3 Ways Being an LLC Helps You Gain the Trust of Customers

Establishing your business as an LLC can provide many immediate benefits over a sole proprietorship, including important tax and liability advantages. An LLC also offers a branding advantage to small-business owners. Incorporating as an LLC — and making sure your customers know you're operating as such — can help you earn customer trust and confidence when compared to competitors operating as sole proprietors. Here are three key branding benefits to choosing to set up an LLC.

1. Your business will have more credibility

Certifications equate to credibility, whether you're talking about a personal trainer or teacher or doctor. Businesses are no different. In an age where just about anyone can launch a website and call themselves a business, the designation of “LLC" adds a degree of credibility and consumer trust. It's a signal to your customers that you take your work seriously. You're not just a freelancer — you're a company. Although it may seem like semantics, the addition of LLC after your name is a big deal to customers and will make you stand out when compared to sole proprietors.

2. You'll be more likely to attract new customers

Let's say your name is Jan Rose and you want to start a vegan catering business out of your home. Setting aside the legal benefits of an LLC (most notably, in the event something goes wrong your personal assets are protected from a potential lawsuit), an appropriately-named LLC will make it easier for new customers to find you. They'll search for terms like “vegan catering" or "vegan food delivery" and you're much more likely to rank highly in search results as "Vegan Catering" than as "Jan Rose".

3. Your employees or partners will be taken more seriously

One of the biggest benefits of an LLC is that the company can function without you at its center. Even if you're a sole proprietor right now, it's very possible that someday you'll want to step back from the business, either to retire or focus your attention elsewhere. (Another entrepreneurial passion, perhaps?) It's also likely that you may one day add employees to keep up with customer demand or supplement your offerings. You may also choose to bring on a 50-50 partner, or have a child take over the business one day.

In any of those scenarios — and countless other future scenarios — an LLC is beneficial. If, for example, you're operating as “Brad Smith, Plumber," customers may be disappointed when Rick shows up at their home to do the work, because Rick isn't Brad. With a name like “Plano Plumbing LLC," the reputation shifts toward the company, not just its founder. That means you're building credibility for your team's expertise (even if you're only a team of one right now), and you won't have to start from scratch if your team grows at some point down the line.

Forming an LLC is quick and inexpensive, and the benefits can result in a several-fold increase in revenue. If you think an LLC is right for you, talk to your accountant or small-business attorney about the benefits of this designation compared to other business classifications. Then, begin using your newfound advantage to secure new customers. Integrate LLC into your social-media pages and list it prominently on your business cards. And consider a .LLC domain name — either as your primary website or in addition to an existing domain — to improve your SEO and further set yourself apart from your non-LLC competitors.

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Monday, July 2, 2018