If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur planning to start a business in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, selecting the right business structure will be one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make early on.
The structure of your business will have far-reaching implications on your business’s legal and financial aspects, making it essential to thoroughly comprehend the available options and their suitability for your venture.
In this blog, we explore some of the most common business structures and help you navigate the factors to consider before selecting the perfect one that aligns with your goals and needs, setting your business up for success in St. Mary Parish.
4 Most Common Business Structures in St. Mary
Selecting a business structure is mandatory before registering your business with the state of Louisiana.
Keep in mind that you need to choose it wisely, as the business structure will affect many factors, such as the taxes you will need to pay, the required paperwork, your personal liability limit, and the ability to raise money from the public. It’s always best to consult a professional, such as our staff at SMED, or a business consultant.
Let’s take a look at the most common business structures below.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest structure for a small business. This business structure doesn’t have a separate business entity, and the owner receives all profits and income generated by the business. However, the owner can also be held responsible for all the debts and liabilities due to its unlimited personal liability.
This structure may be suitable for low-risk ventures or for owners who want to test out business ideas before formalizing their business.
A partnership is a common way for two or more people to start a business together. In a partnership, the partners share ownership, responsibility for debts/liabilities, and profits of the business based on the partnership agreement.
Partnerships require more legal formalities than sole proprietorships but are simpler than forming a corporation.
A partnership doesn’t pay income tax but instead passes through the profits or losses to the partners, and each partner reports these on their personal tax return.
Starting a partnership allows multiple founders to pool skills, investment, and connections while splitting workload, risk, and rewards. This type of business structure is suitable for businesses with several owners or a group of professionals.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Forming a limited liability company (LLC) is another popular way to start a business while limiting personal liability. Ownership of an LLC can involve one person or multiple people.
LLCs combine pass-through taxation, like a partnership, with the liability protection of a corporation. Members of an LLC cannot be held personally liable for business debts and liabilities, which help the members protect their personal assets if the business fails or is sued.
LLCs are more formalized than partnerships but more flexible in structure than corporations, making them ideal for medium-sized businesses or business owners who want to safeguard their significant assets.
Corporations, also referred to as C corps, are separate legal entities from their owners. Owners (shareholders) enjoy limited liability protection as the corporation is responsible for its own debts and liabilities.
However, the cost associated with forming a corporation is usually higher than the other business structures mentioned above.
Corporations can issue and sell stocks, and due to their independent nature, they can continue operating perpetually despite changes in shareholders. Apart from C corps, there are various other types of corporations, including S-corps, B-corps, close corporations, and nonprofits.
This structure is an ideal choice for business owners who are planning to raise money for the company or go public.
4 Crucial Factors for Deciding on a Business Structure in St. Mary
While there are many factors small business owners should consider when choosing their business structure, there are four of the most important: type of industry, ownership, taxes, and personal liability.
Type of Industry
The industry in which you operate will determine the most suitable structure when starting a business.
For example, if you are planning to build a real estate company, then an LLC may be the better structure due to the liability protection offered, as the real estate industry typically carries higher risk.
The number and type of owners of a business also influence which business structure makes sense.
For instance, a business with two equal co-founders may benefit from a partnership structure, while a business seeking outside investment from multiple shareholders may be better suited for a corporation.
How a business is taxed and what deductions can be taken also varies significantly depending on the structure of a business in order to meet the federal, state, and local tax requirements.
The chosen business structure can greatly impact how much personal liability you, as the business owner, take on for debts, lawsuits, and other business obligations.
Small business owners usually don’t have extensive reserves of capital, so protecting personal assets from the potential risks and obligations of the business is of paramount importance.
For example, LLCs and corporations limit the business owner’s personal exposure by separating their personal assets from the business, thus shielding the owner’s personal wealth if the business fails or faces significant claims.
Your St. Mary Parish Business Journey Starts Here
Choosing the right business structure is a foundational decision for any aspiring entrepreneur. The implications of this choice extend far beyond legal formalities, impacting everything from taxes, personal liability, raising capital, and more.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as the best structure depends on your industry, ownership, tax considerations, desire for personal liability protection, and other factors unique to your business. Before choosing a structure for your business in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, make sure to carefully weigh these elements against the intricacies of each structure.
At St. Mary Parish’s heart is support for local enterprises, and we’re here to assist you on this journey. Our resources and expertise are at your disposal, whether you’re starting anew or expanding.
Connect with us to explore business structures tailored to your unique business needs and to answer any questions you may have!