Creating your own LLC can seem like a time-consuming hassle. The reality is that it can actually be quite simple, and is 100% worth the effort.
The first question you might ask yourself is: do I need to create an LLC for my business? What’s at stake if I don’t and just decide to operate as a sole proprietorship? We delve deeply into exactly that topic in this article.
If you determine that the answer is yes—you do want to create your own LLC (and spoiler alert—we lean towards it in the aforementioned article), read on and we’ll explain how to create an LLC with little to no stress.
Running your business under the umbrella of an LLC offers your personal finances and assets much greater protection than as a sole proprietorship. Any legal issues that arise are typically levied against the LLC, not you as an individual. There are some hard and fast rules to be followed though, such as not mingling your personal and business finances. That alone can compromise the security that an LLC provides.
Bear in mind that if you feel overwhelmed and have the available resources, there are always businesses that specialize in creating LLCs for clients for a price.
Where to start?
Every state has its own particular stipulations and registration fees, and while it’s typically suggested that you file in your own state, there are often huge monetary incentives to file elsewhere, which we’ll get to in a minute.
There are usually two fees associated with creating an LLC—an initial filing fee, and then an annual renewal fee. Some states like Minnesota and Mississippi have no renewal fees, while California’s is a staggering $800 per year renewal. You can see why businesses will sometimes file in other states, no?
However, it’s important to note that it’s not just as simple as filing elsewhere. There are some stipulations, one being that if you operate exclusively in one state, you are required to file in that particular state. Another is that if you are filing for an LLC in a state where you will not keep regular business hours (M-F, 9-5) you are required to hire the services of a registered agent. A registered agent is your official contact in the state, and must have a physical address within that state (basically to receive legal documents). It cannot be a P.O.box.
Finding a registered agent in whichever state is not difficult. A simple google search will connect you to a slew of them, and any filing business will often offer them in addition to their fee.
There is a movement to shut down filing in other states, as states want to capture the tax revenue they feel is rightly their due, but for now it is still a legitimate option to create your own LLC in whatever state you want.
A link for creating your LLC is usually found on the Secretary of State’s page of the state in which you decide to file. Most states will have all kinds of helpful information regarding starting a business, and you simply follow the prompts to filing for an LLC.
You will need to have some information ready, so do a little research on the requirements of your state on what information might be needed. Every state is different, but some may ask for:
- Your business’s address
- Name and address of your registered agent, if you’re filing somewhere other than your home state or will not be at your business address every day during normal business hours
- Your business’s name. It will also check to make sure there’s not already another business with the same name registered in your state (though this is research should be done before settling on a name)
- The name and information of anyone else you want to be named as a member
- Your business plan
- Your business’s financial info if you’ve already started as a sole proprietor (mostly just what you made in the last year)
- Method of payment
Hire a company to file for you
This is even simpler, but expect to pay in the neighborhood of $100-150 for the convenience, on top of your state’s fees. Essentially, you just fill out a form, pay the associated costs and that’s it. Most companies providing this as a service also offer registered agents as well (again, for a fee), but be sure to inquire about it.
If you do decide to go this route, here’s a couple of options:
Pros—it’s extremely easy and usually gets completed in one business day.
Cons—you pay extra money you could save if you’re willing to put in the work.
Just do it…
Creating an LLC is just a good idea on so many levels, not the least of which is protecting your hard-earned personal assets. It’s quick and it’s easy and it lends a professional air to any business, so now that you know how to create an LLC, do yourself and your business a favor and get registered!
Matthew Ogden is a Minneapolis-based copywriter and content writer and editor. He’s written for national retailers and lobster roll companies alike. When not writing he can be found nose deep in a book, writing and performing music, or nerding out about guitar tone.