How to Start an LLC

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How to form an LLC

LLC requirements vary state by state, and it’s important that you are well-versed in your specific state laws before proceeding. Generally, it comes down to these five basic steps:

Forming a limited liability company may seem daunting and overwhelming, but it can be relatively straightforward once you have a clear understanding of how it works. In this comprehensive guide to forming your own LLC, we break it down so that you can understand everything there is to know about how to start an LLC and move forward most efficiently and effectively. Giving you the confidence and knowledge on how to set up an LLC.

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Now that you\u2019ve decided you want to form an LLC, it\u2019s time to bring your dream to life with its own name \u2014 and yes, it must be unique. When naming your LLC, you must choose something completely different from any other LLC in your state. The rules as to how different your LLC\u2019s name must be from others vary state by state. Although sometimes all it takes is switching up the punctuation or changing a word from singular to plural to qualify, it\u2019s usually a smoother process when the names are more distinct. However, one component that is always required is the inclusion of \u201climited liability company\u201d or an abbreviation of it at the end of the business name. The acceptable abbreviations also vary by state.

It\u2019s important to do your research to check if your desired name is available. Google is helpful, as is checking around on social media, but you will also want to complete a business database search on your Secretary of State website.

Your LLC name needs to be different from other LLCs, and it also cannot be previously trademarked. There are two kinds of trademarks to be aware of: federal and state. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and search your business name or logo to make sure it hasn\u2019t been federally trademarked.

Determining whether your desired name already has a state trademark is trickier because many states don\u2019t have a search engine for checking existing trademarks. Fortunately, the USPTO has a page linking to the office overseeing trademarks in each state. You can start by contacting the appropriate office in your state.

Once you\u2019ve determined that it\u2019s available to use, you have the option of registering your own trademark. A state trademark is less expensive and much less complicated to get; however, it does restrict your trademark benefits to the state it\u2019s recognized in.

On the other hand, federal trademarks are more costly and can take longer to get, but you can use your trademark nationwide, and there is much more protection provided for your company. Federal trademarks also allow for the \u00ae symbol, whereas state trademarks only allow TM (trademark) or SM (service mark). Trademarking your LLC can keep other businesses from using the same name or anything too similar.

There is also an option to add a DBA (\u201c
doing business as\u201d) name to your LLC. A DBA is just another name to call your business and can be very useful if your LLC offers multiple products or services. It can help differentiate between their specific business concerns.

Each state has different regulations when it comes to naming an LLC. You will often find that certain words are prohibited, including those that are considered profane or obscene or that may mislead people about the nature of the business. Some words are restricted in most states, such as \u201cbank\u201d and other forms of the word (\u201cbanking\u201d and \u201cbanker\u201d), \u201cengineering,\u201d \u201cinsurance,\u201d and \u201csavings.\u201d In some states, business owners who wish to use words such as these must have a certain license and\/or fill out additional paperwork.

You\u2019ve spent time coming up with a name and researching its availability \u2014 now you can think about securing it. Most states will allow you to reserve your desired name for a fee so that you don\u2019t have to worry about someone else nabbing it before you can officially launch your business. Check with your state on the requirements to
reserve your business name. Then, go one step further and reserve a domain name for your company website, so you have that setup and ready to go as soon as your business can launch.”,”image”:”https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/zenbusiness\/q_auto,w_799\/v1\/shared-assets\/picture\/step-1-choose-a-name.png”,”name”:”1. Name Your LLC”,”video”:{“@type”:”Clip”,”url”:”https:\/\/fast.wistia.net\/embed\/iframe\/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=17″,”name”:”Name Your LLC Clip 1″,”startOffset”:”17″,”endOffset”:”24″,”description”:”Great Name”,”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip”},”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#HowToStep”},{“@type”:”HowToStep”,”url”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#step-2-registered-agent”,”text”:”

A registered agent essentially acts as the liaison between an LLC and the state it\u2019s registered in. This third-party individual or business entity acts as a point of contact on behalf of the business and receives things like tax forms and legal documents, government correspondences, and notices of a lawsuit.

You can be your own registered agent so long as you have a physical street address in the state in which your LLC is filed (P.O. boxes aren\u2019t allowed); however, hiring an outside registered agent service has its benefits.

