Starting a new business is an exciting journey, albeit an involved one. One of the first critical decisions you’ll face involves choosing the right entity type for your new enterprise. Your choice will result in significant implications for taxation, personal liability risk and the overall management of your business.
There are four primary options when it comes to structuring a new business, although some states offer additional specialized and hybrid formation options. When choosing between them, you’ll want to consider your goals for the business, how likely your business is to succeed and a host of other practical matters before committing to one option over the others.
This is the simplest business structure. This kind of business is owned and run by one individual. It requires minimal paperwork and offers complete control. However, as there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business, personal assets are at risk in case of business liabilities or debts.
If you’re starting a business with one or more partners, a partnership might be suitable. It allows for shared management and pooling of resources. Partnerships come in various forms, including general partnerships and limited partnerships, each with different implications for control and liability.
A corporation is a more complex structure, as it is treated as an independent legal entity. It offers the advantage of limited liability, meaning personal assets are protected from business debts. However, corporations face more regulations and tax requirements. Additionally, there is a rigid managerial structure that must be maintained for most of these entities.
Limited liability company (LLC)
An LLC combines the benefits of both corporation and partnership structures. It offers protection from personal liability like a corporation but with the tax benefits and flexibility of a partnership. It’s a popular choice for many small business owners due to its flexibility.
Ultimately, choosing the right entity type for your business is a matter that should only be cemented after you have considered multiple factors including liability, taxation, administrative burden and your future business goals. Carefully weigh each option and consider seeking legal guidance to ensure that your decision aligns with your business plan and long-term objectives.