.
Mike: I incorporated my own business a few years back. I used a local attorney and it seemed quite costly compared to your service. How are you able to provide the same service for a much lower fee?
Deborah: We’re able to perform the service at a low cost based on a few factors: (1) Economies of scale: We file hundreds of corporations and LLCs every week. We have automated systems and procedures, so we’re able to pass along the savings to our customers. and (2) Experience: We have a network set up in all 50 states, we’ve been offering our service via the Internet for 12+ years and we have expert knowledge of the filing requirements in all states. Our experience enables us to get the documents filed quickly and efficiently.
Mike: Many people in the domain development and investment industry are part-timers. That is, most have day jobs and are doing this type of work on the side. What is the right type of business structure in this circumstance? Is it important to have something beyond a sole proprietorship for liability reasons?
Deborah: The primary reason people incorporate (whether the business is part or full-time) is for liability and asset protection. Whether the business is a full-time business or one that is done as a side-business, the risk of exposure to liability or someone trying to tap personal assets for a business-related legal issue is the same. People don’t want their house or personal property to be exposed to business risk – from creditors, customers or vendors. The corporate “veil” afforded corporations and LLCs may even be more important with part-timers, given they also have income from an independent source which should be protected.
Mike: I’m not sure if you were involved with the company when the domain name was selected. Do you know how the name was chosen? Was it purchased from a third party?
Deborah: The MyCorporation.com domain name was not purchased from a third party. It was purchased years ago, along with hundreds of other domain names that support our business, including domains like corporation.com. These domain names, like our other intellectual property, have become true assets of the company, especially as we have grown and developed a nation-wide presence with our business filing and start-up services.
Mike: How important do you feel your domain name has been to your business? Would you have done as well if the domain name was SmithBusinessServices.com?
Deborah: Building a strong brand is expensive and time consuming, but having a URL that is strong and unique has been important in the growth of our brand. Our domain name and brand is catchy and yet still not so arbitrary that the customer cannot identify what it is that we do. I think the MyCorporation.com URL has had a strong impact on the success of the business, and having “smithbusinessservices.com”, for example, may have sounded too “small” and may have lacked the unique branding opportunity.
Mike: Trademark registration is another service you offer. Trademarks are a big deal when it comes to domain names. Most domain investors know enough to stay away from names that are trademarks of other organizations. How important is it for businesses to trademark their domain names? Would trademarking a domain give me any level of protection?
Deborah: Trademarks are an important part of a businesses’ intellectual property. Trademarks afford a business nationwide rights to a name that is associated with their goods and services. It is my experience that new businesses seek to build a brand by correlating their trademarks and domain names. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office disregards the “.com” portion of a trademark, but for a company like MyCorporation, we worked hard to not only have the domain name “mycorporation.com” but also to protect it as a trademark. Many businesses find it important to match their corporate name with their domain name and then to protect both by filing for trademark protection. Because new businesses do not want to risk infringing on a third party’s trademarks, we often see new businesses running trademark searches to understand what is out there in the market. Trademark searches and registrations are our most used services as new businesses are getting started and working to protect their brand.
Mike: What advice do you have for small business owners and entrepreneurs as the set off with their ventures?
Deborah: I think it’s important, though it sounds cliché, to really enjoy what you are doing. Starting a new venture is not always easy and the legal nuances can sometimes be overwhelming. There are inexpensive services that can be used – you don’t have to do it all yourself. Protecting your business legally is an important step in the process, but it doesn’t have to be confusing. Once it’s done, you can move on with the day-to-day management and development of the business and not have to worry about the legal stuff.