It allows you to have more privacy and flexibility and can decrease the added stress that can come with being your own agent. Using a third-party registered agent service, such as the one offered at ZenBusiness, ensures that you are compliant with the law, always protected, and strategically organized.”,”image”:”https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/zenbusiness\/q_auto,w_799\/v1\/shared-assets\/picture\/step-2-assign-registered-agent.png”,”name”:”2. Choose a Registered Agent”,”video”:{“@type”:”Clip”,”url”:”https:\/\/fast.wistia.net\/embed\/iframe\/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=24″,”name”:”Choose a Registered Agent Clip 2″,”description”:”Registered Agent”,”endOffset”:”30″,”startOffset”:”24″,”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip1″},”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#HowToStep1″},{“@type”:”HowToStep”,”url”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#step-3-articles-of-organization”,”text”:”

The official name for the paperwork filed to register your business depends on which state you are filing it in. Generally, the document is referred to as the Articles of Organization, but some states refer to it as a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization. Regardless of what it\u2019s called, the concept is the same: It is used to establish state recognition of the LLC and outline the details of its members.

Check your Secretary of State\u2019s website to see the filing requirements, as these also vary state by state. You\u2019ll always need basic information about the LLC and its members, including the LLC name and mailing address and the registered agent\u2019s name and address. You might also be asked to state the purpose of the LLC and list any current LLC members and\/or managers.

A few parts of the form might be unfamiliar to someone who is just entering the business world. You may be asked whether your LLC is member-managed or manager-managed. In a member-managed LLC, the members take it upon themselves to handle day-to-day operations and decide who\u2019s responsible for what. In a manager-managed LLC, one or more supervisors are chosen by the members to be in charge.

You will also need to list the location of operations, which should be the place in which members work together. If the business is operated from a private home, list your home address. If mail is not deliverable to the place of work, make sure to include a USPS-verified mailing address.

The final, and most important, step is having an organizer of the LLC sign the form. Then, you are all set to submit it. In most states, this can be done online or by mail. Any instructions for submitting the signed form and payment can be found on your Secretary of State\u2019s website.”,”image”:”https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/zenbusiness\/q_auto,w_799\/v1\/shared-assets\/picture\/step-3-articles-of-organization.png”,”name”:”3. File the Certificate of Formation \/ Articles of Organization”,”video”:{“@type”:”Clip”,”name”:”Articles of Organization Clip 3″,”url”:”https:\/\/fast.wistia.net\/embed\/iframe\/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=30″,”description”:”Articles of Organization”,”startOffset”:”30″,”endOffset”:”38″,”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip2″},”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#HowToStep2″},{“@type”:”HowToStep”,”url”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#step-4-operating-agreement”,”text”:”

Although LLC Operating Agreements are not required in every state, it\u2019s a smart business move to have one. This legally binding document provides clear and concise definitions of all ownership terms and rules or management decisions. It protects owners\u2019 personal assets and outlines ownership percentages, responsibilities, voting power, and a succession plan if an owner decides to leave the business.

Having an Operating Agreement can prevent any miscommunication and resolve any conflicts between members. It is not required by law to file an LLC Operating Agreement with the Secretary of State, so once all parties have agreed upon the terms and signed it, it\u2019s advisable to keep the document safe and secure with other important paperwork.

Utilizing an 
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The costs to file an LLC vary state by state. Generally speaking, the fees can range anywhere from $40 to $500. In most states, you can file an LLC online using a credit or debit card or by mail with a check or money order. Visit your Secretary of State\u2019s website to find all of the LLC filing fees associated with your particular state.

In addition to the filing fee, some states also require business license fees, publication fees, name reservation fees, and other filing fees. There are also recurring costs that are required to maintain your LLC. These can include filing annual or biennial reports, license and permit renewals, and franchise taxes.

