Free LLC Guides

Greetings, to all startups and future successful entrepreneurs! 

As you already know, LLCs (limited liability companies) have long been popular around small businesses and startups alike. The reason for that? Well, if you ask us, the most popular one is getting that 100% protection for your personal assets. It’s all about the limited liability to the resources of your big or small business.

Now, about what we are going to discuss here. The main goal of this post is to guide you through the challenging path of creating an LLC and help you understand all the important details of building your successful business. We are here to assist you on your journey as an entrepreneur, avoiding all possible issues with the law in advance.

Every paragraph of this page will highlight basic details of each stage of LLC creation. Moreover, this is where you can find a special drop-down menu with unique requirements of your state to find out about its unique requirements in terms of forming new entities. 

Setting Up an LLC

If you are reading this, you probably have many questions (you might not even realize, at the moment, how many of them you have). In our experience, the main questions are as follows:

  • What documents do I have to file?
  • What business licenses do I need for my LLC? 
  • Where and how can I find a reliable (and affordable) registered agent for my LLC? Do I really need that 
  • agent?
  • What day is it? (JK)

And so on…

You can spend all day looking for your answers, but we hope this page is among the first you have found. Anyway, we dare you to stop searching! Everything related to forming an LLC is already here on this site. Thank us later!

Our clear guidelines will take you to the final stage of creating your LLC in no time! All you have to do is read carefully and follow the steps. Next thing you know, your LLC is at full blast, ready to conquer the world! Yup, just like that! 

In case you forget something in the future, you can always get back here. Otherwise, check our 7 Best LLC Formation Services to get more information about reliable services that will help you with the paperwork, or read our overview guide for a brief introduction to everything you need to know to form an LLC.

Choose your LLC state in the drop-down menu below or read on our guidelines and get acquainted with basic insights about everything you can expect when forming your LLC.

LLC Formation Costs

The major price component of LLC formation costs is the state LLC formation fee that depends on the state where you form your LLC. The cost of starting an LLC ranges from $45 (Kentucky) to $500 (Massachusetts). In 2020, the average one-time filing fee to form an LLC in the United States was around $133. The following annual fees are different. For example, in California, you will have to pay $70 to start an LLC, and $800 every year + $20 every two years.

Yup. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. But don’t despair, the main thing is to remember that one day, your LLC will zoom into success, and you will break even! To make money, you will have to spend them – this is how it works. 

Each of 50 states has its own LLC formation process and fees, including initial state filing fees, annual report fees, publication fees, name reservation fees, franchise tax fees, etc. Our website will help you learn all the necessary information about how to do everything right at the start. This is how you will gain confidence and know exactly how much you should spend when forming an LLC or maintaining it.
See how much it costs to start an LLC in your state by choosing it from the menu below. Otherwise, read our overview to learn more!

LLC Name Search

Choosing a proper name for your future LLC is one of the most important tasks at the planning stage. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s a real headache. Your LLC’s name has to perfectly reflect your business, its identity, purpose, values, and the main service or product it offers. Thus, it’s so much more than just words – the name will form your customers’ very first impressions and inspire their initial thoughts. 

The name must be stylish, memorable, and necessarily unique since using someone else’s (or very similar) name, even if it looks perfect, is strictly prohibited by law. The US states have strict regulations in terms of LLC name uniqueness to avoid any sort of confusion. This means you will have to check your name availability in advance to ensure that it’s 100% distinctive.

It’s a well-known fact that a successful company name helps a business get off to a good start, increasing its standing in the eyes of investors. This is the key to building your company and the foundation of the brand. 

So how do you know your LLC name is not already taken? Well, you can start with performing a business name search on the official website of your state. There has to be such a function on every government website to inform you about all registered business names that are already taken. This is how you will know your chosen LLC name is available.

Depending on the state, there may be some differences in the searching process. But we have your back covered! Our website will let you know about all the nuances related to business name search procedures. This method will make performing an LLC name search and checking the results easier. 

Find your state below to do a business name search in your state or read our overview to know what to expect.

