Register your business name to protect it

You’ll want to choose a business name that reflects your brand identity and doesn’t clash with the types of goods and

services you offer.

Once you settle on a name you like, you need to protect it. There are four different ways to register your business name.

Each way of registering your name serves a different purpose, and some may be legally required depending on your business

structure and location.

Entity name protects you at state level
Trademark protects you at a federal level
Doing Business As (DBA) doesn’t give legal protection, but might be legally required
Domain name protects your business website address

Each of these name registrations are legally independent. Most small businesses try to use the same name for each kind of

registration, but you’re not normally required to.

Review common business structures

Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is easy to form and gives you complete control of your business. You’re automatically considered to

be a sole proprietorship if you do business activities but don’t register as any other kind of business.

Sole proprietorships do not produce a separate business entity. This means your business assets and liabilities are not

separate from your personal assets and liabilities. You can be held personally liable for the debts and obligations of

the business. Sole proprietors are still able to get a trade name. It can also be hard to raise money because you can’t

sell stock, and banks are hesitant to lend to sole proprietorships.

Sole proprietorships can be a good choice for low-risk businesses and owners who want to test their business idea before

forming a more formal business.

Business Considerations for Companies Reopening During COVID-19

As the Province of Ontario continues the process of reopening, businesses are beginning to resume operations. Companies

are facing significant uncertainty and should be mindful of new conditions which will require them to adjust operations.

While there are several considerations spanning across sectors, this article focuses on the corporate considerations that

businesses should be aware of as they navigate reopening during COVID-19.

Government orders and new developments

First and foremost, businesses should continue to monitor and be aware of government orders. The provincial government is

continuously releasing new guidance with respect to reopening during COVID-19, and it is essential for businesses to

understand these developments in order to ensure compliance. Businesses should also assess eligibility for federal and/or

provincial relief programs. See here for a description of the federal relief programs available to date. Depending on the

nature of the business, there may also be industry specific guidelines to consider. Multijurisdictional companies have an

added layer of considerations as measures may vary across provinces and countries.

Corporate governance

There are several governance considerations companies should be mindful of as operations resume, some of which include:

implementing alternatives to in-person board meetings
considering amendments to management incentives
restructuring compensation packages for key personnel
managing shareholder dynamics
understanding the most appropriate means of raising capital

Cash flow management

Directors and company management should work together to monitor the business’ financial position, which may be impacted

by third parties. For example, where a supply chain is disrupted or accounts receivable are delayed. Businesses may need

to consider alternatives to maintaining cash flow, including drawing on available credit lines and corporate

restructuring, among other protective measures.

Material contracts

Businesses should undergo careful review of material contracts to evaluate if and how these agreements have been impacted

by COVID-19. Commercial leases, service agreements and insurance policies are some of the contracts which may require

review and renegotiation. For more details, please see our articles on real estate and insurance considerations during

COVID-19.

New CEO? Need to transform your business? Start here

If your first step as a new CEO is to lead a company-wide transformation, make sure you focus on shifting the company

culture. The people in your company are where your success begins and ends.

New CEOs are watched like hawks, and the pressure on you to do great things can be immense. In our last article we talked

about the importance of taking the time to do some investigating, and assess what your company needs.

If your first step is transformation, these seven steps will guide you towards success, and sustainability.
Step 1: Clearly identify the problem

You might know intuitively what problem your transformation is going to solve. But how clearly can you communicate it?

When a former CEO of shipping company DHL stood up in front of 350 of his stakeholders at a conference and played a

fading heartbeat on a giant screen, he held all present in the palm of his hand. When the heartbeat stopped, his message

was already clear: They needed to act, or the company would fail.

Your own understanding of the problem that has led the company to its current situation isn’t enough. You need everyone

else to see the problem, too. If you can do that as dramatically as Ken Allen did, you’re already one step ahead.

When you interrupt the business-as-usual narrative in such a way that you immediately demonstrate the rationale for the

change, you are preventing the existing culture from simply reinforcing itself.

