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Having multiple businesses makes entrepreneurship all the more exciting—and it raises a question CorpNet fields frequently:

How do I structure multiple businesses?

When you have more than one business venture, it may make sense to host them all under a single corporate entity rather than incorporate them separately. If the various businesses complement each other, share similar marketing strategies, and target similar customers (for example, a doggie daycare and mobile pet grooming services), you could host both of the ventures under the same corporate umbrella.

While that might sound complicated at face value, it’s really not a daunting process.

A Simple, Straightforward Approach To Hosting More Than One Business Under A Single Corporate Umbrella

What I suggest to most multi-business owners is that they consider forming an LLC, S-Corporation, or C-Corporation as the “holding company.” Then underneath that main “umbrella” corporate structure, they can file the various other ventures as DBAs (“Doing Business As”) that have their own unique business names.

So, say you have three businesses—one interior design consulting service and two separate websites that sell products related to the interior design work—you could form one overarching LLC or corporation named “Jane Smith Enterprises, Inc.” and then file “Illuminating Light Fixtures” and the “Whimsical Window Treatments” for each of your subsidiaries as part of the overall corporate structure, even though they have different names.

This approach offers simplicity while protecting an owner against liability for any of the businesses. It might significantly cut down on your paperwork, too, as you’re filing taxes, etc. for just one entity rather than multiple, entirely separate companies. Also, depending on your tax filing status, structuring under a holding company might also minimize your tax liability. Another bonus: It provides added credibility—that can mean a lot in a highly competitive environment.

To Keep In Mind When Structuring Multiple Businesses As An Umbrella Corporation and DBAs:

  • If you don’t want to, you don’t have to disclose the name of your holding company. If your multiple businesses aren’t closely related to each other, you can do business under each individual business’s name because there’s no legal requirement to disclose the name of your holding LLC or corporation in your marketing messaging.
  • Track financial information in one place. By keeping tabs on your earnings and expenses for your multiple businesses under one corporate structure, you’ll save hours and headaches at tax time.
  • Don’t leave any stones unturned. Think ahead and think strategically about the DBAs you might operate under. Might you do business under other names besides the most obvious ones that come to mind? It’s quite easy to file a separate DBA for the possible variations of your business name. For example, “Whimsical Window Treatments” and “WhimsicalWindowTreatments.com.”

Want to protect your assets, simplify your bookkeeping efforts, and better manage your marketing messaging? By filing an LLC or forming a corporation as a corporate umbrella under which you file multiple DBAs, you can do all of that. Of course, I urge you to do your homework first to make sure it’s the right approach for you. Talk with accounting, legal, and tax professionals who you trust before making a decision. And remember, the CorpNet team is here as a resource to answer your questions and help you through the business formation and registration process. Call for a free business consultation anytime! 888.4449.2638

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