BUSINESS PLANNING

You have a great idea for a new business. You spend hours researching what you need to do to get started. You open a bank account, rent an office, send out promotional mailers. A friend reminds you that you need to register your business with the Secretary of State, so you visit the website and fill out the form to the best of your knowledge. Your business takes off and you don't give another thought to how you set up your entity. 

Fast forward a few years. Your involved in an accident while at work that leaves another person severely injured. You receive notice that you're being sued personally. How can this happen? Aren't your personal assets protected from what happens with your business? This unfortunate scenario is the result of inadequate business planning. 

When establishing your business entity, it's essential that you understand the different entity options, along with their advantages and disadvantages. By working with your CPA, I'll be able to help you create a business structure that will provide liability protection and tax benefits. 

Some of the main benefits and drawbacks of different types of business entities, or legal structures:                                

Sole Proprietorship

Advantages:

  • Easy to create and maintain
  • Business and owner are legally the same entity
  • No fees associated with the creation of the business entity
  • Owner may deduct a net business loss from personal income taxes

Disadvantages:

  • Owner is personally liable for any debts, judgments or other liabilities of the business
  • Owner must pay personal income taxes for all net business profits

General Partnership

Advantages:

  • Easy to create and maintain
  • No fees associated with creation of the business entity
  • Owners may report their share of net business losses on personal income taxes

Disadvantages:

  • All owners are jointly and personally liable for any debts, judgments or other liabilities of the business
  • Owners must pay personal income taxes for all net business profits

Limited Partnership

Advantages:

  • Easy to attract investors as they are only liable for their total amount of their investment into the business
  • The limited partners enjoy limited liability for any debts, judgments or other liabilities of the business
  • The general partners are more free to focus their attention on the business
  • General partners are able to raise cash without diminishing their control of the business
  • Limited partners can leave the business without dissolving the limited partnership

Disadvantages:

  • General partners are jointly and personally liable for any debts, judgments or other liabilities of the business
  • Can be more expensive to create than a general partnership
  • Mainly suited to businesses such as real estate investment groups or in the film industry

Regular Corporation

Advantages:

  • Owners of the business enjoy limited liability for the business' debts, judgments and other liabilities
  • Some benefits may be deducted as business expenses
  • With good accounting, owners and business may be able to pay lower taxes by splitting the business profits among owners

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive to establish than a sole proprietorship or partnership
  • Complicated paperwork that must be filed with the secretary of state
  • Corporation must pay its own taxes as a separate tax entity

S Corporation

Advantages:

  • Owners of the business enjoy limited liability for the business' debts, judgments and other liabilities
  • Owners share the net profits of the business and report their share on personal income taxes
  • Owners share the net business loss and can offset other income by reporting this loss on personal income taxes

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive to establish than a sole proprietorship or partnership
  • Paperwork is more complicated than the paperwork required for a LLC, but similar advantages
  • The ownership interest of the various owners determines their respective incomes from the profits of the business
  • Some benefits are only given to owners that have more than 2% of the business' shares

Limited Liability Company(LLC)

Advantages:

  • Owners of the business enjoy limited liability for the business' debts, judgments and other liabilities, even if the owners engage in significant control of the business
  • The business profits and losses can be allocated to the owners along different lines than ownership interest (for example, a 10% owner may be allocated 30% of the business' profits)
  • Owners can choose how the LLC will be taxed, either as a partnership or a corporation

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive to establish than a sole proprietorship or partnership

Limited Liability Partnership

Advantages:

  • Business entities associated with things like law, medicine and accounting normally use this
  • Partners are not liable for the malpractice of other partners
  • Partners take their share of loss or gain on their personal income taxes

Disadvantages:

  • Partners remain personally liable for obligations to business creditors, landlords and lenders
  • Not every state allows limited liability partnerships
  • Often limited to only a select few professions

 

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life living like most people can’t.