I am in the process of researching and getting the business plan ready for my small business. In a nutshell, I will be importing certain types of furniture from other (mostly Asian) countries and I will be acting as a wholesale broker to furniture stores, retaurants, hotels, etc. domestically in providing them the furniture. We do not want to target the consumer market... yet. Even though we will have a website, it will not be solely an e-commerce site since most of our advertisements will come mostly in the form of mailing lists and via trade magazines. The website will primarily act as an "virtual manual" for potential clients to browse through our offerings. There are three of us in this venture - one located overseas who will be responsible for setting up the sellers as well as myself and another partner located here in the US who will locate buyers.
Both my partners says that we should seriously think about incorporating our business in the US (as an LLC, "S" or "C" corporation) so that we can establish ourselves as a worthwhile business when dealing with overseas sellers and local buyers. He also says that having a business identity in the U.S. is required by the sellers for shipping purposes if we want the seller to pay for the shipping costs. I still can't seem to find the answer to this. Is this really true?
I plan to spend a lot of time making this business successful but I do not intend for this to be my full time job. I planned for this to be my little sideshow from the very start, which is why I am having doubts about having to create a legal business identity. Some small businesses exist without one. So should we incorporate ourselves? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having as legal business identity?
And also, for those who have had experience with bulk overseas shipping, is an import license neccesary in shipping containers of stuff overseas? I have gotten two different answers to this question but have yet to talk to a shiping broker about it. Thanks for your help.