Starting a small business is always an exciting, hectic time for any entrepreneur who wants to bring their business dreams to life. But if you’re new to the world of startups, you might find yourself wondering what you need to file before you’re legally allowed to do business.
No matter if you’re forming a Corporation or LLC, here’s a quick checklist guide to the seven items your business needs filed in order to succeed.
1. DBA (Fictitious Business Name)
Also known as a “Doing Business As” name, filing for a DBA allows you to not only conduct business with an alternate name that isn’t your legal name, but you can also receive payments and open up a bank account in the name of the business. Conduct a business name search first to ensure your name is available and then begin the process of filing a DBA with your state of choice.
2. Business Licenses
In order to conduct business within a specified locality, your small business will need a government-issued permit, or business license. Just in case you’re not sure what all goes into the required list of licenses, permits, and tax registrations, our team researches all of your license requirements, providing you with the necessary forms you need to stay compliant.
Whether you have plans to grow in the future and even if you don’t, buying insurance policies is a must to ensuring basic coverage for your business. Not sure which policies to invest in? Our recommendations include property, liability, and worker’s compensation insurance.
4. Registered Agent
Most states require businesses to maintain a registered agent to accept legal and official documents, like renewal reminders, on behalf of your small business. Documents delivered to registered agents are pretty sensitive material, so we advise working with a professional registered agent service (like MyCorporation!) that will accept documents outside of the business while maintaining privacy from the public.
5. Articles of Incorporation/Formation
Undoubtedly one of the first items on your to-do list is not just one of the best moves you can make for your business, but also for yourself. By incorporating or forming an LLC, you legitimize your company and ensure personal assets including your home and savings are protected if anything happens to your business.
Speaking of your business, once you have decided on filing an LLC (with an Article of Formation) or a Corporation (with Articles of Incorporation), your company will be its own legal entity. No matter which business structure you ultimately settle for, you can be sure all personal assets are protected and credibility is established with your customer base.
6. Corporate Bylaws and/or an Operating Agreement
While these documents are not required by most states, they are necessary to clearly define how your business is operated. LLCs are guided by operating agreements and Corporations use corporate bylaws, both of which you can order at MyCorporation where we’ll file and submit all of the necessary paperwork for you.
7. Trademark and Copyright Protection
Don’t let someone else duplicate your ideas! By applying for a trademark, your unique business name or logo is protected with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. When filing for a copyright, your original, creative works are protected from plagiarism, plus you and you alone control the duplication and distribution of your product.
If you’re already looking ahead to the future, we also recommend registering for a domain name and website for your business along with filing an EIN (Employer Identification Number) in order to hire future employees. For now, make sure you file the above seven items in order to stay in compliance with state and federal regulations and ensure smooth sailings for your first year (and beyond!) in business.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.