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How to Start an LLC in Michigan (MI)

A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Forming an LLC in Missouri

How-to-start-an-LLC-in-Michigan

Forming an LLC in Michigan is a great business structure for your company if you’re looking to keep the flexibility of a sole proprietorship while gaining the protection of a corporation. The process to set up your LLC is straightforward and approval times tend to be quicker when compared to setting up other business entities. 

The main benefit of setting up an LLC is its ability to protect your personal assets (and any members of your LLC). If you ever come into legal trouble or your company has business losses, an LLC keeps your personal and professional assets completely separate. This is a great business structure for any type of business (small, medium, or large) as it will protect your
home, personal savings, property, and any other important possessions you have.

To form an LLC in Michigan all you need to do is follow these 5 initial steps:

How to Form an LLC in Michigan – A Step by Step guide

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How to start an LLC in MI (United States)

While forming an LLC ensures your personal assets are protected, any discrepancies or errors on your application will slow down the entire process. Depending on the mistake, the Michigan state could deny your application. If you’re lacking confidence in following each step we’d advise hiring experts to file all your business paperwork for you (a more worry-free approach).

Otherwise, if you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person follow these 5 initial steps: 

1. Name your Michigan LLC

To form an LLC in Michigan you need to follow specific name requirements set by the state law. Your business name needs to be unique, meaning no other company has a similar name. 

Name Requirements

Before checking to see if you’re desired business name is available, to abide by Michigan LLC law, make sure the name of your company contains one of the following:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • L.L.C 
  • LLC

Your LLC name can be your business name, like Plumbing King L.L.C, or the name of one of your LLC’s members, such as Joe Smith LLC. 

Check Name Availability

Once you’ve decided on your name you need to check to see if it’s available and there’s no other company in Michigan using it. The quick and easy way to do this is through a quick google search using your desired name.

If you don’t find any competing names the next step is to verify that the name isn’t taken through the Michigan name search.

If your business name is still available but you don’t have any plans on filing an LLC just yet, you can reserve it with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for up to 6 months. To reserve your name simply fill out the ‘application for reservation of name’ and submit it online or by mail. It costs $25. 

Using a Fictitious Name

If you don’t want to use LLC in your business name then once your business is registered you can add a fictitious name. Also known as DBA (“doing business as”), or a trading name, a fictitious name allows you to run your business under a name that’s not the legal LLC registered name. 

You can also use a fictitious name if you plan on running several different businesses under your LLC formation.

If you think using a fictitious name is the best option for your business you have to register the name with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. It costs $25 and you can apply online or by mail.

Once you’ve figured out what your business name is and you’ve made sure it’s still available, the next step is to choose a registered agent who will help you with the legal side of your business. 

2. Choose a Michigan Registered Agent

A registered agent is anyone who receives and sends legal documents on behalf of your company. They are the main point of contact between your company and the Secretary of State.

In Michigan, an LLC must have a registered agent who lives in Michigan and has a valid street address (not a P.O. box).

An LLC registered agent can be:

  • Yourself 
  • A family member or friend 
  • A Commercial Registered Agent  

Why you may want to use a registered agent

While the easier route seems to have yourself, or one of your LLC’s members, act as the registered agent, there are some benefits in hiring a professional. A registered agent will ensure your business is always in good standing with the state, helping you stay organized and up-to-date. It also adds a layer of protection since they’ll help you in the case of a lawsuit or any penalties/fines.

Once you’ve decided who’s the best person to be your registered agent the next step is to submit your LLC application form.

3. File a Michigan LLC Articles of Organization

To file a Michigan LLC you need to submit an ‘Articles of Organization’ application form to the 

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. You can apply online or by mailing it to: 

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Corporations,

Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau Corporations Division 

P.O. Box 30054 Lansing, MI 4890

If you fill out the form with inaccurate information, your writing is illegible or you skip a section, your application will be refused. Be prepared to include the following information (and always read it over once before submitting):

  • the LLC’s name
  • the effective date of formation (either the day you’re applying or a future date). 
  • the name and address of the LLC’s registered agent
  • the LLC’s initial principal office address, and
  • signatures of one of the LLC members 

Filing Costs

It costs $50 to file your LLC in Michigan and takes anywhere from 10-15 business days to get approval. If you’re looking to get a quicker response time you can pay an extra $50 for rushed services and get approval within 24 hours.

