ABCs of Small Business Industries: A is for Automotive

automotive industryWelcome to week three of our ABCs of small business industries! Today’s focus in the series? The automotive industry! This particular industry works alongside anything involving the design, manufacturing, marketing, development, or selling of motor vehicles. What’s not included here, however, are auto repair shops or any sort of gas station.

If your dream has always been to run your own vintage car garage or design automobiles, keeping the following areas in mind to ensure a smooth start!

What do you need to get started?

The biggest hump you’ll have to get over in starting a business in the automotive industry is familiarizing yourself with all the industry rules. This industry in particular has a strict list of guidelines to abide by and follow, but, luckily, the Small Business Administration has you covered. Details on emission standards, how to become a registered motor vehicle importer, knowing the ins and outs of automobile certification, and information on the automobile federal trade commission will all come in handy to keep under your belt in such a robust industry.

Additionally, make sure you have a registered agent in place to handle all of your state mail and remind you of important deadlines, a business/operating license so you can do business where you’d like, and a federal tax ID (EIN) in place if you plan on hiring a strong team to come and join you.

What sort of entity should you form going into the automotive industry?

Though every business owner has the choice of filing whichever entity he feels best suits him and his business, it is common for business owners in the automotive industry to file as an LLC, probably largely in part to the appealing nature of the pass through taxation. This means that business owners who file as an LLC will only be taxed once, whereas with other entity forms, they could be getting taxed twice at both the company level and again at the owner. An LLC is also very easy to get started as well as easy to maintain.

How healthy is the industry?

Around the world right now, there are over 1 billion cars. According to Edmunds.com, “16.4 million car buyers are expected to continue to flock to the market, taking further advantage of more freely flowing credit to refresh the oldest vehicle fleet in history.”

Being that the automobile is the primary mode of transportation around the world, we have formed a strong sense of dependency on the automotive industry – and if you’re planning on starting a business to help out those who need extra assistance with their vehicles, now is a great time to do it!

Want to put the pedal to the metal and start your business in the automotive industry? MyCorp can help you get started! Just leave a comment below, or give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772, and we’ll help you get your licenses, DBAs, and EINs squared away! 

50 States of Incorporation: Wyoming

It’s the last week of our 50 states of incorporation series and we’re focusing on the Cowboy State – Wyoming. Smack dab in the middle of the Rockies, Wyoming is America’s least populous state, but is easily one of the most beautiful. The vast majority of the land in Wyoming is owned and protected by the Federal Government, and Wyoming is home to the world’s first national park, Yellowstone. Incorporate in Wyoming Wyoming’s natural beauty has ensured the state’s tourism industry would flourish, and today it generates two billion dollars in state revenue. Along with tourism, Wyoming’s historic agricultural and mining industries continue to drive the state’s economy – Wyoming is the number one producer of coal in the country. Though largely rural, Wyoming is a great state for a small business, thanks largely to the low cost of doing business. So what does it take to get started there? And how do you incorporate in Wyoming?

How do you start a business in Wyoming?
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50 States of Incorporation: West Virginia

incorporate in West VirginiaFamous for white water rafting, coal mines, and the Appalachian National Scenic Recreational Trail, we’re taking a closer look at how to incorporate in West Virginia today, and all the great benefits it has to offer small business!

Home to West Virginia University, the 95th best public university in the country, and to Morgantown, a city ranked by Forbes as #10 for being one of the best small cities in the country to conduct business in (ranking from 2010), West Virginia also has a corporate income tax rate of 7%, which has been scheduled to be reduced to 6.5% in 2014.

If you’re a west Virginia resident, there’s a good chance you’re involved in the coal business. In terms of coal-producing, West Virginia is ranked the second biggest coal-producing state in the U.S. (first place goes to Wyoming). So if you want to start a business in the coal industry, West Virginia could be the perfect place for you and your business.

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Business Basics: Business License Compliance Package

We decided to do something a bit different with our weekly business basics post this time around, and instead look at a new service we’ve just started offering – business license compliance packages. We’ve covered business licenses before, but we thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the topic and explain why we decided to start offering this service to our customers. business licenseOur team kicked around the idea for awhile, trying to figure out whether or not there was any demand for this type of service, and we realized that there were three questions we’d have to be able to answer before launching.

Why offer business license compliance packages?

MyCorporation has always aimed to meet all of the needs of new business owners. The next logical step after creating your business is to apply for all of the licenses you need to legally open your doors. Without the right licensing, you’re effectively dead in the water. So expanding our offerings to include licensing just makes sense.

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Business Basics: Business Entity

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. Business Entity Choice

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.

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Which Business Structure is Right For You?

Which Business Structure is Right For You?Before going ahead with that new business plan for your start-up, ensure you know all legalities involved, especially the different types of business structures available. The law surrounding each entity can differ from state to state (and country to country!) but generally the rules and regulations are quite similar. However, it is a good idea to seek legal advice beforehand so you are fully aware of the risks involved.  Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of starting up a business as a corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or partnership.

Starting up as a… Corporation (equivalent to a limited company)

Setting up a corporation can be the preferred (and most beneficial) structure for employers looking to take on a large team of staff and have maximum legal protection. This type of business structure is owned by shareholders and has a board of directors.

Pros: A corporation is its own separate legal entity and is responsible for its own debt in insolvent situations, like administration or liquidation. This means, you, as a director, are protected if the corporation struggles financially.

It’s important to remember that the business owes money, not the director. If, however, directors have acted fraudulently, they will be exposed to the corporation’s liability.

