There are plenty of advantages to setting up your business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Opting for the LLC structure establishes your business as its own legal identity that’s separate and apart from you or any other stakeholders.
It offers a variety of taxation options, shelters you from personal liability for your business partners’ or employees’ actions, and formalizes the way that profits and losses will be divided, as well as other important issues.
Though all of these are important factors, the most frequently cited reason for choosing to set a business up as an LLC is the liability protection that the popular business structure provides.
As the owner of a sole proprietorship, is your are personally liable for all of your business's legal obligations. By contrast, an LLC is a separate legal entity from you as its owner, and if it is named in a lawsuit or pursued for a debt, it’s your business that’s on the hook rather than you. You can even open a business bank account without an LLC if you have not formed the structure yet.
To ensure that the separation between you and your business is fully recognized, it’s both a smart business move and good common sense to have a separate LLC bank account.
Note: If you want to open a business checking account for an LLC with no hidden fees and minimums, try Bonsai Cash. Our online account will help you manage your finances, save on taxes, and get paid faster. Sign up today.
Opening a business bank account makes tracking and managing your finances much easier, as your banking records will be restricted to business transactions. It will also give you the professional advantage of receiving and making payments in your business’ name, providing a far greater sense of legitimacy.
The requirements for opening business checking accounts for an LLC are different from those for opening a personal bank account. Here’s what you need to know about how to open a business bank account for an LLC.
If you’ve been operating as a sole proprietor, you may have used a single bank account linked to your Social Security Number for both your personal and business finances. Since sole proprietorships are pass-through companies that are indistinct from the business owner, this is legal, though it unquestionably adds an unnecessary layer of complexity when it comes to documenting business expenses at tax time.
By comparison, LLCs are separate legal entities from their owners, and overlooking a business expense or accidentally including a personal expense on business books can mean cheating yourself of a write-off. This can make you vulnerable to audit, or give creditors a reason to view you and your business as inseparable.
By separating your business checking accounts and business credit cards from your personal checking and savings accounts, you provide yourself, your accountants and financial advisors, and any overseeing body with distinct records.
There are numerous advantages to having a separate business bank account for your LLC, including:
If you’ve previously operated as a sole proprietorship without the benefit of a separate business bank account, you are probably familiar with the extraordinary amount of extra time at tax time trying to remember whether a specific expense was personal or for your business. Opening a bank account for your LLC eliminates that time-consuming task and ensures that every potential business expense deduction is captured.
Having a separate business bank account also will save you significant time and trouble in case your business is audited.
The first step in opening a separate business bank account for your LLC is choosing the right bank for your needs. Though it may be tempting to choose the same bank where you keep your personal funds, and there may be advantages to doing so, it is important to remember that your business has different needs than what you look for in a personal checking or savings account.
When looking for banks offering new business accounts, compare all of the different perks. Where benefits such as no minimum monthly balance requirements may be attractive for your personal finances, there may be other merchant services or account features geared towards small businesses that make another bank a better choice for your LLC account. These might include:
When considering different options for your LLC’s business bank account, be sure to consider the distinct advantages offered by local banks and credit unions, as well as of opening a business bank account online rather than at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank.
If your company operates locally, it may work to your benefit to open your business bank account at a local bank. Though local banks offer the same products and services that national banks do, they often have greater freedom when it comes to establishing their own interest rates and fees, as well as when it comes to making lending decisions.
Local banks frequently take an active role in business development within their communities, and work to encourage the economic health of their region. Their employees generally live in the area and provide a welcoming, personalized banking experience, while still offering online services to provide 24/7 access to account information.
A credit union is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing high levels of customer service. Credit union fees are generally lower than those found with other types of bank accounts, and they frequently offer high savings rates and lower interest rates, along with full-service business banking services that include checking, lending, investments, and business credit card.
The advantages of online banking are not news to anybody living in the 21st century, but they are particularly beneficial for businesses. Having a business account online provides the ability to receive payments, pay bills, make deposits and transfer funds between accounts from your phone, tablet, or laptop 24/7 provides invaluable convenience, and so too does the ability to review account statements and all transactions with the click of a button.
