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LLC Vs Sole Proprietorship: Which Is Right For You?

Most small business owners in the United States operate as sole proprietors, the default business entity. While this may work for some businesses for some time, it does not create any legal separation between your business and your personal assets. You’ll face both the risk of lawsuits and the potential for business debt you can’t pay. Operating as a sole proprietor is a risk that grows with your business.

If you want to protect yourself and your business, forming an LLC is an affordable option that offers many benefits.

What is a Limited Liability Company?

If you form an LLC, you will create a separate entity that offers liability protection for the owners. Your personal assets, such as your home and savings, will not be at risk if your business is sued or has debts you cannot pay, as long as you maintain the LLC and comply with legal requirements. A limited liability company offers flexible management options and operates as a pass-through entity by default. This means that forming an LLC from a sole proprietorship will not change your taxes at all, if you have one member.

Choosing an LLC can also offer you additional benefits. It will be easier for you to raise capital through investors and you will be able to deduct health insurance premiums. Self-employment tax is based on net income and you can be taxed as a partnership or corporation if you choose.

Because forming a limited liability company is so affordable and offers many important protections, it is the most popular option for small business owners.

What is a sole proprietorship?

Sole proprietorships have one owner and are not legal entities. This means that operating a sole proprietorship offers no distinction under the law between your business assets and liabilities and personal assets and liabilities. If there are business debts or a lawsuit that you can’t pay through business assets, your home, savings, and other assets will be at risk.

There are benefits to staying as a sole proprietor, depending on your situation. Taxes are easy, you don’t need to register with the state or file annual documents, and payroll can be much easier to set up. There will also be no compliance issues to worry about.

Which one is right for you?

The choice between a sole proprietorship and an LLC depends on your business. If you have a very low-risk business that doesn’t involve working in people’s homes, offering advice, or selling products, staying as a sole proprietor may be your best option. This is especially true if you are very unlikely to incur any major liabilities. However, if you are concerned about keeping your business and personal assets and finances separate, or if you plan to expand or take on debt, it is worth considering forming a limited liability in your state or another state.

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