You can understand culture to mean mindset plus behaviours. Therefore, your role becomes knowing how to change the

current company view of reality, and then working out how to create behaviours to fit.
Step 2: Recognise that transformation isn’t just change

According to PwC, one of the biggest barriers to successful change is change fatigue.

If you’re going to enable transformation using the company culture, you’ll have to think carefully about how you drive

it, and how you intend to sustain it.

Change fatigue is what happens when people are asked to deliver on too many changes at once. It also happens when you don

’t have the internal capabilities that will make the change stick.

Transformation, as you’ll remember from our last article is a complete reboot of the company.

This means that you need to change your language.

Instead of talking about change, which is constant, speak plainly about changing the very essence of the company.
Step 3: Be methodical, and design your new direction

It’s critical to be methodical, so that you don’t just exhaust your people or your company’s intrinsic motivators. In

an article in 2015, Forbes pointed out that being methodical isn’t sexy; but that it is one of the only ways to ensure

that your employees are involved in the change.

Other organisations describe this idea of ‘method’ as creating a strong strategy, and then designing iteffectively. PwC

suggests that the way you need to design the transformation framework is to design for trust.

Designing for trust is a double-sided activity.

On one hand, it’s internal. Beginning at the top of the company, you rethink how you motivate your people. On the other

hand, it’s external. It asks you to consider what your transformation means for your customers.

Careful design will allow you to consider what measures you need, in order to demonstrate your outcomes.
Step 4: Sort out your senior leadership first

You’ll recall from our last article that if your senior leadership isn’t performing, then fixing it might mean you don

’t need transformation. In the same vein, if you do need the transformation, then you need your senior leadership to be

all in.

If you don’t have your entire executive on board, your boat is going to sink.

It’s important for you, as a new CEO, to understand that you’ve probably got a 50% chance of your transformation

succeeding. However, there is a silver lining: Being able to lead from the front becomes an important risk mitigation

factor.

Your people need to see you representing the change that you want them to embody.
Step 5: Tell a compelling story about the transformation, and align outcomes with behaviours

This is the one common factor in article after article about successful transformations. You need to tell a compelling

story.

Compelling stories are what will ‘foster understanding and conviction’, which is one of McKinsey’s four building

blocks of change.

The article suggests that communicating the rationale and purpose of your transformation program is much deeper than

reeling off a single, catchy line about why it is necessary. In contrast to this blasé method of talking to the ‘why’,

a compelling story allows you to demonstrate the journey from where you are now, to the vision of where you want to be.

Once you know the story of that journey, it’s easier to see the behaviours that will drive you towards your outcomes.

Successful transformations take place because the designed program is aligned with the right behaviours, which become

embedded in the process. Of course, how people achieve this will be different in every business. One way might be to

create an internal certification that reinforces what you want to continue (or create), because it realigns employees’

thinking and behaviours with the new direction.
Step 6: Be endlessly enthusiastic, and do whatever it takes to bring people along with you

In the situation of DHL, with which this article opened, the leadership enthusiastically sang songs at employee

conferences.

It sounds terrifying, I know! In their case, song was identified as something that helps a story to stick. As a result,

the leadership team leaned on different famous songs to represent the attitudes and behaviours they wanted their

employees to exhibit. This helped them to make their new strategy clear and relatable extremely quickly.

As Ken Allen, former CEO of DHL, wrote for the Harvard Business Review, ‘I still remember the shock — some might say

horror — on our managers’ faces when, at a management conference in 2010, I introduced our first landmark profit target

by treating them to a solo rendition of the Bruno Mars chorus from “Billionaire,” the Travie McCoy song.’

Whatever your version of enthusiasm is, make sure you do it, and continue it. Your employees need to see that you are in

this game for real, heart and soul. That’s the only way they’ll start to let go of their resistance to significant

change.
Step 7: Stay connected so that you know what’s working and what’s not

This is really a “part two” of bringing your senior leadership along with you. Imagine if you set up a program of

transformation and then stepped back from it. How would you know whether or not what you’re putting in place is working?

