If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you’re likely prepared to juggle countless tasks that have competing priorities before you even set up shop. But even though you already have a lot on your plate, you should never underestimate the importance of choosing the right legal structure before your new company becomes operational.
The way you form your business will determine how it is taxed and the personal liability you’ll risk as its founder. These are just a few of the reasons why you should put a lot of thought into the legal structure that’s most suited for your business idea.
This is the most straightforward form of business structure, where an individual operates their business alone. This structure is easy to set up and gives the owner complete control. However, it also means the owner is personally responsible for all the business’s liabilities.
A partnership involves two or more individuals or entities managing and operating an enterprise, generally in agreement with the terms and regulations set out in a partnership contract. Partnerships can be general or limited, each with its own set of implications.
Partnerships are often ideal for entrepreneurs who’ve found a reliable partner with whom they share management and decision-making duties. This business structure can also give entrepreneurs an opportunity to benefit from their partner’s unique skills. However, this structure does leave its owners vulnerable to a certain degree of personal liability in the event of debts or judgments.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
This business structure combines a degree of the limited liability features of a corporation with the flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship. Owners are referred to as members and are protected from personal liability. Essentially, members are not personally responsible for business debts under most circumstances. Moreover, this structure allows more flexibility in tax management than the previous two structures do.
However, entrepreneurs who settle for this structure should be prepared to deal with more paperwork and regulations compared to sole proprietorship or partnership. Moreover, LLCs may have additional costs associated with formation and compliance.
This legal entity exists separately from its owners, who are known as shareholders. It provides the highest level of personal liability protection but comes with increased regulations and formalities. While shareholders are not personally responsible for corporate debts, corporations are subject to corporate and individual taxes. Moreover, they come with more administrative requirements and regulations, as well as a strict managerial hierarchy.
Choosing the right legal structure for your upcoming enterprise is a critical decision that can impact its operations, finances and personal liability. Don’t hesitate to consult with a legal professional to make an informed decision based on your business’s unique needs.