Is it possible to travel the world and run a business at the same time?
The world today is full of options for the traveling entrepreneur and digital nomad. But it can be stressful to figure out how to balance your wanderlust inspired lifestyle and your finances.
As more people jump on the opportunities that are out there for digital nomads, there are more companies being created that hope to fill the gaps within this niche.
One such platform is Stripe Atlas. Stripe Atlas has received both ridicule and praise. In this article, you’ll learn what Stripe Atlas is and what the pros and cons might be for you as a digital nomad and citizen of the world.
WHAT IS STRIPE ATLAS?
Stripe Atlas is a platform created in 2016 to help individuals start and run a company. Their services are meant to simplify the process.
Stripe Atlas starts by helping you form a Delaware C Corporation. They assist you with complicated paperwork and legal documents that you might not know how to navigate on your own.
According to their website, Stripe Atlas will get you your Tax ID number and have your company ready to go within a matter of days.
Once you have a company through Stripe Atlas, you can use a Stripe account. A Stripe account includes options for Stripe Billing, Stripe Capital, Connect, Stripe Corporate Card, and Radar.
These additional programs are going to help you with running your business from billing to currency exchange.
HOW MUCH DOES STRIPE ATLAS COST?
The setup fee for Stripe Atlas is $500.
After that, you continue to pay ongoing costs for things like a Delaware registered agent, tax preparation and filing, and banking. These costs are going to be upward of $500 a year and will vary based on which bank you use.
You can look into cheaper banking options. Some banks throughout the world charge little to no monthly fees and have small minimum deposits.
PRO: SIMPLE AND EASY
One thing Stripe Atlas can boast is being a generally one-stop-shop. They’re going to get you started and then they’ll help you keep going.
If you are confused about the paperwork of starting your company, Stripe Atlas will take care of the majority of it for you.
And once you are established, the platform continues to be easy to use. Billing and transactions are easy to navigate and they have assistance available for when you need it.
With it all taken care of, you’ll have more time to enjoy your travels and spend less time worrying over legalities.
However, a lot of these things you can do yourself if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn how. Or you can hire one of the many other companies that do pretty much the exact same thing.
CON: NOT EXACTLY REVOLUTIONARY
While Stripe Atlas got a lot of hype with its creation in 2016, you need to realize this isn’t exactly a brand new, revolutionary idea. Companies that do virtually the same thing have been around for years.
You can find a different platform that may work even better for your individual needs and may save you even more money than Stripe Atlas can.
Some other similar platforms include Gust Launch, FirstBase, and Legalstart (located in France). Or you could work with a professional advisor or team of advisors who can guide you through the process.
The thing elevating Stripe Atlas is how trendy it is. With its release, Stripe Atlas became the kind of platform you’d find in Silicon Valley. It’s the program everyone wants to use.
PRO: REMOTE SETUP
As a foreigner, you could come to the United States and set up a US bank account. The perk Stripe Atlas offers is that you can set up an account from where you are, no travel necessary.
In addition to setting up your company, getting a Stripe Atlas account comes with other Stripe features. You can do a lot of your monetary transactions through stripe.
Stripe itself doesn’t have a bank it owns or runs, instead, Stripe connects to whatever bank account you have or will help you set up a new bank account.
If you don’t have a banking preference, Stripe will help you set up a Silicon Valley bank account. You can live on the other side of the country or the other side of the world, and get this account set up for you.
CON: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER VIOLATIONS
Usually, other people shouldn’t be able to set up a bank account for you. Most banks have a Know-Your-Customer policy. These banks want to know who they are dealing with, so they are going to ask you a lot of questions when you create an account.
This is a pretty standard procedure. And it usually requires you to set up an account in person
We aren’t sure how Stripe Atlas is getting around this, but it’s possible that they are violating Know-Your-Customer procedures.
PRO: START A US BUSINESS AS A FOREIGN NONRESIDENT
One thing that Stripe Atlas does is help foreign entrepreneurs establish companies in the US.
Many foreign entrepreneurs are interested in starting their company or expanding their company into the US. This is primarily because the US is such a big name as a large established country.
Stripe Atlas is meant to make the process less complicated and serves entrepreneurs worldwide. When you open a US bank account with them, it’s going to save you money in currency exchange if you are dealing in USD.
At the same time, there are plenty of other countries you can establish a company in that don’t have the same tax expenses as the US.
CON: US TAXES
If you aren’t a US citizen or resident and have never done business within the US, starting a US company through Stripe Atlas is going to put you on the US tax radar.
US taxes are atrocious. Having that Delaware C Corporation is going to cost you. You are going to have to file a US tax form.
Stripe Atlas is going to give you your Tax ID form when you register with them. That’s something you’ll need as you file with the IRS. And if you don’t file your taxes, you end up looking at a large number of fees.
As a digital nomad, you’re probably looking to reduce taxes and get away from the US, not dig yourself deeper.
Establishing your company outside of the US is going to give you a huge tax break. Stripe Atlas is going to reel you back in.
Considering the pros and cons, Stripe Atlas may or may not be for you. It has some great aspects, but so do other platforms.
There are plenty of resources out there that can direct you as you establish your company, manage your bank accounts, and figure out your tax situation. You can utilize Stripe Atlas, other similar platforms, professional advisors, or you can try and do it all yourself.
It’s possible to live a low tax, travel-filled lifestyle in completely legal ways. More and more ways to manage and transfer money are showing up all the time.
So don’t let your worry over how you’re going to manage your money stop you from living your dream.