To become an officially recognized business entity, you must register with the government. Corporations will need an "articles of incorporation" document, which includes your business name, business purpose, corporate structure, stock details and other information about your company. Otherwise, you will just need to register your business name, which can be your legal name, a fictitious "doing business as" name (if you are the sole proprietor), or the name you've come up with for your company. You may also want to take steps to trademark your business name for extra legal protection.
Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation. Regardless of which option you choose, it's vital to understand the reasoning behind your idea. Stephanie Desaulniers, director of operations and women's business programs at Covation Center, cautions entrepreneurs from writing a business plan or worrying about a business name before nailing down the idea's value.
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The LLC is typically the best choice for smaller entities. The LLC structure provides a great deal of ownership flexibility in that an LLC may have any number of Members (owners) including non-US citizens and subsidiary companies. LLCs are also able to distribute several different classes of stock or ownership interest. However, their owners are typically required to pay a self-employment tax.
After you've completed the steps described above, your LLC is official. But before you open your doors for business, you need to obtain the licenses and permits that all new businesses must have to operate. These may include a business license (sometimes also referred to as a "tax registration certificate"), a federal employer identification number, a sellers' permit, or a zoning permit. For more on business licenses and permits, see the Licenses & Permits for Your Business area of Nolo's website.
The "mit beschränkter Haftung (mbH)" suffix (German: [ˈɛmbeːˌhaː], "with limited liability") is sometimes added to the name of a firm that already ends in "-gesellschaft" ("company"), e.g., "Mustermann Dental-Handelsgesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung" ("dental trading company with limited liability"), which would be abbreviated as "Mustermann Dental-Handelsgesellschaft mbH".