Disclaimer: All information provided by this post is for informational purposes only. This is a high-level overview for creating an LLC. TwentyPine does not provide tax or legal advice. We encourage you to find legal counsel for how this directly impacts you before taking any action.
We have all thought about. Owning our own business- being our own boss.
You can’t help but think about the flexibility and benefits that come with it. I mean, working on your own terms? Walking through your nearly empty grocery store on a Tuesday afternoon? Enjoying summer vacation with your kids instead of navigating whatever fresh hell the MTA scheduled?
Lately, I have been speaking with Salesforce Professionals in our network about their consulting experience and discussing their thoughts on becoming an LLC to continue doing this type of work. But, it seems despite how sweet the benefits can be, many professionals are wary of taking the leap because they don’t know where to start. There’s this idea that the paperwork to file an LLC can be overwhelming and the resources out there on the topic just add to the confusion.
But it doesn’t have to be that hard.
In fact, I believe that if you enjoy your career in Salesforce, and you want to continue solving problems for multiple clients while continuing to grow with the technology then setting up your LLC is perfect for you.
So, let’s talk about where to start…
STEP 1: FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT AN LLC IS
LLC stands for limited liability company. This means that your business is a separate entity from your personal assets, so, should anything happen with your business like being sued while providing services for clients, or if you need to declare business bankruptcy your personal assets are secure.
Simply put, it’s an added level of protection for you to conduct business.
Not only are your assets covered, but you can be better protected when it comes to clients classifying you correctly on tax forms. As we discussed in our blog 1099 vs. W2 being classified incorrectly can have extreme tax repercussions. But, if you filed as an LLC, you are always filing as a 1099 and being paid for the services your business provides.
As an LLC there are several tax benefits since you are covering things yourself. You can deduct legitimate business expenses to minimize your tax bill, you can use the deductions to minimize your profit and your self-employment tax and you can use your business entity to purchase insurance and take the deductions for this expense, again minimizing your tax bill.
STEP 2: CHOOSING YOUR LLC NAME
Remember when you were younger and you made up names for everything? Well, what do you want to call your company?
My personal take is to make sure a name still conveys professionalism and can be easy to create a brand around. You don’t want to deter potential Salesforce clients because of a name that does not reflect the impact you can have on their business. Using your own name is also always an option if you’re going to keep it simple.
Be sure to check with your state to confirm no one currently operates with the same name, through a business name search that can be found online. Then, be sure to register the name of your business with your state…which brings us to the not so fun part of starting an LLC – paperwork.
STEP 3: FILING THE PAPERWORK
To register your LLC’s name with your state you will fill out a form called an article of organization. LegalZoom put it best when they referred the articles of organization as the birth certificate for your LLC. Each state has its own requirements for articles of organization, but it will essentially list the facts about your business. Who you are, what your business does, where you are located, etc. Filing fees can also depend on your state but they range from about $100 to $800.
Once this is filed with your state, you will also need to look into getting a Tax ID number.
You do not want to open yourself up to scrutiny from the IRS because you did not file taxes properly in your first year of business.
If you plan to be the only employee, you can use your Social Security number in most cases for taxes. However, if you plan to add more people to the mix, you need a Tax ID number, also referred to as an (EIN) as a way for the IRS to ensure your compliance with taxes. To do so, you can use this simple online form on the IRS website.
For more information about tax ID information see here: IRS, Do You Need A New EIN?
STEP 4: CREATE AN LLC LICENSING AGREEMENT
So, you have the name, and you filed the paperwork but now how will you operate?
Only certain states actually require this, but it is in your best interest to create an LLC operating agreement especially if you plan on having a potential partner or additional employees.
This agreement will contain certain rules for your organization like management structure, decision-making protocols, hiring and firing, and profit-sharing (if any). Licensing agreements will also cover your distribution of profits and losses, voting rights, and even a detailed description of how meetings will be conducted for business decisions.
Just make sure that if your state does require an operating agreement that you follow whatever default rules they set. For more information about operating agreements, use this great article by Nolo.
STEP 5: PUBLISH IN A LOCAL PAPER
If your business resides in NY or Arizona, your LLC is not official until you publish a notice in a local newspaper that will state the intent or purpose of your business. This must be submitted for publication within 12 days of filing for your LLC.
Again, costs for this can vary depending on the county in which you operate, and any advertising rates the newspaper may have. However, failing to follow this step can result in much more loss as your LLC can be suspended. So, treat it like your first step towards marketing your business!
STEP 6: SEPARATE YOUR FINANCIAL ACTIVITIES
You don’t want to mix up personal and business accounting, as it’s a nightmare during tax season and can open you up to liability down the road. Business bank accounts and credit cards help you avoid any potential crossover with your money, and you can easily look at the transactions to see your profit and loss for the year.
Make sure that you track your expenses as well. Consider things like the mileage going to and from a client site, marketing and advertising fees, your equipment cost, cell phone bills and other costs. The money you pay into these areas could be deductible, which lowers your tax liability.
If you do some of the work remotely, look at your home office, coworking or office space costs. Deducting home office expenses can be tricky at times unless it’s a dedicated space for your work activities. A mix of personal and business use can lead to a situation that needs the help of an experienced tax professional.
STEP 7: SHARE WITH YOUR NETWORK!
The paperwork is in, and you are now an LLC- The next step is signing on clients!
The best way to do so is to tap your network and let them know what you have to offer (my favorite part).
Never underestimate the power of your personal or professional network, and if you feel like you need to expand yours – start attending Salesforce User Groups, World Tour Events, and other Local Meetups as a good starting point.
You can tap into companies that you previously worked with, staffing firms (like us!), colleagues and other people in your social circle. Have business cards handy and make sure to follow-up on potential projects quickly so you can stay ahead of the competition.
Your Salesforce skills are valuable to countless organizations, and working as a consultant gives you the opportunity to take on a variety of projects, work with different AppExchange products and propel your career.
The independence and flexibility of being a Salesforce contractor can open up a number of opportunities, both personally and professionally, that you couldn’t take advantage of as a full-time employee. The increased earning potential doesn’t hurt either.
If this sounds like the next step for you, keep an eye out for future blogs (subscribe below), collateral and an ebook!