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SMALL BUSINESS IN BOX

Short and easy-to-remember Web domain names are best

Also, how to pay LLC members' salaries and tips on starting an online business venture.

January 19, 2010|By Karen E. Klein

Dear Karen: I researched several available domain names for my website. How do I choose one?

Answer: Your domain name should reflect your company and what it does. Try to include industry keywords in it.

Keep the domain name short and easy to remember, said David E. Ross, a retired software engineer and expert on domain names.

"The exception is if you come up with a longer domain that's pronounceable and easier to remember than a short acronym," he said.

Spaces are not allowed within a domain, but hyphens are. "All other special characters should be avoided," Ross said.

How to pay LLC members' salaries

Dear Karen: Last year, my brother and I started a limited liability company, but we are confused about how to pay ourselves.

Answer: Salaries, as regular payments for services performed by LLC members, should be treated for tax purposes as "guaranteed payments," said Gregg Wind, an accountant with Wind & Stern in Marina del Rey. Guaranteed payments are not predicated on the LLC's income.

Guaranteed payments are deductible by the LLC as business expenses, and they reduce the profit of the LLC. However, members who receive guaranteed payments must treat them as ordinary income, subject to self-employment and estimated income taxes.

You'll pay your estimated taxes in four quarterly installments. Talk to an accountant familiar with small-business finances for detailed information on your situation and for help setting up your quarterly payments.

Online businesses are ideal Plan Bs

Dear Karen: Can I create an entrepreneurial Plan B to fall back on if I lose my job?

Answer: The low start-up costs of online business ventures may make moonlighting as an entrepreneur a viable option for you. If you fear being laid off or just need extra household income, the barriers to starting a business have never been lower.

"The Internet is allowing people who always wanted to dabble in something to pursue it after hours," said Shu Kim, co-founder of Shustir.com, an online marketplace for small businesses. "Many platforms, including social media, can be used for free. You can educate yourself very quickly online about your business and industry. And you can get involved in Meetup groups where you learn from people who've done this all before."

Partnering or strategizing with other small-business owners can help bring more traffic to your website and bring new resources and perspectives to your partners as well, Kim said. Do some thorough research and test your idea, tweaking your marketing or product line based on your early results.

Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to inbox.business@ latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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