“Big” is a relative term. Size isn’t always the only, or even a significant, element to determining whether you should entity-ize your business. If you run a small business, but it’s a high-risk business, like, for example, a liquor store, then an LLC or corporation is probably a good idea, regardless of your revenue.
Short question . . . long answer. For the most part, the classic answer, which is also correct, is a C Corporation (or an S Corporation) provides limited liability for its owners and management. An S Corporation could provide additional tax benefits. On a less obvious level, having your business in a corporation may provide it with more “respect” in the business community, and may fend off nuisance suits.
I’ve heard that California has limitations on what type of business can be operated through an LLC. Is that true?
True! California has placed a limit on what businesses can be operated out of an LLC. The general rule is no professionals, and though typically the rules point to any professional named in California’s Business and Professions Code, there are some exceptions. One exception is contractors; additionally, some “professions” that don’t require testing, experience, or certain skills may also be exempt.
California varies – sometimes it’s a matter of days, but sometimes, especially at the beginning of the year, it can take a couple weeks. You can always submit your documents on a rush (24 hours or even same day) basis. Other states? It really depends. Delaware’s quick.
Actually, nothing. To bring a corporation into existence, you submit your Articles of Incorporation with the government agency responsible for processing that paperwork in your state. By submitting the Articles, or “Charter Documents”, and the act by the agency of approving same, you have formed a corporation. You can say “file”, if you want.
There’s some paperwork . . . corporations tend to have more paperwork, which is why some people might immediately gravitate to LLCs, or nothing at all. And, yes, if you want to maintain your status as a corporation, and maintain your limited liability, don’t cut corners on the paperwork. It’s important.
If you have an existing business, then its assets and contracts should get transferred to your corporation. This can look like an assignment, or a bill of sale. There are tax considerations regarding contribution of the assets of your existing business. You may also need to notify third parties, such as vendors and landlords. A stitch in time, as they say. Paperwork is king.
The answer in most situations is going to be yes. One of the virtues of an LLC is its simplicity. Once you choose to form your business as a corporation (and then an S Corporation), or to have your LLC elect to be taxed as an S Corporation, costs for tax returns, payroll, corporate state compliance paperwork, and other accounting items get triggered. You'll need to balance the benefits of an S Corporation against the ease of use that comes with an LLC.
No. You may get background checked as a vendor, even if you put your business in a corporation. But incorporating does not require any background checking.
Also known as a DBA (doing business as), if your entity is using a name for its business that’s different from its entity name, then you are using a fictitious business name, and state law requires that you file a fictitious business name statement in the county you are operating out of that records the name of your business and the name of the entity using that name. It’s also a good idea to do file that even if you don’t want to, because it’s helpful evidence to prove the use of your name from a certain point in time, which helps you to defend or bring trademark infringement claims.