How to start an LLC

This could also be titled, “How to File an LLC Yourself”, but I decided against it… ;)

  • For anyone interested, this is the exact steps I did to create my company.

If you want to go the easy route, “fill in the blank” option, may I recommend LegalZoom.com? :D

The first thing you need to do is figure out what your small business will be about. Have that down pat first. LLC’s tend to work for “small businesses” and the “entrepreneur type” in the beginning. As you grow and mature your company, you can look into Corporations for a business structure.

I wanted to create a website design company about 5 years ago, but didn’t have the money to invest in a lawyer to write up and file the documents. My dad did the same thing with his home repair company, but I wanted to see if I could file the papers myself and save a boatload of money. Turns out I could, it just takes attention to details and double checking everything before you send it off.

After I decided on what I wanted to do, I had to think of a name. I thought up of a couple ideas, clever name twists, and wrote them down on paper.

After I had a list of possible names, I googled each one in quotation brackets to see if it pulled up in a search result. If it did, I would cross it off. If it didn’t, I would visit GoDaddy and see if the domain name was taken. If it was, I would cross it off the list. If it wasn’t, I would then go to my states DFI (Dept. of Financial Institutions) website (In this case, I live in WI, so I would go here): http://wdfi.org/ and “Search Business Records” there. If the name pulled up in their records, I would cross it off. If it didn’t, I would consider that a possible name for my LLC. It took me roughly a week doing it this route, but I’m glad I did. I found a really good name, and it made perfect sense to me (meaning it had an inside meaning that only I knew).

I then went to register my LLC in my States (WI in this case) DFI records. I clicked on the “Create a Corporation or LLC” link, and clicked “Limited Liability Company – Wisconsin”. This may or may not be different in the state you live in, and the laws governing that DFI, so always browse your States DFI website first.

For Wisconsin, they have a “What You Need” list, so be sure you have all the information and payment they need before you file. Also be sure to read and double read over the information and the steps they give you, you don’t want to make a mistake and have to pay for it to be corrected later.

Once you have all that information, click the “start filing link” and fill in the information they ask you to provide. Once that is finished, and you have paid your respective fee, print off the confirmation receipt and information and hold onto it! You will usually get an e-mail within a week saying your LLC was filed and accepted. In that e-mail, you will be provided with a link to the “Official Articles of Organization”. Print them off, and guard them with your life! That, and file them away with all your other important papers, and know where they are at all times. There are occasions you will need to pull them out, like making a copy for creating a business banking account, but for the most part they will sit in one area.

Taking this route, I only had to pay $130 for my LLC. There is an annual fee and report I have to provide my states DFI with every year, but it goes pretty smoothly. I saved having to pay $100-$1k+ because I filed it myself!

So, that’s how I did it, and saved money in the process. What route did you take or are planning on going? Comment below and lets get a conversation started around this.

A couple tips for LLC’s:

When you file, file as a “member managed LLC”. You could go for “Manager managed LLC”, but then there is the possibility of a LLP or Partnership problem down the road.

Also, you have to use LLC/ a limited liability company/limited liability co. when you mention your company. You can’t just use the name alone, except when buying the domain name for the company. I prefer to use the LLC option to make it shorter and easier to remember.

Here is another point a friend e-mailed me!

(7-28-09)Scott L.: An LLC is organized, not incorporated. Corporations are incorporated.

Have anything you would like to add regarding LLC’s?

Hope this post helps! :D

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