1. Forming an LLC
2. Naming Your LLC

An application for LLC is a form a business owner will fill out and submit to the Secretary of State in the state in which this entrepreneur plans to start a Limited Liability Company (LLC). 

Forming an LLC

LLCs are an attractive business structure because they offer protection from liability for the owners (also known as members) of the company. If the business goes under, the members will only be held responsible for the amount of their initial investment in the company, but creditors cannot get at their personal assets.

The pass-through characteristic of an LLC is mirrored after the tax structures of sole proprietorships or partnerships, while the liability protection resembles a corporation.

Company profits for an LLC are only taxed once on the personal tax returns of the members, so they avoid double taxation when the LLC chooses to be taxed as a disregarded entity like a sole proprietorship or S Corp (S Corporation).

These advantages have made LLCs a desirable entity type for small businesses in the past several years.

You'll want to check with the Secretary of State in the state that you plan to form your LLC to be sure that you follow all of the requirements in your application for LLC.

Generally, all LLCs will need to do the following as they apply to become an LLC:

If an LLC does not draft its own operating agreement, the business will have to follow the rules set up by the state LLC laws.

LLCs are not a difficult entity to form with the state, but you'll want to be careful to follow all of the correct steps in order to apply properly.

It's pretty easy to form an LLC online in most states, but business owners also have the option to apply by mail or in person.

Naming Your LLC

One of the first steps in forming an LLC is choosing a name. This is an important part of forming a company because it is how the government and future customers will know it.

A good name is vital to the success of a business, especially when it comes to marketing and branding, but there are also some legal issues to keep in mind.

Here are the regulations an LLC must follow when choosing a name:

  • The name must include the words Limited Liability Company, Limited Company, or the abbreviations LLC, LC, L.L.C., or L.C.
  • Words that suggest some kind of license or specialty that the business doesn't actually have, like "bank" or "doctor" must be avoided; each state has a specific list of restricted words, so be sure to check the list and avoid including these words in your title. 
  • The name cannot violate any trademarks. Search the Trademark Electronic Search System or TESS online to find trademarks and avoid infringement.

Before you decide on a name for your business, you'll also want to be sure that it is not already in use by another LLC in the state.

Many Secretary of State websites offer a searchable database with all existing LLC names. You can easily perform a name search using all parts of your desired name to avoid any similarities and confusion for potential customers.

If you do find that your desired name is not currently in use, many states allow business owners to reserve a name to be sure that it isn't taken while they complete the application process.

You'll also want to perform a domain name search to ensure that your desired business name is available for use as a domain.

You may not be ready to start a company website right away, but it'll be very helpful to have the perfect domain name already reserved when you're ready.

Sometimes LLCs will choose to use a DBA or "Doing Business As" name as an alternative name for their company. These are also known as trade names. If this is the plan for your LLC, you'll need to file the paperwork for the DBA as well. This can also usually be completed online.

Some states don't require DBA names to be registered, so you'll want to check with your particular state before deciding whether to go that route.

If you need help with an application for an LLC, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.