Forming a company is more than just incorporating with legal documents. There are six key steps to formation that all take time to follow through and complete. Each step has requirements of their own. You can read our blog post on how to form a company here. In the meantime, let’s glance at the length of time you’ll need to invest to make it a reality.
Step One: Get Help Setting Up Legally
The paperwork involved in setting up a legal formation can often seem daunting. The incorporation of your business is the step that gives your business legal status to operate. At Incfile, we can handle all the specifics of state filing, whether you are filing a business in one state or many.
State filing is often the longest component of forming a company, simply because the government must approve the formation. However, Incfile makes it simple to cross this step off your list — the paperwork can be completed on our website in a single afternoon. Once the paperwork is filled out and submitted, it will most likely take less than two weeks to complete and will vary based on state filing timelines. Our website contains more information on state filing for LLCs and filing a Corporation.
Step Two: Create Your Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is something that is required by many states. It is the binding agreement between members and owners of an LLC regarding managerial and financial responsibilities. It defines the duties that each member or owner will take upon themselves to see the business succeed. An operating agreement can be written using many online templates by simply filling in your company specific information.
For those who prefer a “hands on” approach, Incfile supports small business owners to manage your company using our Corporate LLC Kit, which includes an operating agreement template, along with other forms you’ll need once your company is up and running, such as minutes, by-laws, and a stock transfer ledger.
Whether you use an online template or Incfile’s Corporate LLC Kit, the process of writing your operating agreement should not take more than a day to complete if you make it a priority.
Step Three: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An Employer Identification Number, or EIN for short, is a number the IRS will assign to your business for tax tracking purposes. It’s sometimes also referred to as a Tax ID number — think of it like a Social Security Number for your business. Obtaining an EIN is an essential cornerstone of launching your operations. You will need an EIN before you can open a bank account, run payroll, or provide a W-9 form to your clients (if you run a services-based business).
For those of you who prefer a “one and done” approach, Incfile includes obtaining an EIN in your incorporation when requested, with no extra time commitment from you. If you prefer to manage this process on your own, it’s also possible to file for an EIN yourself at your state government website.
Step Four: Your Business Name Should Be Trademarked
Although it’s possible to launch your business without taking this step, giving your business name the protection it deserves means trademarking it on a national basis. Doing business in one state only protects your name in that state, or any state you are registered in. To provide national protection, a trademark can be filed online at the federal government’s website.
To register a trademark, go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. It takes less than 15 minutes to search for and register your name.
Step Five: Filing a Doing Business As (DBA)
If you have incorporated your business under one name, but you are doing business under another name, you may need to file your fictitious name with the state. This is commonly called a DBA or Doing Business As. Check out the Incfile blog for a deeper understanding of all the ins and outs of using a DBA for your business, including a more in depth look at when and why you need to file, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.
Step Six: Obtain Business Insurance
Incfile has also recently published a post on the topic of limited liability and business insurance. This post will help understand the types of insurance that your business may need, and the reasons why it’s so important. In short, insurance is helpful in protecting yourself and your business from natural disasters, accidents, damages, and potential lawsuits from employees, clients or customers. We recommend that you spend a day to research and apply for insurance with an insurance broker you trust.
All in all, expect to set aside two weeks, plus or minus a few days to formalize your business and get it ready for operation. While each step in the process is simple with Incfile at your side, they still require attention. We invite you to read more of our blogs for insights into various stages of business formation and how Incfile can help!
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