Set Up The Llcs Financial Infrastructure
Next, youll need to set up a business bank account and an accounting system. The business bank account is simple enough all you need to do is bring your EIN to the bank of your choice and tell them youd like to set up a business account. Once the account is set up, make sure to use it exclusively for your business expenses and income. Commingling your business and personal assets is a highly dangerous practice that makes your LLC susceptible to lawsuits, administrative dissolution, and more.
As for your accounting system, the easiest solution is to get accounting software like QuickBooks for your business. This allows you to keep track of all your business income and expenses in one convenient place, making tax time a breeze.
The Benefits Of An Llc
LLCs are the most popular type of business structure because they allow business owners to enjoy the benefits of a corporation without the double taxation. LLCs are taxed as a disregarded entity, meaning that owners are allowed to file their business tax returns on their personal tax return. You should also note that LLCs are flexible entities. Individuals can elect to be taxed either as a C-Corp or an S-Corp.
Creating an LLC in Alabama requires the filing of a Certificate of Formation through the Office of the Judge of Probate in the county where your LLC’s initial registered office is located. You must also appoint a registered agent to handle official business documents and proceedings on your company’s behalf.
Although this is not a requirement, it is best to prepare a provision/operating agreement that establishes how the LLC will operate.
Understand Your Sales Channels
When you understand your target customers, you can target your marketing and promotions to the correct sales channel. Ask yourself: where and how are they most likely to buy? Do they buy online or in stores?
If you arent planning on opening a physical storefront, you can find partner stores where your products can be sold.
You can sell both online and directly but focus your efforts on the channel that matches your target markets buying behavior.
If youre selling to businesses, your sales channels may be online or they may involve direct sales calls. Again, understand the buying behavior of the decision-maker within the business.
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Get An Employer Identification Number
The nine-digit Employer Identification Number is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service to identify your LLC for taxes. You can obtain your EIN by mail or online through the IRS.
The purpose of an EIN is to assist with the following:
- File and manage taxes at the state and federal level
- Openyear a business bank account.
- Hire employees.
Choose Your Business Structure
The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.
The most popular types of business entities are outlined below.
A sole proprietorship is the most simple and straightforward structure, and therefore the most common for small businesses. It is an unincorporated business, with no legal distinction made between the business and the owner.
This means that you get to keep all the profits, but are also personally liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities.
A general partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship, but in this case, two or more people form the company. Again, they keep the profits but are jointly liable for any losses or liabilities.
The next step up is a corporation, in which the company is a separate legal entity from its owners. In this structure, the owners are not personally liable for losses, but take their profits through shareholder dividends.
If you choose this business entity type, you will also need to decide whether you want to form a C corporation or an S corporation.
Information to file a domestic corporation is available on the Alabama Secretary of States website. There is a $200 filing fee.
Information to file an LLC is available on the Alabama Secretary of States website. There is a $200 filing fee.
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Vocation Or Occupational Privilege License
A variety of occupations or professions in the state are regulated and need licensing before offering certain services. A few common occupations that require licensing in Alabama include beauty shops, photographers, restaurants, diaper services, fruit stands, contractors, and many more. Additional information, requirements, and license fees are available from the AlabamaDepartment of Revenue.
How To Become An Alabama Sole Proprietorship
If youre currently self-employed in the state of Alabama, or if youre looking to enter the world of one-person business ownership, youve probably looked into becoming a sole proprietor.
The sole proprietorship is the simplest business format in America, but that doesnt mean that there arent rules and regulations to follow when you operate one. In addition, there are some limits to the functionality of a sole proprietorship.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to setup a sole proprietorship properly, and help you determine whether or not a sole proprietorship is a good choice for your business.
Rocket Tip: Its important to understand that a sole proprietorship does not offer personal asset protection as the LLC does. The LLC is the most popular entity for small businesses and is easy to create by doing forming it yourself or hiring a cheap LLC service.
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Build A Business Website
No startup is complete without a well-crafted business website. Your startups website serves not only as a resource for customers to learn important information about your business in Alabama it is a visual representation of your brand. Depending on your experience level, you can build your business website yourself or use a website builder such as GoDaddy .
Recommended: A website builder allows you to create and maintain a professional website without the headache, or massive expense, of building one from scratch. Check out our top 5 business website builders guide for prices and other information about our favorite services.
