Are you operating your business as a real business or as a hobby? It's time to make your business OFFICIAL before the summer push for business!
Let me ask you two important questions:
- Are you operating your business under your own name, a DBA or fictitious firm name, basically as a sole proprietorship or maybe as a general partnership? AND/OR
- Are you or your family at risk because of business or personal assets that are unprotected from unexpected losses or legal issues?
- Make it Official. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership sends a message that you are still "testing" your business, or that you're not sure you'll really make it. Perhaps your accountant told you that incorporating is an unnecessary expense or that it won't help you save on taxes due to an expectation of low profits. This is the WORST marketing message you can send when you want to attract new clients and partners to your business, who want assurance that you're about your business and here to stay.
- The Law of Attraction. You get what you focus on. Testing, hoping and "seeing if things work out or not" BEFORE you decide to step up and make your business official by incorporating broadcasts a clear message to the universe that you're not really serious about your business or committed to a positive outcome. The Law of Attraction states that the universe returns not what you wish for, but what you program into your deepest belief system through your dominant thoughts, actions, and feelings. Making your business official and really stepping up says, "I am ready to receive!".
- Limited Personal Liability. You may be thinking "I already lost everything in the market collapse from 2008" and still recovering. If you're one of the few that managed to survive and grow your assets since then but are still holding them in your own name, you're playing a VERY RISKY game (similar to those with assets in unstable European banks). Even if you don't have any assets right now, a lawsuit or judgment will destroy any credit you are looking to build in the future PLUS you may be looking over your shoulder for years waiting for someone to come after you when you finally do start to turn things around. That's no way to live your life. One lawsuit from an unprotected business can ruin your chances of getting a personal auto loan or refinancing your home. Good people who "play by the rules" can still be sued for the most unexpected reasons. You may be thinking "my business insurance will help me out" but are you really covered? Even if your business is never sued, what if you're unable to pay a vendor and they come after you? Do you want to be personally liable? Put a halt to greedy people looking to take what you have worked for! This is the best time to form an LLC or corporation to limit your personal liability.
- Reduce Your Taxes. The bottom line is that operating as a sole proprietorship will cost you the most in employment taxes (up to 15.3% on earned income up to $113,700 in 2013). That means that your income will be taxed as the HIGHEST possible TAX RATE as a sole proprietorship. By the way, filing a Schedule C (the form filed for earned income from a sole proprietorship) also means that your business is among those MOST LIKELY TO BE AUDITED. Why? The IRS has a $300 BILLION tax gap and they believe the biggest tax cheats are the little business owner like you. Why? Their stats show them that sole proprietorship is MOST likely to UNDER report their income and OVER report their expenses (two big no-no's with the IRS). Operating as an S corporation or LLC taxed as an S corporation in many situations is a much better approach for two reasons. You will have part of your profits as distributions which are NOT subject to the 15.3% employment taxes AND move that profit to schedule E, not schedule C which is more likely to be audited!
- Access More Funding Options. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership limits you when it comes to funding options. You are also DAMAGING YOUR PERSONAL CREDIT SCORE by operating this way. How do you finance your business as a sole proprietorship? You use your PERSONAL CREDIT cards which will drive up your revolving debt which will in turn DRIVE DOWN your personal credit score! When you form a corporation or an LLC you will SEPARATE your PERSONAL and BUSINESS CREDIT. Yes, any type of cash funding with a personal guarantee will come into play, but that DEBT does NOT show up in the personal credit bureau which is HUGE for future funding! As you form a new LLC or corporation NCP will help (if you choose) to build your business credit scores quickly and get your business in a position to secure funding to grow. But the first step is to form a separate legal entity.
- Simply Your Life. Yes, in fact operating as a sole proprietorship will complicate your life, not the opposite. Separating your business and personal life will make it much easier for you to navigate both from a financial and legal point of view. Now you will have each in its own compartment where it belongs to protect your overall success.
- Asset Protection. Forming an LLC for your safe assets like investments (those outside a retirement plan) will help you sleep better at night knowing you don't have all your "eggs" in one basket. If you are using a LIVING TRUST to protect your assets that will NOT work and everything in your trust may be vulnerable. Do you own other businesses that really should be operating through a separate bank account in a separate entity? Do you own real estate in your own name that may be sending a message that you are rich and have assets worth taking? Have you been in business for years or are you operating more than one business in one entity? Are you doing some business with a new partner and making the big mistake of running that revenue through your current business? Avoid these costly mistakes and form a separate company for that separate business.