Considerations on How To Take Your Side Gig Into a Full-Time Business In 2019

side hustle.jpg

For many individuals, side gigs are more than additional income. Whether it’s expanding a freelance writing portfolio or working in graphic design, side gigs are serious business. These part-time roles have the ability to expand into becoming full-time jobs. That potential is often associated with a bit of hesitation. It’s exciting to think about starting a business and becoming your own boss, but taking action can be a scary step forward. How do you successfully take the side gig you love and make it a full-time small business? 

While there’s no real set of guidelines that ensure you’re doing everything the “right” way, there are certain key steps that have the potential to greatly assist with the process. Listen up, new to the world entrepreneurs! If you’re prepping to make your side gig your full-time job, consider accomplishing the following tasks first.

1. Write a detailed business plan

A business plan is the blueprint to small business success. However, it’s often surprising how many entrepreneurs gloss over it or try to avoid creating one. Most business plans tend to be fairly long (30-40 pages), require a lot of details and are time-consuming to put together.

A traditional business plan generally contains, at a minimum, detailed coverage for the following areas. Let’s briefly sum up each one. 

·       Executive Summary. Here, you’ll talk about yourself, the business, what it does and its industry, where it’s located, why it matters to your customers, and how it plans to make money.

·       Industry Analysis. Who is your competition? This is where details about competitors are kept, both direct and indirect.

·       Market Analysis. Who are your customers and audience? Outline what your key demographics look like and plans to reach and retain them.

·       Organization and Management. If you’re the only person running the show, this is the perfect place to add your biography. Any and all business partners or employees should have their information included here.

·       Financial Projections. This section covers cash flow, profits and losses (usually projected), a break-even analysis, and expenses budget.

·       Financing Request. Need capital for your business? Your financing request is designated to ask investors for business funds and to detail what you plan to do with that money.

·       Appendix. This section includes important odds and ends, like trademark registrations and letters of incorporation, that would not have fit into the rest of the document.

The best news about writing a business plan is that these details do not need to stay the same the entire time you’re in business. It’s encouraged to revisit the document and make edits as needed!

2. Incorporate the business

Incorporating or forming an LLC is a huge leap forward for your business. Once you incorporate, you’re able to establish credibility and save money on taxes.

While I myself can’t tell you which entity type is the “perfect” one for your business, I can highlight some of the benefits that come with three of the primary legal structures. A sole proprietorship, for example, is fairly affordable and allows its owner to be the boss (hence the word “sole” in the name).

Limited liability companies (LLCs) provide their owners with a certain level of liability protection. This means your personal and professional assets are generally separate from each other. Should you be served with lawsuit papers, for whatever reason, the LLC designation generally helps keep your personal assets from being negatively impacted. Entrepreneurs who decide to incorporate as a corporation receive the same liability protection benefits as well. However, a corporation is structured a bit more strictly than its flexible LLC counterpart. There are required meetings for members to attend, minutes to take, and shares that may be issued.   

3. File for an EIN

More often than not, having an employer identification number (EIN) is identified with hiring employees. Many individuals planning to turn their side business into a full-time business may not be ready to think that far out yet.  

There are plenty of benefits that come with obtaining an EIN in the near future. This number is a federal identifier issued to your business by the IRS. It is a federal tax ID that identifies employer tax accounts. An EIN may be used in lieu of your social security number (SSN) to identify your business entity on important documents.

An EIN is less sensitive than an SSN. However, that doesn’t mean you should start adding it in all of your emails or writing it on documents left out in public. These numbers protect your personal information, so it’s important that they are both equally protected when used for your business.

4. Register your trademark

There is a high likelihood that your small business will come with something unique. It could be its name, logo, slogan, tagline, or even a brand mascot. Original phrases or designs associated with your business must be registered as a trademark.

What happens if your ideas aren’t trademarked? This leaves the door wide open for a copycat business to take your ideas and pass them off as their own. As a business owner, you would be helpless to defend the business because you didn’t file for or have an existing trademark application.

Rather than lose your brilliant thoughts, you should consider conducting a name search to see if your mark is available. If you find out it’s available, you can file to trademark the original assets. This will help keep any potential plagiarism at bay. It can also provide great peace of mind that the brand you developed, from side gig to full-time role, has been protected since day one.


Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.


Please note that this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG LLP. Some or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates or related entities.  KPMG LLP does not provide legal services. KPMG LLP personnel must obtain written permission from the firm to engage in a side business. 


A Better Approach to Bookkeeping


Let’s face it, if you are a small business owner, you probably didn’t get into it so you could do the bookkeeping. In fact, it’s probably the part of running a business that you enjoy the least.

But, more than just being a diversion from the day-to-day operation of the business, most current approaches to bookkeeping and accounting for small and medium sized businesses may also potentially reduce the accuracy of decision making.  

“As a start-up business you may struggle to get real-time insight into your actual numbers, waiting until the end of the month before bookkeepers even look at your accounts. Investing in new accounting technologies can help small business owners reduce the stress of bookkeeping and improve visibility into their business.”

-Zach Olson, Managing Director, KPMG Spark

What’s new in small business accounting?

The rapid evolution and maturity of new technologies like machine learning, data analytics and visualization tools can assist decision-makers with achieving unprecedented insights and visibility into their data. And that can be harnessed to give small business owners a real advantage.

