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What Issues Should I Consider When Starting A Business?

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

When a client is starting a business, it is important to ask the right questions upfront and to identify issues that are likely to arise. First-time entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners alike can benefit from preliminary discussions to spot planning opportunities, minimize complications, and get started down the right path. This checklist helps guide the conversation regarding common factors relevant to prospective business owners.

This checklist covers:

  • Personal and business cash flow issues

  • Legal and business formation issues

  • Tax issues

  • Other planning considerations

In the pursuit of the "American dream," many individuals aspire to achieve financial freedom through business ownership. Whether you're a first-time entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, asking the right questions and planning ahead are crucial for success. In this blog post, we will explore essential considerations for starting and structuring a business, focusing on personal and business cash flow, legal and business formation issues, tax planning, and other important factors. So, let's delve into this comprehensive guide and embark on the path to financial freedom.

Personal Cash Flow:

Before starting a business, it's important to assess how your personal cash flow will be affected. Consider whether your compensation should be structured as a salary or distributions from the business to optimize your net income. Additionally, think about whether you will need to use personal assets to finance the business and determine the most efficient accounts to fund your initial investment. Assess your risk tolerance for investment and retirement accounts, and ensure that you have an adequate emergency fund and a contingency plan in case the business does not grow as expected.

Business Cash Flow:

Properly researching the amount necessary to launch and run your business is essential. Take into account the initial costs, tax and legal fees, and expected overhead expenses. It's crucial to differentiate between fixed and variable expenses to effectively manage your finances. Since most businesses are not immediately profitable, explore options such as traditional bank loans, government loans or grants, raising capital from family and friends, or funding with personal assets or debt. Remember, cash flow is the lifeblood of any small business, so it's important to plan accordingly.

Legal and Business Formation Issues:

When it comes to legal and business formation, seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is highly recommended. Sole proprietorship is the default and simplest structure for a single owner, but keep in mind that in this structure, business assets and liabilities are not separate from personal ones. Partnerships, C corporations, S corporations, and limited liability corporations (LLCs) are other common structures, each with its advantages and considerations. Understanding the tax implications and complexities of each structure is crucial. Additionally, establishing an organized system to track transactions and implementing proper bookkeeping and record-keeping practices are vital for a successful business.

Choosing Where to Form a Business:

Consider whether there are reasons to look beyond your home state when forming your business. Some states offer tax advantages and licensing benefits that may be advantageous for your specific business. However, be aware of the requirements and regulations associated with operating in different states.

Employees and Business Partners:

If you plan to have employees, clearly outline employment terms, job descriptions, and establish policies to prevent HR issues. Compliance with state agencies and the provision of necessary insurance coverage should also be considered. If you have business partners, implement appropriate business agreements, formalize the relationship and ownership structure, and establish a buy-sell agreement to ensure a smooth transition in case of triggering events such as death, disability, divorce, disaster, or disagreements. Additionally, if you intend to pass the business to the next generation or involve your children, incorporate tax-efficient ownership transfer strategies into your gifting and estate plans.

Intellectual Property and Tax Planning: Consulting with an attorney is crucial if you have intellectual property that requires protection, such as trademarks, copyrights, or patents. They can guide you through the necessary steps to safeguard your intellectual assets. Moreover, understanding how your entity choices and business operations affect your exposure to personal tax, self-employment tax, and other tax obligations is essential. Working with a knowledgeable CPA can help you navigate the complexities of tax planning and ensure compliance with changing tax laws.

In conclusion, starting and structuring a business requires careful consideration of various factors. Assessing personal cash flow and understanding how it will be affected by the business is crucial, as well as exploring funding options and ensuring an adequate emergency fund. Thorough research on business cash flow, including initial costs and differentiating between fixed and variable expenses, is vital for financial management. Seeking legal guidance and choosing the appropriate business structure, considering tax implications, and implementing proper record-keeping practices are essential. Additionally, evaluating state options, establishing employment terms, and addressing intellectual property and tax planning are important steps to take. By addressing these considerations and planning ahead, individuals can increase their chances of achieving financial freedom through business ownership.

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