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Business Startups

2 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

Are you in debt? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is a resounding yes. According to recent Federal Reserve statistics, the average American household has about $182,000 in mortgage debt, $50,000 in student loan debt, over $29,000 in auto loans and nearly $17,000 in credit card debt.

But should you let debt hold you back from starting your own business?

 

More than half (52 percent) of millennials have student loan debt, according to an EIG study, and 43 percent believe it limits their career options. If you manage your new business wisely, however, there’s no reason debt should put a damper on your entrepreneurial dreams.

 

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Key questions about personal debt

 

How much debt do you have, and what kind of debt is it? There’s a difference between a $180,000, 30-year mortgage and $180,000 worth of student loans. There’s also a difference between carrying a credit card balance at 16.73 percent APR (the current average) and mortgage debt at 3.5 percent interest.

 

If your debt is manageable, making payments on time can actually make it easier for your startup to access capital by improving your personal credit rating. But if your debt-to-income ratio (your monthly debt payments divided by your monthly gross income) is too high, your loan options will be limited. A debt-to-income ratio of 35 percent or less is good; over 50 percent spells trouble, according to Bankrate.com.

 

Financing your business when you're already in debt

 

If your current debt makes getting a business loan unrealistic, you still have plenty of options:

  • Reduce your monthly debt load. Refinance or consolidate outstanding loans to lower interest rates and reduce monthly payments. If you’re racking up interest on your credit card balances, find a low or zero balance transfer offer.
  • Start a low-cost business. A service business using equipment you already own (like your laptop) is ideal. If you do need equipment, consider leasing, equipment loans, or buying used equipment. Working from home will save you money, too.
  • Be frugal. If you’re a recent college graduate with student loan debt, now is the time to live in your parents’ basement—0r childhood bedroom. If you're not willing to live with your parents, forgo spending on a social life, or subsist on ramen, you may not be ready to be an entrepreneur.
  • Is your heart set on a product-based business? Try a crowdfunding website like Kickstarter to solicit donations from consumers who believe in your product idea. Essentially, they give you the money to make your product by purchasing it in advance.
  • Tap into friends and family. Will friends and family invest in your business in return for a share of ownership, or lend you startup capital? If you do accept a loan from a loved one, be sure to draw up loan documents and treat the loan seriously.
  • Start a part-time business. If you need income from your job to handle your debt load, look for a business you can launch part-time, working at nights or on weekends. Some entrepreneurs get part-time jobs to pay the bills and devote the rest of their time to their startups.

 

Rules to live by

 

Once your business is off the ground, getting a business credit card for necessary purchases is a good idea. Just be sure to keep the balance manageable and make payments on time to build your business’s credit rating.

 

     Related Content: What's a Business Credit Score

 

Make your personal debt payments on time, too. As a startup business owner, your personal credit rating affects that of your fledgling business. Since your business doesn’t have a track record yet, lenders use your personal credit rating as an indicator of your company’s creditworthiness.

 

     Related Content: How Your Personal Credit Impacts Your Business Credit

 

As your business begins generating income, resist the temptation to use it to pay down personal debt. Instead, put the profit back into building your business. The more you bootstrap your business growth, the faster your business will become profitable—and the sooner you can pay off all your debt.

 

     Related Content: Check out the Small Business Community Credit and Lending Resource Center

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Choosing your business structure is a key step when starting any for-profit business. You’ll need a business structure to open a business bank account, get a business credit card or apply for a small business loan.

 

Your business structure also affects your tax and legal liability, so it’s important to consider your choice carefully. Here’s an overview of the different types of business structures and the pros and cons of each one.

 

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Sole Proprietorship: When you start a business by yourself and don’t select a business structure, you’re a sole proprietorship by default. As the name implies, sole proprietorships are owned and run by one person. You pay taxes on your business’s income as part of your personal income tax return.

 

Pros: This is the easiest form of business to start. Generally there is no paperwork to file and no special regulation applies.

Cons: You are responsible for all the company’s debts and liabilities, which puts your personal assets, such as your home, at risk. When you die, the business becomes part of your estate.

 

Partnership: If you start a business with one or several people and all the partners have personal liability for the debts of the partnership, that is considered a general partnership. If someone invests a chunk of money in your business but doesn’t want personal liability beyond that investment, you can form a limited partnership. The investor would be the limited partner.  Both types of partnerships feature pass-through taxation which means that the partnership itself is not subject to tax, but each partner must include its share of partnership income, gain, loss, deductions, etc. on its own tax return.

 

Pros: No paperwork filing is required, and the partnership can continue if one of the partners retires or dies.

Cons: The general partners are personally liable for the company’s debts and liabilities. (However, the limited partner’s responsibility is limited to the amount of money they put in to the business.)

 

C Corporation: A C Corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, which generally protects the owners from personal liability. Instead of pass-through taxation, the business pays its own taxes.

 

Pros: In some ways, a C Corp enjoys the greatest flexibility of any business structure. You can transfer shares of the C Corp to your heirs, there is no pass-through taxation to worry about, and there’s no limit on the number of owners. If you have big plans for your business, a C Corp is probably the way to go, since it can sell shares to investors (in fact, if you want to go public someday, you may have to form a C Corp).

Cons: You’ll pay for that flexibility with bureaucracy and fees. C Corps file state paperwork and pay fees at incorporation and every year thereafter. You’ll also need to choose a Board of Directors, hold annual meetings of shareholders, and file annual reports with the state.

 

S Corporation: An S Corporation is a form of corporation that meets specific Internal Revenue Code requirements. The requirements give a corporation with 100 shareholders, or less, the benefits of incorporation while being taxed on a pass-through basis.

 

Pros: An S Corporation offers the same protection from personal liability of a C Corp.

Cons: It requires state filing and fees, and has greater limitations than a C Corp. For example, there are limits on the number and type of owners an S Corp can have, the kind of business it can be engaged in, and the transferability of the business. Additionally, an S Corporation has pass-through taxation.

 

Limited Liability Company (LLC): A limited liability company (LLC) is a corporate structure whereby the members of the company cannot be held personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities. Limited liability companies are essentially hybrid entities that combine the asset protection characteristics of a corporation with the tax characteristics of a partnership or sole proprietorship.

 

An LLC offers some benefits of the corporate structure, such as protecting your personal assets. This form of business offers more flexibility in how you distribute profits compared to S and C Corps.

 

Clearly, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your form of business. You’ll need to think ahead and choose a corporate structure that can grow with your business. Because this is a big decision that can greatly affect your business, you should consult with an attorney as well as a tax advisor to choose the best business structure for your needs and goals.

 

Neither Bank of America nor any of its affiliates provide legal, tax or accounting advice.  You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

 

Related Content:

Business Income from Pass-Through Entities: The new 20% deduction

Changing to the Type of Entity That's Right for You

Choose a business structure – from U.S. Small Business Administration

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

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