Even though the requirements for starting a limited liability company (LLC) do vary from one state to the other, the differences are small. LLCs are the most popular structure for small businesses because they offer protection from personal liability and flexibility.
Basics of setting up an LLC
There are some very basic steps to setting up an LLC and these are easy to follow if you want to start the LLC yourself.
Naming an LLC
Determining the name of your LLC is the first step. The proposed name must be unique and has to be available in the state you will be doing business in. Prefer to find a matching domain name for your new startup.
Once the name and domain have been found, you will have to reserve them until you file your LLC documents. All you must do is pay a reservation fee and fill in the necessary form.
Decide on a registered agent
Even though you can act as your business’s registered agents, it is always wiser to appoint someone else to do it for you. Registered agents are available during working hours to receive any legal and compliance documents on behalf of your business. This provides you with anonymity and no one needs to know your personal address.
LLC Operating Agreement
This is an important agreement even though it is not required by all states. In it, the details of the LLC are laid out, including ownership details, voting rights, governing of the business, and how the allocation of profits and losses will be made.
State filing of the article of organization
For your LLC to be registered in your state, you need to file the articles of organization. This must include the name and address of the business, and the name and address of the registered agent. You also need to state the purpose of the LLC. You will also have to include the duration of the business if it’s not going to be long-term. Together with the article of organization, you also pay a state fee for the formation of the LLC.
You will receive a certificate of confirmation from the state once your LLC has been approved. However, there are a few more things to be taken care of before your LLC can do business. These include to register for federal and state taxes and to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You also need to open a business bank account, apply for a credit card, and get any other permits or licenses required for your type of enterprise.
Alternatives to forming an LLC individually
Perhaps you feel that the time all these steps require can be better spent on growing and marketing your startup. Then all you need to do is hire an online business formation service.
They don’t only specialize in business formation services but also have other features. They charge your LLC a fee for their various services. Some a bit more than others, but depending on your needs some will cost you as little as $39 + state fees.
These are the best business formation services according to their customer reviews.
Depending on your business formation needs and on what future services you require, ZenBusiness is considered one of the best for entrepreneurs, especially small businesses. Even their most basic packages include free registered agent services for one year, a free operating agreement, and a worry-free CPA assessment.
With ZenBusiness Pro, they also do your EIN registration, offer you a compliance guarantee and domain name registration.
If your business needs regular legal services, then RocketLawyer may be a better option. They offer an affordable business bundle for TRUiC users at $349.99 + state fees. The bundle includes the incorporation service, registered agent service, and 1-year legal services. The legal services include 30-minute free consultations with discounted prices thereafter, expert advice from lawyers, and access to free legal documents.
Incfile has a free package where you only pay the state filing fee. This package also includes one year of free registered agent services and compliance alerts for the duration of your business. They also have more advanced packages and you can download an operating agreement for $40.
With a basic package that starts at $49, Northwest offers similar packages to Incfile and ZenBusiness. They also provide one of the best customer services in the business. If you decide to go with them, you are assigned a highly trained corporate guide available to help you with any queries.
If you are looking for a recognized business formation company, then LegalZoom is the one for you. Besides their LLC formation services, they also provide a business advisory plan. This includes tax advice, access to legal forms, and help from an attorney when required. However, they are more expensive than other services.