Unincorporated companies are business that are not legally separate from their owners. While setting up an unincorporated company takes little to no effort, there are a variety of disadvantages to these businesses that must be considered.

Introduction to Unincorporated Companies

If you are the owner of a business, you have several structuring options. Choosing your business structure is the most important decision that you can make when starting your company, and it can affect several important issues:

  • Your business's legal standing.
  • How your business is taxed.
  • Your ability to expand your company in the future.

There are two basic business classes: unincorporated and incorporated. Deciding whether to incorporate your business or leave it unincorporated depends on several factors, including how comfortable you are with risk, the amount of paperwork you wish to handle, and your desire to shield your personal assets from your business. 

The main reason to incorporate your business is limiting your personal risk. Incorporation, however, provides several other advantages.

What Is Incorporation?

Incorporation makes your business a completely separate legal entity from yourself. Choosing to incorporate your business will provide a variety of tax and financial benefits.  If you decide to incorporate your business, there are different structures you can choose, meaning you can pick an option that meets the current and future needs of your business.

You can incorporate your business using one structure and then transition to another structure as your business expands. For instance, many small businesses begin their life as a sole proprietorship, a type of unincorporated company, and then choose to incorporate when the business grows.

Incorporation Benefits

Incorporation is very beneficial, as it can limit your personal liability. In addition, incorporation provides more beneficial taxation and makes it easier for you to pass on your business to your children.

Receiving limited liability protection is the main reason people choose to incorporate their business. After incorporation, you will be shielded from the debts of your company, meaning your personal assets cannot be pursued in a lawsuit against your company. Incorporation can also be very advantageous when it comes to paying your taxes. Depending on the structure you choose, you may be able to decrease your tax burden by incorporating your business.

Incorporated businesses are also often viewed with more credibility than unincorporated companies. With incorporation, your business will have a distinct identity that is different from your personal identity and history, which can make your business appear more trustworthy to the public.

Another benefit of incorporation is that it can make it easier for you to raise capital for your business. Corporations, for instance, can raise capital by selling stock, which isn't possible with unincorporated companies. If you're not interested in selling stock, incorporating can provide you easier access to capital in several other ways. For example, incorporation can make it easier for you acquire a business loan and can also allow suppliers and vendors to take you more seriously.

Finally, once your business is incorporated, it can last as long as you wish. This means that you can sell your incorporated business, leave it to a family member, or simply dissolve the company.

Benefits of Unincorporated Companies

While unincorporated companies do not provide the liability protections and beneficial taxation of incorporated business, there are some distinct advantages to leaving your company unincorporated.

For instance, it's very easy to set up an unincorporated company. They do not require the large amount of paperwork that you would need to complete and file to incorporate a business. In addition, unincorporated companies are much less complex than incorporated businesses and do not need to follow the same reporting requirements.

Setting up an unincorporated company is also more cost-effective in the short-term than incorporating a business. When you first incorporate a business, you will need to pay the formation and filing fees required by your state. You may also need to pay fees in the future to maintain the status of your company. These expenses are not required of unincorporated companies.

If you decide that keeping your business unincorporated is the right choice, there are two structures you could choose. First, you could run your business as a sole proprietorship, meaning you would be the only owner and operator of your business. Second, you could form a general partnership, which is a business structure where you would share business losses, profits, and management duties with another person or multiple people.

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