But the biggest cost in launching your LLC may be in time and energy. Having a service that already knows the ins and outs of forming and running a business not only saves you time but also eliminates the stress and frustration of wrestling red tape and government bureaucracy. ZenBusiness can file your paperwork for you, provide a registered agent service, and supply an Operating Agreement template 
for one low price.”,”image”:”https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/zenbusiness\/q_auto,w_799\/v1\/shared-assets\/picture\/step-5-irs-ein.png”,”name”:”5. Apply for an EIN and Review Tax Requirements”,”video”:{“@type”:”Clip”,”description”:”Apply for an EIN and Review Tax Requirements”,”name”:”Apply for an EIN and Review Tax Requirements Clip 5″,”startOffset”:”44″,”endOffset”:”64″,”url”:”https:\/\/fast.wistia.net\/embed\/iframe\/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=44″,”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip4″},”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#HowToStep4″}],”image”:{“@type”:”ImageObject”,”url”:”https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/zenbusiness\/q_auto,w_128\/v1\/shared-assets\/icon\/location\/unitedstates-teal-heart-256.svg”,”height”:”128″,”width”:”128″,”@id”:”https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/zenbusiness\/q_auto,w_128\/v1\/shared-assets\/icon\/location\/unitedstates-teal-heart-256.svg”},”video”:{“@type”:”VideoObject”,”name”:”How to Start an LLC Video”,”description”:”How to Start an LLC”,”hasPart”:[{“@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip”},{“@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip1″},{“@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip2″},{“@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip3″},{“@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#Clip4″}],”duration”:”P0Y0M0DT0H1M8S”,”contentUrl”:”https:\/\/fast.wistia.net\/embed\/iframe\/ykpn8yu85j”,”thumbnailUrl”:”https:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/zenbusiness\/q_auto,w_960\/v1\/shared-assets\/picture\/how-to-start-llc.jpg”,”uploadDate”:”2021″,”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#VideoObject”},”@id”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/”} {“@context”:”https:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”BreadcrumbList”,”itemListElement”:[{“@type”:”ListItem”,”position”:1,”name”:”How to Start an LLC for $49 Today”,”item”:”https:\/\/www.zenbusiness.com\/llc\/#breadcrumbitem”}]} { “@context”: “http://schema.org”, “@type”: “HowTo”, “name”: “Create Your LLC in Minutes”, “step”: [ { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “url”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#name-your-llc”, “text”: “

Now that you’ve decided you want to form an LLC, it’s time to bring your dream to life with its own name — and yes, it must be unique. When naming your LLC, you must choose something completely different from any other LLC in your state. The rules as to how different your LLC’s name must be from others vary state by state. Although sometimes all it takes is switching up the punctuation or changing a word from singular to plural to qualify, it’s usually a smoother process when the names are more distinct. However, one component that is always required is the inclusion of “limited liability company” or an abbreviation of it at the end of the business name. The acceptable abbreviations also vary by state.

It’s important to do your research to check if your desired name is available. Google is helpful, as is checking around on social media, but you will also want to complete a business database search on your Secretary of State website.

Your LLC name needs to be different from other LLCs, and it also cannot be previously trademarked. There are two kinds of trademarks to be aware of: federal and state. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and search your business name or logo to make sure it hasn’t been federally trademarked.

Determining whether your desired name already has a state trademark is trickier because many states don’t have a search engine for checking existing trademarks. Fortunately, the USPTO has a 
page linking to the office overseeing trademarks in each state. You can start by contacting the appropriate office in your state.

Once you’ve determined that it’s available to use, you have the option of registering your own trademark. A state trademark is less expensive and much less complicated to get; however, it does restrict your trademark benefits to the state it’s recognized in.

On the other hand, federal trademarks are more costly and can take longer to get, but you can use your trademark nationwide, and there is much more protection provided for your company. Federal trademarks also allow for the ® symbol, whereas state trademarks only allow TM (trademark) or SM (service mark). Trademarking your LLC can keep other businesses from using the same name or anything too similar.

There is also an option to add a DBA (“
doing business as”) name to your LLC. A DBA is just another name to call your business and can be very useful if your LLC offers multiple products or services. It can help differentiate between their specific business concerns.

Each state has different regulations when it comes to naming an LLC. You will often find that certain words are prohibited, including those that are considered profane or obscene or that may mislead people about the nature of the business. Some words are restricted in most states, such as “bank” and other forms of the word (“banking” and “banker”), “engineering,” “insurance,” and “savings.” In some states, business owners who wish to use words such as these must have a certain license and/or fill out additional paperwork.