For Llcs And Corporations
Registering an LLC or corporation in Alabama requires filing additional forms and costs at least $150: including a $100 filing fee to the Secretary of State and a minimum Probate Judge fee of $50. The process requires you to appoint a registered agent to receive official government communications on the LLC or corporations behalf.
As long as you have an address in Alabama, you can be your own registered agent, but if you dont have experience with the process you should consider appointing a professional for assistance.
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Do Your Market Research
You now have the best business idea ever!
What should you do next?
Should you jump into setting up the business operations or should you do something before?
Welltheres no right or wrong answer!
In most cases, its best to do market research to assess whether your business idea makes business sense.
In other cases, regardless of the market conditions, you are so convinced that your business idea is revolutionary and will work that you may want to skip the market research altogether.
Most will opt to do some research to validate their business idea.
Having dealt with serial entrepreneurs, large corporations and average guys and gals going into business, I can tell you that those who were looking to commit a lot of money to start a business preferred to do some research before jumping cold-turkey.
Dont forget, you will put a lot of time, money and energy into this business.
It would be nice to see that your market research supports the feasibility of your business idea.
Typically, the objective of your market research is to evaluate:
- What is the demand for your product or service?
- How big is the addressable market that you will be targeting?
- Are there economic indicators that may impact your business?
- Who are the competitors?
- Is the market saturated or is it a growing segment?
- What is the price that the market is willing to pay for your goods or services?
- Are there barriers to entry?
Here are some resources to help you with your market research.
Who Identify Your Target Market
You need to know who your potential customers will be so that you know the best ways to reach them with your marketing and sales efforts.
First of all, are you selling to consumers or businesses? Selling to consumers, or a B2C model, is very different from a B2B model.
If you are selling to consumers, determine what type of people are most likely to buy. You need to look at:
- Demographic: Age, gender, income, location, and other statistical factors.
- Psychographics: Attitudes, values, interests, tastes.
Knowing who your customers are will allow you to define your messaging, and to know where to place your marketing. For example, based on who your customers are and what they like, are they more likely to be on Facebook or TikTok?
If you are selling to businesses, you need to determine what kinds of companies need what youre offering. Then you need to determine who within those companies will be the decision-maker. Will it be an IT manager? Sales manager? Adjust your marketing according to who will be purchasing your products and services.
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Open Your Business Bank Account
When operating a business, its important to keep your business bank account operations separate from your personal bank operations.
In other words, you want to be able to trace all your business income and expenses without having to go through all kinds of deposits and withdrawals happening in your personal account.
Reconciling your business accounting with your business account will be so much easier.
Maintaining a clear separation between your business and personal affairs is quite important if you want to ensure you do not lose your personal liability protection.
Your business assets and personal assets should not be commingled .
To open your commercial bank account, youll need to bring certain documents and information with you to the bank:
Sole proprietors and general partnerships:
- EIN or SSN
How To Start A Farming Business In Alabama
Starting a small farm in Alabama today is no easy task. With the encroachment of corporate farms, the lack of cheap, available land, and an ever-increasing list of regulations and requirements for small farmers, you may be over your head before you even start to worry about your ability to grow crops.
Contact the Small Business Administration and request incorporation papers for the sort of farm you’d like to start. If you want to declare your farm as a sole proprietorship, you don’t need a small business license. However, many farmers launch their farms as partnerships or limited-liability corporations for tax and liability purposes. To decide which method to use to incorporate your farm, consider what kinds of products you’re attempting to produce and how many people you plan to have work on your farm. If you’re keeping things on a very small scale, a sole proprietorship may make the most sense for you. You’ll likely want to speak to an agricultural lawyer to determine what makes the most legal sense for your particular situation.
Consider enlisting the Alabama Farm Analysis Program for help if you worry you might get lost in complying with all necessary legal standards. You might also join an agricultural organization such as the Alabama Farmers Federation for additional assistance.
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Think About The Type Of Business You Want To Start
If youâve had a business idea for years that you just canât get out of your head, it might be time to start your own organization. You may want to sell uniquely designed items from home or could long to operate a brick and mortar store, but whatever the case may be, youâll want to do some research before you dive in.
