New entrepreneurs are often unaware of the many legalities surrounding a new business. Most specifically, the legal structure of your business. This refers to the type of entity your business is and can play a huge role in deciding what taxes you pay as well as all the legal paperwork you need to fill in.
Each legal structure has its pros and cons, but which one is best for your business? Take a look at each structure below, read all the information, and decide which one is best suited for your business model:
A sole proprietorship is the most common and simple legal structure for your business. This is where you are the sole owner of your business and are responsible for everything – including your assets and liabilities. This means it is your personal responsibility for all of your business finances, you are in charge of the money you make and must also be in charge of any money you owe. Recent research suggests that over half of businesses follow this legal structure.
The main pro of this structure is that you are in charge of the business, so all the money you make goes to you and you alone. However, the downside is that you’re liable for everything too. So, if someone has an issue with your business, they can sue you personally for it. Also, you get taxed as if your profits are personal income. What does this mean? It means you only pay individual tax and not company tax as well.
The second legal structure is a partnership, where your business is owned by more than one person. Within this structure, there are two different types of a partnership; general and limited. With a general partnership, this is where everything is divided equally between the parties involved. You each take on the same responsibilities and liabilities. A limited one is where one person is in charge, and the others make a significant contribution but not as much as the main person.
If your business is structured as a general partnership, then it can fall under the sole proprietorship status too. This means all partners are in control of everything, which is a positive as it means you have more brains to bounce around ideas and more resources too. It also means you might have enough money to avoid applying for startup loans, which also means you avoid debt. If you’re a limited partnership, then you’ll fall under Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) status. This means that those with limited control aren’t as liable as the main controller. This can have its pros as it makes it harder to be personally liable during lawsuits if you have limited control. However, the downside is you don’t get an equal share of the profits.
In general, partnerships are good because of the collaboration involved, but bad because of the fact you have to share your profits between other people, meaning your personal take-home is less than if you owned it alone. Plus, another positive is that it follows the same tax structure as a sole proprietorship; you only pay personal income tax.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
LLC’s are fast becoming a popular legal structure for businesses. Why? Because they allow you to enjoy the main benefits of a partnership (the collaboration, paying individual tax) without some of the negatives.
Mainly, an LLC consists of partners or shareholders – people that have a stake in your business. They’ve used their money to help fund things, and are partially in control of how things are run along with yourself. The key point is, with an LLC, all partners and shareholders aren’t personally liable for any legal issues your business gets into. This means if you fall into debt or get sued, you aren’t liable unless there’s concrete evidence that you’re responsible for the issue at hand.
An LLC is good as it offers you liability protection while also granting the tax benefits you get with partnerships and sole proprietorships. The only negatives are similar to partnerships, any profits you make need to be shared, and you don’t have full control of your business.
Once your business establishes itself and starts to grow, you might want to consider switching its legal structure to that of a corporation. A corporation is a business that’s completely separate from you, the owner. While you have your legal rights, so does your business. You can own stock through your business, buy property through it, even sue people through it. It’s a legal entity created with the sole purpose of conducting business. As such, it also has to pay a separate tax. There are many types of corporations, with C corporations being the most common. These are businesses where the owners pay personal income tax, and the business itself pays a separate business tax.
The major benefit of a corporation is that you are completely protected from personal liability. If anything bad happens to the company, such as a lawsuit or heavy debt, you’re not liable, much like with an LLC. The major downside is that you pay two loads of tax; corporation tax and individual tax.
Finally, you have an S corporation which is similar in structure to a C corporation but with one clear difference. Your business is still a separate legal entity, but the tax situation is different. Instead of paying two types of tax, you only have to pay individual tax on any profits you make.
The catch is that you have to fulfill certain eligibility requirements to be classed as an S corporation. For example, you can’t have over a hundred shareholder, and you must be a domestic company. You also can’t have shareholders who are partners, it must only be individuals.
Each of these legal structures comes with positive and negative features. The main things to consider are how much control you have over your business, what tax laws you must abide by, and how liable you will be if things go wrong.
How To Prepare For The Next Wave of the Outbreak
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US warned that a second wave of the COVID-19 infection is inescapable and may cause more harm. The WHO also stated in March that COVID-19 is far from over and that a second wave is respectable.
With as many as 100,000 new cases reported since late May, the new wave may be upon us now. The global count of infected persons has exceeded 9 million, and COVID-19 deaths have crossed 480,000. The Director-General of WHO urged countries to be creative and pragmatic in finding solutions as they ease the lockdown restrictions and get back to business as usual amid the spread of infection.
