If there is one thing we’ve learned from over a decade and a half of helping small business owners, it’s that every business is different. For new small business owners, it’s important that you choose the business entity that will suit your unique needs. There are four basic entities that you can choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. While there is no “right” choice, depending on what you sell, where you plan to take your company, and how ownership of the company is divided, there will be certain entities that will fit your business model better than others.
Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships
Sole proprietorships and partnerships are the simplest type of business entity. They are also the default option. It doesn’t take much to start a sole proprietorship or a partnership either. Just file for a ‘Doing Business As’ name, apply for the right licenses and permits, and open your doors. If the business is run by two or more people, you will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and you’ll have to file another form come tax time. But this simplicity comes at a price. Everything the business owes and owns is tied to your personal assets. In other words, you, and your partner if you have one, will be held liable for the business’s debts if it fails. Also, if you do have a partner, you may not be protected if they decide to walk away from the business. So, while running a sole proprietorship or partnership is a lot simpler, it does put an undue amount of risk on the owner(s). To limit your liability, consider forming a corporation or limited liability company.
Small businesses get better tax breaks than hobbyists, reports the Small Business Administration. As a hobbyist, you must pay tax on any income earned from your activities, but are limited in your deductions. When performing an activity with the intent of making a profit, you are considered “in” business.
Hobbyists, go a little further and become a business-in-fact with all of its tax and legal benefits.
Telltale Signs you are Running a (Real) Business
- Your garage and/or spare bedroom are so full of supplies and inventory that you can’t park your car or find your way to the window.
- Your sales have grown, along with your need for supplies and related expenses, and you’re making a name for yourself, your products and/or services (branding).
- Your supplier tells you that to be able to order in larger quantities and to get price breaks, you’ll need a state tax ID number (obtainable only for registered businesses).
One of the biggest reasons why many people don’t put additional thought into starting up a business is because they believe that it’s expensive to do so. In actuality, starting a business is far cheaper than these individuals realize. Of course the startup costs are dependent on the type of business you’re planning in terms of equipment and/or inventory. However, the initial paperwork to start your own corporation is quite nominal in comparison.
A C-Corporation is an entity that is taxed separately from those who set it up, such as owners and shareholders. It is regarded as a separate entity that can hold its own credit rating, liabilities and assets. Personal liens and debts cannot influence a C-Corporation’s assets or bank accounts because it is its own entity owned by the shareholders and not the founding individual.
Why You Would Want a C-Corp
Forming a C-Corporation has many advantages that are ideal for businesses. As there are many types to choose from, you should have an idea of what you need to form according to your ultimate goals. The C-Corporations have benefits such as:
- Unlimited growth potential
- Private shareholders and investor accountability
- Limited liability
- Perpetual existence – A C-Corporation has perpetual existence meaning that it will continue to operate even if the owner quits his or her position. The corporation will continue to conduct business as normal and doesn’t require the founding member to be a part of the staff. For example, Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 although he was a founding member. Without his influence, Apple continued to conduct business.
An Employer Identification Number, or EIN for short, is basically a social security number for your business. Like with social security numbers, the IRS uses EINs to track what businesses need to certain types of tax. However, not all businesses are technically required to have an EIN as sole proprietorships can be identified by the owner’s SSN instead. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should avoid filing for one, as there are three main reasons why obtaining an EIN is important for a small business.
It allows the business to hire employees.
If you run a sole-proprietorship and you are the only employee that works for the business, all of the profits and losses are going to be reported as part of your personal income. You then pay whatever state and federal taxes you need to, just like you would if you received an income from anywhere else. However, when you hire an employee, you are responsible for withholding any necessary taxes from that employee’s income. The IRS then cannot simply use your SSN to keep track of what they are owed as there are now two different employees, and that’s where the employer identification number comes in. EINs let the IRS and other tax-collecting bodies know what businesses need to be sending in the usual payroll taxes.
This week in business basics, we chose to look at a topic that has regularly confused some of our customers – business licenses. Business licensing can be a bit of a tricky topic because, quite honestly, there is no one answer for most of the questions asked about licensing. But we can try and help give a broad overview so that our readers understand what a business license actually is, and what it allows you to do.
Getting a business license is not like getting, say, a driver’s license, where all anyone has to do is pass a couple of tests and get a piece of plastic that qualifies them to drive any personal car. Business licenses are essentially permits to operate a business in your state, city, and industry – whether you actually need one depends on the legal regulations those three groups are bound by, and enforce.
When starting a new business from scratch, there are several factors you need to consider from marketing materials and hiring employees to selling products and saving money, that your business’ credit could easily take a backseat on the priority list. However, maintaining your business’ good credit is extremely important when it comes to building a successful company.
What exactly is business credit?
For our ABC’s of MyCorp this week, we’re focusing on N for Non Profit which is also referred to as an NPO for non profit organizations. As stated on businessdictionary,com, non profits are generally charities, associations, and other organizations formed to further cultural, educational, religious, professional or public service objectives.
Before forming and looking into funding a non profit organization of your own, certain considerations need to be put into place to ensure that the formation is detailed and clear in the societal issue it is working on addressing. You can find out more information about the following eight points at our MyCorp “Forming an NPO” learning center!
It has been an absolutely amazing year at MyCorporation; we’ve seen hundreds of our customers start following us on Facebook and Twitter, we won a Stevie Award, and as always, we are absolutely amazed at how many small businesses get their official start right here with us.
And, of course, none of this would ever have been possible without our customers.
As an a thank you to all of our customers, we are giving away free Employer Identification Numbers with every incorporation. Any business that wants to open a bank account, hire employees or incorporate has to have an EIN.
Normally an Employer Identification Number costs $69.00, but choose any of our incorporation packages and we will obtain an EIN on behalf of your new business for free as our way of saying thanks for choosing MyCorporation.
All of our customers have made this year outstanding, and we can’t even begin to articulate how thankful we are for everyone who has contacted us for help with their business. We wish you all the best of luck with your business ventures, and hope everyone has a happy holiday season!
You’ve already incorporated, so you are aware of the importance of corporate protection, including maximizing tax benefits and limiting your personal liability. There are other things that should also be considered now that you are a corporation. One of the most important things to consider is obtaining an Employer Identification Number (aka “EIN”).
What is an EIN?
An Employer Identification Number or “EIN” is also known as a federal tax identification number. The EIN is a number (like a corporate Social Security Number) assigned to your corporation by the Federal Government. It is a nine-digit number assigned to sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, and other entities for filing and reporting purposes. As the name implies this number is used for tax purposes. You need your Federal Tax ID Number to fill out payroll reports, pay federal taxes, and even open a corporate bank account. An EIN is used to identify a business entity. Consequently, most businesses need an EIN. Continue reading