Once you get the approval you can move onto step 4 – creating an LLC Operating Agreement. If you’re operating your LLC by yourself skip to step 5

4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement

If your LLC has two or more members, it should have an operating agreement. Although it’s not required in Michigan, it’s recommended as it will outline how the business is structured and how it will operate among its members (and/or managers). 

Some of the sections you’ll typically find covered in an operating agreement include:

  • Organization
  • Management
  • Voting
  • Capital distributions
  • Distributions
  • Dissolution

Again, while this is not a necessary step, as you don’t have to mail it to the secretary of state, it is recommended if your LLC has more than 2 members. It helps clarify the rules of your LLC and makes sure they are legally documented.

After you’ve agreed and created an LLC Operating Agreement the next step is to create your unique employer identification number.

5. Create an EIN

Once your LLC has been approved you’ll need to get an employer identification number (EIN).
An EIN is a federal tax ID number that registers you with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number is used to identify your company when filing taxes.

How to register for an EIN:

Apply online or,
– fill out the Employer Identification Number form and fax it to 855-641-6935, or mail it to:

Internal Revenue Service,
Attn: EIN Operation,
Cincinnati,
OH, 45999

If you apply online you’ll get instant approval. If you apply by fax it takes up to 4 business days whereas mailing it can take up to 4 weeks. Applying for your EIN is completely free!

Michigan LLC Registration – Final Checklist & Summary

Ready to get started? Use this simple checklist to make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s! 

  1. Name your LLC – Your business name must include Limited Liability Company, L.L.C,  or LLC. It can’t be used by any other business in Michigan. Make sure you confirm the availability of your desired name through the state’s name search. If you don’t want to use any abbreviation of Limited Liability Company in your business name you can file a ‘fictitious’ name with the state to operate under your desired title.
  2. Choose a Registered Office – A registered agent is a person who receives and sends legal documents on behalf of your company. It can be you, a friend or family member, or a commercial registered agent. 
  3. File a Michigan LLC Articles of Organization – To file an LLC in Michigan you need to submit an ‘Articles of Organization’ application form to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. It costs $50 and takes between 10-15 days to process, or you can pay $100 and get approval within 24 hours.
  4. Apply for your Michigan LLC Employer Identification Number (EIN) & File your Tax Registration Form – Once you get approval for your LLC you need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) through the IRS. This number is used to identify your company when filing taxes. You can apply online for free and approval is instant.
  5. Create Michigan LLC Operating Agreement – If your LLC has two or more members, you should create an LLC operating agreement that outlines how the business is structured, who is responsible for what, and how much of the LLC each person owns. You don’t have to send your operating agreement to Michigan state but you should have one so everything is documented and signed by all members.

While there are a few different pieces into making sure your LLC is filed correctly, make sure you follow each step as stated so there are no errors.

If you can, we recommend using an all-around service to make sure your LLC gets set up correctly from the get-go. Just make sure you do your homework and choose one of the best LLC services for your business.

Our first recommendation is to go with ZenBusiness, an LLC creation service that holds your hand from start to finish. Packages start as low as $49. 

How To Apply for a Michigan LLC Online

Now that you know the exact steps on what’s needed to form your LLC it’s time to start the application process. There are two ways of going about this:

1. Do it Yourself – Taking the DIY route is a good option if your budget is tight or you’ve previously opened an LLC and understand how it works.

2. Use an Online Formation Company – Using an online formation company is a better option if it’s your first time opening up an LLC and if it’s within your budget (formation services cost anywhere between $49 – $199). This is typically a better choice if you want to avoid headaches and have peace of mind knowing professionals are handling everything for you. 

If using a professional service is more up your alley, here are our top 3 recommendations:

ZenBusiness

zenbusiness website

ZenBusiness built its platform to meet the needs of your business throughout its lifetime. When you pay for their services, you’ll receive a personalized dashboard to your business to store documents, receive alerts, and manage your website.

ZenBusiness charges based on a tier system. There are three different tiers with pricing as follows:

  • The Starter = $49 annually
  • The Pro = $199 annually
  • The Premium = $299 annually
ZenBusiness Review

IncFile

IncFile-Review-ScreenShot

IncFile provides you with a full suite offering startup services to best support your business formation.