The Second Wave
There has been a surge in new COVID-19 cases. On June 21 the WHO reported an increase in the global number of new COVID-19 infections. 183,020 new cases were reported mostly in South Asia, South America, and North America. Beijing recently reported 158 fresh cases.
In the US nearly 20,000 new cases were reported. India reported 15,968 new cases on June 23. There are also reports of new COVID-19 cases in Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. South Korea, which contained the virus in March, now records 40-50 new cases per day since late May. South Korea’s Director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the country is going through a second wave of the virus.
The WHO believes that the new cases could be a result of easing lockdowns and travel restrictions too early.
Currently, we don’t have a proven vaccine for COVID-19. The WHO is collaborating with pharmaceutical companies and research institutions to develop one. As of June 24 a total of 141 options were in various stages of development.
In a report by the WHO on June 24, 16 candidate vaccines are in the clinical evaluation stage. One of these is called ChAdOx1-S, and is already in phase 3 of clinical evaluation. It was developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. The trials of the test vaccine will be conducted in July. More than 4,000 participants have enrolled for the trials in the UK.
Another 30,000 participants enrolled for the ChAdOx1-S trials in the US. Simultaneous trials will also be conducted in other parts of the world, including South Africa. Some of the other vaccine candidates are in phase 2 of clinical evaluations. These include Adenovirus Type 5 vector developed by CanSino Biological Inc. and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. Another of these is the LNP-encapsulated mRNA developed by Moderna and NIAID.
Scientists at the University of Oxford reported in early June that the Steroid dexamethasone reduces mortality rate in patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. COVID-19 directly attacks cell linings in a patient’s airways and lungs.
Dexamethasone reduces the inflammation, thereby protecting the cells. Dexamethasone has also been used in Spain and the US to treat patients. The results from Spain and the US match the findings in the UK.
Currently, dexamethasone is only being administered to patients with severe COVID-19 under close clinical supervision. In response to the report from the University of Oxford, The Director-General of WHO urged countries to increase the production and distribution of dexamethasone.
Until a vaccine is tested and mass-produced coronavirus will remain a threat. Governments and individuals must prepare for the second and subsequent waves of COVID-19 infection. With the easing of lockdown measures and businesses reopening we must take additional precautions.
New cases of infection in Seoul were traced to nightclubs. In Germany, the fresh cases were tracked down to a slaughterhouse. Risks increase when people congregate and precautions are ignored. Governments must rethink preventive measures.
Many countries have chosen not to ease their lockdowns until a vaccine is found. As is usual in case of public measures, the effectiveness and success eventually come down to the actions of individuals. We must be mindful of our safety at all times.
One aspect of preparation is securing our supply chains. For millions of families worldwide, remittances are lifelines. Switch now to a reliable channel to send money online. Ensure that your family back home can cope with the economic situation throughout this difficult time.
About The Author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.
5 Must-Haves To Get Small Business Funding
Securing financing for your small business when it most needs it can be ‘make or break’. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to the volatility of poor trading conditions like a recession.
Even a minor dip in sales revenue can send a start-up or small business to the wall, and this is why lenders need to know their funds are in good hands. While the process to get a loan is stringent the positive is when you get the approval you know it’s due to have a robust business model.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of success with a lender. Here are some essential tasks that must work well for you before applying for business finance.
Well-Grounded Business Plan
Having a sound business plan is key to securing investment for your business. You need to make sure that you have a complete, realistic business plan that articulates every facet of your company. The executive summary must present what you do, who for and why it’s a great offering, so lenders are encouraged to delve deeper into the detail of the plan.
Improve Your Credit Score
If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a home loan or personal finance you’re already aware of the importance of a good credit score. The same conditions apply for companies they too must have a good business credit score – if not your options for finance from tier-one lenders, i.e. banks is limited.
Learn how your credit score is calculated and stay up-to-date with it so that you know if anything needs doing – like paying off business credit cards and other loans – before applying for new funding. If you’ve just started your business and it has no credit history, your credit score may be taken into account if you apply for a bank loan, so keep on top of that too.
Invest Your Own Cash
Putting some of your cash on the line is one way to increase your chance of success when applying for a business loan. Typically, lenders favor applicants who have at least a 25% equity stake in the company that they are applying on behalf of. And, being able to put some of your own money down will mean that you can borrow less and will start your business off in less debt.