Take a look at the industry youâd like to enter into and see who else has established themselves in the space. Is there another business entity that is doing what you want to be doing? If so, perhaps you can offer the same goods or services at a lower price. Or, if youâll be largely alone when it comes to competition, explore how other businesses around the nation have handled their opportunities and challenges. Youâre never too experienced to learn from others when it comes to entrepreneurship!
Even if you think you have your business plan completely figured out, there are still some nuts and bolts to consider in this initial phase. The Alabama Secretary of State makes it pretty easy to start a company, but youâll want to consider some of the items below before you move forward.
How To Become An Alabama Sole Proprietor
When it comes to being a sole proprietor in the state of Alabama, there is no formal setup process. There are also no fees involved with forming or maintaining this business type. If you want to operate an Alabama sole proprietorship, all you need to do is start working.
However, just because its so easy to get started doesnt mean there arent some additional steps you should take along the way. While these parts of the process arent strictly required, many sole proprietors find that they are in their best interests.
Choose The Right Business Idea
The first step toward business ownership is deciding what kind of business to start. Look for an idea that suits your interests, your personal goals, and your natural abilities. This will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough and will greatly improve your odds of success. We have assembled a comprehensive list of small business ideas to help you get started. Need inspiration? Here were the most popular ideas among our Alabama visitors in 2020:
Find the Right Business Idea for You
Our free Business Ideas Generator will help you identify great businesses that match your interests and lifestyle.
Keep Certain Llc Records On Site
Alabama LLCs must have the following records at the registered office for its members. This list includes, but is not limited to:
- The most current list of names and recently updated addresses of all the LLC members.
- A copy of the filed Certificate of Formation with all its amendments and executed powers of attorney for action already taken.
- A copy of the effective operating agreement and any or all of its amendments.
- Copies of the most recent financial statements filed with the Department of Revenue LLCs in Alabama may be formed to offer one specific kind of professional service. However, all members must be licensed and/or registered to perform the service the LLC was originally organized for.
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When Is The Best Time To Form An Llc
It can be difficult to tell when you should form your LLC. Every business has different priorities, and what makes sense for one entrepreneur might not make sense for you. However, in general, we think its always best to form your LLC before you execute your first business transaction.
If you do business before forming your LLC, those transactions will be performed by default as a sole proprietorship or general partnership. This means these transactions are not protected by the LLCs corporate veil, which is the layer of separation the LLC provides between your business and personal assets. Even if you form an LLC later, you as a business owner will have full liability for the transactions you executed before that business formation.
Especially considering the fact that you dont have anything to gain from delaying your LLCs formation, we think its always a good idea to form your LLC as soon as you nail down your business concept and name.
Alabama Business Name Search
Next, search the Alabama Secretary of State business entity search tool. This is an important step in the process because your filing will be denied if you try to file for a name already in use.
Search requirements can vary depending on your business needs. For example, a unique and available name is required to:
- File for formal business structures like LLCs and corporations.
- File a DBA name for any business structure.
A state-level name search isnt required for informal business structures like sole proprietorships or general partnerships in Alabama. But, if you decide to register a trade name or DBA name, youll need to search the database to see if your desired name is unique and available.
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How Does The Llc Compare To Other Entities
Throughout this article, weve touched on the advantages and disadvantages of the LLC as compared to other types of business entities. If you want to know more about how the LLC compares to a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or corporation, we have full-length, in-depth articles available on each topic.
That said, lets quickly summarize the similarities and differences between these business types, so you can get a firmer grasp on whether the LLC is the right entity for your company.
- LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship / General Partnership: The sole proprietorship and general partnership are essentially the exact same thing. Theyre both informal business entities that dont require a formation process the only difference is that a sole proprietorship is a one-person business and the general partnership involves at least two people. As weve discussed, these business types do not provide personal asset protection, which is such a massive disadvantage that we would essentially never recommend operating a sole proprietorship or general partnership instead of an LLC.
Vigilance In Issues Of Taxes And License Issues
When it comes to filing license or permits request, dealing tax issues or even the name of your sole proprietorship you are required to be very vigilant and make sure nothing is overlooked. You need to protect yourself from identity theft and there is less room for mistakes at the business place as your personal and business assets both are at stake.
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