The business landscape across the U.S. has been forever altered by the events of the past 12 months. But even while many businesses struggled to survive an unprecedented year, new business applications rose nearly 75 percent across the country between January 2020 and January 2021, according to U.S. Census data. Why the spike? Much of it can be attributed to the rise of remote work. Entrepreneurs are finding previously undiscovered opportunities in working from home or working from anywhere they desire, and they’re launching businesses that exist solely in the digital space.
If you’re ready to go remote with your own business idea, we’ve got the tips you need to get started.
What Is a Remote LLC?
Here’s the good news: a remote LLC is just a standard LLC that is filed the same as any other. While there are considerations specific to operating a remote business (more below), the formation process itself is unchanged by your remote status. You’ll file the same Articles of Organization with your state, apply for an EIN and pay the standard fee. The same benefits apply to remote LLCs as well, including liability protection, added credibility for your business, ease of acquiring business bank accounts and loans and protection of your personal assets.
Do You Need a Remote LLC?
If your business is going to be entirely virtual (no dedicated office space or brick-and-mortar location), setting up a remote LLC is your best choice. Consider forming your remote LLC if:
You’re a digital nomad or you don’t have a permanent home address.
You want to operate out of your home, but with no official separate business location.
You travel frequently or relocate often.
You don’t need access to a physical office space, warehouse or manufacturing facility.
Most or all of your business will be conducted online.
Remote LLC Considerations
Forming your LLC as a remote business is easy, but you’ll need to make some choices along the way that could have significant implications for how your business operates. Here are the key considerations to keep in mind:
State of Formation
You may be able to do business from anywhere, but you’ll still need to file your LLC in a specific U.S. state. Most of the time, the state of your primary residence is the best choice (if you’re a digital nomad or do not have a permanent address, consider where your driver’s license is issued or where you receive mail). Other states, like Delaware, are often appealing to entrepreneurs due to tax regulations and ease of filing, but that may also come with additional paperwork and fees and can be a hassle come tax time.
Choosing a name for your remote business is a big decision, but it may be more complex than picking something that rolls off the tongue. If you form your LLC in a state different from your primary residence, you’ll likely need to register a DBA, or Doing Business As. Also, if you plan to operate in numerous states using location-specific names, you’ll need a DBA for each. You could decide to operate your remote business as a sole proprietor with only a DBA, but an LLC is recommended.
You really can work from anywhere when you have a remote business, but if your business conducts operations in other states, you’ll need a Foreign Qualification. If your business operates in the confines of the work that you do individually (freelancer, podcaster, blogger, etc.), you likely don’t need a foreign qualification. But if you have fulfillment centers in various states, you pay sales tax in different states or a large amount of your contracts exist in another state, Foreign Qualification is a must.
A physical address adds credibility to your business and having one that’s separate from your home address or permanent residence protects your privacy. A P.O. Box or UPS box could be a good choice, but it still ties you to one location to receive your mail. A better option is a virtual business address, which allows you to review your mail from anywhere in the world. The mail you receive is scanned and sent digitally, so you can open what you want, when and where you want.
Advantages of a Remote LLC
Since a remote LLC is a standard LLC for business owners who operate a remote business, most of the advantages are the same. Here are the biggest upsides to forming an LLC for your remote business:
Creates a legal business entity separate from your personal assets for financial protection
Allows you to file in the state you choose and conduct business from anywhere
Offers freedom and flexibility, while keeping your business legal and increasing its legitimacy and credibility
Makes it easier to acquire an EIN, open a business bank account, get business loans, credit and other funding
Disadvantages of a Remote LLC
This list sounds like a lot, but don’t get overwhelmed. Most of these disadvantages can be easily avoided and are outweighed by the above advantages in forming your LLC.
Multiple fees, paperwork filing and regulations to juggle if you form in a state different from your primary residence
Tax implications if you form or do business in another state where collecting sales tax is mandated
Filing multiple DBAs and Foreign Qualifications if you choose to operate in other states under other names
Hassle of interviewing, hiring and managing remote employees in scattered locations
Ready to set up your new remote business? We can walk you through the process and make it as simple as possible. Get started by forming your remote LLC with Incfile for $0 + state fee (and get free Registered Agent service for the first year).
Wendi is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn't working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).