Learn more about protecting your personal and company assets.
Nearly every business must have at least one license. Determining which licenses are required by your state and local government and then complying with all the paperwork can be time-consuming and vexing. However, failing to comply and stay current with license requirements can result in fines, penalties, business closures, and lost customers.
Customers love gift cards and most plan to buy some this year. If your business issues gift certificates, you need to understand the rules governing them.
Businesses have to handle license, permit and registration requirements throughout the business life-cycle. Whether a business chooses to do this with internal resources or to outsource some or all of these obligations, business licensing compliance is increasingly important in today’s regulatory environment.
If you have a corporation or an LLC, changes that you make to your entity's name, management or ownership may trigger the need to document those changes with your home state and each state where you have registered to do business.
Has your business ever been asked to provide a “Certificate of Good Standing”? This state-issued document is something you always want to be able to provide if asked. Doing so, however, means keeping your entity in compliance with state filings and other requirements.
Any business that uses a name other than its legal name should take steps to comply with the assumed name statutes in the states in which it does business. Failing to do so can expose both the business and owners to unpleasant consequences.
The tax deadlines may have passed, but for many small business owners Annual Report deadlines are now on the horizon. Most states impose an annual information reporting requirement on all entities that are formed or qualified to do business within the state. The deadlines, fees charged and information required varies widely from state-to-state, but one fact is true in all states—missing a deadline can have severe consequences.
Effective inventory management eludes many small business owners who often assume only large competitors can create a well-oiled inventory machine. But with some organization, assessments and periodic adjustments to inventory practices, entrepreneurs can improve cash flow and gain valuable insight into their business.
A total quality management must involve employees, customers and suppliers in order to be successful.
Although the risks of violating antitrust laws are far smaller for small businesses than for larger businesses (in fact, small businesses are more often the victim than the perpetrator), you still can run afoul of the laws.
'Family Limited Partnerships 101' describes the ins and outs of choosing this complicated and extremely popular estate planning tool, including tips on legally sheltering the maximum amount of income and passing it on to your heirs.
Small business owners can ensure the quality of their goods or services by involving everyone in the business in the effort to satisfy customers. There aren't a lot of people to communicate with, and, in a small business, it is frequently the owner or CEO who is in charge of implementing the TQM program.
Cash left in a business is vulnerable to creditors. However, there are a variety of ways to withdraw cash from a business, such as salary payments, guaranteed payments, loans and leases. When done for business purposes and properly documented, these withdrawals will not be set aside as fraudulent.
To limit the amount of vulnerable assets within a business that could be exposed to a creditor's claims, you should have a plan to continuously and regularly withdraw funds from the entity. However, that strategy must not run afoul of the restrictions imposed by state law, especially the fraud provisions.
In order to protect your business assets from creditors, you should regularly and consistently withdraw excess funds from the business. Options for withdrawing funds include distributions of earnings, salary payments to yourself and family members, payments on loans or leases you have made with the business, guaranteed payments and sales of accounts receivable. Whatever combination of methods you chose, make sure you follow business formalities, including written documentation of a regular, consistent plan.
Even if you organize your business as an LLC or corporation, you can find yourself personally liable on a business contract if you enter into a contract before your business is legally formed, fail to act as an agent, or personally guarantee performance on a contract.
Even if you operate as an LLC or corporation, you can be exposed to personal, unlimited liability if you personally take an action that causes injury to another. You also risk unlimited personal liability if you negligently hire or supervise your employees and another person is injured.
In order to protect assets from creditors, a small business owner can fund the business by encumbering the assets of the business with liens that run in favor of a holding company or the owner himself or herself.
In order to protect both your business and personal assets, it is necessary to make sure that they are kept beyond the reach of creditors. Funding your business by a combination of equity and secured debt is one strategy that can protect your assets. In addition, keeping the title of assets divorced from the entity that runs the business day-to-day also can defeat creditor's claims.
Using holding and operating companies is an asset protection planning strategy that helps to limit liability risks in your business structure. An ideal business structure consists of an operating entity that does not own any vulnerable assets and a holding entity that actually owns the business's assets. With this structure, the small business owner can eliminate (or, at the very least, substantially limit) liability for both business debts and personal debts.
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