Sign & Digital Graphics

WRAPS '19

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46 • WRAPS • 2 0 1 9 If the Shoe Fits . . . Incorporate Choosing the best operating entity for your new vehicle wrap business BY V I N C E D IC E C C O Vince DiCecco is a business training and devel- opment consultant and owner of the Acworth, Georgia-based business, Your Personal Business Trainer, Inc. He has been sculpting his sales, marketing and training techniques since 1979, and he has shared in - novative and practical ideas on business management excellence for two Fortune 200 companies, the U.S. Coast Guard, and in seminars at many sign and digital graphics trade shows. Since 2003, YPBT has been serving small- to mid-sized companies in their efforts to strive for sustained growth and market dominance. Contact him via email at vince@ypbt.com or visit his company website, www.ypbt.com. L et's say you're in the market for a new pair of shoes. Not just any pair of shoes, but the perfect pair of shoes in terms of comfort, style, function and durability. Unless you are Christina Aguilera—who reportedly owns over 400 pairs of various footwear—you'll likely avoid impulse and, instead, raise a few questions before making your decision. "What kind of image will I project with my selection? How much am I willing to spend initially? What will it take me to maintain them? Will I have to contend with painful blisters dur- ing their break-in period? Will they allow me to do what I have to do and do it well? How long will they last before I outgrow them or they wear out?" Likewise, choosing the right "legal entity" for your company involves the same kind of forethought. So, what might your questions be in this case? Sole proprietorship? (Pun most defi- nitely intended!) Partnership? Corporation? Your choice will depend on the liability risks you are willing to accept, the con- trol (and the accompanying responsibility) you want over day- to-day operations, and the time and money you have available to protect and grow the business. I will tell you up-front that I am have a bias on the topic. Owning and running a business in today's litigious society makes it nearly imperative that a company incorporate. But let us explore each of the options anyway, along with their advan- tages and shortcomings. CAN A HOME-BASED SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP BUSINESS BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY? A 2018 Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy re- port (www.sba.gov) states home-based businesses make up roughly half of all U.S. businesses—including 60.1% without paid employees—and most of them (about 73%) are sole pro- prietorships. If you are just starting out with a modest, in-your-garage vehicle wrap shop, you may decide to maintain sole propri- etorship status, but consider this critical question: Am I willing to put at risk all of my personal assets—my home, my savings, etc.—in the event a customer sues me for damages to their vehicle, or makes an error and omissions claim against me for inadequate work, an oversight in charges, or didn't fulfill their expectations? Add to it, of the home-based business owners I've met, many are frustrated at how the business must constantly re-validat- ed itself whenever applying for a business loan, seeking credit terms from suppliers and/or being taken seriously when court- ing a bricks-and-mortar prospective client. Can such an enterprise be taken seriously? The short answer is yes, if the owner employs some of these tips and techniques: • Officially change the address of the business to include the house number and street followed by "Suite G" (for ga- rage) or "Unit 200" (or any other number) to give the im- pression the company is in a commercial location. Another option is to get a P.O. Box number. • Get a separate business phone line and have a responsible- sounding adult answer it in a professional manner. Also, have a voice mail greeting that lets callers know they've reached a viable business and not someone's home. • Issue professional-looking invoices and keep accurate ac- counting books and records. Also, arrange to accept pay- ment by various means—including credit cards. A word of caution: Keep your personal and business expenses separate. Failing to do so is one of the most common mistakes made by small business owners—and becomes the focal point of any IRS audit or action. Open a separate business checking account and utilize debit and credit cards with the com- pany name on them. • Develop a company logo, have a professional web pres- ence—with its own URL and email address (not a generic server, like gmail.com or yahoo.com)—create a catchy ta- gline, and host select social media pages. Also, get a supply of good-looking business cards with your contact info on them. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? If you don't know it by now, operating a legitimate business

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