Indeed, there are a growing number of back office and accounting platforms that are applying cognitive technologies to help deliver greater value to business owners. What is cognitive automation? Cognitive software mimics human activities such as perceiving, inferring, gathering evidence, hypothesizing, and reasoning. And, like humans, cognitive software is taught rather than traditionally programmed.

In other words, while we program explicit steps into a traditional computer to solve a problem, in a cognitive solution, we teach the tool the area of interest, or ‘domain’. Once the base domain knowledge is established within the software, the cognitive solution typically continues to learn and solve problems within that domain, generally all on its own.[1][KA1] 

Some of the very best new accounting platforms, for example, use cognitive automation technologies to create a better understanding of their users’ bookkeeping and expense reporting methods. This information is then digested by the system and translated into functionality improvements that are tailored to the specific user.

“Far too often, I talk to founders who find themselves bogged down in bookkeeping which means they are not fully focused on doing what they do best – improving and growing the business. With all of the new technologies that are now available, founders and small business owners should be considering all of the available options for reducing the back office burden.”

-        Brian Hughes, National Private Markets Group Leader and Co-Leader Venture Capital, KPMG LLP

10 potential benefits of software-enabled accounting platforms

How can new software-enabled approaches to accounting and bookkeeping potentially help founders and small business owners make better decisions and reduce the burden of the back office? Today’s software-enabled accounting platforms may be able to help you:

1.     Get a fuller view: Connect securely to your bank accounts, credit cards and payment apps to get a complete picture of your current accounts.

2.     Simplify tax preparation: Leverage your improved visibility and data management to quickly and easily prepare and file taxes.

3.     Prepare monthly reporting faster: Keep track of financial performance with interactive dashboards

4.     Search with ease: Search and filter for transactions by date, account type and category on demand.

5.     Get paid faster: Create professional invoices in under a minute.  

6.     Track your mileage: Track all of the details you need to document your mileage for tax purposes.

7.     See how you spend: Log in online and see up-to-date transactions and analytics on how you spend your money.

8.     Make payroll easier: By connecting to a payroll platform, you can simplify the calculation, filing and payment of employees and payroll taxes.

9.     Take comfort in human oversight: Combine new technologies with experienced account teams.

10.  Relax with great data security: Choose a solution that takes extraordinary measures to help ensure your data is secure.

Cognitive in action in the back office

How can cognitive deliver value in small business accounting? To start, the system we work with at KPMG uses APIs and direct connections to over 20,000 financial institutions to continuously update the accounting ledger. Leveraging machine learning, it automatically categorizes line items based on algorithms trained specifically for their business and sector. All of that data is then served up to users through a cloud platform, allowing users to tap into their accounting data from virtually anywhere.  

Of course, machines on their own are not (yet) sophisticated enough to replace human capability, judgement and control; they are also not terribly good at customer relationship management. So it is still important to have a dedicated – human – accountant who oversees the books, carefully monitors the algorithms and interacts with clients. But, given that most of their manual, repetitive tasks are now being shouldered by bots, these accounting professionals are free to focus on helping small business owners increase the amount of information derived from their data.  

Some or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates and related entities.

The following information is not intended to be “written advice concerning one or more Federal tax matters” subject to the requirements of section 10.37(a)(2) of Treasury Department Circular 230.

The information contained herein is of a general nature and based on authorities that are subject to change. Applicability of the information to specific situations should be determined through consultation with your tax adviser.

KPMG’s individual tax services may only be provided to owners and senior executives of private business clients of the firm or in connection with global mobility services or bank trust outsourcing services.

© 2019 KPMG LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved. The KPMG name and logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International.


 [KA1]Sources should be credited in a format similar to the examples below:

Source: Financial Times, London, Joanna Chung (July 7, 2016).

Source: KPMG International, “Replay: Fast Forward” (November 2015).

Source: ABC News Web site, Politics section, May 23, 2016.


The 25 Item Small Business Checklist

small business checklist

The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.


Gumption gets you far but a smartly crafted small business checklist AND gumption? Well, that gets you even farther.


1. Ideate

Your first step to success is having a strong idea of what you want to do and how you want to do it. Hopefully it’s something you’re passionate about because starting your own business can burn you out, and burn you out fast. This is a big part of the reason why only 1 in 4 businesses will make it to the 15 year mark. [1]

2. Research Your Product

Before you go borrowing money from your friends and family--make sure that what you’re investing in is worth investing in. How much will it cost? What price point do you need to hit to turn a profit? Can you afford enough quantity to get your margins low enough? How much time and money will need to be invested in updates, maintenance and support?

3. Assess Your Needs

Starting a business (even if it’s a seemingly low-cost adventure) can often be more expensive than one predicts. Create your own small business checklist of potential needs such as: manufacturing, web/app development, prototyping, digital assets (photography, graphic design, logos etc.), website hosting, employees, freelancers, and a CRM (customer relationship management) system.

Apart from monetary needs, you also should consider time and expertise. Are you working a 9 to 5 while you grow a side hustle? Will you have the time to do so? Will you be spending the majority of your time learning, rather than doing?

