LLC help, or assistance with forming your LLC or limited liability company, is something that many new LLC owners need as they set out on their journey into business. LLC help is also something for which LLC owners should not be afraid to ask, as one is not expected to know everything there is to know about LLCs from the outset. The following guide will help you with the basics of setting up your LLC.

Forming an LLC

An LLC is a type of business entity that combines the limited liability protections of a corporation with the flexibility and tax advantages of a partnership or sole proprietorship. Forming such a business is not as difficult as some may believe, so long as the proper steps are followed in the proper way. These proper steps are as follows:

  1. Choose an LLC name. This name must meet the rules of your state’s LLC division. Naming requirements may vary from state to state, but in general, your LLC name should not be a duplicate of another name, must include some variation of “Limited Liability Company,” and should not have forbidden or restricted words unless allowed (such as “Secret Service,” “Bank,” and “Corporation”). An LLC name can be chosen through the LLC name search of your Secretary of State’s website.
  2. Submit Articles of Organization. Also referred to as a Certificate of Formation or a Certificate of Organization, these provide the state with basic information about your LLC, like its address, name, and members’ names. There is usually a $50 to $200 filing fee, although in California, there is an additional $800 annual fee.
  3. Obtain an EIN. EIN stands for Employer Identification Number, and it can be obtained from the IRS by filing Form SS-4, for which there is no filing fee. This number acts as a sort of Social Security number for your company, and it is necessary for hiring employees, opening a business bank account, and making business transactions.
  4. Obtain state and local ID numbers. State and local agencies may require ID numbers as well. This will vary between state and jurisdiction, but the most common requirement will be tax ID numbers so you can pay payroll taxes, like disability and unemployment taxes.
  5. Choose a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or entity who receives and serves legal papers on behalf of your business. Such an agent must have a physical address in the same state you are registering your LLC in. If you are registering in another state as a foreign LLC, you must have a registered agent based in that state. PO boxes are not acceptable addresses for registered agents in most states. You may serve as your own registered agent, although this is not usually recommended.
  6. Form an Operating Agreement. State law rarely requires these, but they are highly recommended. An Operating Agreement will set down the operation and ownership rules your LLC will be governed by. Such rules may include the responsibilities and rights members will have, what percentage of interest members will have, if or how a member may sell their interest in the company, and how the LLC will be run generally. The Operating Agreement can head off future disputes by setting out procedures for any number of scenarios.
  7. Publish a notice of LLC formation. Some states will require you to publish a notice in your local newspaper informing the public of your intent to create an LLC. This must be published several times around the time of your LLC’s formation, and then you must file an affidavit of publication with the LLC filing office. The local paper may be able to assist you with the wording and publication of this notice.
  8. Obtain permits and licenses. Once the previous steps have been completed, your LLC will have been officially formed. However, if permits and licenses are required to operate your business, you will have to obtain these before you can go into business. These will vary between state and jurisdiction, but there will usually be fees for obtaining these permits wherever they must be obtained.

These are just the basics of the steps necessary to establish an LLC, and each may be more detailed depending on your specific situation. If you need more LLC help, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.