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Pros and Cons of BBB Membership

The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that makes hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Many people perceive it as a quasi-governmental agency. Some say it is a total scam.

Earlier this month, CNN Money reported that it reviewed the tax filings of 102 BBBs nationally and concluded that most of the $200 million annual revenue comes from the businesses it oversees. The report suggests that the BBB motto ("Start With Trust") is deceptive, selling accreditation to businesses and giving consumers the impression that it protects them when it does not.

The "B" in B Corp doesn't stand for "business." And it most certainly doesn't stand for "bank." It stands for "benefit," as in public benefit corporation, and it means the company is as committed to social change, charity, or serving the public interest as it is to making money.

Kickstarter could've taken the path chosen by a majority of tech startups and angled for a sale, acquisition, or IPO. Instead, the online fundraiser stuck to its altruistic guns and became a B Corp.

It sounds so good on paper: you've got money and resources and your partner has ideas and technical expertise. Or you both share the passion and now you want to share the business. Going into business with a partner can make your small business dream a reality.

It can also turn into a nightmare. So while a 50/50 partnership with a friend, spouse, or colleague may sound fun, you may want to rethink that plan.

What to Know Before Your Business Goes Global

Many business owners dream of international expansion, but there are important issues to consider before going global. Forays into foreign markets have all the usual problems and risks of any new business, plus cultural and linguistic challenges. And an unsuccessful international venture can be much more costly than failing at home.

Of course, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so going global also presents opportunities for profit that are otherwise impossible. To prepare for the bold step of international expansion, consider the following. If you are not daunted by these questions and suggestions, you may indeed be ready for business adventures abroad.

If you're just getting your small business off the ground, you may be trying to figure out how you want to organize. Go big as a corporation or LLC? Go charitable as a non-profit? Or go it alone as a sole proprietorship?

One of the most popular options for small businesses, due to its simplicity and lack of formal filing requirements, is the partnership. Here are five reasons a partnership might work for your small business:

Companies, especially small businesses, can operate in a constant state of flux. As your business grows and shifts, it may require a different corporate structure. Maybe your partnership now needs to be an LLC, or your LLC needs to sell shares as a corporation. (As entrepreneurs and optimists, we don't often think about our businesses moving in the other direction.)

But if you've already incorporated, can you change your incorporation status? And if so, how?

So you've weighed the pros and cons of incorporation and you've decided to take the next step and form your small business as an LLC. As you move down your LLC to-do list, you see: "File your LLC's Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State office in your state."

Wait, what are articles of organization? And how are they important to your business? Here's a quick background and a few tips on writing and filing your LLC's articles of organization.

Congratulations! It looks like your Etsy business is booming. Sales are so high you're considering getting a partner or even hiring employees.

However, before you do any of that, have you incorporated your business? Do you need to?

For business owners, incorporating a business can have tax benefits and ensure limited liability, but it can also be a hassle. Here are the pros and cons of incorporating a business:

The large cash deposits smell like marijuana, so some of the businesses are spraying the cash with room freshener or perfume to hide the marijuana smell. ... The banks are even more suspicious when they have a person trying to deposit a large cash deposit that smells like perfume.

That's Colorado State Senator David Balmer, describing how the state was ill-prepared for a booming recreational marijuana industry. For all the talk about a tax windfall from legalized and regulated pot sales, one not-so-minor detail had been left out: How will marijuana businesses bank their money?

As one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana sales, Colorado is a valuable test case for pot banking -- both in terms of early missteps and possible ways forward for a burgeoning but legally tenuous economy.

Small Business 101: What Is 'Equity' in a Company?

As you know, starting and operating a business takes money. And one of the many tough decisions business owners must make is whether that money should come from debt or from equity.

Most people are probably familiar with debt, whether from credit cards, car loans or home mortgages. A business loan is no different: You borrow money in exchange for the promise to repay it under agreed-upon conditions. Loans allow a business owner to maintain complete control over a business, but also require regular payments regardless of how the business is doing; they also often require a business owner to put up personal assets as collateral. That's why some business owners decide to raise business capital by securing equity investments in their company.

But what is equity?