Tasks like naming the business and creating a logo are obvious, but what about the less-heralded, equally important steps? Whether it's determining your business structure or crafting a detailed marketing strategy, the workload can quickly pile up. Rather than spinning your wheels and guessing at where to start, follow this 10-step checklist to transform your business from a lightbulb above your head to a real entity.
All formal business entities, including LLCs, are required to have a Registered Agent on file with the state at all times. The agent may be an individual or company with a physical address located in the state of incorporation. Agents must be available at all times during standard business hours (9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday – Friday). The role of a Registered Agent is to receive any and all of communications from the government to the business. The agent’s name and address must be disclosed as part of the company’s public record.
Limited liability companies allow for a large variety of management structures based on your specific needs. Management structures for S-Corps are largely dictated by state and federal law. Management schemas for C-Corps are largely dictated by state and federal law. NPOs need to follow strict management laws to guard their non-profit status. Since Sole Proprietorships have only one member, there is no management structure.
It should also be noted that the state of New York requires limited liability companies to comply with an unusually strict set of publication requirements. In addition to publishing notices in two papers in the county in which your business is forming, you will also be required to provide proof of this to New York’s Department of State within 120 days of becoming officially recognized as a business. Failing to do so can result in suspension of your right to conduct business in the state.
Since limited liability companies can be a pass-through entity, owners are taxed on their personal income. S-Corp shareholders are taxed personally. The S-Corp, however, is not. C-Corp income is taxed at the corporate level first, then again at the personal level. This is called "double taxation." Non-Profits are only taxed once and can write off most of their expenses. Sole Proprietors are taxed only on their personal tax return.
Washington "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd."; must not include "Bank", "banking", "banker", "trust", "cooperative", or any combination of the words "industrial" and "loan", or any combination of any two or more of the words "building", "savings", "loan", "home", "association", and "society" § 23B.04.010 Revised Code of Washington
Individuals or startups often look for people to review their products to encourage others to buy them. You can either get started with a profile on freelancing websites or approach companies directly, offering them a review in exchange for a monetary reward by becoming an influencer. Even better, if you have your own website or blog, you could write entire posts about their products, thus allowing you to charge more money in the long run and build a portfolio with tangible results to show future clients.
If you have a great product, but no money to invest in a physical storefront, staff, and bills, why not set yourself up online? Aside from the lack of huge monetary investment and time commitment, the marketing opportunities online are endless. Also, although a storefront is great for branding purposes, it does limit the size and scope of your audience. By setting yourself up with an e-commerce store, you can:
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.
Unltd or Ultd (Unlimited/無限公司): similar to a limited liability company (Ltd) but whose members or shareholders do not benefit from limited liability should the company ever go into formal liquidation. It is not a requirement under company law to add or state the word or designation Unlimited (無限公司) or its abbreviations (Unltd or Ultd) at the ending of its legal company name, and most unlimited companies do not.