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Protecting Your Personal Finances

Keep a good separation between business and personal to make sure you'll be OK if your business isn't.

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This story appears in the November 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Unfortunately, many businesses hit bumps along the way--and some just flat-out fail. So it's critical that owners protect their personal assets in case their own businesses don't have storybook endings. Make sure you have these pieces in place to keep your individual assets separate from your business dealings.

Organize. Establish the business as a corporation or rather than operate as a partnership or sole proprietorship, says Asher Rubinstein, a attorney. "However, don't assume setting up a separate entity automatically protects you," he says. If you're using the business as your personal piggy bank--paying for groceries out of the business checking account, for example--someone who sues your business may be able to establish that you and your business are one and the same, and that could make things of value like your home and your investments fair game. Also, respect the formality of the entity you establish by keeping proper books and, in the case of corporations, holding annual meetings.

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