Their pricing model also depends on the state you are filling. You can generate a personalized quote on their website by entering in the necessary information of your business.

IncFile Review

Legal Zoom

LLC Limited Liability Company Start an LLC Online LegalZoom
LegalZoom

LegalZoom is an online legal service provider that helps you to be able to create legal documents without having to pay the expensive lawyer fees. Some of the services they provide assistance to include business formation, copyrights, and trademarks.

LegalZoom has many different pricing options available. For their LLC service, pricing begins at $79 + the allotted state fee.

LegalZoom Review

After Starting Your Michigan LLC

You’ve been approved – now what? The journey doesn’t stop here – there’s still a handful of things you need to do to get your business off the ground. We recommend ticking off the following items to make sure your LLC gets off on the right foot. 

Purchase A Domain For Your Business

Having an online presence, even if your business is local, is important in creating trust, professionalism, and a way for people to find you. If you haven’t already thought about getting a website, now’s the time. In a tech-saturated world, you need a domain to not only attract new customers but help create a good first visual impression of what your business does and how it can help. 

Get A Business Phone Number

Since your business is now an approved Michigan LLC you should think about getting a business phone number. Having a business number is a great way to show professionalism to your clients and customers. It makes you more serious and more importantly – more trustworthy.

There’s a variety of different online phone services you can go with, or you could go the traditional route and open an account through a local branch. You can get a local number or a 1-800, the options are endless!  

Open Your Michigan LLC Business Bank Account

You’ll want to open a business account that’s separate from your personal banking. This will not only make accounting easier but you won’t have to worry about your finances mixing in with your business finances.

USA Business Bank Accounts

If you already have online banking it might be easier to open a business account through your current bank so all your banking (although in separate accounts) will be accessible in the same place. If you prefer to open something new keep these checking accounts in mind: 

Chase – Free checking account with no extra fees – as long as you keep a $1,500 minimum balance.

BlueVine – Free checking account with mobile banking and a debit MasterCard. 

Bank Novo – Open a free checking account with Free transfers and free ATM fees.

Level One Bank – Find local help to coach you on your entrepreneurial journey. Open checking accounts, savings and explore local lending options.

Along with your business checking account, you should apply for a business credit card too. Having a business credit card is a good way to establish your business credit score (which may help if you ever need a loan). It also makes it easier for online purchases and again, it will keep your personal and business finances separate. 

Find Accountant/Buy Accounting Software

Taxes get complicated fast and can be a burden to deal with. We recommend getting an accountant or using accounting software to make sure all your spending actions are being tracked (payroll, bills, invoices, receipts, etc.). Here are some popular options to look into:

Wave – Free invoicing & accounting software with credit card processing & payroll services.

Intuit Quickbooks – Online accounting software to track expenses, customize invoices, and run reports.

Freshbooks – Accounting software to send invoices, track time, manage receipts, expenses, and accept credit cards.

Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credential – If you want to use a local specialist you can search for a certified public accountant (CPA) through the IRS online directory.

Having all of your business reports in one spot is highly beneficial so you can keep an eye on your cash flow. To run a successful business you’re going to need to analyze how your business is performing and narrow down what’s working or what isn’t working so there’s always room for growth.

File Annual Registrations On Time

Every year you’re required to file an annual report to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to keep your LLC active and in good standing.

Annual reports are due each year before February 15th. You’re required to submit your first report after your first year of formation. For example, if you formed your LLC on March 25th, 2021, you’d be expected to file your first report before February 15th, 2022. However, if you formed your LLC anytime after September 30th, 2021, you wouldn’t have to file your first report until February 2023. 

It costs $25 to file and $50 if you miss the deadline. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will send a reminder to your LLC’s registered agent 3 months before the deadline.

Notify Michigan Of Any Changes You Make To Your LLC

If at any time you make changes to your LLC you need to inform the state. If you’re using a registered agent they can do this for you. If you’re going about this alone then you can update changes through Michigan’s business portal or through your registered agent.

8 Benefits of Forming an LLC in Michigan

When you file your company as an LLC in Michigan it helps solidify your standing in the business world. This motion shows other businesses and potential customers that you are willing to do what it takes to be a legally operating business.

