Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation. Regardless of which option you choose, it's vital to understand the reasoning behind your idea. Stephanie Desaulniers, director of operations and women's business programs at Covation Center, cautions entrepreneurs from writing a business plan or worrying about a business name before nailing down the idea's value.
LLC members are not personally responsible for the company's debt or liability. S-Corp shareholders are not personally responsible for the company's debt or liability. C-Corp shareholders are not personally responsible for the company's debt or liability. Non-Profit directors are not personally responsible for organizational debt or liability. Sole Proprietors are personally responsible for debt and liability.
File with the appropriate federal, state, and local governmental agencies. Depending on the business purpose of your LLC and the jurisdiction in which you organize, you may have to file additional forms relating to LLCs with certain governmental agencies. Each industry is regulated differently—as is each local jurisdiction—and so it is best to ask an attorney or accountant for assistance in this matter.
These reports must be filed every two years for both nonprofit and for-profit businesses. The filings are due during the anniversary month of your business's formation or the anniversary month in which you were granted authority to do business in the state. As a courtesy, the Secretary of State will send a reminder notice the month your report is due.
If you're thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell, or at least the market you want to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don't (or deliver the same thing, but faster and cheaper), you've got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan.
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If you need financial assistance, a commercial loan through a bank is a good starting point, although these are often difficult to secure. If you are unable to take out a bank loan, you can apply for a small business loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA) or an alternative lender. [See related story: Best Alternative Small Business Loans]
When the dissolution filing becomes effective, the business may not carry out any activities except those appropriate to wind up and liquidate its affairs. You also must file the appropriate dissolution forms with the Department of Revenue, Department of Workforce Development and the Attorney General in order to avoid tax consequences and additional liabilities.
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.
"A lot of startups tend to spend money on unnecessary things," said Jean Paldan, founder and CEO of Rare Form New Media. "We worked with a startup that had two employees but spent a huge amount on office space that would fit 20 people. They also leased a professional high-end printer that was more suited for a team of 100 (it had keycards to track who was printing what and when). Spend as little as possible when you start and only on the things that are essential for the business to grow and be a success. Luxuries can come when you're established."
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Sole Proprietorship – A sole proprietorship, also known as a trader firm or proprietorship, is a business firm that is owned and run by one individual. A sole proprietor may use a trade name or business name other than his or her name. Registration not required – In summary, biggest advantage is quick formation and low compliance. However, the biggest disadvantage is unlimited liability.