Sign & Digital Graphics

June '18

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28 • June 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RUNNING THE BUSINESS If the Shoe Fits... Incorporate Choosing the best operating entity for your business Vince DiCecco is a business training and development consultant and owner of the Acworth, Georgia-based business, Your Personal Business Trainer, Inc. He has been sculpting his sales, marketing and training techniques since 1979, and he has shared innovative and practical ideas on business management excellence for two Fortune 200 companies, the U.S. Coast Guard, and in seminars at past NBM Shows. Since 2003, he has been serving small- to mid-sized com- panies in their efforts to strive for sustained growth and market dominance. Contact him via email at vince@ypbt. com or visit his company website, B Y V I N C E D I C E C C O Make it Your Business available to protect and grow the business. I will tell you up front that I have a bias in this matter. Owning and running a business in today's litigious society makes it nearly imperative that a company incorporate… for many reasons. But let us explore each of the options anyway, along with their advantages and shortcomings. Are You Ready for This? If you don't know it by now, operating a legitimate business is a highly regulated proposition. Several departments of the government agencies around you have a keen and dedicated interest in your enterprise. From simply applying for a busi- ness license, to triple-checking that the company pays the right amount of taxes on time, it seems your administrative to-do list continues to grow. Choosing the right operating entity can be compared to taking a cross-country trip: you need to know in what direction you are going, where you hope to end up, and how you expect to get there. Smart entrepreneurs—the quest for start-up capital notwithstanding—begin with a written plan spelling out issues that the company will face in the next five to 10 years. This busi- ness plan should strongly influence the proper legal structure as it will address ownership, risks, goals and tax implications. The best way to look at the available choices is to describe them from the simplest to the more sophisticated entities. Interestingly, a given business could pass through each of them over the course of its corporate lifetime. In fact, if management fails to adapt and migrate to a more appropriate legal structure when such an evolution is called for, it could actually limit the growth and success of the business. The Good Ol' Sole Proprietor Sole proprietorships are formed every day throughout the United States. A person gets an idea for a venture, decides on a name, gets an occupational license or permit and—voila!—she's in business. In fact, about 73 percent of over 28 million U.S. businesses are organized as sole proprietorships—which would suggest that such a percentage applies with reasonable accuracy within the sign and graphics industry as well. The downside to a sole proprietorship is that you and the business are legally the same thing. If something goes awry— resulting an unexpected lawsuit or sizable damage claim—guess what, or, rather, who becomes fair game? Not only will the busi- ness be put at risk, but personal assets such as your home, cars and bank accounts can also be tapped. S uppose you're in the market for a new pair of shoes. Not just any pair of shoes, but the perfect pair of shoes in terms of comfort, style, function and durability. Unless you are shoe- hoarding celebrity, you'll likely avoid impulse and, instead, raise a few questions before making your decision. "What kind of image will I project with my selection? How much am I willing to spend initially? Will they be costly to maintain? Will they allow me to do what I have to do and do it well? How long will they last before I outgrow them or they wear out?" Likewise, choosing the right "legal entity" for your com- pany involves the same kind of forethought. So, what might your questions be in this case? Sole proprietorship? (Pun most definitely intended!) Partnership? Corporation? Your choice will depend on the liability risks you are willing to accept, the control (and the accompanying responsibility) you want over day-to-day operations, and the time and money you have

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