Most small business owners in the United States operate as a sole proprietorship, the default business entity. While this may work for some businesses for some time, it does not create any legal separation between your business and your personal assets. You will face both the risk of lawsuits and the potential of business debt that you cannot afford. Operating as a sole proprietorship is a risk that grows with your business.
If you want to protect your business and yourself forming an LLC is one affordable option that offers many benefits.
What is a Limited Liability Company?
If you form an LLC, you will create a separate entity that offers liability protection for owners. Your personal assets like your home and savings will not be at risk if your business is sued or has debts it cannot pay, provided you maintain the LLC and meet legal requirements. A limited liability company provides flexibile management options and it operates as a pass-through entity by default. This means that forming an LLC from a sole proprietorship will not change your taxes at all, if you have one member.
Choosing an LLC may also offer you additional benefits. You will find it easier to raise capital through investors, and you have the ability to deduct health insurance premiums. Self employment tax is based on net income and you can be taxed as a partnership or a corporation, if you choose.
Because it is very affordable to form a limited liability company and offers many important protections, it is the most popular choice for small business owners.
What is a Sole Proprietorship?
Sole proprietorships have one owner and they are not legal entities. This means that operating a sole proprietorship offers no distinction under the law between your business liabilities and assets and personal liabilities and assets. If there are business debts or a lawsuit that you cannot pay through business assets, your home, savings and other assets will then be at risk.
There are benefits to remaining a sole proprietorship, depending on your situation. Taxes are straightforward, you do not need to register with the state or file annual paperwork, and payroll can be much easier to set up. There will be no compliance issues to worry about, either.
Which is Right for You?
The choice between a sole proprietorship and LLC depends on your business. If you have a very low-risk business that does not involve working in people’s homes, offering advice or selling products, remaining a sole proprietorship may be your best move. This is especially true if you are very unlikely to incur great liabilities. If you are concerned about keeping your business and personal finances and assets separate, however, or you plan to expand or take on debts, it is worth considering forming a limited liability in your state or in another state.