When starting a business, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about a name, your visions for your website, and maybe even finding an office space. While these may be the most enjoyable parts of starting your business, there is something else you must think about. That is what business structure you will use when registering your business. The knowledgeable attorneys at Beth Santilli Law can help you understand your options and their potential legal impact, so you can make the right decision for your business.

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Understanding Common Business Types

You may operate as a sole proprietor, LLC, corporation, or a partnership. Before deciding on which type of business structure you want to use, it is important to know about the advantages of each type of business structure:

Sole Proprietorship

Sole proprietorships are the simplest type of business structure. A sole proprietorship means that you own and run the business on your own. Legally speaking, there is also no difference between you and your business. This can present significant liability exposure to you personally. Not only are the assets of your business exposed, but your personal assets may be seized if you were sued and lost a lawsuit. At Beth Santilli Law, we can help you determine the best structure for your business to protect your personal assets by keeping them separate from your business.


An LLC, or limited liability company, is a type of business structure that allows you to be taxed as a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation. Although an LLC is not a corporation, it does provide the protection of limited liability for the owners of the business. You can own an LLC on your own or have an unlimited number of members within the LLC. Whichever you choose, you and all other members are protected from being held personally liable if the company accrues significant debt or runs into legal issues as long as certain criteria is met.

S Corporations

S corporations have certain tax considerations that sole proprietorships and LLCs do not. The owners of these corporations are shareholders, and each shareholder has their own tax rates. This can result in significant tax savings, as each shareholder reports their earnings on their own tax returns. Owners of an LLC can also request S corporation status from the IRS to experience all of the same tax benefits.

C Corporations

Unlike S corporations, owners of C corporations are taxed separately from the business. This is because C corporations are considered entirely separate from the owners, which means that owners are also protected from liability in regards to debt and legal issues. C corporations also typically have stock options, which can help to attract new employees, particularly when the business is just starting and there is not much money available for big salaries.


Business partnerships are a legal relationship formed by two or more people that have entered into a partnership agreement to run a business. The major benefit of a partnership is that it allows the partners to combine their expertise and knowledge as well as the funding they have available for the business. Partners may also reap tax benefits, as they can sometimes deduct business losses from their personal tax returns. With a partnership, it benefits the partners to set up the business as a corporation or an LLC for the liability protection of those entities.

Filing with the Secretary of State and Compliance

There are many steps involved when starting a business in South Carolina. Not only must you decide on a business structure, but you must also search for the name of your business, as all entity names must be unique within the state. You may also have to file for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), obtain any licenses or permits required by law, and draft bylaws and other agreements that will govern how you run your business.

Completing these steps may not be as exciting as choosing a logo and envisioning the goals for your business, but they are just as important. Our experienced business attorneys at Beth Santilli Law can help you ensure you have completed all of the necessary steps correctly as you start your new business.

Business Licenses and Permits

Many businesses require licenses and permits before they can begin operation. South Carolina does not require all businesses to obtain a license but certain cities still require it, including Mt. Pleasant. Certain businesses still require a license, even if they do not live in a city that requires them. For example, retail businesses must register for a retail license with the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

Additionally, certain professionals are required to have a license before opening a business, such as massage therapists and barbers. Although not a business license, it is still a license required to operate in the state.

Governance Documents, Contracts, and Policies and Procedures

Governance documents are important for any business, as they dictate how the business should be run, particularly when a dispute arises. Bylaws are very common among corporations, as they contain provisions for the meeting of shareholders, meeting of directors, and more. Partnership agreements are typically contracts that outline the rights and responsibilities of each partner in the business. Policies and procedures, as well as operating agreements, also help govern how the business should be run and are helpful when there is a dispute among any two or more people within the business.

Get Legal Help Today

The many legalities that surround starting a business in South Carolina are difficult to understand, let alone to obtain in many cases. If you are starting a business and need to make sure you are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws, an experienced corporate attorney at Beth Santilli Law, LLC can help. We have the necessary experience to walk you through the process of starting a business and to help ensure that you have all the necessary documents, licenses, and contracts in place. Contact us today to request a consultation.

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