Right: You wouldn’t.

When you stay connected, are visible, and are accessible, you find yourself with some excellent benefits. It allows you

to see whether or not your program is working, whether your measures are effective, and how the change is progressing.

Even more importantly, it shows that you – the one person from whom everyone else takes his or her lead – have skin in

the game.

Your key takeaway

Your team needs to be able to grasp the reasons for your transformation program quickly and easily. And you need to

create the right conditions that encourage their buy-in.

Not only does your team need to see you, and your executive, representing the new way – whatever that new way looks

like, but they need to see your enthusiasm for it.

Business transformation isn’t for the faint of heart. You need to be all-in if your program is going to be a success.
Subscribe to the CEO Insight for more articles like these

Get regular content that helps you to make good decisions during your tenure, and to drive success for your company.

Three things that will make your company exceptional

A good business builds an expectation of timely, accurate and dependable services with his clients.
An exceptional business provides unexpected value to his clients.

The days of claiming good work and ethical behavior as a unique selling point that differentiates your business are over.

These attributes are now expectations, simply because they can be verified. Technology now allows consumers to check a

business’ reputation, see the quality of their work and pass judgment in a matter of seconds. Review sites like Angie’s

List, Better Business Bureau, Google, and Facebook allow consumers to make an immediate judgement on whether a company is

good or bad (even if it’s not entirely accurate). All of this aggregated awareness means that the consumer will likely

form an opinion about your business before they’ve had the opportunity to see what makes you exceptional.
So how do you become exceptional?
Educate.

People want to understand the value in the products or services you provide. That’s why they started searching for

information about your product or service in the first place. This is where I insert that idiom you’ve heard a million

times, “Content is King”. Pick a medium, be it blogging, podcasting, videos – better yet, pick all of them – and talk

with passion about everything it is that you do. For example, if you own a pest control business, create a video talking

about how to prevent ticks and the dangers of Lyme disease.
Differentiate.

Choose an area of your business that you do well, and your competitors do well too and differentiate yourself by doing

more. Let’s use the pest control example again. Instead of just hitting them with an invoice, how about leaving a map of

the house, noting where it was sprayed and a checklist of the pests that were deterred or eliminated. This will show the

customer that you did what was expected, but cared enough to communicate it to them in a personalized way.
Give what you do.

Use your products and services to help others and you’ll grow your bottom line, make an impact and affect your companies

culture. Sponsoring an event or giving to the local fire department is a noble gesture but it doesn’t separate you. Let

’s say our pest control business finds local non-profits and offers to treat their buildings at no cost. When you do

this you’ll not only create an impact on them but those around them as they share how exceptional you really are. Using

your products and services to give back communicates that the purpose of your business is exceptional. Use your products

and services to unite your business and its customers with a cause. You’ll then be positioned for extraordinary growth

in your bottom line, your companies culture and the impact it can make.

Get started on simplifying your marketing & growing your business by contacting StructureM today!

Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association of a limited liability company

The Memorandum of Association and the Articles of Association are your company’s official founding documents. You must

attach them to your company’s start-up notification. If you file your start-up notification electronically, the Business

Information System will create the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association automatically. If necessary, you

can also create a shareholder agreement with the other shareholders. Shareholder agreements will not be submitted to the

Trade Register for registration.

With the Memorandum of Association, you will officially agree with the other shareholders that you will establish a

limited liability company. The Memorandum of Association must include the following:

company name
shareholders and their subscribed shares
share price and the last payment date
members of the Board
financial year
possible auditor and deputy auditor
possible Managing Director
possible members of the Supervisory Board.

Please note that the Memorandum of Association should not include any information on how your company will operate. Make

sure you date the agreement and ensure that all the shareholders sign it.

If you file your start-up notification electronically, the Business Information System will create a Memorandum of

Association automatically. In this case, you do not have to draw up a contract separately.

If you file the start-up notification on paper, attach a written copy of the Memorandum of Association. You can find a

template for a Memorandum of Association in the start-up package compiled by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office.

