What can I do if I own 2 very small micro businesses and would like to run them together as one?

UPDATED: Jun 15, 2014

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What can I do if I own 2 very small micro businesses and would like to run them together as one?

They are both located in the same location and customers could purchase from both in a single transaction. To stream line the whole thing I am interested in only having one set of books. I am not interested in having 2 separate companies aside from keeping both recognized names and websites. Is it possible to keep both names but run the business as one?

Asked on June 15, 2014 under Business Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A single business can run under more than one name; for example, a single LLC can "d/b/a" (or "do[ing] business as") two, three, or more names. (As a side note: your businesses should be set up as either an LLC or a corporation to insulate your personal assets, such as your home, bank account, etc., from business debts and liabilities; not having an LLC or corporation puts a business owner at considerable financial risk.)

Legally the two businesses can have a single set of books, single operating account, single set of infrastructure, single set of employees, etc. However, it would probably be better to have two sets of books, two bank accounts, and two credit cards (if you have credit cards) if you are planning to deduct business expenses: if you can't accurately track which expense goes to which business, or show how the expenses relate to revenue, you may have some difficulty with the tax authorities in the event of an audit--particularlly if do to a lack of segregation, you inadvertantly record the same expense twice and claim it twice as a deduction.

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