4. Checkout the Competition

Before you start a business, you need to know who your competitors are, how they’re succeeding (and failing) and how you’re going to add value to the market. Do they have investors? Are there any partnerships that have brought them success? Are they doing PPC (pay-per-click ads)? If so, can you tell how much they’re spending? What does their email funnel look like?

It’s not a bad idea to act as a customer or even be a customer just to see what the onboarding and purchasing process is like. This will give you a good idea of industry standards and might also give you some ideas of how you can improve it.

5. Decide on Your Name and Business Entity Type

Unless you choose a made-up name, this can be a long and frustrating process. Most likely, the first name you think of will be taken. However, with some creativity and persistence, you’ll be able to settle on something you like.

If you’re really stuck, there are even tools that will generate a bunch of names for you based off a keyword.

6. Get a Business License

Each state has their own set of rules, but wherever you plan on operating, you need a business license. Without this, you’re not going to be able to sell anything. Don’t believe me? Just ask the the poor kids who had their lemonade stand shut down in Texas[2] for operating without one!

7. Get an EIN (Optional for Sole Proprietorship)

EIN stands for Employee Identification Number.  According to e-FORMS.US[3] here are four things that obligate you to get an EIN:

●      The Entity has hired, or plans to hire employees

●      The Entity needs to open a business bank account

●      The Entity needs to file Tax Returns

●      The Entity needs to comply with State and Federal regulations

At times, sole proprietorships may just need to use their Social Security number.

8. Open a Business Banking Account

A lot of people start out using their personal card for business purchases. Not that this is necessarily “wrong”--but it’s bad business practice. Separating your personal purchases from your business transactions will help you have cleaner books and easier time doing your taxes. It also helps you compartmentalize and organize your expenses. You know exactly how much capital you’re sitting on at all times, never having to worry if you can use that money for business needs, or if you were saving it for your mortgage.

9. Create a Business Plan/Roadmap

Flexibility in a roadmap is key. You’d be hard pressed to find a business owner who predicted exactly how everything would unfold. Regardless, you need to have a 1 year, 2 year, and even 5 year plan in mind. This will help steer your day to day decisions, what projects you prioritize, and give your investors (if any) confidence in what you want to accomplish.

10. Create a Mission Statement

This is less a financial model and detailed strategy session as it is a philosophical manifesto. Remind yourself (and your team) of your values, goals, and the “why” of your business.

11. Implement a Bookkeeping Solution

Bookkeeping allows you to see where your money is going and how it’s being spent. Done right, it can also help you secure more financing--something most small businesses desperately need. It also happens to be one of business owners least favorite tasks. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could automate it? Well, you can. There are a number of  online bookkeeping services like KPMG Spark that offer you the ability to sync up your bank account to their software while a remote team of accountants meet your bookkeeping needs and help prepare your tax returns.

12. Establish a Value Add

Perhaps the most important and crucial question to address on the small business checklist is “What do you bring to the table that others don’t (or can’t)?” Will it be your stellar customer service, will it be a better designed user interface, a proprietary piece of tech? Once you establish this value ad or differentiator, you will want to hit on this over and over with your marketing efforts. Which brings us to the next step...

13. Create a Marketing Plan

“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” -Steve Forbes

Creating a marketing plan is essential, because regardless of how good your product is--if no one knows about it, it’s not going to get any traction.

14. Decide on a Brand

Besides choosing your marketing channels and who/how much you want to invest in said marketing--you need to take time to decide HOW you want to present yourself as a business. In today’s world, consumers make up their minds about you quicker than ever, just check out some of these stats:

● Average bounce rate is between 40-55%. That means if you’re doing okay, 1 out of every 2 prospective customers who view your site jump ship right away!

● Out of those that do decide to stay, most of them will leave under a minute and many of them under 10 to 20 seconds.

What does all of this mean? It means you need to have smart design, one that makes your value ad clear from the get go. Consumers needs to feel confident in your product, know what it is, and that it speaks to them. Even if your focus isn’t digital, these same principles apply.

15. Get a Logo

Your logo is your name, your face to the world. Whether you pay a high end graphic designer or use a freelance directory site, make sure it defines you and communicates what you stand for.

1 6. Create a Website

Even if you’re not digitally based, you need a website. A website is the modern-day equivalent of a business card, and it’s going to give you a place to control the messaging. Customers want to know more about you? Other businesses want to partner with you? A news outlet wants to give you coverage? You need a website.

If you’re not well versed in web development, consider using a website platform that doesn’t require you to know custom code.

17. Choose Your Social Channels (Wisely!)

Some brands make the mistake of going as wide as possible when it comes to social media, creating a profile on every platform they can think of. The problem is, when you’re starting small, you might not be able to afford the time or money to hire a full-time content creation team. The fix? Choose 1 or 2 platforms that have the best chance of reaching your audience and dedicate yourself to creating consistent and quality content for those channels.

If you plan on using Instagram, you’re going to want to read our article on how to get more instagram followers.

18. Get a Custom Domain Email

help@gmail[dot]com is not a custom domain email. help@yourbusiness[dot]com is a custom domain. It may not seem like much, but having your business name in your email will create a sense of security, trust, and authority with the online public. Making this change isn’t priority one in creating a business but if you plan on sending emails often (which is probably a good idea), then you want to have a custom domain.

