Choosing a limited liability company (LLC) as a business structure provides a range of benefits for all types of companies. Business owners who start a business as an LLC complete the process through their state, so the rules and fees associated with incorporating vary somewhat, but the advantages are consistent: personal liability protection, flexibility in operational and taxation structure, and wide eligibility.
5 advantages of operating as an LLC
LLCs have several advantages over sole proprietorships and general partnerships.
1. Personal liability protection
One of the primary benefits of forming an LLC is that it separates your personal assets from the business. This protects your home, car, and savings in the event that your business is sued or defaults on a loan.
An exception is if you sign a personal guarantee for business financing. That does give creditors the ability to hold you personally responsible for repaying the debt. Additionally, you could also be held personally accountable in a lawsuit if there’s evidence of fraud or negligence causing harm to those involved.
2. Inexpensive and relatively easy to form
Compared to corporations, starting a business as an LLC is quite easy and inexpensive (usually less than $1,000). The exact process is determined by your state, but the paperwork is typically minimal, as is the cost. In addition to filling out a short formation document, you’ll need to file articles of organization and an operating agreement, which outlines the ownership structure of the new company. You don’t have to draw these up from scratch—templates can be found online. You can also enlist the help of a tax professional.
Forming an LLC is often more appealing to small businesses than forming a corporation because it involves much less operational complexity. LLCs aren’t required to hold an annual shareholders meeting, nor do they need to file an annual report each year.
3. Flexible taxation
Choosing an LLC as your entity type gives you a few different options on how you pay taxes. Unless an LLC elects to be taxed as a C corp, LLCs don’t pay corporate taxes and instead pass profits through to their owners as personal income. This is called pass-through taxation, and it offers savings by avoiding double taxation (at the corporate level and at the personal level).
However, depending on the tax classification you choose, you may need to pay self-employment taxes. The four tax designations for an LLC are:
- Sole proprietorship (single-member LLCs only). In a single-member LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship, the business profits pass through to the owner(s), and they pay income tax on the full amount. Owners are considered self-employed and must also pay self-employment taxes, covering Social Security and Medicare.
- General partnership (multi-member LLCs only). In a multi-member LLC taxed as a partnership, the business profits pass through to each member, and each must pay income tax on their portion. In most cases, each member also pays self-employment taxes.
- S corporation (single or multi-member LLCs). Owners of an LLC taxed as an S corp may choose to pay themselves a salary and pay payroll taxes on their salary amount. The balance of the business profits pass through to the owner(s) as income, but they do not have to pay self-employment tax on these profits. S corps also do not pay corporate taxes, as they are pass-through entities.
- C corporation (single or multi-member LLCs). When taxed as a C corp, all business profits are taxed at the corporate rate. Any profit distributions taken by LLC members are also subject to personal income taxes; this is known as double taxation. Members of a C corp don’t have to pay self-employment taxes, but any member that is paid a salary by the LLC will pay payroll taxes on their wages.
A recent change in tax law known as the QBI (qualified business income) deduction also helps many LLCs qualify for a federal tax deduction on pass-through income. Through 2025, business owners with pass-through income may deduct as much as 20% of their net income on their federal tax returns.
4. Ownership and management flexibility
An LLC business structure allows members to determine how profits are shared. This differs from a general partnership, which requires all partners to split company profits equally. Instead, LLCs allow profits to be split by whatever terms are outlined in the operating agreement. If one member invests more money upfront or puts in more sweat equity (doing the hard work of bringing the business to fruition), the agreement could give them a larger share of the profits.
Additionally, there is no limit to how many owners an LLC may have. There’s also no requirement to maintain a governing body like a board of directors or a set of officers, as a corporation would.
5. Appropriate for individuals
The advantages of an LLC don’t just apply to multi-member companies. Individuals can benefit as well by opting for a single-member LLC. You get personal asset protection, and you also have more flexibility in how you want to be taxed. For some businesses, electing to be taxed as an S corp may create tax savings; but state rules about S corp status vary, so make sure to do your local research.
What are the disadvantages of operating as an LLC?
There are some drawbacks to choosing an LLC as your business entity:
- There are exceptions to personal liability protection, such as instances of fraud or corporate malfeasance.
- While corporate taxes are usually bypassed, you may owe self-employment taxes.
- It may be difficult to transfer ownership compared to other options like C corporations, which have an unlimited number of shareholders.
Business owners who are unsure of which business structure to choose could benefit from legal advice from a lawyer or tax professional who is well-versed in small businesses.
Running a successful business involves more than selling products or finding clients. It’s also important to get a firm grasp on the administrative side of things, including maximizing the benefits of your business structure and securing funding. Both individuals and larger companies can form an LLC to protect their personal assets and enjoy tax advantages.