I have had my computer consulting business since 2002 and it was originally named “Link Em Up.” Yes, I have heard many times that it is quite clever for someone named Stephen Link to have a business with that name. I thought it was even more clever that it has such relevance in the computer world; and that is why I chose it so many years ago.
I must admit that I have been very fortunate to survive for so long without anyone trying to sue the small business owner for every personal asset. As I have matured as a business owner, my personal assets have also matured. The increased potential for risk led me to a choice to place a “veil” between my personal and business lives.
Why do I call this a “veil” instead of a wall? That is a quite simple explanation due to the fact that I chose an LLC and kept it as a sole member type. As my Small Business Center advisor said, “nothing really changes, unless you want it to.” I had run Link Em Up for 16 years with only an Assumed Name certificate filed. There was not even a separate bank account, Employer Identification Number or office location.
As stated, this is a sole member LLC. I didn’t need a board, separate office or bank account. I followed the steps given by the Small Business Center and it was all done. She provided advice and answered questions along the way. Some of the advice given was based on the experiences of prior clients regarding specific banks, services and when advice from an attorney or CPA may be needed.
Did I pay any of the online services for assistance? I must admit that I believed that $150 or so plus the filing fee would be a real deal because of so much work involved and knowledge would be required. Fortunately, I did not pay the fee. My Small Business Center advisor had the knowledge and I could make the time for research and paperwork. I was given a single page with eleven steps as a guide. Then we went over each of the steps and decided if they even applied to my type of business and organization.
These steps involved questions such as:
- What type of organization suits me best? We considered S-Corp (S is for Small) and LLC
- What steps are required? In my case, I searched for patents and corporations for “Link Em Up,” Link Em Up Inc,” and “Link Em Up LLC.” Yes, they are all different entities as far as the federal government is concerned, but it is best to avoid potential problems caused by your business name choice.
- What paperwork do I need to file? After verifying the uniqueness of my business name, I went to my Secretary of State (NC) website and registered my LLC. After the paperwork was finalized and the name officially assigned, I filed a new Assumed Name certificate with my local Register of Deeds.
- Do I need a license or insurance? If you are in a business such as contracting or real estate, you would likely need both of these.
- Will my business need a separate bank account? A Sole Member LLC doesn’t require one, but I wanted the separation of funds.
What if I want a “Wall?”
If want better separation between your personal assets and business responsibilities, you could always choose another form of LLC. If you wanted true separation between these two areas of your life, an S-Corp may be the way to go. Your local Small Business Center (58 in North Carolina) will work with you in deciding which business organization is best.