19. Obtain the Proper Licenses

Certain industries will require additional certifications and licenses such as the food and beverage industry. Other industries such as the firearm industry require federal approval from the likes of organizations like the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). Know your industry and don’t be afraid to connect with others who have “been there done that” and can help you navigate the system.

20. Get Business Insurance

You don’t want to invest dozens of hours and your life savings into a business only to have it burned to the ground with nothing to show for it. Some insurance policies can even help protect against 3rd party lawsuits.

21. Hire Employees

Obviously, not for everyone (especially if you’re a freelancer), but definitely something worth considering. If you do hire, you’ll need that EIN number we discussed, you’ll also need to setup some type of payroll system, and you’ll also need to get your paperwork in order such as a W-4 and I-9.

To learn more about hiring your first employees, checkout our guide on hiring for a startup company.

22. Create a Strong Launch Plan, Execute

Momentum is huge. Before you launch your business, you should think about how you can make it a PR-worthy “event.” Do you have a list of PR contacts? Have you prepped your family and friends? Do your social media channels already have a substantial amount of content and look like they are worth following? Or do they look empty?

If you have complicated or tech-heavy product, you might consider adding beta users and testers ahead of a launch so that by the time that day rolls around, you’ve ironed out all of the kinks.

23. Leverage Personal Contacts

Unless you have a large network of contacts, you’re likely going to need to reach out to family and friends--not only as potential customers but as spreaders of the word. Even if they aren’t interested in your product, ask them to share with their personal networks. These will likely be your first customers.

24. File for Trademarks/Patents

Boring, but essential if you have any inventive products or names you don’t want your competitors to copy. Depending on your product, securing one of these could be the make it or break it step in creating a successful business. If you need to know more about patents and trademarks, visit the USPTO website.

25. Hustle, Learn, Hustle

Even after all of these steps are completed, your business hinges on your ability to work hard, adapt to the market, and work hard some more.



1. Deane, Michael. “Top 6 Reasons New Businesses Fail.” Investopedia. October 29, 2010.

2. Zaru, Deena. “Texas cops shut down girls’ ‘illegal’ lemonade stand.” CNN. June 11, 2015.




How to Create a Sales Funnel That Converts

how to create a sales funnel

By Austin Miller, founder of The Daily Hash—THE newsletter for foodies.

"Sales funnel" might just be a fancy way to say customer experience, but the metaphoric nature of the term provides us an incredibly helpful visualization and marketing strategy. Based off this idea, we've created a simple and non-fluff filled guide to teach you how to create a sales funnel the right way.

Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

Cast Your Net

Traffic. In order to drive traffic you will need to cast your net and double down on the most profitable channels. This will include both paid ads and content marketing: images, how to articles, interviews, tips and tricks and whatever else can help get you in front of your ideal audience. 

                                                                                                Create Beautiful and (Highly Targeted) Landing Pages

Paid Traffic

You'll want to direct paid traffic to a place where they can learn more about your products. The homepage isn't a terrible place to send them, after all it should be a sort of catch-all landing page for anyone who stumbles upon it. But if you're running ads, you should do your best to target a specific demographic. 

For example:

  • You know fantasy authors usually love your product

  • You create an ad campaign using imagery and text that will appeal to that vertical

  • Rather than sending them to your website's homepage (which is meant to appeal to a broad range of potential clients), you send them to a specially created landing page that is custom tailored to the needs and wants of writers. This might include highlighting value adds specific to that industry, and exhibiting testimonials given by other novelists who love your company.

Content Marketing

When sharing blog articles your approach will and should be different. There will be no landing page, since what you are sharing is the article itself. However, that doesn't mean your blog articles can't also act as landing pages—they'll just have to have more subtle calls to action.

There are dozens of tools to help the novice create killer landing pages, here are a few of the most popular choices:

Create a Successful Email Funnel

The key to a good email funnel to is to create a logical progression that leads subscribers from ice cold unknown, to satisfied client. 

Phase 1: Introduction

This is the phase where you'll want to efficiently let people know who you are and what you do. People will be quick to decide if they want to hear more from you or not. Your branding will to be eye catching and easy to digest. 

Phase 2: Education

Once people have decided they're interested (you'll know this because they haven't unsubscribed yet) it's your duty its to give potential clients a more in-depth picture of what it is you do. What sets you apart from others? Do you have any case studies? What are clients saying about your service? Do you have a white paper, demo, or in-depth explainer video? This is the time where you'll want to share this type of information.

Phase 3: Offer

After you've had the chance to introduce your brand, what you do, how you do and finally why you're better than everyone else doing it (Phase 2)—you'll want to give your potential client a hard sell. Give them a CTA that includes making a purchase or scheduling a phone call. If that doesn't work, consider sending a special offer or discount to entice them. 

A/B Test the BLEEP out of Everything

sales funnel examples

Each part of your funnel (advertisements, content marketing, landing pages, emails, social media) needs to be constantly reevaluated. Double down on the things bringing you the most success, and drop the things that aren't. Test colors, copy, fonts, placement, and anything else that can be changed.

Make sure to set a reoccurring time where you and your marketing team can reevaluate these things. It's important to read case studies and find where others have found success, but don't be afraid to try something that might go against conventional wisdom. After all, the beauty of A/B testing is that you can always drop what's not working.

Nurture, Nurture, Nurture!

Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

Part of knowing how to create a sales funnel is knowing how to be tastefully persistent. Not everyone is ready to make a purchase when they visit your site, but that doesn't mean they won't do so later. Maybe they just need more time to research or for a paycheck to come through. Whatever the case, you've got to keep reminding these targeted visitors about who you are, and why they visited your site in the first place!

Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads, target visitors to your site after they leave. Have you ever looked at a product on Amazon and then seen that very product pop up later as your browsing the web? That's not coincidence, that's retargeting!

Using tools such as AdRoll will help you target the people who have visited your site. Those who have visited your site are often easier to convert, as they already know a bit about your product and have shown interest.

Drip Campaigns

Another way you can keep reminding visitors of your value is through drip campaigns. When someone visits your site, you'll want to offer a value add that entices them to give you their information so you can contact them once again. 

Examples of Value Adds:

  • Get a copy of our E-Book "How to XYZ"

  • Get 20% off your first purchase

  • Sign up for our monthly digest to stay up to date each month's best blog posts

Of course, before you offer these things, you need to create a way to capture these targeted traffic leads. One way is by using SumoMe, a tool we've lauded before for being simple to use and giving marketers lots of customizable options.

Once you have these emails, create an email drip campaign that starts with value driven content, and progressively makes a harder sale. 

15 Instagram Accounts That Are Killing it at B2B Content

B2B Instagram

Fitness? Easy. Food? Easy. Fashion? Really Easy. B2B? Not so easy...

With over 100 million users, Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. But the reality is, that when it comes to social media and B2B—many businesses struggle with how to position themselves. This is especially true when it comes to visual content. Accounting, tech support, legal work—these service types of industries don't always scream fun.

But when you start to look at your business as a group of unique people, with individual stories, and your brand as a message rather than a product—you'll begin to see just how visual your company truly can be. If you remain skeptical about the viability of B2B in the Instagram space, or you just want some B2B inspiration—do yourself a favor and check out some examples of B2B companies that are slaying it on Instagram. 


Adobe Instagram

Followers: 681k

B2B Industry: Software

Instagram Account: @adobe

With a product that plays well to the visual, Adobe is a fortuitous and unique entity in the B2B space. Their strategy involves highlighting what their products can do by creating stunning visuals that make even the most ungifted neophyte dream of trying their own hand at Adobe products. This is B2B marketing done right. 



Wells Fargo Instagram

Followers: 40k

B2B Industry: Banking

Instagram Account: @wellsfargo

Banking is boring, real boring. But that doesn't mean an ambitious company like Wells Fargo has to make their Instagram account boring. The massive bank combines a good mix of video and images to add variety to their content. If that's not enough, @wellsfargo keeps content fresh by covering a wide variety of topics like current events, financial tips, quotes, and fun facts. 



Intel Instagram

Followers: 1.1 M

B2B Industry: Tech

Instagram Account: @intel

IBM validates itself as one of the "big boys" by showcasing their role in big events like the X Games, Grammy's and hot tech conferences. Following IBM's journey feels like following a celebrity as you become privy to just how massive and innovative of a company they truly are. Each photo they provide shows a company whose fully aware of their unique voice in the B2B space. Large company's like these that dabble in many areas can sometimes have a hard time defining their voice, but IBM does a solid job of peeling back the layers on their many products—giving you a detailed look at exactly what they do in the tech space. 



Grey Instagram

Followers: 35k

B2B Industry: Advertising

Instagram Account: @grey

It's encouraging to see B2B company's pushing the boundaries of social media. Their account description reads, "Each week, one person from our Grey NY office takes over our Instagram to share what inspires them. Oh, and everything is in GREYscale." Following them is like watching a TV series, with each  "episode" (or new week) being seen through the eyes of a different employee. Despite the constant changing of hands, the account is able to maintain a singular tone with its mandatory implementation of "GREYscale" filters, and NYC setting. @grey is by far one of the most unique accounts on this list, and definitely worthy to be dubbed a B2B content pioneer.



Advertising Age Instagram

Followers: 166k

B2B Industry: Media/News Company

Ad Age's bio states "Important to Important People." With that in mind, Ad Age likes to position themselves as an authority in the advertising space often highlighting celebrities on their cover shots or editorial content. Although they focus on advertising, their content touches on a wide variety of topics like music, food, and anything they deem creatively inspirational (like their name written with pretzels). 




Free Agency

Followers: 30.9k

B2B Industry: Content Production/Branding

Instagram Account: @free

If you had any doubts about Free's artistic vision, squash them now because photography just happens to be their bread and butter. And we're not talking about a slice of uninspired white bread with some I-can't-believe-it's-not-real-freaking-butter substitute—we're talking about some fresh focaccia straight out of the oven with lemon herb butter. This is B2B content that blurs the line between art and advertising. Maybe we should call it artvertising?



Mailchimp Instagram

Followers: 76.7k

B2B Industry: E-Mail 

Instagram: @MailChimp

An email provider company. Boring right? Wrong. Dead wrong. MailChimp takes full advantage of their playful logo by breathing life into his 2d form and transforming him into a veritable personality. Their quirky brand image seeps through each photo, making sure you laugh a little on the inside each time they post a new photo—an emotion we're sure they hope transfers over when you use their service. 


