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From Nurse to Chocolatier: The Secret Sauce That Made Me A Business Woman

People

Social media is a lot like Karma. When you show your true self, put love into what you do and care for other people, you get rewarded in the most unexpected ways. At least, this is what happened to me when I decided to start my new chocolate business in San Francisco.


I knew I couldn't fake it, and there was no need to: brigadeiros, tiny chocolate balls that belong to the traditional Brazilian cuisine, have always been part of my life. As the eldest of three sisters, when my mother needed help making chocolate she chose me. We would spend hours in our kitchen in Itapeva, São Paulo with our hands dirty and the biggest smiles on our faces. But for some reasons chocolate didn't become a big part of my life until later on. I chose nursing first because I loved to take care of people and make them feel better. Then I found out that there was another way I could take care of the people I loved: making chocolates that would make them happy. So, with a jump back to my childhood and an endless support from my husband, my sweet journey began: TinyB Chocolate was born in 2014.

They say that every successful recipe should have at least one secret ingredient. Well, it wasn't a rare spice or an unknown type of cacao that brought me success as a female chocolatier. It was actually the simplest ingredient of all: authenticity.

Talking about our journey and showing the people behind the company became ingrained parts of our branding strategy.

At the beginning of our business, my husband and I set up the website and the Social Media accounts to showcase our brigadeiros at their best. Rich, mouthwatering and delicious, they looked like precious little gems. We took great pictures from interesting angles, with great lighting and sharp colors to make people want to buy our chocolates. However, we soon realized that something was missing: it was us, our stories and our souls. Our customers told us that they could feel the love and the energy that went into making our brigadeiros when they bit into them. But could they feel the same from our pictures or videos?

The products alone told only half of the story. We had to take the leap and put ourselves out there together with our brigadeiros. This is how more faces started appearing in our Social Media pictures and our captions became more personal and detailed. We also started a blog to share important information not only about our company but behind every flavor and ingredient we were using in our brigadeiros. Talking about our journey and showing the people behind the company became ingrained parts of our branding strategy. We were stunned by the results: customers both online and offline appreciated our honesty immensely and became even more attached to our business. We had found our secret sauce!

There is something about food that can't really be hidden. The feelings and the mood of the chef or chocolatier while cooking always seem to show in the plate. It's like consumers can taste it when you've had a bad day. The food doesn't seem to come together. It just doesn't feel right. So I know that whenever I make brigadeiros, I am not just preparing chocolate. I am creating a human connection. I know that people will be able to tell my intentions just by eating my chocolates. The same goes for our online presence and overall branding.

When we take a picture, or we put together the message we want to communicate, we prioritize authenticity, transparency, and honesty. Consumers are not as naïve as we think they are. They can tell when a business fakes passion for what it does and sells. Especially chocolate lovers, they are becoming increasingly demanding not only for the quality of their chocolates but also for the people who make them. Nowadays chocolate consumers want to see faces, hear the details and get to know what happens behind the scenes. If they don't find transparency and authenticity, they will rarely trust a brand or would want to buy from it.

As I keep growing my chocolate business, one of my most important goals is to stay true to myself and communicate the love that goes into my chocolates. Brigadeiros might call for few ingredients and an easy process, but here's the tricky part: without pouring your soul into what you are doing, not even the simplest recipe will come out right. I finally understood that authenticity is what keeps family businesses like us successful in the long run. Although they help, it's not spectacular images or fancy ingredients that will keep us in business. It's the love that we put into our products, and how effectively we manage to communicate that love to our customers online and offline.

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.


  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.