LLC Name Reservation

If you have already checked the availability of your LLC name but still have to get a few things done before you start your business or for any other reason, the next step is reserving your LLC name. This is how you will keep the name hidden from your competitors and, thus, secure your company’s identity. 

Even though the name reservation is not a mandatory process, some intense brainstorming with your family and friends, long sleepless nights, and dozens of rejected options may take place before you create a perfect name for your LLC. Considering all this, you will probably want to make sure that it all was not in vain.

Given the importance of business entity names, California offers the opportunity to reserve a business name before you file your incorporation documents. The name reservation process is quite simple, however, it can vary in different states. All you have to do is reserve your chosen LLC name with your state’s government. 
Choose your state below to find out how to reserve an LLC name there or read our quick overview guide to know what to expect.

LLC Operating Agreement. Why Do You Need it?

Once you have successfully formed your LLC, you will, obviously, want your business to run smoothly. In order to keep your personal assets safe (and separate from business assets), avoid legitimacy recognition issues with banks, or feuding among your LLC members, you will need a special document that will set up a framework of important regulations. This is how you can keep your LLC’s operation stable and successful. For this, we recommend drafting an operating agreement that will detail the ownership and management structures to reach shared understanding with all LLC members, providing essential benefits for your LLC. 

Not every state will require the creation of an operating document, however, you should know that this document will act like your LLC’s bylaws, setting up important aspects of your business once and for all (and for everyone).

The number of points to consider in an operating agreement may seem a bit immense at first, but with us, you will have everything under control. After reading our guidelines, you will have a clear understanding of every important aspect because we have only collected the most essential information to include in the agreement, and made it more accessible.
Choose your state below for details and requirements needed to adopt an operating agreement or read our overview guide for a quick intro of what to expect.

Drafting and Filing LLC Articles Of Organization

So you are standing on the eve of your new business life. The next “fruition” stage is highly important. Once you have done your research, developed your branding, drawn up your business plan, spoken with your employees and partners, now it’s time to draft and file the Articles of Organization (in some states, it’s called Certificate of Formation, Certificate of Organization). In other words, the time has come to officially establish your limited liability company at the state level. 

The formation and filing processes may differ in various states, which can raise many questions about the document itself and the information to be included in it. Read on to find out about how you can draft and file the Articles of Organization in your state and get started with your official LLC formation process. 

Choose your state below and gain essential insights on how to file the Articles of Organization or read this guide to know what more to expect with your LLC.

LLC Registered Agent

What do you visualize when dreaming about the future of your LLC? Is it great business deals and massive paybacks? Is it thousands (or millions) of positive customer reviews and loyal clients? Do you plan to change the community or even the whole world with your product or service? 

Whatever your dreams are, we know one thing for sure – you don’t dream about dealing with tons of paperwork and lawsuits. Alas, the latter will most definitely derive from the former. Unless you have someone to deal with your business papers, deadlines, and notifications from the state, e.g. a reliable online service. This is exactly why a professional registered agent is a must-have for every LLC.

Every business entity in the US needs to have one. And there are so many questions related to registered agents. When and how you should designate your registered agent? Is the agent required right from the LLC launch or can you hire one later? Who can be an LLC registered agent? Why do you need one? What if you don’t have a registered agent? These are just a few questions a lot of entrepreneurs ask when forming their first LLC. 

This guide can serve as your FAQ page for everything that is related to registered agents. You can find some valuable information to satisfy your needs, starting from the importance of having a registered agent for your LLC and ending with every task the agent should handle.
Choose your state and see who can become a registered agent of your LLC or read this guide to know what to expect further.

Changing A Registered Agent

One particularly vital aspect in terms of your future registered agent deserves a stand-alone paragraph in our guide. All established LLCs know that, at a certain stage of the life of your LLC, changing this indispensable agent is inevitable. The reasons for the change can be various (e.g. shifts in your project, customer base, LLC ownership structure, etc.), but what really matters is how fast you react to the need to change and how smooth the switching will be. 

