Things to Think About as You Begin a Small Business

Many businesses are born from a single brilliant idea. As that idea is put into motion, a company grows — and in some situations that growth is rapid. Along with this expansion, however, comes the reality of risk.

There are approximately 30 million small businesses in the United States according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Business owners face many risks. Would you be prepared if a disaster strikes?

You may initially answer “yes” to this question, but there’s a good likelihood that additional considerations need to be made in order to fully protect your business against loss. Regularly assessing potential risks and modifying plans can help you safeguard your business and stay nimble in the face of evolving threats.

Select a business entity carefully

Maybe you started your business with a specific business entity in mind — for example, as a sole proprietorship. But as your business expands, this structure may no longer fit your business. Ask yourself regularly, “Is our existing business entity setup still relevant? Or do we need to evolve?” Thinking through this question will help minimize future risk.

Many business structure options exist, such as limited liability corporations, limited liability partnerships, general partnerships, S corporations and C corporations. Every option has its unique pros and cons; whether an option is relevant for your business will depend largely on individual business circumstances.

Selecting the right structure allows you to create a “wall” between your personal assets and your business — something that’s critical when considering potential exposure. Speak with an attorney to discuss the details of your business and which business entity is the best fit.

Hold personal assets carefully

Hold your personal assets strategically to keep them safe. Most business owners hope they’ll never face a lawsuit or other situation that could threaten their assets, but it’s important to consider this potential risk.

For example, you might decide to put investments into a trust or keep some assets in the name of a spouse or child. For smaller businesses, it’s often advised to keep separate bank accounts for business and personal expenses.

Keep diligent track of credit

Personal credit may intersect with business credit depending on the selected business structure. This is a good reason to spend time carefully considering the various entity structures and which one is right for your situation.

For example, operating your business through a specific type of entity may help keep losses and liabilities away from your personal balance sheet and off your credit report. At times, business loans, including business credit cards, may require a personal guarantee, which means that you’re personally liable for any debt incurred on the account.

Business owners policy

A business owners policy (BOP) will combine three essential insurance coverages for your small business:

  • Business property insurance for the location you rent or own and any property like tools, equipment and inventory
  • General liability insurance for the cost of property damage, bodily injury or advertising claims
  • Business income (interruption) insurance for lost income if you are unable to operate due to a covered event, such as fire or theft

Think outside of the box regarding professional liability insurance

Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other such professionals aren’t the only ones that need professional liability insurance. Anyone who has a special skill or knowledge is considered a professional and could be at risk for a lawsuit alleging malpractice or negligence. For example, wedding planners and hairstylists have faced lawsuits even though most of these businesses don’t traditionally think of themselves as needing professional liability insurance.

Additionally, if you expand your business to cover a new industry, check with your insurance professional to make sure your existing policy extends to the new business.

Plan for business interruptions

Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

If something keeps you from operating your business, such as a flood, earthquake, hurricane or power failure, it’s critical to have business interruption insurance to assist with expenses. Not having this coverage could put you in a less than ideal situation. For smaller businesses, this could mean tapping into personal savings to keep operations flowing and pay for employee wages.

The bottom line

You’re passionate about your company’s future. One way to ensure that your company continues thriving is to keep ahead of potential risks. If you need assistance understanding the risks unique to your business, arrange a meeting with your insurance professional for sound advice.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

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