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Business Formation

What Kind of Entity Is Right for My Business?

What is the first step in in any business venture? Knowing that you have a product or service of value to sell. The next step is your corporations. Why, because you love yourself and family! We live in a world that is intent on profiting from others mistakes. Today your first consideration to financial protection is incorporation. Paperwork that establishes a separate entity with rights of its own under the law. You become a stockholder, (Owner or partial owner) a holder of shares of stock in the corporation allows you to insulate yourself from LEGAL DANGERS created by the acts of the corporation.


Choosing the right kind of business entity depends greatly on how your business is likely to generate profits and how you plan to finance it. Understanding your goals is an important part of the planning and final decision as to that type of Corporation or LLC (Limited Liability Company) you should form. At Larry Kramer & Associates we have helped hundreds of clients properly create the correct entity for their business. There are many long-term issues to consider, including the tax ramifications, personal liability and cash flow, to name just a few.

We offer a "Complimentary Consultation" regarding this service and I will meet with you personally to help you make this important decision. After our meeting should you choose to move forward I will handle all of the paperwork and necessary filings.

Larry Kramer & Associates

Entity Formations

Sole Proprietorship

This option offers no protection to the owner, but is the simplest to set up. No papers need to be filed, you simply start doing business. For a small business with exposure to only minimal risk, a sole proprietorship may be acceptable. However since any lawsuit puts your personal assets including your home, car and bank accounts at risk, most individuals want to consider a more formal business entity. If you do conduct business as a sole proprietorship, but plan to do business under a different name, you need to file a trade name application (sometimes called a "d/b/a" or "doing business as"). Filing is simply a matter of completing a short form indicating your name, the trade name, business location and paying a small fee. Upon completion, you will be able to open a bank account in the trade name and conduct business in the trade name.
General Partnership

This is another relatively informal business entity is a "general partnership". These entities do not require documentation to come into formation. However, it is always a good idea to document your relationship and responsibilities with a written agreement. Like sole proprietorship, general partnerships do not provide any asset protection. Additionally, they can create unexpected exposure. For example if Partner A decides to make a purchase in the partnership name, Partner B is very likely to be personally responsible for the debt even if he did not sign any documents.
Limited Liability Partnership

This options requires at least one general partner and at least one limited partnership. To properly form this type of entity, documentation must be filed with the secretary of state. A Limited Partnership is best used when someone intends to be a "silent partner" or "money man". The general partner runs and manages the business and remains personally liable. The limited partner cannot participate in daily management and has no personal liability for partnership debts. However, the limited partner can lose his protection if he begins to manage the business. If he does, he becomes a general partner and exposes himself to personal liability.

This option provides personal liability protection for all of its shareholders. However, if certain formalities are not adhered to, the protection can be lost. The corporate structure is simple: shareholders own the business, shareholders elect a board of directors who oversee the long-term objectives, and directors appoint officers who run the daily business. In many small businesses, the shareholder is also a director and officer. Very often they are also employees. Nonetheless, the law respects the different capacities, even if the same person occupies all three positions.

The key fact to remember is that the corporation is a distinct and separate entity from its shareholders. This distinction is what provides for the protection. While the corporation may be liable for corporate debts, the shareholders are not.

Unfortunately, the protection provided for by a corporation is not perfect. It can be given away, taken away or, simply, may not apply. For example, if your corporation is paying your personal expenses, or corporate funds and personal funds are put in the same account, the corporate protection is often revoked. Alternatively, a corporate owner may be required to sign a personal guarantee in order to enter a lease or purchase contract. In these cases, the owner has given way his corporate protection. Finally, corporations are run by people and people commit wrongful acts. If you as the worker commit the wrongful act (improper construction, repairs, accidents, etc.) you will be personally responsible for the damage you cause. However, if your employee commits the wrongful act, you are generally protected from personal liability. Although not perfect, corporate entities provide one of the best levels of protection to the business owner.

Once the decision to form a corporation is made, there is a second decision to make: should you be a C-corporation or subchapter S corporation. There is no difference between C and S corporations for the purposes of liability. It is merely a tax election which can often save money. For a small business which has no intention of going public, an S election is very common and usually advantageous. You should consult with an attorney or tax expert to determine whether the subchapter S election is appropriate for your situation.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This option generally provides the same liability protection as a corporation but can have different tax consequences. It is often said that an LLC is more flexible than a corporation. While there is some truth to this statement, the flexibility is often minimal. Moreover, the tax liability can be more substantial than a subchapter S corporation. It is important that you discuss your business needs with an attorney or accountant before you elect to become an LLC.

There is no best business entity for all situations, and there is no such thing as perfect protection. The best idea is to meet with an attorney and discuss your business situation. You can then weigh the initial expenses, long-term costs and risks against your needs and make the best decision for you. As a final note, remember that you can lose your protection under certain circumstance. The right business entity, a good lawyer and good accountant can help you avoid problems before they occur.

For a detailed discussion on business formation including, personal liability protection, the flexibility of entities, formal requirements and basic tax considerations, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.