A registered agent is a highly important person (or an entity) that handles your business issues and legal communications with the state. In the event of the necessity, to maintain your LLC’s stability and success, the quicker you change your agent, the better. 
Choose your state below and learn how you to change a registered agent with no problems or read this guide for more insights on what to expect with your LLC.

LLC Foreign Qualification

If your LLC is expanding from your home state into another, you might want to learn new requirements of that state. Unlike domestic LLCs, foreign LLCs, once they enter a new state, will have to follow a different set of rules. Some of them may stay the same but some will be different. 

The faster you learn how everything works for your limited liability company in the new state, the better. With our guide, you can ensure your LLC’s stable operation and compliance with the law in every state you are going to conquer next.

We are sure that you will be ready to take on new challenges, whether you just have a small group of customers in another state or take your business coast to coast, you will need to ensure your business is compliant with the requirements of every state it enters.
Choose your state below to learn more about the subject or read our guide to know what to expect.

LLC Annual Reports

An LLC is like a vehicle that needs thoughtful maintenance to stay up and running. You want to keep it in good condition with the state, which means that you have to file annual reports. This is due to the fact that all the states need to understand what businesses, no matter small or big, are operating in them. Thus, the states impose certain regulations and requirements for their LLCs, which are called annual reports. The exception can only be given to sole proprietors and partnerships.

If you don’t know or are unsure of your state’s annual reporting requirements or a form of annual reports, our guide will help you with understanding all aspects in this regard. We can provide the necessary information for every state, so if yours has involuntary maintenance, you can learn about it on this website. By the way, some reports have to be filed every year, some every two years, and some even once in 10 years. This means, not every report is actually “annual.”

Choose your state below to learn about LLC annual reporting in your state or read our overview guide for a quick intro of what to expect.

Starting a Business

Launching your first LLC is undoubtedly a thrilling process. These days, LLCs are among the most popular business entity types around the world. The opportunity to keep personal assets safe attracts many entrepreneurs. However, LLC formation is nothing like a trivial process – it implies thorough preparation and understanding of important regulations needed to register an LLC in a certain state. 

On this site, we share valuable tips with you to make your LLC formation process as easy and painless as possible, avoiding any risks. Once you learn everything that’s needed, your business idea will become a reality, and you will be able to grow your business with confidence. 

Our site also provides valuable links with guides for different states, which have detailed breakdowns for every state. We can tell you what needs to be done to form an LLC properly in your home state.
Choose your state below to learn how you can start your own LLC or read our guide to learn more in the FAQ section.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to know about starting an LLC?

The first thing to remember is that forming your first LLC is nothing trivial. So get ready for a challenge and make sure you have everything under control before actually launching your LLC. Here are 10 basic things to consider:
– Pick the right state to form your LLC. Consider all the rules, fees, and regulations of a particular law in the state;
– Think of a good name for your LLC, considering all regulations in terms of it, and check the name’s availability via a business search on the official the Secretary of State website of the chosen state;
– File the Articles of Organization;
– Obtain a Certificate from the State to confirm that your LLC formally exists with the state.;
– Designate a professional registered agent (an individual or a service company) with a physical office in the chosen state;
– Pay a filing fee;
– Indicate the LLC’s purpose via a statement;
– Create the LLC Operating Agreement that will indicate all financial and management procedures, rights, and obligations of LLC members (capital contributions, shares, penalties, the number of LLC members, meeting procedures, profit distribution, etc); 
– Analyze how you will raise money from your investors, consider all the risks, investor rights, and your responsibilities, get legal advice if in doubt;
– Get an EIN from the IRS, unless you don’t plan to hire any employees for your LLC;
– Obtain the required business licenses (local, state, or federal), depending on your business nature;
– Set up a separate business bank account for your LLC. Keep in mind that your bank will need your filed Articles of Organization and EIN;
– Create and maintain an LLC Membership Ledger to record the following information: the names and addresses of the LLC owners, unit classes and their numbers, how many units they hold, and when those units were acquired;
– File your annual reports in time, consider your deadlines.

