Incorporation is the key step in getting your business started, providing you with the asset protection and stability you need. Without following all the steps of setting up a business, your mistakes can be held against you in case you get sued.
The following checklist is a guide you can use to plan your new business venture. It is not legal or accounting advice, so it should only be used to guide you in your discussions with your lawyer and accountant.
Business Entity Start-up Checklist:
- Are you a foreign national looking to start a US business? See "Setting Up a US Business as a Non-US Resident"
- Choose the type of business entity that you want for your new business.
- Determine who will own the company, and who will invest how much, and what they expect to get in return
- Determine who will manage the company: for corporations, pick the officers and directors; for limited liability companies (LLCs) pick the Managers or Members
- Choose a state of incorporation
- Choose a name for your company
- File the incorporation papers
- Hold the organizational meeting and adopt the bylaws (for corporations); adopt the operating agreement (for LLCs)
- Obtain a federal tax number (Employer Identification Number). Your company will likely be filing returns and reports to the Federal and/or State government, and must have its own identification number.
- Open a bank account. You must never mix business and personal money, unless you enjoy IRS audits or having your company called a sham.
- Obtain any further financing
- Get a location to work from, lease an office
Every state requires a registered agent to represent the company within that state if the company is incorporated or authorized to do business there.
Business Start Up Resources
- Forms of Business Entities
- Business Entities Comparison
- Frequently Asked Questions About Incorporating
- Choice of State of Incorporation
- Information on 50 States and the District of Columbia