Choosing to form your business as an LLC in Michigan allows you to take advantage of the benefits of both a corporation and a partnership structure. Some of these benefits include:

1. Protect Your Personal Assets

The LLC will have its liability that does not automatically extend to the owners, unlike a sole proprietor, where you are legally responsible for everything. That means Michigan LLC protects the liabilities and debts incurred by the business. In most situations, your assets, such as your car, home, or savings, will never be at risk if your Michigan LLC is faced with lawsuits or bankruptcy.

2. Benefit From Business Profit Taxation

In an LLC in Michigan, your profits and losses can pass through to your income without having to have corporate taxation.

3. Simple to Create and Maintain

The formation of a Michigan LLC requires minimal paperwork and requirements. They are known for being easy to start and simple to maintain.

4. Minimal Restrictions

Your business matters can be managed by more than one owner or member while still being one main business to the public. This means all decisions and transactions behind the scenes can be equitably distributed while presenting one entity as you move forward.

5. Heighten Your Credibility

As you move forward, your Michigan LLC will continuously be recognized as an entity. People and other businesses prefer doing business with a legitimate entity because it shows your level of professionalism.

6. Gain Access to Business Loans

When you form your Michigan LLC, you will obtain a DUNS number and build your business credit, helping you to further build upon your business.

7. Benefit From Flexible Profit Distribution

In an LLC, you are not required to spread the distribution of profits equally across the owners. You have full control over profit distribution in your Michigan LLC.

8. Good For Any Kind Of Business

An LLC business structure in Michigan is an excellent choice for both medium and higher-risk level businesses. You might always want to consider opting to go with an LLC if you have a significant amount of personal assets to protect from your company. And lastly, LLCs are great for owners who are interested in paying lower tax rates than corporations.

Conclusion

Don’t go it alone. It’s easy to make mistakes when getting your business off the ground. Using an LLC formation service such as ZenBusiness as your go-to business solution will make things easy. From filing your documents to getting the advice you need to move forward, ZenBusiness is there every step of the way.

Once you’ve completed your LLC filing through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and received your Certificate of Status via an online formation service. What’s next? You’ll need to figure out your brand voice and how you want to speak to your audience, create a logo, colors, branding, website, phone number, and how you will get the word out to the public.

If you’re in it for the long haul, trademarking your name should be on the list. Finally, once all the moving parts are in place, it’s time to schedule your launch. This could entail having a pre-sale or something different, but it’s always best to create a schedule and stick to it.

FAQ – About Forming Michigan LLC

There are several different steps you’ll need to do to legally form your LLC. It’s a lot of information to take in and can get confusing. To help out we’ve compiled some answers to the most frequently asked questions:

What are LLCs and why are they important?

An LLC is a Limited Liability Company. It’s a business structure used to protect your assets, like your house, your car, or even your savings. No matter what happens to your business (lawsuits, bankruptcy, etc.) your assets are kept safe. 

How Much Does It Cost to Start an LLC in Michigan?

It costs $50 to file an ‘Articles of Organization’ application form or $100 for approval within 24 hours. After your formation expects to pay $25 to file an annual report to keep your LLC active.

How Long Does It Take to Form an LLC in Michigan?

It takes 10-15 business days to file your LLC in Michigan, however, if you’re looking for faster turnaround times you can pay $50 to get approval within 24 hours. 

Do You Need a Lawyer to Start an LLC in Michigan?

No, you can start an LLC without a lawyer just be prepared to file and report everything on your own. If you’re not interested in getting a lawyer but want to make sure everything is filed correctly then use an online business formation service, like the ones listed in this article, with ZenBusiness as our #1 recommendation. 

Does an LLC Need to Make Money?

No, an LLC doesn’t need to make profits but if you’re claiming tax deductions with no income the IRS will likely audit your business.  

What Are The Downsides to Having an LLC?

There are pros and cons to forming an LLC. The pros are tax reductions, protecting your personal assets, and creating credibility for your business (and possible future business loans). The main con of an LLC is you’re considered self-employed. This is a disadvantage as you’d be taxed under self-employment and responsible to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. The amount you’d be required to pay depends on your business’s total net earnings.