How to Start Your Business Off On the Right Foot
Before you decide on a location, design a logo, or pick out furnishings, it is crucial to choose the right business structure for your small business. This decision will greatly affect your daily operations, impacting everything from liability and taxes to the amount of paperwork and control you have over your own business. There are numerous forms, or structures, each with their own benefits and drawbacks and some with overlapping characteristics. An experienced business attorney will explain the pros and cons and help you determine which structure is the most appropriate for your Colorado business and financial goals. This post will explore four of the most common business structures. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), these are Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
1. Sole Proprietorship
The most basic of business structures, sole proprietorship is used by more than 70 percent of businesses in the U.S. according to the Small Business Administration. With this structure, you are responsible for all of your business’s profits and debts. You are also personally liable for everything that the “business” does as you are the business.
2. General Partnership
Two or more individuals own the business in a general partnership. Most times, partnerships are general partnership in which everything is shared based on the ownership of each partner. Partnerships may also be set up as limited partnerships, limited liability partnership, or a limited liability limited partnership. With general partnerships, all partners have personal liability for what the partnership does.
A corporation is an entity that is separate from its owners, meaning it has limited liability. It is independent with its own legal rights (e.g. ability to sue, be sued, own and sell property and stocks, etc.). Most household names, like Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Google, are corporations. There are two ways that corporations can be taxed (C corporations and S corporations) so many people will refer to their corporation by its tax structure rather than just a corporation.
4. Limited Liability Company (LLC)
LLCs have been seen as a hybrid of partnerships and corporations. Their owners are called “members”. They can be taxed multiple ways leading to being loved by CPAS. LLCs protect members from personal liability for the debts of the business most of the time, provided they have not conducted activities in an illegal, unethical, negligent, or irresponsible manner.
A Closer Look at Business Structure
Choosing the best structure to insulate your business from the beginning is one of the most important decisions you will make. It is easy to become swept up in the commotion of getting your business started, but you have to think about your needs now as well as in the future. Consider what your business might look like once it is well established, if something happens and you are unable to run your business, or if you decide to expand or sell. Although it can be difficult to switch to a different business structure because of strict tax code regulations, you may need to reassess yours down the road.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure to set up, but it can be harder to secure outside funding than it is for a corporation. Corporations have the least amount of personal liability, and partnerships share liability as defined by the type of partnership. For sole proprietors, all profit is personal income and taxed accordingly. The LLC structure prevents double taxation, meaning you are not taxed as a company and as an individual. There are many more distinctions among the various business structures related to taxes, liability, control, funding, licenses, permits, and regulations. You can find more information on choosing your business structure on the Colorado Secretary of State website.
Your small business attorney will explain the distinctions, advantages, and eligibility requirements among the different business structures. After you have selected the right business structure, your attorney can assist you with the following: filing paperwork, keeping records, hiring employee and professional support, determining services and location, maintaining appropriate insurance coverage, and more.
If you need help with your business formation, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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