Laying Your Business Foundation – Part One

The current economy is driving more people to start their own business and rightfully so. Business ownership signifies that you have taken the reins of your own destiny. The unfortunate aspect of this decision is that many people are not prepared for what it takes to be a business owner. You’ve read the articles through media blasts and other sound bits. Start your business in as little as three days. Earn more by working for yourself. Take control of your life by working for yourself. Spend more time with your family and friends. The list goes on and on and on. Although there is a great deal of truth to this but let’s be honest. Business ownership is not as glamorous as the media portray it to be. If you decide to take the plunge into business ownership I personally guarantee you the rewards far outweigh the temporary setbacks, delays and pitfalls. I’ve been a successful business owner since 1987 and believe me if I would have known about “how to” do anything in business Warren Buffet and I would be entrepreneurs co-mingling. I learned through “trial and error” which is very time-consuming and incredibly expensive. Thankfully, your business will not start out dysfunctional. Listen, learn and duplicate what is already established and functioning properly.

In this article I will show you “how to” Lay Your Business Foundation.

  1. Decide if you want to be in business. This will shave off 10 seconds of your precious time within a 24-hour window. This is very important because most people in business missed this point. They started doing something without thinking or planning and one day all the pieces did not fit into the puzzle. And those missing pieces goes back to the drawing board called decision. Our thoughts dictate the outcome. Think about it, did you start reading this article out of boredom your where you thinking about starting a business? I think the latter answer is correct or you will probably be somewhere else.
  2. What type of business? You know what enjoy doing so why not turn it into a profitable business. Now before you take the bull by the horns make sure this business is something other people need and want. Never assume what you like is something other people will pay their money for. Always see from the prospects lenses. If they like your product or service duplicate and legally protect it as quickly and accurately as possible. What you have done is taken a hobby, thought or idea turned into a profitable business.
  3. Location. Do you want a home-based business, store front or virtual business? See why I started off with question #1 and you thought I was being a smarty. These are the kind of decisions only you can answer. Although each of these businesses are somewhat similar each one functions differently. Here’s what I mean. Home-based businesses is operated from your personal dwelling; therefore, no overhead costs unless you build onto the existing structure. Let’s keep this simple! Either location will require some type of license to operate your business. a.) For home-based businesses check with your municipality for city or county business license requirements; b.) Store front locations will definitely be required to have a business license among other permits, etc. Again, check with your city or county municipality for requirements and; c.) Virtual business licenses can be tricky. Since you are not physically operating from a physical location or home-based a license is probably not required; however, whenever filing taxes you will either use your social security number or obtain an employer identification number (EIN). If you choose the later and use a company name then you must obtain the proper licenses and or permits to operate your virtual business. Note: An occupational license may or may not suffice to operate your business. Again, check with the municipality in your locale for business license and or permits.
  4. Financial Resources. Regardless of the size, location or dimension of your business, having MONEY is essential. I know you’ve heard that it doesn’t take money to start a business. Whomever or wherever you heard this is emphatically wrong. Look at it this way. Can you go into a store and make a purchase without funds? The answer is NO you cannot; regardless if you used a credit or debit card, cash and another acceptable method once it arrives at the financial institution it is converted into CASH. Make sure you, an accountant or someone you trust that is money savvy to look over your finances before you take the plunge. If the funds are not there WAIT until you can afford to go into business. Trust me I started my first business with $75 I borrowed from a bill I owed to a debtor. This made me very ill because I did not have enough cash to float me from one crisis to another. Note: Being strategic about starting a business is imperative to your life long plans. If you do not have enough cash I strongly advise that you wait until you do. Another option is to start with a small investment from the dollars you loosely spend on things that do not yield you a return on investment.
  5. Supplies and Equipment. Make not mistake you will need both. For a small home-based business your office supplies/equipment yearly average is about $2500+. Keep in mind costs vary according to the type and size of your business. Your supplies/equipment list can be placed on an excel spreadsheet or another suitable software that is comfortable for you. Here is an example of each heading: Description, Amount, Costs, Frequency, Vendor, etc. This will get you started then incorporate other headings as you grow.