Rent Your Premises
Purchasing an office building might seem tempting if you can, but lenders tend to prefer businesses that rent, rather than buy their workplace. This is because they prefer to see you investing your money into assets that are going to generate income for your business, such as equipment and inventory.
Of course, if you own commercial real estate and it earns an income, this investment is viewed favorably by lenders. Personal assets can be used as security for loans. Often small business owners need to use their assets like property as security to get a loan for their company.
Finally, don’t assume that you have better chances of getting a loan with bigger banks. Smaller, local banks may be more inclined to provide funding to small businesses in their community, and you’re more likely to get individual attention.
Similarly, you might have better luck avoiding the banks altogether and applying to a small business funding circle, including private investors like angel investors. This action does not relieve you from providing the fundamentals that show the health and potential of the business.
Every lender needs to earn a profit from their investment, and they will be thorough in their assessment of risk. The higher the risk, the higher the interest rate too.
Offering a slice of the business may also be another way of securing investment from private investors.
There is no need to shy away from seeking funding for your business when all you need to do is what you should have in the first place, a good credit rating, robust business plan and some skin in the game.
Key Considerations When Applying For A Merchant Account
As a merchant, deciding which credit card processing company to partner with can be a Make or Break issue. As such, the decision should be made with the utmost care.
Weighing profitability versus reputability can be a difficult process especially if one hasn’t dealt with finding a credit card processing company previously.
Unfortunately, poor quality companies are abundant, so choosing an appropriate company for your company’s needs will require thorough vetting and knowing exactly what your company’s needs are. There may be various pressures to choose quickly, but it is important to make thoughtful deliberations to avoid pitfalls.
High and Low-Risk Accounts
Hopefully, you already know whether you are designated as a high or low-risk merchant account. This makes a huge difference in the types and willingness of credit card processing companies to work with your company.
These accounts are typically well-established industries with a limited chargeback, low average ticket size, and low monthly processing totals. Because these industries are easy to predict and require limited investment from the company to process your totals, these accounts are very attractive to banks and processing companies. Because of how attractive these accounts are and how plentiful processing companies may be, they can become the target for poor quality companies
These accounts are typically in an industry that is highly regulated, a possible reputational risk, or e-commerce. These accounts often face a difficult time finding quality companies to work with because of their drawbacks. However, there are companies that specialize in high-risk industries and actively seek high-risk clients in specific industries.
Customer (Service) is King
These two account types seem to have opposite obstacles but it boils down to the same decision-making process. For a business to function efficiently it is important to work with a reliable company that can cater to your needs to ensure reliability in case of an issue and keep your costs low.
An ideal credit card processing company will have easily contacted customer service representatives and is willing to tailor service to your needs, saving you money.
Easily reached customer support is vital in case of an issue, being able to speak with someone immediately to resolve an issue will vastly change the experience if something was to occur.
Although making this one of the utmost priorities may seem unnecessary, in the event of an emergency this may be the only attribute that really matters at that moment.
So How Do They Get You
Unfortunately, some of these companies operate with some impunity which makes it difficult to find companies that are reputable. Some companies will employ shady business practices which make them seem inexpensive compared to the competition then overcharging higher than industry standards. Some of these shady practices might include:
- Undisclosed charges and fees masked by seemingly low rates
- Locking in the long term or non-cancellable contracts which may have outrageous termination fees or monthly/annual fees that change as time passes
- Non-disclosed information or a misleading website that makes an informed decision possible
Options that employ these tactics may try to undercut the competition while not disclosing all the important information before signing with a processing company.
Even if you are quite savvy, research, and read through the contract you may still be taken advantage of; there are many ways for companies to save money. This can be done with non-competitive rates, poor quality equipment or requiring the customer to purchase/lease the equipment, and low functioning or non-existent customer service.
What To Look For
Now that we can spot and avoid poor quality companies, it’s time to start identifying what an ideal company looks like:
- Flexibility: A provider that is willing to tailor service to provide only what is necessary with quality products and services is ideal.
- Communication: It is important to be able to get into contact with someone at a moment’s notice in case of an emergency or an issue.
- Price: The most important aspects of price are early termination fees and competitive rates. Strangely enough, if it’s a quality company, the rate is not the most important issue. They will probably save you money in other ways like providing great equipment or showing extreme visibility regarding fees.
As with anything, not very much of this is cut and dry. All companies fall on the sliding scale of quality, it’s just important to avoid over compromising and protect the integrity of your business. There are good options out there!
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