Sole proprietorship

The most basic of all business legal structures is the sole proprietorship. For new start-ups the choice of becoming a sole proprietorship is the simplest of all business forms.

A sole proprietorship is a business of one without corporation or limited liability status. The individual represents the company legally and fully. Common proprietorships include part-time businesses, direct sellers, new start-ups, contractors, and consultants. This form of business has several advantages:

Quicker Tax Preparation: As a sole proprietor, filing your taxes is generally easier than a corporation. Simply file an individual income tax return (IRS Form 1040) including your business losses and profits. Your individual and business income are considered the same and self-employed tax implications will apply.

Lower Start-up Costs: Limited capital is a reality for many startups and small businesses. The costs of setting up and operating a corporation involves higher set-up fees and special forms. It's also not uncommon for a lawyer to be involved in forming a corporation.

Ease of Money Handling: Handling money for the business is easier than other legal business structures. No payroll set-up is required to pay yourself. To make it even easier, set up a separate bank account to keep your business funds separate and avoid co-mingling personal and business activities.

Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship:

Personally Liable: Your small business in the form of a sole proprietorship is personally liable for all debts and actions of the company. Unlike a corporation or LLC, your business doesn't exist as a separate legal entity. All your personal wealth and assets are linked to the business. If you operate in a higher risk business such as manufacturing or consumables, the cost to benefit ratio is favorable toward a corporate structure.

Lack of Financial Controls: The looser structure of a proprietorship won't require financial statements and maintaining company minutes as a corporation. The lack of accounting controls can result in the demise of your small business. No matter the legal structure of your business, take time to set up the proper financial statements for your company.

Difficult to Raise Capital: Imagine your business in 5 years. Will it still be a business of one? Growing your small business will require cash to take advantage of new markets and more opportunities. Outside investors will take your company more serious if you are a corporation.

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