Laying Your Business Foundation, Part 2: Business Formation

In this series we will take about business formation. If you have not read Part One, stop what you are doing and read the article now.

Again, laying your business foundation requires the same intensity as building a bridge, school, museum or any beautiful structure. It takes planning, time and execution, which means doing whatever, needs to be doing to complete the project.

I cannot tell you which business formation is best for your business, only you can make those types of decision. Your attorney, spouse, children or friends cannot shape your reality for you, it’s personal. Before making a decision or selecting which business formations consult with a licensed attorney and accountant to advise you of your legal rights.

Let’s begin…

Sole Proprietorship (SP)

The term “sole proprietorship” means that the business is the same as its owner. The assets and liabilities of the business are one and the same as the owner. There is no mandatory filing requirement on the state level; however, a sole proprietor may register a trade name. Although I do not recommend this entity; however the choice is yours.

Advantages

No other documents needed to open a bank account; purchase materials or supplies needed for the business and you can file taxes under your name. There are other reasons but these are the main reasons for doing so.

Disadvantages

You are responsible for any lawsuits against your company; therefore, this will affect your family well-being. Lenders do not see your business entity as a mom and pop business without any growth. Vendors are less likely to extend credit for major purchases. Contractors, governmental agencies prefer to utilize the services of a company that is not a sole proprietorship.

Incorporated (Inc)

A corporation is a type of legal entity, often formed to conduct business. A corporation is an institution that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. The incorporated entity can be very complex; however, you can delegate these complexities to someone who is skilled with incorporation such as an attorney or accountant who are knowledgeable about business laws and taxation.

Advantages

Your business will be accepted as a major contender within the business arenas. You and your businesses are separate entities which mean if your company is ever sued or liable the plaintiff can only charge the company not you personally. Lenders are more apt to lend funds to an established corporation entity compared to other business structures. You are telling the world that you are serious about expanding, growing and or selling your business. There are a number of good advantages to this particular entity and the decision is entirely up to you.

Disadvantages

The number one disadvantage is double taxation. You or your account will have to file taxes in the company name and your name. This drives most potential companies to sway from incorporating under this business entity. Contact your attorney and account to help you navigate through the incorporation process.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)

A form of business whose owners enjoy limited liability, but is not a corporation. The State of Wyoming is known as the LLC formation capital since 1976.

Note: Wyoming is not the only state that welcomes LLC formations.

Advantages

LLC members are afforded limited liability and have pass-through taxes similar to a partnership. By forming LLC instead of a corporation, you get all the benefits of forming a corporation but you avoid a few drawbacks that you would run into if you formed a corporation. Specifically, when you form a corporation, you subject yourself to double taxation and excessive paperwork. Both of those annoyances can be avoided if you form LLC. The LLC allows for multiple owners, or members. Additionally, there is a managing member, who also enjoys the benefits of limited liability and is typically the person responsible for managing the business. Members of LLC can be other companies, trusts, organizations or individuals. Members share power, ownership and responsibility over the LLC operations based upon an agreement each member signs upon formation of the company.

Note: If you are the only LLC member or manager you are allowed to use the 1040 or 1040-A filing forms. Check with your accountant or tax provider for advice.

Disadvantages

The entity we were forming will be seeking outside investment and will be offering stock options to employees. Many angel investors and venture capital firms are not lenient about investing in LLC because it’s a new business formation that is not well understood. When raising capital, it helps to keep things simple and avoid anything that makes an investor think twice.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

A partnership where a partner’s liability for the debts of the partnership is limited except in the case of liability for acts of professional negligence or malpractice. In some states LLP may only be formed for purposes of practicing a licensed profession, typically attorneys, accountants and architects. This is often the only form of limited partnership allowed for law firms (as opposed to general partnerships).

Advantages

Both LLC and LLP entities are treated as pass-through entities for federal tax purposes. This means that the owners report company profits and losses on their personal income tax forms. The business itself is not subject to a federal income tax, as a corporation.

