STEP 1: Name your LLC


Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Colorado naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.

1. Follow the naming guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.

2. Is the name available in Colorado? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the Colorado Secretary of State website.

3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

FAQ: Naming an LLC

What is an LLC?

LLC is short for Limited Liability Company. It is a simple business structure that offers much more flexibility than a traditional corporation, while at the same time providing many of the same benefits. Learn more here.

Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?

Most LLCs do not need a DBA. The name of the LLC can serve as company’s brand name, and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under a name other than that of your LLC. Learn more here.

STEP 2: Choose a Registered Agent


You are required to nominate a Registered Agent for your Colorado LLC.

What is a Registered Agent? a Registered Agent is a person or business that agrees to send and receive legal papers on behalf of your LLC. Such papers include service of process of legal action (if you are sued) and state filings.

Who can be a Registered Agent? a Registered Agent must be a resident of Colorado or a corporation authorized to transact business in Colorado. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.

Learn more about the role of a registered agent and why you should consider hiring a professional service.

TIP

Recommended: Incfile provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($49 + State Fees)

FAQ: Nominating a Registered Agent

Can I be my own Registered Agent?

Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the registered agent for your LLC. Learn more here.

Is a Registered Agent service worth it?

Using a professional Registered Agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs. Learn more here.

STEP 3: File the Articles of Organization


To register your LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the State of Colorado. This can be done online.

When filing, you will need to state whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. We recommend learning more about these two options before you file.

File the Articles of Organization

File Online with the State of Colorado

file online


State Filing Cost: $50 (Nonrefundable)

Processing Time: Instant, once payment has been recieved.

Instructions: Read these instructions on how to file.

If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Colorado, you need to form a Foreign LLC.

FAQ: Filing LLC Documents

What’s the difference between a domestic LLC and foreign LLC?

An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state. Learn more here.

STEP 4: Create an Operating Agreement


An operating agreement is not required in Colorado, but it's a good practice to have one.

What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.

Why are operating agreements important? An operating agreement is an important document because it ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.

For more information on operating agreements, read our Colorado LLC operating agreement guide.

Recommended: Use our free Operating Agreement Tool to draft a customized operating agreement for your LLC.

FAQ: Creating an Operating Agreement

Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state?

No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.

STEP 5: Obtain an EIN


What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required for the following:

  • To open a business bank account for the company
  • For Federal and State tax purposes
  • To hire employees for the company

Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.

NOTE

FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: You do not need an SSN to obtain an EIN. Learn more here.

Get an EIN

Option 1: Request an EIN from the IRS

Apply Online


OR


Option 2: Apply for an EIN by Mail or Fax

Download Form

Mail to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax:

(855) 641-6935


Fee: Free

FAQ: Getting an EIN

How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a social security number?

An SSN is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at 267-941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more here.

What tax structure should I choose for my LLC?

When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.

However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing S corporation status. We recommend consulting with a local accountant to find out which option is best for you.

We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.

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Six Key Steps After Forming a Business

1. Open a Business Bank Account and Get A Credit Card


Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Recommended: Compare business credit card offers at CreditCards.com. Learn more.

2. Set Up Accounting


Even if you haven’t officially opened for business – it’s critical to get your books in order. A well managed accounting system will help you:

  • Track your business finances, including bills, expenses, and income.
  • Simplify your annual tax filings.

Quality accounting software makes the whole process fast and easy. Look for software that:

  • Syncs with your bank automatically
  • Matches transactions to invoices, bills, and purchase orders
  • Can be accessed from your phone
  • Makes it easy to work with your accountant

Recommended: FinancePal is a one stop shop to meet all your accounting and tax filing needs.

3. Register Your LLC For Colorado State Tax


You should also be aware of important Colorado taxes that may apply to your business:

  • If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a seller's permit through the State of Colorado's website.
  • If you have employees in Colorado, you will need to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax through the State of Colorado's website.

Register for Colorado State Taxes

Sales Tax | Unemployment Insurance Tax | Withholding Tax

4. Obtain Business Licenses & Permits


To operate your LLC, you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Keep in mind that in order to get some licenses or permits, you may need to pay a fee, take classes, or pass an exam.

Research what types of federal, state, and local licenses and permits your LLC needs:

Recommended: If you are a first-time entrepreneur, consider having a professional service research your business’ licensing requirements. Our friends at Startup Savant have reviewed and ranked the top five license research services.

5. Get Insurance


Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:

  • General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. In Colorado, businesses with one or more employees, excluding officers and LLC members, are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance. Get a free quote with ADP.

How much will the right insurance cost you? Click here to find out.

6. Follow Hiring Laws


If you plan to hire employees, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:

Find more information at the Colorado Department of Labor website.

NOTE

The minimum wage in Colorado is $10.20 per hour.

Recommended: A payroll service saves you time and makes it easier to follow these requirements.

Get 20% off payroll with ADP

We understand that creating an LLC and getting your business up and running comes with many challenges. To help you succeed, we compiled the best local resources in every major metro area in Colorado . You can get free assistance in the following areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Networking
  • Business Planning
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Research Assistance
  • Financial Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Legal Assistance
  • Coworking
  • Product Development

Maintain your LLC: Avoid fines and the risk of dissolution.

File Your LLC Annual Report


Colorado requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Colorado Secretary of State.

File your Annual Report

File an Annual Report Online with the State of Colorado

file online


Fee: $10 (Nonrefundable)

Filing Window: Due within a 5 month period starting 2 months before and 2 months after the date in which the LLC was formed. For more information, visit Colorado's Secretary of State website.

Late Filings: Colorado charges a $50 penalty if you miss the annual report deadline. In addition, failure to file your annual report for 2 months will cause your LLC to be designated as “Delinquent,” resulting in loss of certain rights and privileges.

Report LLC Income


Most LLCs will need to report their income to the IRS each year using:

Read our LLC Tax Guide to learn more about federal income taxes for LLCs.

Avoid Dissolution


LLCs may face fines and even automatic dissolution when they miss one or more state filings. When this happens, LLC owners risk loss of limited liability protection. A quality registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines, and even submitting reports on your behalf for an additional fee.

Recommended: Incfile offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.

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Become a knowledgeable LLC owner. Learn more about these important topics.

Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing


A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that your LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:

  • Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
  • Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
  • Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits

For more information, visit Colorado's Secretary of State website

Order a Certificate of Good Standing

Request a Certificate of Good Standing Online

Order Online


Fee: Free

Dissolve Your Colorado LLC


If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your LLC, there are two broad steps:

  • Close your business tax accounts
  • File the Articles of Dissolution

When you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Colorado LLC Dissolution Guide.

Register as a Foreign LLC in Colorado


Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. If you have an existing LLC and want to do business in Colorado, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done online.

Register as a Foreign LLC in Colorado

File Online with the Colorado Secretary of State

File Online


Fee: $100 (Nonrefundable)

Read More About LLCs and How To Run A Business