LLC Setting Up Online: How To Start a Business Without a Lawyer

Written by Wesley Henderson

December 8, 2022

Many aspiring business owners might wonder if they should file for a limited liability company (LLC) when starting. Perhaps they understand its basic premise that having an LLC business structure separates them from their company so they can avoid many liabilities while having complete control over how it operates. After all, it will need their permission to function.

If you’re among these individuals who are still uncertain about setting up an LLC, consider this post your final push. This article remains a comprehensive guide to starting a business confidently. Discover how you can set up an LLC online without a lawyer.

Step 1: Choose a Unique LLC Name To Establish Your Business

No two businesses have the same name. You would have a much more seamless process in setting up an LLC if it has a distinct name. Sometimes, people would file business names that are only slight variations of existing businesses.

Notably, small changes can determine whether a name qualifies. However, consider how your business name’s individuality will make it more recognizable in the long run. You wouldn’t want potential customers to flock to the other LLC with a similar name and have been in business before you even filed.

You can confirm the availability of the business name you are eyeing by performing an online search. Scan business databases on the Secretary of State website of your intended location. Be sure that the name you choose (and other associated elements, such as logos) has no trademark history, which you can confirm at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In terms of the state where you intend to operate, you can form your LLC even outside of your home state. On that note, each state will have unique rules for registering a unique business name. For instance, some states are strict in including certain words in a name and may require extra documents. Our recommendation is that you file your LLC in the state where you live and/or operate your business. More on that here.

If you have plans for future expansion, consider securing the name in multiple states. This way, you can reserve the business name in the state it will operate in. Reserving the name will also benefit you in the long run when you begin launching the online side of your business, particularly in having a domain name ready. Better yet, file a trademark to secure it across the US (can use these attorneys to file your trademark).

Step 2: Find a Registered Agent To Handle Due Process

Regardless of where you plan to start your LLC, you need a registered agent to navigate the state’s relevant procedures in setting one up. In essence, registered agents accept the mail. You have a few options – you can pay someone to do it or you can be your own registered agent.

We recommend recommend being your own registered agent with two exceptions: a) you want to be anonymous or b) you don’t have a mailing location in that state.

Acting as your own registered agent limits your paperwork. In addition, you can maintain your privacy, which you might prefer to have control over since legal documents may be involved. All you need is a physical address for your LLC in the state where you plan on operating. Note that you cannot rely on a P.O. box for this matter.

If you can, save the money and be your own registered agent.

Step 3: File Articles of Organization To Register Your Business

Articles of organization are part of the formal legal documents you will need to establish an LLC. You may discover that articles of organization come in different names depending on where you plan to set up your LLC. Watch out for terms such as certificates of organization or certificates of formation. Despite the multiple names, they function the same way in making the state recognize your LLC.

Every state also has different filing requirements, which you can confirm at the appropriate Secretary of State’s website. Generally, you will need to provide standard information about the LLC you are setting up, including:

  • LLC Name: What will you call your business and where will it operate?
  • LLC Members: Who will be involved in the business? Be sure to include all relevant names.
  • Registered Agent: Who will serve as your LLC’s registered agent and where do they reside?
  • LLC Purpose: Why do you plan on setting up an LLC in the first place? Not all states may require this information.

Regardless of what the forms demand, be sure to complete them with the correct information. Check your state website to download and fill out the respective articles of the organization. It should also include information about the filing fees.

You can only do business once the state approves your LLC. If you submitted all the necessary paperwork correctly, you will receive a state certificate of organization. This document recognizes your LLC as a legal entity in the state of its operation.

Moreover, you will need to maintain annual payments for limited liability fees to the state known as annual registration fees. They also come in different names, such as franchise tax reports, annual reports, or annual certificates. These mandatory fees are part of your business’s state compliance.

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement To Establish Your LLC’s Structure

Getting an operating agreement may be optional in the state where you plan to set up your LLC. However, it comes with benefits. Operating agreements establish your LLC’s organizational structure. This document will guide you by highlighting your business rules and primary duties.

This step is especially important if you have business partners or plan to get investors involved in your LLC. Should you encounter disputes with internal or external parties, your operating agreement can serve as evidence of the business arrangements that everyone settled on, from their responsibilities to profit and loss allocations.

Essentially, operating agreements can help clarify any concerns when disagreements and conflicts ensue. They are the terms and conditions that everyone agrees to follow before proceeding and, despite being optional, they are important in preventing miscommunications from occurring.

At Drafted Legal, we offer customizable LLC operating agreement templates that you can simply fill out according to your unique business operations. Having a format that works for you is critical in establishing your LLC’s structure and ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page when it comes to duties and shares.

Step 5: Apply for an EIN To Register With the Federal Government

Another optional step in setting up an LLC is getting an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Your LLC’s EIN is the equivalent of your Social Security number. If you have multiple employees and partners, then an EIN may be mandatory in your state.

The IRS makes it easy to register your business with the federal government. Simply apply for a Federal Tax ID number at the IRS website — it’s fast and free. However, there is a certain window where you can apply. Specifically, the online EIN application is available on weekdays between 7 AM and 10 PM EST. The IRS will immediately issue your EIN this way.

Get a Reputable LLC Company To File For You

File LLC with Drafted Legal. Considering the complex processes involved in setting up an LLC yourself, you may want to consider creating it with help from a reputable LLC company like Drafted Legal. We understand the requirements and procedures for setting up and registering a limited liability company structure.

Drafted will file your LLC within 7 days and provide an operating agreement template along with an easy to understand video explaining what you need.

Even without a lawyer, our guide simplifies all the steps and helps you file your LLC within a week in any state. We proudly offer our services with no upsells, giving you only what you need to set up your LLC.

We also include operating agreements and videos highlighting the best practices in setting up a bank account and getting business licenses to run your company. Should you prefer having a lawyer on your side, consider getting in touch with our team via our contact page to connect you with the appropriate professionals.

Wesley Henderson

Hi, I'm Wesley! A business attorney turned entrepreneur devoted to simplifying how you protect your business and your assets. Like you, I'm an business owner so I get it and I started Drafted Legal to help you put in place simple and sound legal strategies so you can focus on your business and not worry about getting lost in legal nuances.

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