Protect yourself when doing busines

How to start an LLC

This site will help you to set up your LLC. We have collected operating agreements, provide information on taxes, point out what you need to focus on. Without further ado, here goes:

picture limited liability company

It is not difficult to set up an LLC

Get a name

Each state requires you to include certain words in your name as e.g. “Limited Liability Company”, “Ltd. Liability Co”, “LLC” or “L.L.C.”. The details of what your “LLC designator” has to be like depend on your state where you want to form and operate your LLC.

Furthermore, your name cannot resemble another famous company (Google, Apple, Facebook, Honda, etc.). The secretary of state is only checking whether your suggested name conflicts with the name of an entity registered in your state. That the secretary of state does not have NIKE, Inc. incorporated in that state does not mean you are not getting in trouble down the road.

When checking out names also take into consideration, that your name cannot infringe on a trademark. This is a little tricky to check, since you have to check the  records of the federal US patent and trademark office, but also your state records. The whole thing gets even more complicated, since under US law, you can receive Trademark protection upon first use in business and not registration. In other words, there might a business out there using your desired name, but they never cared to register. Before you spend the money on a trademark search, check the records yourself (state and federal trademark registrations, yellow pages, fictitious business name filings) and start making money. If you involuntarily violate someone’s trademark you might have to change your name some years down the road.

You can reserve your name, but this does not make a lot of sense if you immediately

File Articles of Organization

In our state section we list all the websites of state secretary of states. Most have a standard form to download. Typically Articles of Organization are one page documents, that show the name of the LLC, and tell everyone who is the person who can receive court filings if it is being sued (so called agent for service of process or registered agent). Also they state the purpose of the organization (engage in any lawful business for which limited liability companies may be organized in this state) and the members of the managers, the principal place of business, as well as the period of duration of the LLC. Most states allow perpetual duration, if your state limits you to thirty or fifty years,  then use the maximum allowed time and file an amendment of your articles of organization before the period of duration expires.

Once you sent in your Articles of Organization to the secretary of state, your biggest job to create a legal entity is done. Normally, your LLC comes into existence once you successfully file your articles of organization. Wait a couple of weeks that the secretary of state checks your articles and sends you back file-stamped copies of your articles.

The Operating Agreement is not necessary to form an LLC. However, it is an excellent idea to have one and on this site there is a sample.

Good luck with your business and check out what else you can learn from this site.


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