In the Articles of Association, you can agree with the other shareholders about the rules of your company.

The Articles of Association can be very concise. It has to contain at least the following information:

company name
domicile in a Finnish municipality
line of business

You can also record regulations on the following in the Articles of Association:

representation rights
annual General Meeting
number and selection of members of the Board of Directors
share capital
number of shares and redemption rights
any parallel company names.

If you file your start-up notification electronically, the Business Information System will create the Articles of

Association automatically. In this case, you do not have to create it separately.

If you file the start-up notification on paper, attach a written copy of the Articles of Association to the notification.

You can find a template for the Articles of Association in the start-up package compiled by the Finnish Patent and

Registration Office.

Note that the information included in the Articles of Association is public. You may, where appropriate, draw up a

separate shareholder agreement for your own use.

A shareholders’ agreement is not an official founding document of a limited liability company, and it is not mandatory to

compile one. However, if there are more than one shareholders, the shareholders’ agreement should always be compiled. It

creates regulations for the company’s operations and provides security in situations of conflict between the

shareholders.

Prepare the agreement with the other shareholders in accordance with your company’s needs. Agree on all the issues not

defined by the Limited Liability Companies Act. For example, you can agree on

division of labour and responsibility
financing and distribution of profit
redemption of shares
confidentiality, non-compete and intellectual property rights
accepting new shareholders to the company
contractual penalties and procedures for settling disputes.

The format of the shareholders’ agreement is free. You can create it either before the establishment of the company or at

a later date. Generally, it should, however, be written as early as possible. Remember to update the agreement, if the

conditions change and the number of shareholders increases.

You can use the services of a legal expert when drafting the shareholders’ agreement.

A well-written company history can entice prospective customers, investors and employees.

The story of your company’s evolution may seem ho-hum to you, but it can play an important role in building trust and

respect. Every company has been shaped by moments of inspiration, perseverance, courage, or dumb luck.

Your company history should feature the most compelling of those stories, along with significant achievements such as

patents and major contract wins. Include your history in your business plan and employee handbook, and on your Web site’

s “About Us”page. Some companies also turn their corporate story into a book that is presented to employees and others

on special occasions. The message behind your corporate milestones can even become the cornerstone of your brand.
What should your company history include?

Why your company was started.

A brief profile of the founders.Major turning points in your company’s life.Amusing and inspirational events that have

occurred along the way.

Read other company histories

Get inspired by seeing how other companies have recounted their background. Microsoft tells its multi-faceted success

story with a series of articles that recount some of the company’s most noteworthy achievements over the last decade.

Dig for industry and company highlights

Did you make a mark on your industry with a breakthrough product or a new twist on an old concept? Explain your company’

s achievements in the context of your industry’s history.

Elicit memories

Nothing brings history to life better than anecdotes from employees and customers who were there when your company took

its first baby steps. Ask these folks if you can interview them about their experiences.

Create a timeline

Once you have gathered your historical facts, get your bearings on what happened when by recording each event on a

timeline.Consult corporate history professionals

If you prefer, hire a professional to research and write your history.

Picture it

Use photos to illustrate your company’s history. Dig out those snapshots of the founders in their 1980s garb. Shoot your

own photos of today’s employees while they work. While you’re at it, take photos of historic documents and other

corporate artifacts.

Unless you plan to publish a book about your company, don’t let your story get bogged down with too much detail. Focus

on your major achievements and add interesting anecdotes from employees and customers where you can.

Think of your company history as a marketing tool. Be honest about how your company got to where it is, but don’t

include failed product launches and other less-than-flattering events unless you can tie them to later success.

Give readers a sense of your corporate culture. Ask employees if they have a special fondness for certain company

traditions. Look back at how you have celebrated your company’s birthdays and other special occasions.

Keep a record of where you found each piece of information that you expect to include in your history. You’ll need to

refer back to these sources while you’re writing.

Your company’s story doesn’t end when you have completed your corporate history project. Maintain a file of significant

events so that as your company grows, you can update its story.