It may seem daunting to leave your 9-to-5 grind and start your own business, but by doing so, you are giving yourself a newfound level of freedom while doing something that feeds your passion(s). The internet has made it increasingly possible for you to brush up on your skillset or even learn new ones, leaving you with the opportunity to start a business easily and cheaply.
If you want to separate your personal liability from your company's liability, you may want to consider forming one of several types of corporations. This makes a business a separate entity apart from its owners, and, therefore, corporations can own property, assume liability, pay taxes, enter into contracts, sue and be sued like any other individual. One of the most common structures for small businesses, however, is the limited liability corporation (LLC). This hybrid structure has the legal protections of a corporation while allowing for the tax benefits of a partnership.
Some businesses are prevented from forming an LLC, however. Typically financial companies such as banks, financial trust companies and insurance agencies can't file as an LLC. LLCs are sometimes limited for industries in certain states, too. For example, if you live in California, you can't form an LLC if you're an architect, accountant or licensed health care provider. Check out our LLC information by state for more details on your state.
"Your product is built by people," Zawadski said. "Identifying your founding team, understanding what gaps exist, and [determining] how and when you will address them should be top priority. Figuring out how the team will work together ... is equally important. Defining roles and responsibility, division of labor, how to give feedback or how to work together when not everyone is in the same room will save you a lot of headaches down the line."
The application required for incorporating as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is called the Articles of Incorporation (also referred to as a Certificate of Incorporation). This document contains basic information about the company, its owners, and its directors. Depending on your state of incorporation, there may also be state-level fees or taxes that must be paid.
To keep your business legally viable after you incorporate, there are a number of steps you may need to follow. You may need to file an Article of Amendment to indicate changes in your company. You also may need to file an Initial or Annual Report, which is a requirement in most states. Our business filing experts can help you process necessary changes to your business.
When beginning a business, you must decide what form of business entity to establish. Your form of business determines which income tax return form you have to file. The most common forms of business are the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and S corporation. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure allowed by state statute. Legal and tax considerations enter into selecting a business structure.
If you own the business entirely by yourself and plan to be responsible for all debts and obligations, you can register for a sole proprietorship. Be warned that this route can directly affect your personal credit. Alternatively, a partnership, as its name implies, means that two or more people are held personally liable as business owners. You don't have to go it alone if you can find a business partner with complementary skills to your own. It's usually a good idea to add someone into the mix to help your business flourish.
For over 40 years Nolo has been publishing affordable, plain English books, forms and software on a wide range of legal and business issues, including estate planning, small business, personal finance, housing, divorce and intellectual property. Everything we publish is regularly revised and improved by our staff of lawyer-editors, to make sure that it's the best it can be. We pay close attention to changes in the law and we'll make sure your online legal documents stay legally up to date.
Unlike in many other Western countries, Canadian businesses generally only have one form of incorporation available. Unlimited liability corporations can be formed in Alberta "AULC", British Columbia "BCULC" and Nova Scotia "NSULC". The aforementioned unlimited liability corporations are generally not used as operating business structures, but are instead used to create favorable tax positions for either Americans investing in Canada or vice versa. For U.S. tax purposes the ULC is classified as a disregarded entity.