How to Start an LLC

How to Start an LLC - Man working in office on his business

Time to make your LLC legal. Here’s what you need to know

You’ve finally made the decision to create your LLC.

Congratulations! There are certain steps you need to take in order to make this a reality, so let’s start from the beginning.

What is a Limited Liability Company?

A limited liability company or LLC is a legal entity formed to start and operate a business. It’s a lot easier to form an LLC and is cheaper to run than other business entries

Why should you form an LLC for your small business?

If you’ve already been doing business as a sole proprietor, forming an LLC helps limit your personal legal liability. Additional benefits include:

  • Protection of your personal assets
  • Pass-through taxation
  • It’s simple, flexible, and credible

Setting Up An LLC –

You have a few options when creating and registering your LLC. You can do it yourself (DIY), hire a lawyer, use an online website that incorporates, or go through our free online course. This guide not only assists in showing you how to apply for an LLC but covers a number of processes you should know like setting up taxes and unemployment insurance, accounting, and more.

Get Your Business Off the Ground in 8 Easy Steps

1. Create an LLC operating agreement

If your LLC has two or more members, it should have an operating agreement. Although it’s not really required to get an LLC, this outlines how the business is structured and will operate among the members

2. Form and apply for an LLC

In order to get started, you should have a few things in mind:

  • What will your company name be?
  • What state are you incorporating in?
  • Who will be your registered agent and the address for both?
  • What is the cost?
  • What is the start date?

These four items are the most important, as you can’t proceed without them.

3. File the LLC

Each state has its own criteria for filing the LLC. You will apply for the LLC on the Secretary of State’s website. You may be able to apply online, but some states may require a hard copy filing.

As you fill out the paperwork, you will file a document called the Articles of Organization. In some states, it may be called the Certificate of Formation, or the Certificate of Organization. This outlines the name of the LLC, type of legal structure, registered agent, whether the LLC is managed by members or managers, the effective date, and purpose.

4. Obtain the Certificate of Status

Once you successfully file, you will receive a Certificate of Status proving you are one of the authorized members of the LLC. When filing, a certified copy of this document may have an additional cost. You should get this and keep it for your records. This document is needed in order to apply for your EIN and business bank account.

5. Get your EIN from the IRS

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is an identifier from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used to identify business entities. It is nine digits and is also known as a Tax I.D. Number. This number allows you to legally open a bank account, apply for business licenses and file tax returns. Consider it a Social Security number for businesses.

6. Open a Bank Account

One of the best things you can do is separate your personal and business funds. It makes things very easy for your accountant or bookkeeper, and if you are ever audited by the IRS.

Note: Do not play with the IRS. Keep your transactions and taxes straight. A good accountant can help you get your books in order

7. Apply for Business Licenses

Depending on the type of business you have, there are certain licenses you will need. Every state and municipality has some kind of license that allows you to do business in their jurisdiction. If your entity is an online business, there is some leeway, but it is always best to do your research and get the relevant information as it pertain to your type of business.

8. Get Business Insurance

Business insurance isn’t something you hear about too often, but it is very important, especially when dealing with customers. Speak to your insurance agent about the type of insurance you should have and put that cost into the budget.

How to Apply for an LLC Online

Applying for an LLC online is easy. You can do it yourself with the Secretary of State or use an online LLC formation service provider to do it for you. Here’s our full list of best LLC formation services, but three of the top online business formation options on the market are:

The ZenBusiness platform was built to meet your needs throughout the life of your business. You’ll get access to a personalized dashboard for storing important formation documents, receiving state compliance alerts, or even managing a domain name and website for your business.

ZenBusiness has three different tiers. The Starter is $49 billed annually, The Pro is $199 billed annually, and The Premium is $299 billed annually. None of these packages includes state filing fees.

IncFile’s goal is to support you with a full suite of startup services that motivate you to chase your dream with a trusted partner by your side.

Their pricing centers around the entity type and state. You will have to input this information for the system to generate the quote related to the type of formation you decide to use and your type of business.

LegalZoom is an online legal technology company that helps its customers create legal documents without necessarily having to hire a lawyer. This includes business formation documents, copyright registrations, and trademark applications.

LegalZoom also has many different options. Their LLC service starts at $79 + filing fees.

Key Points to Remember About Forming an LLC

Filing an LLC helps solidify your place in the business world, demonstrating that you’re ready to operate as a legal entity and are serious about what you do. This is an amazing first step in creating a legacy of your own. Once you file and receive confirmation of your status, the business will be recognized by the IRS and other businesses.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

Liability

The LLC will have its own liability that does not automatically extend to the owners. That means the LLC protects the liabilities and debts incurred from the business. In most situations, you will be safe from having your personal assets seized to pay debts incurred you cannot repay unless you used a personal guarantee for the debt.

Credibility

As you move forward, your LLC will continuously be recognized as an entity. People and other businesses like doing business with a legitimate entity. You will also be able to obtain a DUNS number and build your business credit.

Management

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.

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

Getting Ready to Launch

You’ve filed your LLC and received your Certificate of Status. 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 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.

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