You might decide to form an LLC for the liability protection that it will give you. What is an LLC? It is a business entity that exists separately from you, which means that you will not be responsible for any business debts. LLCs are more flexible than corporations are and easier to set up. Moreover, LLCs have fewer requirements for ongoing reports.
Here are some steps to take if you want to start your own LLC:
Choose a Name
In most states, your business cannot have the same name as another business entity. This means that you should research to see whether your LLC name is available. Before you file your LLC paperwork, you should check for name availability. Choosing a unique name will help you to avoid confusion and claims of trademark infringement.
Reserve a Name
If your chosen name is available but you do not want to file the paperwork immediately, you should consider reserving the name. You can reserve a name in most states by filing forms and paying a fee for name reservation. The length of renewal policies, filing fees, and reservation will vary from state to state.
Choose a Registered Agent
In every state, LLCs need to name a registered agent whose role is to receive official documents and lawsuits on behalf of the business. This person should then pass on the information to the right person in the LLC. Anybody over the age of 18 can be a registered agent – even an officer or member of the LLC. Moreover, you should consider companies that provide the services of a registered agent for LLCs.
Prepare an LLC Operating Agreement
This refers to a roadmap that outlines the way your business will be run. This agreement also specifies the member voting rights, allocation of losses and profits, and ownership interests. Moreover, an LLC operating agreement should also state what will happen if one member dies. Although this agreement is not required by state laws, it helps to define the responsibilities and rights of business owners thus minimizing future disagreements.
Filing Organizational Paperwork with the State
Each state has different procedures for forming an LLC. However, you must file articles of organization listing the following:
- The purpose of forming an LLC
- The address and name of the LLC
- The length of existence of the LLC
- The address and name of your registered agent
You, as the person forming the LLC, must sign this paperwork. However, the registered agent might also have to sign it in some states.
Get a Certificate from the State
Once you file the formation documents and they are approved, your state should issue a certificate to prove that the business entity actually exists. As soon as you receive the certificate, you can start handling business matters such as obtaining your business licenses and tax identification number. Moreover, you also need to set up a bank account for your business.
Register to Conduct Business in other States
If your LLC operates in more than one state, you might have to register to conduct your business in the other states. You need to fill out and hand in paperwork that is similar to the one you submitted when forming an LLC. Once you do this, you should also get a registered agent in all states where you register for business.
Forming and maintaining an LLC is easy in most states. However, you need to make sure that you fill in the paperwork correctly and create an operating agreement to define the rights of the members. This way, you nip future disagreements in the bud.