Maintaining your privacy should be a TOP priority for all nurse practitioner entrepreneurs…. Why? Because there are CRAZY people out there and if you are ever being sued, that lawyer is going to do their research on you to determine how much you are worth.
Your job should be to make your business look like its owned by no one. You need to make it as difficult as possible for people to look up who owns your business. There are “ways” people (such as a nosey lawyer or someone who is looking for an easy payday) can look up who owns a specific business. Once they figure that out, they can then do more research on you such as doing title searches to see what property you own and even more…
You need to develop the mindset of “Ill be damned if someone is going to take what I worked hard for all my life!” Because listen everyone, BS lawsuits happen all the time, and sometimes, hard working and good natured people get royally screwed in a lawsuit.
First and foremost: BE A GOOD PERSON. That is the number one way to avoid a lawsuit.
Now, with that out of the way, lets review ways to make yourself as anonymous as possible with your business:
***Disclaimer: Some of these strategies will be impossible to implement in some states. For example, if you are required to form a PLLC, chances are your name will be public for that PLLC. You need to contact a business lawyer to determine if there are ways around this. ***
1) Using a “Parent LLC” that owns your operating LLC: As many of you know, I recommend forming an LLC in WY or NV because of their awesome privacy protections. When you form an LLC in WY or NV, you do not have to disclose who owns it in the initial articles of organization. Unfortunately, in NV, you must disclose that in your annual reports, but guess what? In WY you do not… You cannot find out who owns an LLC in WY by simply using public records. It would take an action in a court of law to pierce through that protection, and that takes a long time usually. Within that time, you could get your affairs in order to protect your assets further, such as moving money offshore, transferring assets to other people, etc.
Operating a telemedicine practice out of Wyoming is smart. Chances are, you will be operating in multiple states. So, what better way to maintain your privacy? NO ONE can find out who owns that LLC. I owned a transgender telemedicine practice before I sold it! A very CONTROVERSIAL type of practice. Do you think I wanted crazy ass people online to know who owned it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I did not want a bomb showing up to my front door…
Now, if you are operating a brick and mortar practice, you will more than likely need to file for a foreign LLC in the state you are practicing in. Unfortunately, many states will require you to disclose your information, BUT, in many states, you can use the parent company in WY as the “member”, “shareholder”, or “owner” of that foreign LLC. Therefore, if someone looks up your foreign LLC in your home state, it will simply list your “Wyoming LLC” as its owner/member. Then they look up the WY LLC and BOOM, nothing. Look into this option. I have done it, and it works great.
Check out THIS article on how to start an LLC if you need to know.
2) Using a third party “manager” on the LLC articles of organization: In some states, you can designate a manager of your LLC and only this person would be listed on the organizational documents. This is called a Manager-Managed LLC. Some states have this, and some do not. If your state does though, you could elect your cousin Jimmy to be your manager, which would list them on public record, maintaining your anonymity. You would need to trust this manager 100%.
3) Registered Agents: As I mentioned in the registered agent article HERE, you do not want to elect yourself as the registered agent for your LLC. This information is PUBLIC, therefore, if you list yourself as the owner on it, you basically just blew your cover.
4) Using your home address for the LLC: NEVER NEVER EVER EVER USE YOUR HOME ADDRESS FOR AN LLC! It floors me how many people do this… If some nosey person saw that the address on the LLC did not match that of your businesses location, they could look it up and see that it is a residential address in some neighborhood and then look up who owns that house. If that is you, then your anonymity is destroyed.
You need to use your businesses physical address, P.O. boxes, virtual addresses, or addresses of friends/relatives when registering your LLC. I have used my fiancés rental property address for one of my rental property LLCs address before. The tenants of my rental property have NO CLUE who actually owns that house, which is by design. It works great!
5) Domain registration: When you register for your domain name, the owner of that domain name is public. Therefore, when you are purchasing your website from hosting companies like GoDaddy, Wix, Site Ground, etc., there is an option to buy domain privacy protection for like $10. With GoDaddy for example, they list their name as the owner instead of you, protecting your privacy. This is a wise $10 investment.
6) Lease agreements: Avoid signing a lease for a new office with your personal name. Always use your LLCs name. Most commercial real estate companies or landlords have no problem with this. All they care about is receiving their rent.
7) Always use business phone numbers and emails: This might sound like a no brainer, but far too many nurse practitioner entrepreneurs use their personal email address or phone number to conduct business… JUST DON’T DO THIS. A second phone line using RingRx or Sideline costs $15 a month and a Gmail account is free. There is no excuse for this.
8) Never tell your employees or patients that you own the practice: I am guilty of this, and my men’s health practices anonymity is destroyed because of it. Most of my patients know I own the practice. Thankfully, they are all laid back and down to earth (mostly). Therefore, I don’t stress out about it much. When it comes to my second location though, those patients will have no idea who owns it. As I expand and open more locations, I am going to take the above steps to ensure it stays this way.
Do not tell your patients you own the practice. If anyone is going to sue you, it will be your patient or their family. Same thing with your employees. Just tell them you are a manager or director and leave it at that. No one is going to dive into it.
The resounding theme here is this everyone:
Avoid having your name associated with anything that is public record. This is true for a business and your property.
This might sound tedious and confusing but taking a few extra hours of due diligence during the planning phase of your business could potentially save your ass down the road. If you already have a business, changing the member information with the Secretary of State is not difficult, just give them a call or contact a lawyer to help you out!