Cons: There can be a lot of paperwork and filing of accounts when setting up a corporation, however this ensures everything is kept up to date and regulations as well as compliance are met. There are also higher tax fees which leads to more expensive accountancy fees.

Starting up as a… Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a business structure that has more flexibility when it comes to taxes and regulations and is usually a good fit for small businesses. LLCs are owned by its members.

Pros: Like a corporation, you are protected against personal liability if the company enters insolvency. There is less paperwork to do as the structure is based around an informal agreement can be made when starting up and often adapted later on. An LLC can also choose how the business should be taxed

Cons: This type of entity is a fairly new structure and could be less favored than that of the ‘wise’ corporation structure. With perhaps an unfamiliar set up, investors may be more reluctant to lend.

Starting up as a… Partnership

As the name suggests, this business structure is set up with two or more partners and follows different common laws across the nation. However, there are some general rules that apply.

Pros: As structures get smaller in business size, so does the paperwork and filing of accounts. There are also fewer taxes to pay.

Cons: The big disadvantage of being in a partnership is you are personally liable for the partnership’s debt if the business falls in financial difficulty. Every partner is responsible for the entire debt, so if one partner is unable to afford the debt, creditors will look to the next partner and so on. Before going into this kind of business, drawing up a contract deeming who is liable for what is essential.

There is the option of setting up a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). This type of formation can differ in law from state to state but is similar to a partnership. It does, however, offer more legal protection to partners if LLP becomes insolvent, hence limited liability. An LLP is essentially a cross between a partnership and a limited liability company.

Remember, you can change structures down the line if you want to. If you are unsure what the best plan of action is, be sure to get legal advice specific to your situation.

Keith Steven of KSA Group Ltd has been rescuing and turning around businesses for over 20 years and has worked with insolvency firms, turnaround funds and venture capital investors. He is also author of the site www.companyrescue.co.uk.  You can follow Keith on Google+.

50 States of Incorporation: Virginia

Virginia – the mother of all states. Home to the first English colony in the New World, and the birthplace of more U.S. presidents than any other state, the Commonwealth is easily one of the most storied and important states in America. Virginia continues to be one of the nation’s top producers of tobacco – a crop it has grown since the colonial era – and has one of the most diverse economies of any state. Ranching, farming, tourism, high-tech manufacturing, and government agencies contribute to the bustling and thriving Virginian economy. Incorporate in VirginiaAn educated workforce and pro-business government has also placed Virginia at the top of Forbes’ ‘Best States to do Business In’ list for the past four years. Virginia is an obvious choice for any budding entrepreneur. How do you start a business in the state? And what does it take to form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia?

How do you start a business in Virginia?
It’s actually quite easy! All you need is a ‘Doing Business As’ name, the right licenses and permits, and, if you want to hire someone, a federal tax ID number, often called an Employer Identification Number. Virginia has a handy tool to help new business owners register their business and its name online. Once you are all registered, you can technically open for business as a sole-proprietorship. However, while sole-proprietorships are easy to run, they make you, as the business owner, responsible for all of the business’s debts. If you hope to mitigate your risk, you should form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia.

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Business Basics: Governance Documents

One of the most common questions we get here at MyCorporation about forming a limited liability company or corporation is, “How hard is it to actually run this type of business?” Running an LLC or corporation is very different than running a sole proprietorship, and the government will expect those running the business to adhere to certain rules. governance documentsIt should be noted that the only governance document need for Corporations and LLCs is an Articles of Incorporation or a Certificate of Organization. However, there are other types of governance documents that should be kept and maintained.

Articles of Incorporation and Certificates of Organization

In order to form a corporation, you have to file your articles of incorporation. And in order to form an LLC, you have to file what is normally called a certificate of organization. In both cases, these documents act a sort of birth certificate for the new business entity. They disclose the entity’s name, address, registered agent information, and the information of any managers or owners. A lot of states actually offer a “fill-in-the-blank” type of form on the website of their Secretary of State or department of corporations. However, these forms only meet the minimal requirements for a corporation or LLC as set by the state. They also don’t set the rules for how your company will actually be run. Along with these formation documents, you should consider drafting a set of bylaws or an operating agreement.

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50 States of Incorporation: Vermont

incorporate in VermontIt’s time to head on over to New England to the state that has the largest number of dairy cows (in ration of cows to people)! It’s no surprise that Vermont is so heavily cow-populated due to their small population size of fewer than nine thousand people. But many of those Vermonters are very successful entrepreneurs – especially when it comes to maple syrup! The biggest industry in The Green Mountain State is the selling and distributing of maple syrup. The state also boasts the prestige of being the original home to the headquarters for Ben and Jerry’s and IBM.

Vermont holds a lower rank on the Forbes best states for business list, with rankings in the twentysomething numbers for quality of life, economic climate, and labor supply. The state provides affordable healthcare, but suffers from high personal income taxes (9.5%) and corporate taxes (8.5%), according to CNNMoney.

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What Goes into an Operating Agreement?

Operating agreements are one of the most vital, and overlooked, tools in running a limited liability company. We’ve actually covered operating agreements as part of our ‘ABCs of MyCorp’ series, but we never delved into what an operating agreement should actually say. operating agreement As a quick refresher, an operating agreement is essentially a document that defines how the LLC will be run, and the SBA recommends that every LLC draft one. The trouble is that only a couple of states, like Missouri and New York, legally require new LLCs to have an operating agreement. But without the rules, structure, and regulations an operating agreement provides, your LLC could be in serious trouble if partners disagree, a member wants to leave, or if the state starts questioning the validity of your LLC. Operating agreements are also pretty easy to draft and only need to cover a few key areas.

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