If you want to create an LLC for your business, this is the article for you. As a business consultant, I've tried many different services for forming an LLC over the years, as that is one of the more common things startups want to do.
The old-school method of creating a business entity can be confusing as it's easy to miss steps and government sites are notoriously difficult to navigate. But you can still do it that way, and might even save a few bucks. Hunt down the various forms on the federal, state, and local government websites then fill them out and pay the fees. If you want to try the old manual way, you can look up what you need through the SBA Website.
Today many companies like incorporate.com, incfile, LegalZoom, RocketLawyer, and zenbusiness streamline the process of creating an LLC and registering your business for you, though, and don't cost much more. Most of them offer step-by-step instructions that take you through everything. They, of course, will try to upsell you on extra services, but for basic filings, you won't save much attempting to hunt everything down yourself.
I've used these services several times to create LLCs, including for this website and my wife's cleaning business, and have recommended this method to many of my clients. Those services certainly beat the old-school way, in my opinion, and the time savings vs. looking up everything are well worth the extra. You'll also likely save a bundle over using a local attorney.
In case you're thinking of creating an LLC for your own business, I documented the steps I took to create my two most recent companies below. If you follow this, you'll end up with an LLC for your business, an EIN, a business checking account, and a line of credit.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
What is an LLC?
A limited liability company (LLC) is one of the most straightforward business structures in the United States, whereby the owners are not personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities(1). Protecting your personal assets from lawsuits and business failures by creating a separate entity is one foundational step every business or rental property owner should take.
Creating an LLC Using zenbusiness
Here are the steps to create an LLC using zenbusiness.
1. Type in Your Preferred Company Name
On the zenbusiness website, type in your desired company name and click start now to bring up the wizard to begin creating your LLC. Once you click start, answer the simple chat-like questionnaire. It'll ask you if you want an LLC or corporation, I'd select LLC. Other business structures are available, but if your business makes less than six figures annually and you don't have several owners, an LLC is usually your best option.
My primary company is an S-Corp, but it's a multi-million dollar business. As a general rule of thumb, if your business makes more than six figures, you may want a corporation for tax purposes. Just realize you will also need to name a board of directors to create a formal corporation and it comes with some additional paperwork like documenting annual meetings and sending out K-1's.
You can also start an LLC and then elect to be taxed as an S-Corp later, which will give you many tax advantages without all the red tape of a corporation. I switched my wife's LLC to be taxed as an S-Corp as soon as she hit six figures, which was relatively painless and easier to manage than my full S-Corp.
2. Follow the prompts to create your LLC
Follow the prompts to finish completing and filing your LLC.
3. Optional: Discuss with an Accountant
Most new owners will want to talk through business taxes with an accountant as you need to be aware of things like the need to file quarterly estimated taxes when you are self-employed. (2) Part of the questionnaire will set you up with an accountant as desired. I didn't use that service as I use QuickBooks to keep track of my business finances, but it might be a good option for a startup.
Beyond the LLC: Separate Your Business Finances
Be sure to separate your business and personal finances, as that is required to maintain the protection your LLC offers. (3) It is also easier to know how your business is doing when it's tracked separately from your finances.
Just like when you first started building your credit with a checking and charge card as a teenager, your business can now establish credit with your new EIN (essentially a social security number for a company). I highly recommend getting a business checking and charge card as soon as you get your EIN. You can get your EIN through zenbusiness (easiest) or register for it through the federal EIN application.
I use QuickBooks to keep track of my business finances, and it's widely known, so nearly any accountant should be able to help you with it. It's relatively easy to use and has extensive online help. They also have accountants available through the app, or you can share your account with your existing accountant.
Essentials will be fine for most new businesses. I'd recommend getting the Essentials or Plus plans, or you'll quickly find yourself wanting some of those features. Click here to save 50% on a new subscription.
Congrats, if you've followed this guide, you've now got an LLC for your business!!!
I hope this guide for creating an LLC has been helpful. If it has, please share so that someone else can benefit too!