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1

Name Your LLC

The first step in forming an LLC is to pick a name for your business. After all, your name says a lot about you. In one quick bite, you’re telling your customers who you are, what you do and what you care about (no pressure).

Given how important it is to pick the right name, take your time during this first step. Pick a name that’s distinctive, so that you can avoid any confusion or legal trouble down the line with businesses with similar names.

In addition to naming your new business, in most states, you’ll also need to pick a designator to convey that it’s an LLC. This is typically shown by adding "LLC" or "Limited Company" to the end of your business's name.

For example, “Orange Marketing and Media” would become “Orange Marketing and Media, LLC” or “Orange Marketing and Media, Limited Company.” Though if you don’t want the designator on your logo or website URL, you can always talk with your Secretary of State to determine usage rules.

If you're scrounging for business name ideas and coming up short, we've put together a quick guide on How to Search and Choose Your Business Name in All 50 States.

Note

Some states have rules regarding what words you can (or can’t) use in your company’s name, so be sure to check the requirements of your specific state before finalizing your business name choice.

 
2

Provide an Address

The second step to forming your LLC is to provide a designated business address. While this used to be a pretty straightforward step in years past, thanks to the boom of remote and hybrid work, this process is now a bit more complicated.

If you dove headfirst into the #remotelife trend and you're operating your business from home, your company address can be the same as your home address. However, if you rent or own physical space to conduct your work, use that address. You could also choose a virtual address, giving you the ability to check mail from anywhere in the world and secure your company’s privacy.

As mentioned above, each state can set its own rules and regulations for addresses, including rejecting P.O. Box addresses, so double-check with your state requirements before completing this step.

 
3

Assign a Registered Agent

Next, you’ll need to assign a registered agent for your business, a requirement for every state. Think of a registered agent as your legal assistant, as they’ll be in charge of receiving all your documents and keeping in contact with your state government.

Want to streamline your processes while your business grows? You can make yourself (or a managing director) your company’s registered agent. But note that the company itself cannot act as its own registered agent.

However, if you’re a founder, adding registered agent responsibilities to your ever-growing to-do list can lead to a lot of headaches. We strongly recommend founders don’t serve as their own agents, given the hourly requirements and lower level of privacy. Instead, hand off those responsibilities to another person or company — like us — to take the stress off your plate.

In fact, if you buy any of our business formation packages you’ll get one free year of registered agent service. Just another way we help propel your business.

 
4

Provide the Names and Addresses of LLC Members

When starting your business, who you surround yourself with matters. From experts in their respective fields who will help your business grow to friends you trust to help take over the operations of your business, the people you bring into your LLC will make or break your success.

Once you’ve assembled your all-start team, the fourth step in forming an LLC is to let your state government know who you’ve gotten into business with. In order to file your paperwork, you’ll need to let the government know the names and addresses of your LLC members.

But unlike the physical address of your business, you can register these addresses as street addresses or P.O. boxes.

 
5

State the Purpose of Your LLC

The fifth step in starting an LLC is to state the purpose of your business. If you’re far enough along in the process to start filing, you likely already have a business plan or mission statement in place. While these will likely be in-depth and provide more context to your business’ ultimate goals, for state purposes, you can keep things simple.

Bottom line: they just want to know why you’re forming a business in the first place.

If you are still working out the kinks of your business’ purpose, don’t fret. Many states will accept a blanket statement of "any lawful purpose” when filing. This doesn't limit you to engaging solely in that specific type of business — it's simply a formality, and you can always expand into new areas later on.

 
6

File the Articles of Organization

Once you've gathered all the important information for your LLC, the final step is to file these formal documents with your state agency and pay any state fees.

And if you form your LLC with Incfile, we’ll file all these documents on your behalf, saving you time and allowing you to get back to what matters.

Once your files of organization have been accepted, pop the bubbly because you’re officially a business owner!

 

Benefits of Forming an LLC

When deciding between an LLC and a sole proprietorship, there are a lot of factors to consider, from liability risks to strict regulations. So what’s in it for you? Forming an LLC…

  • Grants business owners access to the same liability protection of a corporation with the flexibility of a sole proprietorship.

  • Reduces complexity and regulations commonly found with other business entities.

  • Boasts a simple formation process.

  • Ease of LLC management.

  • Pass-through taxation -- so business profits are reported on your personal taxes.

 

Preparing for the Future: LLC Compliance Requirements

As a business owner, you always need to be looking to the future. Whether you're researching new trends in your industry or trying to learn the latest technology, staying ahead of the game is what separates the good from the great.

But outside of the day-to-day business operations, you’ll also need to maintain compliance with state regulations. This can include periodical reports, additional filing fees as well as annual tax requirements.

You could block out some time reading up on the requirements for your state, but honestly, who has the time? Instead, work with us and take those taxing to-dos off your plate for good (pun intended).

Frequently Asked Questions for Starting an LLC

Can I form an LLC with just one member?

In short: yes, you can form an LLC with just one member.

When forming your LLC remember this mantra: all I need is me, myself and I! This is true from the brainstorming stage all the way to the filing process. While you can always add in more team members as you go, you won’t need anyone but yourself to form an LLC.

Do I need to secure Registered Agent services for my LLC?

You must secure a registered agent and keep them active at all times in order to form an LLC and keep your business in compliance. However, you do have some wiggle room with who that registered agent is, as you can use an internal employee or hire an outside company to act as your company’s representative. And if you work with us, you can get 12 months of registered agent services completely free!

What is an Operating Agreement, and do I need one?

An operating agreement contains details of the financial, legal and managerial rights of all LLC members. This can include how profits are shared, how members may leave the business and who will contribute to the capital for the business.

While you aren’t legally required to have an operating agreement, we highly recommend it. This internal document is crucial to the structure of your business and allows your team to get on the same page in terms of rights and responsibilities. Want to create an operating agreement but don’t know where to start? We’ve got a template for that.

What's the best state for forming an LLC?

While it often makes the most sense to form your business in your home state, the best states for forming an LLC are Delaware, Nevada, Texas and Florida, due to their business-friendly rules and regulations.

Keep in mind, however, if you choose to form an LLC outside of your home state, you'll likely be required to pay additional Foreign LLC filing fees.

Do I need an LLC for my business?

Determining if your business needs an LLC is done on a case-by-case basis. If you're a solopreneur or a freelancer, a sole proprietorship may work for you, but we don't typically recommend them as you won't get the liability protection that an LLC provides.

How is an LLC taxed?

An LLC is taxed through a “pass-through” taxation method, meaning that the profits and losses will pass to the personal income of the members and owners. Single-member LLCs will be taxed as a sole proprietorship while multiple-member LLCs will be taxed the same as a partnership.

Though these general tax explanations may not apply to everyone, so make sure to speak to an accountant or tax professional to fully understand your personal tax liability.

Ready to take the next step?

Incfile can help you form your LLC for $0 + state fees.

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