Disadvantages

LLP offer the same type of limited liability that of LLC; however, some states require a minimum of one partner of LLP liable for the obligations of the company. There are other business formations; however, these are the most popular.

Until Next Time! Stay tuned to “Laying Your Business Foundation.”

The overall scope for choosing a business formation is to give your business an identity that is separate your personal identity. Doing so will level the placing field within the business community should you choose to grow or expand your business. The topic of discussion for the next article of “Laying Your Business Foundation – Part 3”: Customer Service.

Entrepreneurs: How Strong Is Your Business Foundation?

A Business Lesson from the Three Little Pigs

One of the most important business moves an entrepreneur can do is make sure that their business is grounded upon a solid foundation. Just like a house, a business cannot survive in an unstable environment or on shaky ground. If for some reason an entrepreneur ignores this concept and moves forward to build their business on uncertainty they are definitely setting themselves up for failure and loss. Trust me when I tell you that successful entrepreneurs know the value of beginning your business venture on the grounds of stability.

Interesting enough, when I think of a business’s foundation I think of the story of the Three Little Pigs. I know this concept may seem a bit odd at first; however, after further analysis it makes perfect sense. As many of you already know each of the pigs built their houses in three distinct ways using three distinct types of materials. In the story, Pig number 1 built his house out of straw. Pig number 2 built his house out of sticks. Pig number 3 built his house out of bricks. In an effort to show the relevance between this story and an entrepreneur’s business foundation I will explain how a foundation built upon straw, sticks and bricks is relevant to entrepreneurial success.

A Business Foundation Built Upon Straw

Straw is the material that is left over after grain is separated from cereal plants. Typically, when you think of straw the thought of animal feed comes to mind versus house building. In the Three Little Pigs story pig number 1 used straw to build his house as a protective measure against the big bad wolf. However, the straw was not a strong enough material and the wolf was able to blow it down making the pig’s house irrelevant.

In the business arena the same fate would occur to an entrepreneur that decided to build their business on a foundation made of straw. Straw, without a strengthening agent is a very weak material. The slightest amount of pressure added to it and it will crumble to the ground. The best analogy to a straw foundation would be a business built upon fabrications. Fabrications could be anything from falsified financial statements, defective products, and other deceitful business practices. An entrepreneur that builds their business based on lies will eventually find themselves at the wrong end of the law; which could not only cost the entrepreneur their overall business but their reputation as well. Bottom line, building a business upon a straw foundation will more than likely have a detrimental outcome.

A Business Foundation Built Upon Sticks

Now, if you are anything like me, you are wondering if a straw house did not work for pig number 1 in the Three Little Pigs Story, then why would pig number 2 build his house of sticks. Well, it’s due to the same reasons entrepreneurs that have had failed businesses in the past repeat the same mistake in their current business. Neither party seemed to have learned their lesson despite the losses. Now unlike straw, sticks have a bit more stability but will still have the same outcome despite this fact. Sticks in the business sector are entities such as non-existent business strategies, irrelevant mission and vision statements, and other overlooked business foundational principles. If an entrepreneur fails to have these key entities in place within their business then the business is bound to fail just as quickly as a business built upon lies and deceit. The result of building a business on a foundation of sticks means that the entrepreneur failed to plan and as a result they subsequently planned to fail.

A Business Foundation Built Upon Bricks

Now pig number 3 understood the value of building his house on a solid foundation. He even accounted for the fact that the other pigs built their house out of mediocre materials and would need a place to stay once it all came tumbling down. As an entrepreneur this is the mindset that is needed to build a business on a foundation of bricks. Bricks can be categorized as investments, information technology, key stakeholders, strong organizational structure, and other business functions that lead to maintaining the competitive advantage. In order to succeed an entrepreneur must build their business on these solid foundational principles. Just like in the story of the Three Little Pigs a house build upon bricks can withstand the harshest of elements and will not fail in the face of uncertainty.

If you found this article intriguing and would like to know more about how building a business on a solid foundation will be beneficial to your success, feel free to click the link below.

Enjoy Your Journey!