Online business accounts are location independent, as you can access the from anywhere on the globe as long as you have an internet connection, and online banks typically offer low fees or no-fee business banking services. They also frequently offer built-in integration with other bank accounts as well as with popular accounting software packages and other payment apps to accommodate the needs of both your accountant and diverse clients.
Note: If you want to open a hassle-free business bank account, then try Bonsai Cash. There are no hidden fees and you can organize your business funds for taxes easily. On top of that, you'll get access to freelancer tools like proposal, contract, and invoice templates to make running your business easier. Sign up today.
Once you have selected a financial institution for your LLC bank account, you’ll want to collect all of the documentation that’s needed to get set up. Every bank has different requirements so it’s a good idea to call beforehand, though most will require the following:
Realizing that you need (and can benefit from) business bank accounts that are separate from your personal accounts is just half the battle. You also need to find the time to gather all the necessary documents and get new accounts set up. That’s where Bonsai Cash can help.
Bonsai Cash is the newest resource from Bonsai, the platform dedicated to smoothing the way to growth and success for freelancers and independent companies. Bonsai Cash provides the perfect solution for setting up separate business accounts for your business, and an easy, cost-free way to manage your finances, boost your cash flow, and even lower your tax liability without incurring monthly fees, transactions fees, or minimum balance penalties. It's a business bank account guaranteed for approval.
Bonsai already helps manage and streamline your business process, allowing you to prepare proposals and contracts, track client contacts, tasks, and time, and even to generate invoices. Combining these features with Bonsai Cash completes the all-in-one aspects of the platform, making it easy to direct client payments directly into your account and then use funds to pay for business expenses via a dedicated virtual card.
Bonsai Cash is an online business banking checking account that is available whenever you are. Once you log on to the website, you’ll be presented with a series of straightforward onboarding questions designed to help you set up your account. Once you’re set up, you’ll have access to an account overview, self-directed “envelopes” you can create to fund specific expenses or goals, and the ability to create “if/then” rules to automate repetitive tasks.
Perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to use a single platform through which you can receive and send payments and transfer funds, have access to a digital spending card, and get the benefits of merchant processing services including accepting payments via credit card.
Bonsai Cash provides the ability to move your business funds into internal mini accounts known as “envelopes.” Envelopes are entirely customizable and are intended to be used for individual projects, tax accounts, and savings goals for which you can establish automations to ensure that every payment received in your account is processed using the rules you’ve established for disbursement. Without instructions the deposit will remain within your main checking account, but you can also create as many envelopes as you wish and have specific percentages of the deposit transferred from the main account into each.
In addition to receiving payments directly from clients, your LLC can transfer funds to and from your business checking account to external bank accounts via ACH bank transfer. You can use the same feature to send payments via other payment processing platforms, freelancing platforms, and applications.
Bonsai Cash provides your LLC with access to a digital cash debit card that is securely activated online via two-factor authentication. Once stored in your digital wallet you will be able to use it for online purchases for all of your business expenses, as well as for ATM withdrawals. This is helpful for ensuring that recurring purchases exclusive to your operations - such as subscriptions – are paid from your business checking account rather than from your personal account. Though not yet available, physical cards will be distributed in the future.
Read here to discover how to get set up with Bonsai Cash.
While opening a separate business bank account for your LLC will provide you with legal documentation showing that your business is a separate entity from you as its owner, there are some potential pitfalls that are worth considering and guarding against.
Though single member LLCs will not have this problem, the new bank account will be accessible to every stakeholder in businesses that are established as a limited partnership. This significantly eliminates control over spending and management and makes your business vulnerable to malfeasance. Fortunately, tools like Bonsai Cash help keep all transactions transparent so that you can remain informed and your financial status is highly visible.
Creating a legal wall between your own finances and your business finances is essential, but it can also be expensive and time consuming. Business bank accounts frequently have maintenance fees that can quickly add up. Some require that a monthly minimum balance be maintained, some charge monthly fees, and some charge based upon the number of transactions processed. Though bank service charges and credit card fees exclusive to your business can be written off, it is still good practice to be careful in your selection of the right bank in order to minimize this expense.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?