What’s in a Name for Your Home Business?
Your home-based business may be something you have been dreaming about for a long time, or it may be the result of a lay-off or need to supplement your existing income. Being your own boss, making your own hours, and having endless possibilities for growth are just some of the many perks. Whether you are a designer making custom jewelry or a freelance programmer looking to expand your business, you will need to consider all of the legal, technical, creative, and minute details of starting, protecting, and broadening your home business. Small Business Attorney Elizabeth Lewis will not only help keep your business legally upright, but she will also help with the things you may not have considered. This post will cover three often overlooked areas of home business planning:
- Choosing a Name
- Choosing a Legal Structure
- Choosing an Address
1. Choosing A Name For Your Home Business
Coming up with a name can be the easiest and most fun start to your home business. Testing out names on your family and friends and drafting logos are an exciting part of the creative process, but there are important steps to take before you settle on a name or establish a brand. Your name should identify your products/services, be memorable, and stand out. If it is too generic – Denver Jewelry – it may be difficult to register or trademark. If it is too narrow – Carla’s Breakfast Cupcakes – it may inhibit or restrict the growth of the business. The name should match the spirit and purpose of your business and inspire your logo and marketing. But first… make sure it is available. Before you do a national trademark search, check with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. You can register or reserve your trade name online on the Secretary of State’s website. The Denver Public Library also has resources, like trade name searches, for small business. It is also important to secure a domain name for your website. Your small business attorney will help with both the legal aspects of your home business name as well as your online marketing presence and, if needed, refer you to a trademark attorney to help secure your name.
2. Choosing A Legal Structure For Your Home Business
The structure of your business impacts many other decisions, affecting your liability, taxes, permits, and licenses. You might start doing business as a sole practitioner, but later decide to become a limited liability corporation (LLC) or an a corporation. Operating as a corporation can give you legitimacy that you may not have as “some guy who works out of his house.” With an LLC or Corp, you may be able to protect your personal assets from creditors, avoid paying both personal and corporate taxes, and deduct pre-tax expenses (e.g. travel, computers, phone bills, advertising, and health care premiums). Here are some pros and cons for LLC versus a corp.
- easy to set up
- inexpensive to start
- less red tape than forming an S corp
- required to pay self-employment tax on income generated in the LLC
- must operate the LLC distinctly and separately from personal affairs
- profits after payroll expenses, federal taxes, and FICA can be distributed to owner and are taxed at a lower rate than income if s-corp status is chosen
- stricter tax code guidelines than LLCs
- costs more to form a Corp
- can have additional state taxes
Make sure you know the difference between the tax status and legal status of your entity though. For example, a LLC or a corporation can be an “s-corporation” as s-corporation just means you have elected to be taxed under subchapter s of the internal revenue code. If you are an LLC taxed as an s-corp, you may have many of the restrictions (and costs) of a corporation.
Because each state has its own rules, a small business attorney will help you choose both the best legal and tax structure for your home business and, with the help of a CPA, make sure you remain compliant with Colorado’s tax, licensing, and permit laws.
Choosing An Address That Isn’t Your Home Address (And Why It Matters)
There are so many wonderful benefits of working from home – having clients or customers know where you live might not be one of them. For LLCs or Corps, a registered agent’s address can be substituted for your own. However, if you are not incorporating, you can get a P.O. Box or use a “Doing Business As (DBA)” mailing address. These are options if you would like your personal residence to remain private or if you live somewhere, like an apartment complex, you fear will come off as unprofessional. There are home address alternatives. A mail-receiving service can provide a street address and a suite number rather than your actual address or a P.O. Box. These mail service companies will also pack, ship, and track your packages. An email account will further reduce the volume of mail and phone calls you receive. Whichever address you choose for your home business, remember to respond to all inquiries promptly and establish an efficient system. This will keep your operations running smoothly and your customers satisfied.
Another issue relevant to your home address and your home business is how your address appears to listing services such as Google My Business. If you don’t want you home address with a map to your front door being displayed, make sure you double check and correct how your listing is shown.
If you need help setting up or keeping up your home business,
contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: email@example.com
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