Q: I am a self-employed computer consultant. Currently, I am not incorporated, but I am considering incorporating for the tax advantages and limited liability. Is there a resource that can give me more information about the differences between my sole proprietorship and S and C corporations?
West Los Angeles
A: The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, your local business association or your nearest Small Business Development Center should have booklets available for small-business owners that explain the differences among various business entities and instruct small-business owners about when and how to incorporate.
You could also contact the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for an explanation of incorporating and which businesses should consider it. The group has a site on the World Wide Web, http://www.aicpa.org
Probably your best bet, though, would be to meet with your own accountant and let him or her help you make this decision. There are many factors your CPA will bring up that you might not think about, such as your long-term plans for your business, succession planning, the eventual sale of your business and whether you will be in this business for more than five years. There are costs associated with incorporating that make considering all those things important--it's not a one-minute decision that you should make on your own.
Davis & Dash Accountancy Corp.
Q: Our trucking company is trying to bid on U.S. Postal Service contracts, but we need advice on the process.
--Linda M. Lukas
A: As a quasi-private agency, the Postal Service does open its bids to the public. Potential bidders must register as suppliers to the agency. Once your company is registered, you will be notified when bids are opened. You can call your regional post office and ask that it send you the registration forms and put you on the service's mailing list. Or, if you have access to the Internet, you can register directly online at its Web site, http://www.usps.gov
The Web site also provides general information on doing business with the Postal Service, a purchasing manual that guides potential bidders, and a calendar of the regional seminars the post office has to help businesses that want to sell goods and services to it.
Businesses that want to sell to federal agencies and quasi-government agencies should arrange to get Commerce Business Daily, a publication that lists advertisements for bids from government agencies. You can find out more about how to get the publication by visiting the Small Business Administration's Web site, http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov, which also has links to other government sites.
If your company is economically disadvantaged or minority-owned, you may qualify for the SBA's 8(a) program, a business development program that helps socially and economically disadvantaged firms obtain government contracts. Call our Los Angeles office at (818) 552-3310 or our Orange County office at (714) 550-7420 for more information.
--Glen V. Constantino
Assistant district director
Minority Enterprise Development
Small Business Administration
If you have a question about how to start or operate a small business, mail it to Karen E. Klein care of the Los Angeles Times, 1333 S. Mayflower Ave., Suite 100, Monrovia, CA 91016, or e-mail it to email@example.com. Include your name, address and telephone number. The column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice.