Past "Ask Jim" Questions
I understand your concerns about your home address being
public information. But I am afraid that I have to agree with the other
research you have done on this subject. The registered agent address,
at the very least, should be the place where your business is actually
based. One of the primary reasons for these registration rules is so
that you can actually be found for legal matters. In prior years,
businesses could use fictitious addresses; then run up large bills and
not pay them; and then the creditors could not find them. The laws are
now designed to eliminate that scam. Your alternative is to hire an
attorney to be your registered agent. Many law firms offer that service.
I'm sorry. Although we make hundreds of referrals for goods and services for our clients each year, we have no way of coordinating who is looking for what. And since all of our client contacts are confidential, we cannot refer you directly to them. Nevertheless, if I hear of a client need for space, I will send them to you. In the meantime, have you tried any online services such as Craig's list to see if there might be someone out there?
It sounds as if you have done most of the things you need to do. I am assuming that you are just expanding your existing business and already have the normal business permits, licenses, registration, EIN and bank account. However, you did not mention anything about insurance in your letter. Your current product liability insurance will almost certainly not cover food products. Food products are generally considered high risk and you will need to get the insurance to cover this. The fact that you are “shipping only prepacked cases direct from the manufacturers” does not automatically eliminate your potential liability.
Although a sole proprietorship is the easiest form of business to start, there are still several things that need to be considered. Making the best decisions about these for your particular personal and business circumstances actually requires more information than you have given. I will give you the “short version” here but you really need to enroll in one of the “How to Start a Business” classes that are offered at the Denver Metro SBDC every two weeks. There you can get a lot more detailed information.
To start any business you need to investigate the various permits, licenses and registration which may apply to you. For a sole proprietor, at the very least, you need to register your trade name with the Colorado Secretary of State. Other permits depend upon where your business is physically located, the exact nature of your consulting services and whether or not you are offering any products in addition to your services.
Although if your business has no employees, you are not absolutely required to have an EIN, it is strongly recommended that you get one for protection from identity theft. Also, many banks will not allow you to open a business checking account without an EIN.
If you have no significant assets, such as your home, you can probably get along with not being an LLC. But, if you have assets that you do not want to put at risk, you should consider becoming an LLC. There are other reasons for becoming an LLC but that is the most important one.
There are other requirements that you have not mentioned such as having a separate business bank account, getting insurance and paying income taxes. Again, I recommend that you take one of the classes at the SBDC for information about these and related issues. You can also meet privately with a consultant if you would rather do that.
The SBA Patriot Express Loan program is designed specifically for members of the military, veterans and their families. Most banks handle SBA loans. So just ask about this program at your bank. If you have any problems with this, contact me. In addition you might want to check both of the Colorado micro lenders, ACCION and the Colorado Enterprise Fund. Micro lenders specialize in loans to startup businesses. You can find them on the Internet. Depending upon your location there may be other resources available. For any of these loans you will have to have a business plan. We can help you with that.
Jim Olp is a retired business consultant of the Denver Metro SBDC. He assisted clients with financial analysis and funding options. He has a depth of experience derived not just from his many years working with SBDCs, but also from his ownership of more than a dozen small businesses. He has taught virtually every aspect of small business management and operations at the college level for more than two decades. Olp has exceptional expertise in business financing options and can assist clients in structuring their business plans and pro forma projections toward the goal of securing financing. He earned his bachelor’s degree from King’s College with a double major in history and political science with a minor in English. Olp received his master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh with a major in political science and a minor in computer science.