HOW TO GET AN LLC: An LLC must be obtained through your state website. YOU DO NOT NEED TO HIRE A LAWYER or hire a company to get an LLC for you!!! First we will discuss how to access your state website and how to find the LLC papers on it, then we will discuss MEGA IMPORTANT THINGS to do BEFORE you get an LLC - Secrets NOBODY EVER tells you (and you will regret it if you don't read this full article!).
HOW TO FIND YOUR STATE WEBSITE:
Click your state on the list below (provided by IRS.gov). THEN click "State Website" (first link on the page) and you will arrive at your states site:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Every state website is completely different, so you will likely have to poke around your states website to find the section for LLC. Most state websites are TERRIBLE, confusing and hacked-together mess... this is what our tax dollars go toward?? Yes, apparently? OFTEN, if you use the search box on your states site you can type in "form corporation" or "form entity" and it will probably come up. Worst case scenario, send an email to the contact information on your states site and politely ask them to send you a link to where you can file new LLC paperwork. Make sure you ask nicely because they are in no hurry to reply otherwise.
BEFORE YOU GET YOUR LLC:
1. Pick a company name (obviously) BUT nobody ever tells you to purchase the MATCHING domain name FIRST! You may have came up with the best-ever-most-amazingist company name, paid to get the LLC then discovered that someone else owns the .com and they sell the same stuff you planned to sell! Now what?! You gotta start all over and you just wasted time and money.
SOOOO... what you want to do is brainstorm a big list of words, names, ideas. Here's exactly how I do it:
I use Google Docs (docs.google.com) and I write down every single idea I think of, even if it's stupid. I also write down generic words that fit the topic. Here's my actual list from when I was picking a name for BigBrandWholesale.com:
I then share my google doc with certain people in my life that I know will contribute more good suggestions and honest advice. Through Google Docs they can add their ideas onto your list. (Yes, I really loved the name "Blue Whale Wholesale.... it's so fun to say, but after much debate I decided Big Brand Wholesale was right for us!)
After you have a long list of names you can go to GoDaddy.com and do a "Domain Name Search" to see what is available. Some domain names have not yet been purchased so they are only $12.99 or whatever. Others are "for sale" for bigger amounts. As you can see from my list above, "CompleteWholesale.com" was for sale over over $1,000 on the day I was looking. TIP: BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR DOMAIN THROUGH GoDaddy, join my favoritest-ever Cash Back Shopping program, Mr.Rebates because you will earn around 8% CASH BACK plus you'll get a coupon to use on your GoDaddy Domain purchase! I have been with Mr. Rebates since 2009 and have gotten over $20,000 CASH BACK:
2. BUT WHAT NOBODY TELLS YOU... You can do an "Entity Search" on your states website to see if anyone else is operating under the name you want OR a similar name, but this only applies to other businesses in your state. Even if the name is available in your state, that doesn't mean the domain name is available, so once again, BUY THE DARN DOMAIN NAME BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE!! TIP: Never get a domain ".org" unless you are an organization (like a charity, for example). ONLY get a .com because it is very hard for people to remember other domain extensions!
3. Next you MUST determine what address you will enter on your LLC paperwork. Nobody tells you that THIS ADDRESS WILL FOREVER BE PUBLICLY LISTED and there's no way to remove it.
That means ANYONE can look up your address, FOR FREE, 24/7. So if you use your home address you need to consider that it is very possible someone could knock on your door one day. People are super weird and can be highly dangerous, especially if they believe you have a lot of money or inventory stored in your home. SO, if you work from home I cannot urge you enough to get a PO Box address. Note: You CAN change your address on your LLC renewal form BUT that address change ONLY applies to the renewal year, the prior year data will ALWAYS be available!
4. WHAT NOBODY TELLS YOU...You should NEVER buy a domain name or get an LLC until you have performed a Google Search for the name you are thinking of. Keep in mind that companies open and close every day, so it is absolutely possible the name you want has already been burned to the ground by someone else previously. And, like, how terrible would it be to open "Susans Dog Grooming" then discover that some idiot with 200 negative reviews used to own a business called....Susans Dog Grooming. Now you have to deal with the struggle of being a new business in addition to a thousand BBB complaints when you have yet to groom your first dog!
5. And finally, on the LLC form you have to list your business intention. When I first formed my business, many, many years ago, a wise man from Michigan (lawyer) told me to write "To conduct business according to Michigan Law". WHAT NOBODY TELLS YOU is what this wise man explained to me: you never want to be too specific because you want to be able to change your business as needed. So, I have always filed for my LLC's using this exact phrase and I have never had a single issue. For example, let's say that today your whole plan is just to sell on Amazon so you write on your LLC paperwork that your business intention is "To sell on Amazon" - that's great.... until 5 years from now when you decide that you instead want to open a physical boutique and no longer sell on Amazon! Now your paperwork has become fraudulent.
COST: Your LLC cost will depend on your state. My state, Michigan, charges $50 to $100 to get the LLC then around $25 per year to renew. However I have heard that California charges $800 per year. I assume every state is different. You should be able to see your states LLC cost by using the state website links at the beginning of the article.
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