The goal of this post is to give you a list of the basic steps needed to get your business open. We will cover registering your business name and getting a web domain. Next, we will discuss registering your business for operation. Finally, we will talk about the minimum company documents needed to launch. This list should be enough to get you rolling in the early days.
**Please note that this post assumes a simple LLC entity with one owner. If you are going to start as a C Corp or have multiple owners, then you will likely need the help of an outside attorney to customize the information below to your needs.
The first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a name for your business. The biggest challenge here is keeping it simple but finding something that is not already in use with a reasonable web domain. Once you think you have a name that will work, you’ll want to complete a national trademark search here. If you pass this search, you will also need to search the name in the state you intend to register the company. This can be done in your home state or in Delaware if you want something generic. Before declaring victory in the name department, make sure you can secure a reasonable web domain. I’m a fan of GoDaddy since I like their website builder product, but any service will do. Ideally you want something short, say 10 characters or less, with a .com domain. This may not always be possible, but it is a good goal.
Next up is to get your business registered. First you will need to secure a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you are a US citizen with a SSN, you can do this easily online here. You will then need to register for business in the state you want to domicile the company, likely your home state or Delaware. To do this, you will need a basic Articles of Incorporation document. You can work with your business attorney to do this, or you can create one on this website with a few quick decisions. Once you have this Articles of Incorporation, you should be able to go to your state website and register the business. Depending on what type of product or service your company is offering, you may need other registrations or licensing with your city or state. Do the research here or work with an experienced attorney.
The last step to get your business opened is to prepare an Operating Agreement for the company. If you are the only owner initially, you can probably get away with downloading something simple from the internet. This website has sample formats that should be sufficient for most single owner businesses. If you have multiple owners or expect to be raising money from outside investors soon, then you likely will need an attorney to prepare the Operating Agreement for you.