We all know the top three to five “results” from virtually any web search are sponsored ads. Type in “airlines,” for example, and the first four results are travel services like Expedia. The largest airline in the world, American, shows up fifth.
Most folks booking a flight are not going to confuse Travelocity with American Airlines, but the same is not true when looking for online business services. Did you know that most services offered FOR FREE by the government are also offered by online providers for a fee? And guess who sponsors ads? Not Uncle Sam.
When setting up a new company in Texas, the minimally necessary forms are available on the Secretary of State’s website. The application for a Federal Employer Identification Number is at irs.gov. All of these forms are available for free, but if you simply type in “EIN,” for example, the first options you get are sponsored ads from predators looking to charge a fee. Their websites always look official. Most of these “services,” simply overlay their software onto the IRS website, so that you pay them a fee, but the form you fill out is quite literally the form available at irs.gov. The same is true with forms from the Secretary of State.
In truth, if you are setting up a new business, you shouldn’t be doing it online at all. We always recommend using an attorney. The few hundred dollars you spend today can, quite literally, save you tens of thousands or more tomorrow. Remember The Social Network movie about the Harvard frat boys who created Facebook? They didn’t to set their deal up properly or even write it down. The Winklevoss twins famously settled their lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg for $65 million in cash and stock, which is great until you consider that Zuckerberg is now the third richest person in the world with a net worth of $81,600,000,000.
So, the next time you think about setting up a business, beware the Top 3, but, better yet, come see us. That old saying about being pennywise and pound foolish has been around for 500 years for a reason.
PS. Don’t feel too sorry for the Winklevoss twins. They invested their Facebook settlement in Bitcoin at $120 a coin and, at today’s price of $7,426 a coin, are reported to be the first Bitcoin billionaires.