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How should you structure your photo booth business?

D-B-A-LLC-S-CORP-

*Disclaimer* I am not an attorney, accountant or tax expertplease consult a professional when making this decision.

Now that you actually have or are on track to have a photo booth you can dream up a business name.  It’s important to choose a business name that includes the words “Photo Booth(s)” or “Photo Booth Rentals.”  You want to make it very easy for clients who are looking to rent a photo booth to find you.  By including “photo booth” in the name of your business, you also make yourself more search engine friendly.  You don’t want your business name to be so ominous that no one knows what you do, your business name should be specific, obvious and convey exactly what it is you have to offer. Don’t get too emotionally attached to any one name, have a few different options or variations of the business name ready, in case the name of your dreams is already taken.  You also want to see if you can work this business name into a domain name for your website. 

Why establish a business entity?  Establishing a business entity means that you can then open up a business bank account.  Customers want to write checks to a business name, not “Joe Smith”, it makes the business legitimate and professional.  Furthermore, the separation of personal and business bank accounts makes end of year taxes so much easier. 

As far as the type of business entity, I decided to keep things simple and quick.  I needed to get my photo booth out and earning money, and the quickest way was to go to my county office building and file a D/B/A (doing business as).  For $35 I walked out with my business certificate in hand.  Next I went online to the IRS website and obtained an EIN (employer identification number). 

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-%28EIN%29-Online

With your business certificate and EIN in hand, you can now go to your local bank and open up a business account. 

The D/B/A designation does not offer any personal liability protection, which means if my photo booth business was sued, my personal assets could be up for grabs as well.  Establishing a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation firmly separates your business and personal assets.  However, these entities take additional time and depending on where you live could be costly to establish.  My suggestion is to start off simple, file a D/B/A and you can always upgrade to a LLC or Corporation later, once you have made some money. 

To this day, our business is still a D/B/A.  I just haven’t had the motivation to file for an LLC or Corporation.  When I do get the motivation these are the kind of services that make it easy:

CorpNet
Legal Zoom

Don’t let this decision paralyze you, as your entity is not written in stone and can always be changed down the road. 

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