Who to speak to about starting an LLC?

You might want to talk with your family first. Then you can consult an LLC formation service or a lawyer, a business coach, a banker, an accountant, or anyone who you consider a trusted advisor. 

You can ask them for independent advice or to draw up the paperwork for your LLC. They can help you decide on an S-corp or C-corp LLC type, consult you on taxes, your LLC strategy, various application processes, financial statements, etc. The main thing is to start your LLC with as much information as possible.

What are the best states to start an LLC?

If you already have a place to live in one of the states, then start a business in that state. If you don’t have a home state, then check out this list of the best states to start an LLC in terms of business climate (e.g. taxes, regulatory burden, workforce availability, etc.):
– Delaware;
– Wyoming;
– Alaska;
– South Dakota;
– Florida;
– Nevada;
– Montana;
– New Hampshire;
– Utah;
– Oregon.

Why do you have to file Articles of Organization when starting your business?

This document is required by your LLC state to establish the ownership, indicate the share of profits/losses, rights, duties, and responsibilities of each LLC member. Moreover, this is where you will indicate what happens when a member leaves your LLC.

Why starting an LLC is not easy?

Starting a business when you don’t have any instructions, tools, checklists, or templates at hand can be really challenging. Thus, we have created this website to share valuable information with you so you can start and run your business with confidence. Before you make any further steps in terms of your new LLC, we recommend you study this site well. Once you gain the necessary insights, next thing you know – everything is as complicated as it seemed at first glance.

Can you hide your identity when starting an LLC?

First of all, you can’t your identity from the state authorities. However, if you do not want your company to be public, we recommend creating an Anonymous LLC (also known as “Private LLC” or “Confidential LLC”) that will allow you to run your company without your name and address becoming a matter of public record. The most famous states in this regard are Delaware, Wyoming, and New Mexico You can also hire a registered agent that will provide a physical address for your company, which will be listed in all your business documents, and your personal address will not be in the public domain. 

Q: What to do when starting an LLC?

All the basic steps of starting a business are described here.

What online service can I consult with when starting an LLC?

We recommend addressing LLC formation services like RocketLawyer and ZenBusiness (small businesses). They have a lot of experience in this matter, plus affordable LLC formation packages, and excellent customer support. You can also consider IncFrile and Northwest Registered Agent, both of these services have a great reputation with thousands of positive customer reviews.

What to do after starting an LLC?

Once you have formed your LLC, the next thing to do is checking if you need any more licenses or permits to operate your LLC. Depending on your business nature this can be zoning permits, health department permits, professional licenses, home occupation licenses, seller permits, etc. You can also apply for an S-Corporation status (if applicable) to split your business’ profits into salary and distributions. For this, you will need to file Form 2553 with the IRS (it’s free). Then you should also consider keeping up with quarterly tax payments, get general liability insurance or a BOP (Business Owners Policy).

You may also need product liability insurance if you sell products or a  professional liability policy to cover your LLC if you make a mistake in your professional services. Other than that, you have to keep an eye on your documents and records (keep them in order) and visit an accountant to get tax advice and gain some insights on business deductions.

What forms does LLC need for taxes?

Depending on your classification (disregarded entity, partnership, or corporation) and whether you are a single-member or multi-member LLC, the main forms for an LLC are as follows: 
Form 1040, or 1040-SR + Schedule C (Income tax and Self-employment tax). 
Schedule C and Schedule SE or Schedule E (Self-employment tax) 
Form 1065 (Partnership taxes). 
Form 1120 (S) and K-1 (Corporate taxes)

You can find more information here.

Senior Business Tax Writer, etc
Jean Wilson Murray
(323) 789-5289
Senior Business Tax Writer, etc
Jean Wilson Murray

In this IncFile vs ZenBusiness review, we're going to compare two of the most popular LLC formation services based on pricing, features, and drawing out differences and similarities to let you see which is most suitable for you and your business.

You can learn more about @Mike here.