You’ve spent time coming up with a name and researching its availability — now you can think about securing it. Most states will allow you to reserve your desired name for a fee so that you don’t have to worry about someone else nabbing it before you can officially launch your business. Check with your state on the requirements to
reserve your business name. Then, go one step further and reserve a domain name for your company website, so you have that setup and ready to go as soon as your business can launch.”, “image”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_799/v1/shared-assets/picture/step-1-choose-a-name.png”, “name”: “1. Name Your LLC”, “video”: { “@type”: “Clip”, “url”: “https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=17”, “name”: “Name Your LLC Clip 1”, “startOffset”: “17”, “endOffset”: “24”, “description”: “Great Name”, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip” }, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#HowToStep” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “url”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#choose-a-registered-agent”, “text”: “

A registered agent essentially acts as the liaison between an LLC and the state it’s registered in. This third-party individual or business entity acts as a point of contact on behalf of the business and receives things like tax forms and legal documents, government correspondences, and notices of a lawsuit.

You can be your own registered agent so long as you have a physical street address in the state in which your LLC is filed (P.O. boxes aren’t allowed); however, hiring an outside registered agent service has its benefits.

It allows you to have more privacy and flexibility and can decrease the added stress that can come with being your own agent. Using a third-party registered agent service, such as the one offered at ZenBusiness, ensures that you are compliant with the law, always protected, and strategically organized.”, “image”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_799/v1/shared-assets/picture/step-2-assign-registered-agent.png”, “name”: “2. Choose a Registered Agent”, “video”: { “@type”: “Clip”, “url”: “https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=24”, “name”: “Choose a Registered Agent Clip 2”, “description”: “Registered Agent”, “endOffset”: “30”, “startOffset”: “24”, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip1” }, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#HowToStep1” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “url”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#file-articles-of-organization”, “text”: “

The official name for the paperwork filed to register your business depends on which state you are filing it in. Generally, the document is referred to as the Articles of Organization, but some states refer to it as a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization. Regardless of what it’s called, the concept is the same: It is used to establish state recognition of the LLC and outline the details of its members.

Check your Secretary of State’s website to see the filing requirements, as these also vary state by state. You’ll always need basic information about the LLC and its members, including the LLC name and mailing address and the registered agent’s name and address. You might also be asked to state the purpose of the LLC and list any current LLC members and/or managers.

A few parts of the form might be unfamiliar to someone who is just entering the business world. You may be asked whether your LLC is member-managed or manager-managed. In a member-managed LLC, the members take it upon themselves to handle day-to-day operations and decide who’s responsible for what. In a manager-managed LLC, one or more supervisors are chosen by the members to be in charge.

You will also need to list the location of operations, which should be the place in which members work together. If the business is operated from a private home, list your home address. If mail is not deliverable to the place of work, make sure to include a USPS-verified mailing address.

The final, and most important, step is having an organizer of the LLC sign the form. Then, you are all set to submit it. In most states, this can be done online or by mail. Any instructions for submitting the signed form and payment can be found on your Secretary of State’s website.”, “image”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_799/v1/shared-assets/picture/step-3-articles-of-organization.png”, “name”: “3. File the Certificate of Formation / Articles of Organization”, “video”: { “@type”: “Clip”, “name”: “Articles of Organization Clip 3”, “url”: “https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=30”, “description”: “Articles of Organization”, “startOffset”: “30”, “endOffset”: “38”, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip2” }, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#HowToStep2” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “url”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#get-an-operating-agreement”, “text”: “

Although LLC Operating Agreements are not required in every state, it’s a smart business move to have one. This legally binding document provides clear and concise definitions of all ownership terms and rules or management decisions. It protects owners’ personal assets and outlines ownership percentages, responsibilities, voting power, and a succession plan if an owner decides to leave the business.

Having an Operating Agreement can prevent any miscommunication and resolve any conflicts between members. It is not required by law to file an LLC Operating Agreement with the Secretary of State, so once all parties have agreed upon the terms and signed it, it’s advisable to keep the document safe and secure with other important paperwork.

Utilizing an 
Operating Agreement template can set you up for success regarding having the right structure and format for this important document. ZenBusiness offers various plan options that include a customizable Operating Agreement template at a very reasonable price.”, “image”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_799/v1/shared-assets/picture/step-4-operating-agreement.png”, “name”: “4. Get an Operating Agreement”, “video”: { “@type”: “Clip”, “url”: “https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=38”, “name”: “Operating Agreement Clip 4”, “description”: “Operating Agreement”, “endOffset”: “44”, “startOffset”: “38”, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip3” }, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#HowToStep3” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “url”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#apply-for-an-ein”, “text”: “

The costs to file an LLC vary state by state. Generally speaking, the fees can range anywhere from $40 to $500. In most states, you can file an LLC online using a credit or debit card or by mail with a check or money order. Visit your Secretary of State’s website to find all of the LLC filing fees associated with your particular state.