8. AdRoll

AdRoll instagram

Followers: 2k

B2B Industry: Marketing

Instagram Account: @AdRoll

Taking the most holistic approach of all the Instagram accounts, AdRoll uses a broad stroke approach when it comes to visual content. Company events, pop culture references (a la Star Wars), cute dogs, bring your family to work day, and behind the scenes looks at marketing campaigns. Perhaps of all the Instagram accounts on this list, AdRoll does the best job of making their company accessible. Have you ever seen an interview with an actor, and you get that feeling that you'd hit it off if you ever met in person? AdRoll evokes that same sentiment. 


9. Citrix

Citrix Social Media

Followers: 14.5k

B2B Industry: Apps/Data

Instagram Account: @citrix

Company bikes, French Bulldogs, and a grip of cool events—Citrix shows why they're a leader in the B2B data space. Unlike many companies, Citrix avoids heavy promotion by opting for a soft pitch. Lately they've been integrating branded Lego scenes which can't help but bring a little smile to your face.


10. UBS

b2b instagram

Followers: 23k

B2B Industry: Financial Services

Instagram: @UBS

For a seemingly large financial corporation, UBS provides content that has a surprisingly accessible "startup" feel. They are extremely transparent, going so far as documenting their recent re-branding, something not all brands would be so happy to share with the public. A lot of their content so far has focused on artist Damilola's role in their brand transformation. We're not sure where the future of their Instagram account is headed, but we're confident it will not cater to the status quo.


11. Hubspot

Hubspot Instagram

Followers: 100k

B2B Industry: Marketing/Sales

Instagram Account: @hubspot

Hubspot has a penchant for highlighting good food, cute animals, and fun work activities. Of course it's not all play, they sprinkle in some solid quotes and advice to balance it out. Overall, Hubspot is a feel good account with a penchant for peeling back the layers for their customers' and potential clients' enjoyment.


12. SAP

b2b instagram strategy

Followers: 46.9k

B2B Industry: Software

Instagram Account: @SAP

SAP has a lot of great quotes and is unequivocally targeted towards other business owners when it comes to advice and content—something you would hope to see from a B2B company that provides software. They're also on top of it when it comes to staying current on holidays and special days like Groundhog day, World Cancer Day, Thanksgiving, The Holidays and New Year. 


13. FedEx

FedEx Instagram

Followers: 89k

B2B Industry: Delivery

Instagram Account: @fedex

Cargo shipment has never seemed more fun than with FedEx's Instagram account. With lot's of great photos of airplanes and trucks all over the world, FedEx is a bit of a promotional travelogue. But their promotion never crosses the line, just a subtle logo in the background of mostly stunning photos that make you want to travel as much as use their service.


14. IBM

IBM Social Media

Followers: 219k

B2B Industry: Tech

Instagram Account:@IBM

Of course IBM has many of the great qualities these other B2B companies possesses—but what's most intriguing about their voice on social media, is the personification of their API's in the form of an animitronic robot named Watson. In fact, they have a whole host of robots they use, each with their own unique personality. Following their Instagram account is watching a good sci-fi series that leaves with sense of awe at the power of technology and its potential.


15. HP

HP instagram

Followers: 1M

B2B Industry: Tech


A fashion diary? A global technology brand? We can't tell which one it is, but we're not too sure we even care! HP capitalizes on subtlety and style—showing that even big brands can be nimble when it comes to social media.

Business Tax Checklist


Meet with your bookkeeper. Making sure your books are correct is the most important thing you can do before tax season starts. The sooner you can meet with your bookkeeper, the sooner you can solve any potential errors that may exist in the books. Take the time to go through your financial statements with them. Feeling confident about the financial standing of your business will take some of the pressure off during the tax season.

Organize your bank statements. Start early by having these documents on-hand and organized. A tax preparer may request your statements to ensure that all of your business expenses and income are reflected properly in the bookkeeping. Being prepared beforehand will also save you time in the event that your books need to be altered.

Figure out which form is right for you. Knowing which tax forms are specific to your entity will help you know what type of information you will need to have handy for your tax preparer.


Here are some organizational resources:

S-Corporation Organizer

Partnership/Multi-Member LLC Organizer

C-Corporation Organizer

Sole Proprietor/Single-Member LLC

Individual Organizer


Filling out these documents and having the associated documentation before meeting with your tax preparer will expedite the process. The process can be completed twice as fast if you sign up with KPMG Spark for their bookkeeping and tax preparation services.

Know the important deadlines. Knowing your tax deadline will help you know how much time you have before you get slapped with a penalty. Your deadline will depend on your entity type:



Original Due Date

Partnerships, S Corporations, and LLC’s

March 15, 2018

C Corporations and Individuals (Includes Single Member LLC or Sole Proprietorships)

April 17, 2018

Exempt Organizations*

May 15, 2018

You will also want to keep in mind the due date for employee W-2 and Contract Labor 1099’s: January 31st, 2018

Schedule an early appointment with your tax preparer. This single action will put you far ahead of most. Bring all your necessary documents to this meeting, including your financial statements. Your tax preparer should be able to tell you what information may be missing. When you return for your actual tax consultation you will be fully confident that you have all the necessary documentation. Try to schedule this appointment as soon as you can into the new year. This will give you more time to prepare and will allow you a better chance to meet with your tax advisor before they get sucked into the tax season.

