Our experienced team of Charleston business lawyers represent professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners starting a new business in South Carolina.  Our business lawyers serve business clients of all sizes in diverse industries with a commitment to quality representation, integrity and responsiveness.  Our law firm combines the client service expected from a boutique law firm with the experience and capabilities typically found in larger ones.  Please contact us to see how we can work with you and your business organization – 843-564-5115.

Starting a New Business in South Carolina

There are many benefits to starting a new business in Charleston.  South Carolina is widely known for its tourism, rich history, diverse geography, and architecture.  It has also become an attractive state to own and do business, especially in the Charleston area.  The restaurant scene is booming, real estate development is on the rise, construction is going on everywhere, the health industry is robust, big name industries are moving to town, manufacturing plants are being built, and by some estimates, more than fifty people a day are relocating to Charleston and calling it home.

Although tourism is still Charleston’s leading industry, the economy is more diverse than ever.  The area is home to private sector employers such as Boeing, Blackbaud, Trident Health System, Google and Verizon, as well as public sector employers such as Medical University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, Citadel, among others.  Charleston is also home to Joint Base Charleston, a military facility that supports the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Army and employs more than 20,000 active-duty, reserve and civilian personnel.

There are also many benefits to starting a new business in Charleston, including its expansive entrepreneurial resources.  Charleston has been nicknamed the Silicon Harbor for its growing startup businesses and technology community, with hundreds of new technology companies and business incubators calling Charleston home. A few of these entrepreneurial resources include, Charleston Business Corridor, The Harbor Entrepreneur Centers, Innolabs Charleston, Lowcountry Innovation Center, 1600 Meeting Street, Local Works, Charleston Local Development Corporation, among several others.

Whether a new business owner should organize his or her business as a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (or other forms of organization) depends on various tax-related and non tax-related factors.

Selecting a Business Entity For Your New Business

One of the first major decisions in connection with starting a new business is the choice of business entity.  The more popular business choices in South Carolina are: (1) general partnership; (2) limited partnership; (3) limited liability company; and (4) corporation.

Generally speaking, our Charleston business lawyers find that entrepreneurs and professionals nine times out of ten will select a limited liability company in which to operate their business. For that reason, the following information will be primarily focused on the limited liability company as the choice of entity.

Partnership versus Limited Liability Company

There are a few common characteristics between partnerships and limited liability companies.  LLCs are in many ways similar to partnerships due to the fact that both entities are contractual in nature (as opposed to corporations which are creatures of statute), can be operated by their partners/members, can be treated as flow-through entities for federal tax purposes, and can be subject to mandatory and default rules pursuant to the South Carolina Code of Laws.

Although partnerships and LLCs have many common characteristics, significant differences exist between these entities. Both partnerships and LLCs are subject to contractual agreements (partnership agreement for partnerships and limited liability company agreements for LLCs) entered into among the parties, they are different in the way they are organized, registered and terminated, and the responsibility the owners have in connection with the entity’s liabilities.  With respect to the owner liabilities, the major advantage of an LLC compared to a partnership is that members of an LLC are not liable for the debts or other obligations of the LLC merely because of their membership. The entities may also be different in the way they are operated and treated for federal and state income tax purposes.  Click the link below more detailed information on partnerships.

Limited Partnership versus Limited Liability Company

There are a few common characteristics between limited partnerships and limited liability companies. Of all the different choices of business entities in which to operate a business, LLCs are compared most often to limited partnership due to the numerous similarities between the two entities in the way they are formed, owner liabilities, state and federal tax treatment, termination, and South Carolina mandatory and default provisions pursuant to the Code of Laws.

Although limited partnerships and LLCs have numerous common characteristics, several differences exist between these entities.  These differences exist in the way these two entities are organized, operation and management structures, owner liability, and termination of the entities.  Limited partnerships also require one person (the general partner) to manage the partnership and be liable for the debts of the partnership which is distinct from the members of an LLC. Click on the following link below for more information on limited partnerships.

Corporation versus Limited Liability Company

There are a few common characteristics between corporations and limited liability companies The most significant commonality is that corporations and LLC’s offer shareholder and members limited liability if the business is properly structured.  Both business entities provide protection from personal liability to the shareholders and members against third parties for corporate or LLC debts and obligations.

Although corporations and LLCs have several common characteristics, a few differences exist between these entities.  The most significant difference the LLC possesses is its flexible business structure, especially with respect to its management and control of the LLC, and greater flexibility in its capital structure, distributions, transfer of membership interests, state and federal income tax liability, and termination procedures.

Protecting the Business Entity’s Trademarks

A business entity’s brand is one of the most valuable assets of any business.  Business names, symbols, phrases, logos, and other distinctive trademarks are developed by business owners at great time and expense. Thus, trademarks are extremely valuable to entrepreneurs, inventors, startups, and small businesses that offer an attractive product or service in the marketplace.

Selecting the appropriate trademark for the name of the business entity (e.g., trade name) is often a critical as well as personal item in the decision-making process for a business owner.  Trademarks therefore should be addressed during the preliminary stages of any business organization.   It is extremely important that every business owner starting a new business in South Carolina ensure the name and brand design are available for use before entering the marketplace in order to avoid potential trademark infringement lawsuits.

Contact our Charleston Business Attorneys

If you are starting a new business in South Carolina and need guidance with organizing a business entity, please contact our law firm by giving us a call, filling out the contact form to your right, or sending one of our lawyers an email.