So you have had it with the 9 to 5, your sick of your boss always looking over your shoulder, and the idea of you doing all the work so the executives can reap all the benefits makes you sick to your stomach. So you have decided to go out on your own and start a new business. That is a great idea and I am here to help you with some of the tougher questions that may come to mind.
What’s next? Well you need to decide how you will structure your business for tax and liability purposes. If you do nothing, and start the business alone, you are considered a sole proprietor. If you do nothing and start the business with someone else, that business will be considered a partnership. You can also form a corporation or limited liability company (LLC). The last two options are a bit harder to set up, but the liability is passed on to the business and not yourself or your partners. You should seek the advice of an accounting expert before making this decision; once the decision is made it is difficult to change the company type and it’s an accounting nightmare.
Sole proprietorship and partnerships are taxed on your normal 1040. You figure out how much money the business brought in and how much was spent on the business. This is the number you add to your 1040. This option is very easy for taxes very easy to run. The main problem with sole proprietors and partnerships is you can become personally responsible for all debt and damages. For example, if you run into credit problems with your suppliers they can come after you and your partners for payment. Also, any damage that your company may cause and is unable to make restitution for could become your personal financial obligation. This includes liens on personal property.
To distance yourself from personal liability you need to form a corporation (INC, C, or Corp) or a limited liability company (LLC). Both of these allow the business to become a separate entity for tax purposes and liability. The downside to these types of businesses is the extra paperwork needed to stay compliant and start up costs. You can search the internet for companies that will form your corporation or LLC, but you need to make sure they are reputable and not online scams.
If you start a corporation or LLC you will need a tax expert that specializes in small business and good accounting software. The government will send you an Employer Identification Number. This is the company’s unique id number, think of it like your social security number. This number needs to be used on all documents pertaining to the company, as well as all tax forms.
All parts of the business must to be kept separate from your personal life. You need different bank accounts, different phone numbers, and different credit cards. Next to making a profit this will be your biggest and most important challenge. If you mix funds or you are sloppy with book keeping, the corporate veil can be pierced and that means you can become personally liable for the company and its actions.
I recommend a good CPA and a lawyer. These can be found online within your area and are well worth the upfront money. After you are set up it is possible to do all the taxes and accounting yourself with powerful accounting software, but this is time consuming and may not be worth it to some. Remember starting a new business can be fun and rewarding; just stick to the rules and laws.