The Basics: 10 Steps to Setting Up Your LLC
Let's review the basics of formation first and then get you to business in your state. We will cover everything from naming your LLC to making sure your LLC runs smoothly right from the start.
To learn more about what an LLC is, read our what is an LLC article.
STEP 1: Select Your State
For most new business owners, the best option is to form your LLC in the state where you live and where you plan to conduct business. For more information on where to form your LLC, click here.
STEP 2: Choose your LLC's Name
When you’re brainstorming ideas for your new business name, it’s important to know the rules for naming your LLC first. Each state requires that you follow specific naming guidelines. The one guideline you can always count on is that you must choose a unique name.
We cover state naming guidelines and how to search for unique available names on our state specific guides.
Read our How to Name Your LLC Guide to learn more about marketing, branding, trademarks, and domain names.
STEP 3: Choose a Registered Agent
A registered agent accepts and sends important documents on your LLCs behalf. Registered agents are sometimes called statutory agents, resident agent, or agent for service of process.
To learn everything there is to know about registered agent guidelines and options in your state, visit our What is a Registered Agent page and select your state from the dropdown menu.
STEP 4: File Your LLC Formation Documents
To officially create your LLC, you will need to file formation documents with the state. LLC formation documents are sometimes called the articles of organization, certificate of organization, or certificate of formation. Most states allow entrepreneurs to file all of their LLC documents online.
We make it simple and easy to file LLC formation documents with our free state guides. Select your state to begin.
When filing, you will need to state whether your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed. We recommend learning more about these two options before you file.
STEP 5: Create an Operating Agreement
An operating is a legal document that outlines the ownership and operating procedure of an LLC. A well written operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and it reduces the risk of future conflict.
You can use our operating agreement tool to create a free operating agreement for your LLC.
STEP 6: Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number)
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a social security number for your LLC. An EIN is required to file taxes, hire employees, and open business bank accounts.
You can get a free EIN through the IRS website, by fax, or by mail. To learn more about EINs, read our article What is an EIN?
STEP 7: Set up an LLC Bank Account
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection. When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your home, car, and other valuables are at risk in the event your LLC is sued.
To learn more about protecting your personal assets, read our Maintaining Your Corporate Veil article.
STEP 8: Register Your LLC for State Taxes
Depending on what kind of business you run and where it’s located, you could be required to register for different forms of state tax.
- Businesses that sell goods typically need to register for sales and use tax.
- Businesses with employees, typically need to register for unemployment insurance tax and employee withholding tax.
TIP: To learn more about state taxes, read our LLC Tax Guide.
STEP 9: Get Business Insurance
There are two common types of business insurance. Workers compensation insurance is generally required and covers work related injuries and disease. General liability insurance is usually not required but it protects you from losses resulting from lawsuits.
For information on all types of business insurance, including cost and quotes, read our Business Insurance article.
STEP 10: Get Business Licences and Permits
In order to stay compliant, your business might need permits or licenses. To learn more about business license requirements in your state, take a look at our business license search.