Shayler Stagg manages the books for 45 small businesses from various industries at KPMG Spark, is an avid reader of Greek philosophers, and is a huge Metallica fan. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

The Pros and Cons of Accepting Money From Angel Investors

Angel Investors

Last year, we shared a post about the difference between venture capitalists and angel investors and what both parties can do to benefit small businesses in need of funding. For a fledgling startup, it might initially seem as though there are only upsides to getting investors interested in your business — after all, it’s extra money that you could really use! However, there are still a few areas of the process to watch out before saying yes to the investment. Here’s a shortlist of the pros and cons to keep in mind when getting started.

Pro: You’ll have more money

Let’s bring everyone up to speed on what it is an angel investor does first. Angel investors take their existing wealth and invest a chunk of it into your business. In return, they only request a piece of equity in your startup. These investors are all around us — doctors, lawyers, and even existing entrepreneurs can all be considered angel investors. However, unlike venture capitalists, they don’t have millions to financially cushion your company with. A typical angel investment varies at $25,000 to $100,000 per startup.

If an angel investor believes in your business and its offerings, they’re willing to take a leap of faith for you and invest in it. Now, you’ll have more money to put towards your company and various initiatives to help it grow like hiring new employees. This type of money is not a loan, so you’ll never have to worry about repaying it back, but before anyone invests…

Pro: Attracting angel investors means you’ve (probably) got a great idea

Angel investors are naturally drawn to entrepreneurs that are passionate about their companies, but even more so to the ones that understand how it can succeed over time. Before they invest, they will want to see your business plan to make sure you’re on the right track. (After all, once they put some capital into it, this is a track they’ll be on too!) Here’s your chance to draft up a business plan, elevator pitch, and executive summary that views your business and how it fits into the market as critically and objectively as possible.

Con: The business will no longer be 100% yours

For some entrepreneurs, this might not even be much of a con. If you don’t mind having others take charge, stepping back to allow an angel investor to step up and take control isn’t an issue. Other small business owners might not be so on board with having an outside party take over though. As advised by QuickBooks, if you’re not ready to let go try to find an angel investor you know or who understands your business first. Talk to them about the process and ask any questions you may have before investing. This will give you a chance to find out if you’re okay with having someone else run the startup too or if it’s a better idea for you to keep your freedom as a solopreneur.

Con: You might wind up having less money

Remember when I said earlier that all angel investors want in return for investing their capital in your business is a piece of equity? Because your startup is so new to the world, the risk of success and/or failure is higher, leading to investors taking a bigger slice in the pie. These equity percentages can start at 10% or more — and that’s a lot for a new company! Be sure to discuss in advance the expectations that angel investors have with your business and whether or not you’ll be able to meet them at what they’re looking for.


Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that KPMG Spark’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG Spark.

3 Things Small Businesses Should Look For in Partnerships 

business partnerships

When one small business partners up with another business, it’s typically a win-win for customers. Two of their favorite brands are joining forces to bring them more of the products and services that they crave in a natural collaboration. However, it’s just as important that while the partnership provides customers with what they want, both businesses involved are building a strong rapport together and have an understanding about each of their roles. Whether you’ve partnered with another company before or this is your first time doing so, here’s what you need to consider before getting started.

What are your shared interests?

Spotify and Starbucks, Apple and IBM, H&M and fashion houses like Alexander Wang and Balmain. No great brand partnership happens on accident, but rather they serve as strategic building blocks to help take each respective business further.

When determining who your partner should be, look for the shared interests and values. If both companies are similarly aligned, there’s a good chance there will be potential for customer overlap with an audience that knows (and loves) what both of these businesses are offering.

An outline of expectations and obligations

What am I supposed to do in this partnership, anyway? In order to get on the same page, it’s a good idea to have a strong, written agreement in place that outlines the expectations and obligations of the collaboration. Otherwise, instead of both parties working together you could be stuck with one party basically asking for the other’s customer list — and that kills the point of the partnership. If you’re working on creating that agreement now, here are a few must-cover elements to include.

  • Balance. Make sure that duties are balanced between both businesses so that one side isn’t doing all or not enough of the workload. Additionally, the businesses should be just as balanced as their responsibilities. It can be a nightmare if one partner is too pushy or aggressive!

  • Shared reciprocity. The best partnerships leverage the strengths that each side has to offer in order to create smart offerings for customers that are truly valuable. Define the obligations of each party so they know what they’re doing and outline expectations in the event that one side expects too much/little out of the agreement.

  • Offer up a trial run. Before going live, try out a test run so that expectations remain tempered and the trial gives both sides a taste of what the partnership could shape up to be like. If you’re a little nervous to collaborate with a business for the first time or fairly new to the startup world, this might be your best introduction to partnerships.

Practice patience —strong partnerships take time to build

From the start, make sure that everyone is on the same page about one of the least-discussed aspects of a partnership: the fact that it takes time to build up and understand one together. Rather than expect overnight success, treat the partnership like you would any other relationship you’re in. Be open-minded about making adjustments along the way and remember that much like life, a partnership is not a sprint. It’s a marathon and one that you can only continue to work hard and grow in together.


Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that KPMG Spark’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG Spark.

5 VR Marketing Tools for the Early Adopter

VR Marketing

The landscape might be sparse, but VR Marketing tools are on the rise, and they're here to stay.

Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baster revealed that users had consumed “more than 10 million hours of 360-degree video content on Gear VR devices,” research firm KZero found that over 171 million people could be using VR hardware and software by 2018, and a co-op study by YuMe/Nielsen suggests that VR possesses a higher emotional reaction than 2D video. Suffice it to say, VR is no lightweight in the marketing space.

So you know VR can be a powerful marketing tool, and now you probably want to try your own hand at it. But where to start? How to begin? After all, it’s not like they teach this stuff at business school…Lucky for you, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a list of 5 apps and platforms to help you get into the VR marketing game today.


ImmersVR was founded by some of the same people who helped build the “Largest app distribution platform on Facebook, iOS and Android’s “App Distribution Platform on Facebook and then again on iOS and Android,” is a 360 video distribution platform. Since 360 video isn’t purely virtual reality (hyperlink), it’s able to be distributed to a mobile audience, not just to those who a VR kit. This allows to advertisers to reach a larger audience while still providing a newer and more interactive technology.

Strata inStudioVR

Strata has been producing 3D modeling software for over 20 years and just recently decided to throw its hat into the VR marketing ring.

Intended for product designers, packagers, and retailers — inStudio VR allows 3D designers to import their designs straight from their desktop CAD applications like Strata 3D CX, Maya, Autodesk to a virtual reality environment. From the app, users can stage, view, and alter their models using motion controls in different settings like a kitchen, living room, or retail store.

The app is free and comes preloaded with a retail module which includes a retail store setting with shelving populated with grocery items. Users can place their designs on the shelves and see how they look next to other products.


Retinad is an analytics tool for your 360 video. Just like a website heat map can tell you where your visitors are spending most of their time, Retinad can tell you which parts of your 360 video that users enjoy most. This tool also measures the performance of your content on various platforms, the hardware being used to view your content, and measures overall engagement.


VadR allows you to monetize you and/or your clients’ VR apps. This native ad platform lets you place ads in any type of VR environment without forcing the user to leave the application. Much how Facebook, Pinterest and other social media platforms have allowed for sponsored posts that appear as part of your feed, this app promises to make ads a seamless part of the user experience.


Vire makes product placement within virtual environment seamless. It benefits both advertisers and app creators — as developers get paid anytime a user interacts with branded objects, and well — advertisers get to brand objects and monitor engagement.

These branded objects can also be used as offers. For example, let’s say someone grabs a branded coffee cup and looks at it — from there, they can claim an offer on real-life coffee.

4 Tips for Establishing Your Brand in a Big City

small business bookkeeping

Last month, we shared advice for how a startup can establish roots for their business — while still leaving their mark — in a small town. Now we’re flipping the setting to taking your company to a big city for the first time. While cities offer plenty of benefits to startups like a thriving customer base and workforce, they’re also loaded with competing businesses with the same products or services, many of which have been there longer and have loyal clients. It’s a big pond with even bigger fish inside of it — so, what can your brand do to stand out from the crowd? The answer lies in amplifying all of the advantages that your business has to offer as well as utilizing the resources that a urbane area has to offer.

1) Make excellent customer service your No. 1 priority

Before you begin planning ahead with a big advertising budget and elaborate social media strategy, remember that one of the simplest ways to stand out is with great customer service. When customers routinely have a good experience at your establishment, they spread the word to their friends who, in turn, visit and share the news to their networks. Word of mouth can go a long way, but only if you dedicate yourself, and your team, to maintaining excellent customer service each and every day.

2) Dabble in traditional and digital marketing

With so many people in the city, how do you find your true target market? The best way to target and reach your audience may require just as much digital marketing as it does traditional. Here are a handful of strategies to take on a test run.

  • Creating and maintaining a website. That means making sure the site is easy to navigate across all devices from smartphones to desktops, optimized for SEO, includes an updated contact information page, and is updated on a regular basis to reflect seasonal offerings and promotions.

  • Depending on the city you’re in, you might want to opt for a billboard or a placard in a subway or on a bus to advertise your business. Billboards tend to work better in cities where commuters get to work via freeways while the latter is best for areas with plenty of public transit commuters.

  • Take out a radio ad spot — or even advertise during a podcast that you know your customer base enjoys.

  • Establish an active social media presence where you can share relevant content with your audience about news and updates from your business as well as address any issues and highlight praise from customers.

3) Do some in-person networking

From coworking spaces to startup incubators, cities offer a wealth of resources to entrepreneurs at all stages in business. Take the time to see what events and networking nights are in your area next so you meet and greet with potential partners and customers and share more information about who you are and what you offer.

4) Personalize your approach

When a customer has a positive experience with an establishment, it’s usually personalized just for them. Whether it’s taking the time to remember their order preferences at a restaurant or greeting them by name at a hotel, these extra touches go a long way to endearing customers to businesses. Skip the one size fits all approach in your marketing to your customer base in favor of building a deeper connection to your audience. Address e-newsletters to the name of the subscriber; take mailers to college campuses if you market to a twentysomething demographic, and follow your fans on social media.

Above all when marketing your business in the city, celebrate being different. It might feel easier to blend in with the competition, but be proud to be unique and always keep thinking of how you can wow customers by going above and beyond.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that KPMG Spark’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG Spark.