Business Registration and Incorporation Toolkit

SCORE is proud to partner with BizFilings to provide information on incorporating your business. BizFilings is the online incorporation provider of choice for more than 500,000 small businesses across the United States. BizFilings’ expert staff and step-by-step processes allow small business owners to form a corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or other business structure with confidence. BizFilings also offers a full range of business filing and compliance products, including Registered Agent services in all 50 states.  Visit: BizFilings.com.


   Starting Your Small Business                Managing Your Small Business

BizFilings Free Online Incorporation Guide

 

Forming your business can feel like a full-time job in and of itself. Gaining an understanding of the differences between forming a C corporation, LLC, S corporation, nonprofit or other business type can be a daunting, overwhelming process.

This free Online Incorporation Guide outlines business formation choices, what to expect during the incorporation process and post-incorporation requirements. This 25-page PDF also includes a business type comparison table, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each business formation type—including LLCs and S corps. 

For clear information that demystifies the incorporation process, download the Guide to Incorporating your Business.

Foreign Qualification

 

If you plan to conduct business in a state other than the state where your company was formed, you may be required to file for Foreign Qualification, which is essentially obtaining authority in each state where you plan to conduct business. Understanding Foreign Qualification is essential to keeping your company compliant with ongoing state requirements.

For an overview of what Foreign Qualification is and some of the consequences of failing to Foreign Qualify, read Doing Business in Other States.

Understanding Trademarks, and Deciding if You Need One

 

A trademark is a symbol that distinguishes products and services in the marketplace. It can protect intellectual property, a brand name, a design, or can be applied to a business, product or used in connection with specific services. Trademark law protects you, the owner, from competitors stealing your identity or using a name or symbol so similar that it could cause confusion for your clients or customers. It’s important to gain a good understanding of trademarks in order to determine whether or not you need one.

For an overview of what trademark protection, trademark registration and the two main forms of trademark search — online and comprehensive are, read What is a Trademark?

Doing Business As (DBA)

 

Obtaining a “Doing Business As” (DBA) allows a person to legally conduct business under a name that is not the legal name of the person who owns, or is legally responsible for, the business. A DBA enables a business to advertise, accept payments and operate under a fictitious name without creating a new legal entity such as an LLC or corporation. There are many reasons why a DBA filing may be a good choice for a company.

For an overview of what a DBA is, why you might want to file for one and how to file for a DBA read When to File a DBA.

Understanding Business Licenses

 

Depending on your small business type, you may need to file for licenses or permits with the state, or states, in which you do business. Nearly all businesses require some form of federal, state or local business licenses.

Obtaining the licenses or permits you need for your business is an excellent way to help keep your company compliant (in good standing) with the state. But before you can apply for them, you’ll need insight into federal, state and local licenses — as well as permit types and zoning requirements.

For a clear and concise overview read Understanding Business Licenses.

Amendments

 

Pretty much anytime you make a change to your LLC or corporation, the state you formed your company in requires some type of official business filing, or Amendment, to make it official. What constitutes as a change that requires an Amendment varies from state-to-state but a good rule of thumb is when any information that is included in your company’s Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization or Certificate of Authority (for Foreign Qualifications) changes, you typically need to file an Article of Amendment to update your information with the state(s) you do business in. This can include changing your principle office address or updating your director or member names.

For an overview on Amendments, go to: Amendment Filing Service.

What is a Registered Agent?

 

A Registered Agent is a person who receives important legal and tax documents on behalf of a business, including important mail sent by the state — such as annual reports or statements and tax documents. A Registered Agent also receives Service of Process — sometimes called Notice of Litigation — which initiates a lawsuit. Appointing a Registered Agent is a state requirement no matter where you’ve chosen to form your business.

For a general overview on what a Registered Agent is and the role they serve, read What is a Registered Agent?

Federal Tax ID — Your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

 

A Federal Tax ID Number or Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a federally issued nine-digit number that identifies a business entity — you can think of it as a Social Security Number for your business. The IRS requires an EIN to be used on all business tax filings. An EIN is also typically required to open a business bank account and many companies require an EIN to pay invoices.

For more information on EINs visit: Federal Tax ID (EIN) Obtainment.

Incorporation Wizard


S corporation, C corporation, Limited Partnership, or LLC--choosing a business entity structure can be daunting and a bit overwhelming. The Incorporation Wizard is an online tool that helps you evaluate business forms based on your specific business needs. As you answer business-related questions across six categories, the Wizard ranks each entity type based on how well each may align your requirements. 

Want to find out which business type might be right for you? Visit the: Incorporation Wizard.

Entity Conversion

 

An entity conversion may be necessary if you want to change the nature of your business. Common reasons for entity conversion include: no longer needing to issue stock, the desire to seek venture capital funding, taking advantage of certain tax benefits, deciding to issue stock or realigning the management requirements for your company. Whether you are changing your business type from a corporation to an LLC, or from an LLC to a corporation, converting your company from one business type to another requires the business owner to follow the procedure required by the company’s state of incorporation.

For an overview of the conversion process go to: Converting Your Business.

Business Type Comparison Guide


From raising capital to taxation to transferability of interest--there are a multitude of factors to consider when evaluating which business type might be right for your particular situation. Sometimes comparing complex options is easier when you can look at them side-by-side. The Business Entity Comparison Guide allows you to select the business types you'd like to compare and see how they stack up on key characteristics.

Interested in comparing business entity types? Visit the Business Type Comparison Guide.

Reinstatement

 

Reinstatement is the process of returning an inactive or non-compliant company to good standing within the state you formed your business. Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) need to stay on top of ongoing state formalities including filing annual reports or statements and paying franchise and/or other state taxes. When deadlines are missed or documents are prepared incorrectly, your business can fall out of “good standing” with the state and be subject to penalties or even involuntary dissolved. A company that is not in “good standing” with the state has an uncertain legal status and may be vulnerable to the very things that you created your Corporation or LLC to protect you from.

For more information, visit Reinstatement.

 
Dissolution

 

Dissolution is the process of voluntarily ending your business. Deciding to end a business can be a stressful and overwhelming process, but it’s important to complete the necessary steps to dissolve the formal business entity as it lets the state (or states) know your business is no longer active. Each state has different regulations but failure to dissolve can lead to state penalties and fees. Dissolving your company is a multi-step process that includes obtaining owner/shareholder approval, filing the dissolution certificate, and filing federal, state and local tax forms.

For an overview on the six common steps to dissolving your business read: How to End Your Business.

 
Compliance

 

After incorporating or forming an LLC, there are ongoing compliance requirements for your company. These compliance requirements vary by state and fall into two categories: internal and external. Internal requirements need to be fulfilled by the directors and shareholders or members and managers and must be documented as part of company records. External compliance requirements are imposed by the state in which your business is incorporated and any state where it is registered to transact business, or Foreign Qualified.

For more information on internal and external business compliance requirements and the consequences failure to comply, read: Business Compliance Requirements and Consequences.