In addition to the filing fee, some states also require business license fees, publication fees, name reservation fees, and other filing fees. There are also recurring costs that are required to maintain your LLC. These can include filing annual or biennial reports, license and permit renewals, and franchise taxes.

But the biggest cost in launching your LLC may be in time and energy. Having a service that already knows the ins and outs of forming and running a business not only saves you time but also eliminates the stress and frustration of wrestling red tape and government bureaucracy. ZenBusiness can file your paperwork for you, provide a registered agent service, and supply an Operating Agreement template 
for one low price.”, “image”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_799/v1/shared-assets/picture/step-5-irs-ein.png”, “name”: “5. Apply for an EIN and Review Tax Requirements”, “video”: { “@type”: “Clip”, “description”: “Apply for an EIN and Review Tax Requirements”, “name”: “Apply for an EIN and Review Tax Requirements Clip 5”, “startOffset”: “44”, “endOffset”: “64”, “url”: “https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ykpn8yu85j?wtime=44”, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip4” }, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#HowToStep4” } ], “image”: { “@type”: “ImageObject”, “url”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_128/v1/shared-assets/icon/location/unitedstates-teal-heart-256.svg”, “height”: “128”, “width”: “128”, “@id”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_128/v1/shared-assets/icon/location/unitedstates-teal-heart-256.svg” }, “video”: { “@type”: “VideoObject”, “name”: “How to Start an LLC Video”, “description”: “How to Start an LLC”, “hasPart”: [ { “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip” }, { “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip1” }, { “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip2” }, { “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip3” }, { “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#Clip4” } ], “duration”: “P0Y0M0DT0H1M8S”, “contentUrl”: “https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/ykpn8yu85j”, “thumbnailUrl”: “https://res.cloudinary.com/zenbusiness/q_auto,w_960/v1/shared-assets/picture/how-to-start-llc.jpg”, “uploadDate”: “2021”, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/#VideoObject” }, “@id”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/” } { “@context”: “https://schema.org/”, “@type”: “Product”, “name”: “Start an LLC in Minutes”, “url”: “https://www.zenbusiness.com/llc/”, “description”: “LLC requirements vary state by state, and it’s important that you are well-versed in your specific state laws before proceeding. Get everything you need to start and run your LLC. Our experts will file your paperwork quickly and accurately, guaranteed!”, “brand”: { “@type”: “Brand”, “name”: “ZenBusiness” }, “offers”: { “@type”: “aggregateOffer”, “lowPrice”: 49.00, “priceCurrency”: “USD” }, “aggregateRating”: { “@type”: “AggregateRating”, “ratingValue”: “4.7”, “bestRating”: “5”, “worstRating”: “1”, “reviewCount”: “9935” }, “reviews”: [ { “@type”: “Review”, “name”: “Thankful to find them.”, “reviewBody”: “Everything was simple and easy to digest. I appreciate the promptness. Will use this service again in the future.”, “reviewRating”: { “@type”: “Rating”, “ratingValue”: “5”, “bestRating”: “5”, “worstRating”: “1” }, “datePublished”: “2022-03-07”, “author”: { “@type”: “Person”, “name”: “Intuitive Goat Consulting LLC” } }, { “@type”: “Review”, “name”: “It was great experience”, “reviewBody”: “It was great experience. Everything was taken care of promptly and professionally.”, “reviewRating”: { “@type”: “Rating”, “ratingValue”: “5”, “bestRating”: “5”, “worstRating”: “1” }, “datePublished”: “2022-03-08”, “author”: { “@type”: “Person”, “name”: “Edwin Kohler” } }, { “@type”: “Review”, “name”: “Super easy for your startup!”, “reviewBody”: “ZenBusiness walks you through everything! Huge help and super easy!”, “reviewRating”: { “@type”: “Rating”, “ratingValue”: “5”, “bestRating”: “5”, “worstRating”: “1” }, “datePublished”: “2022-03-08”, “author”: { “@type”: “Person”, “name”: “Lauren Bonner” } } ] }