Virginia – the mother of all states. Home to the first English colony in the New World, and the birthplace of more U.S. presidents than any other state, the Commonwealth is easily one of the most storied and important states in America. Virginia continues to be one of the nation’s top producers of tobacco – a crop it has grown since the colonial era – and has one of the most diverse economies of any state. Ranching, farming, tourism, high-tech manufacturing, and government agencies contribute to the bustling and thriving Virginian economy. An educated workforce and pro-business government has also placed Virginia at the top of Forbes’ ‘Best States to do Business In’ list for the past four years. Virginia is an obvious choice for any budding entrepreneur. How do you start a business in the state? And what does it take to form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia?
How do you start a business in Virginia?
It’s actually quite easy! All you need is a ‘Doing Business As’ name, the right licenses and permits, and, if you want to hire someone, a federal tax ID number, often called an Employer Identification Number. Virginia has a handy tool to help new business owners register their business and its name online. Once you are all registered, you can technically open for business as a sole-proprietorship. However, while sole-proprietorships are easy to run, they make you, as the business owner, responsible for all of the business’s debts. If you hope to mitigate your risk, you should form an LLC or incorporate in Virginia.
One of the most common questions we get here at MyCorporation about forming a limited liability company or corporation is, “How hard is it to actually run this type of business?” Running an LLC or corporation is very different than running a sole proprietorship, and the government will expect those running the business to adhere to certain rules. It should be noted that the only governance document need for Corporations and LLCs is an Articles of Incorporation or a Certificate of Organization. However, there are other types of governance documents that should be kept and maintained.
Articles of Incorporation and Certificates of Organization
In order to form a corporation, you have to file your articles of incorporation. And in order to form an LLC, you have to file what is normally called a certificate of organization. In both cases, these documents act a sort of birth certificate for the new business entity. They disclose the entity’s name, address, registered agent information, and the information of any managers or owners. A lot of states actually offer a “fill-in-the-blank” type of form on the website of their Secretary of State or department of corporations. However, these forms only meet the minimal requirements for a corporation or LLC as set by the state. They also don’t set the rules for how your company will actually be run. Along with these formation documents, you should consider drafting a set of bylaws or an operating agreement.
It’s time to head on over to New England to the state that has the largest number of dairy cows (in ration of cows to people)! It’s no surprise that Vermont is so heavily cow-populated due to their small population size of fewer than nine thousand people. But many of those Vermonters are very successful entrepreneurs – especially when it comes to maple syrup! The biggest industry in The Green Mountain State is the selling and distributing of maple syrup. The state also boasts the prestige of being the original home to the headquarters for Ben and Jerry’s and IBM.
Vermont holds a lower rank on the Forbes best states for business list, with rankings in the twentysomething numbers for quality of life, economic climate, and labor supply. The state provides affordable healthcare, but suffers from high personal income taxes (9.5%) and corporate taxes (8.5%), according to CNNMoney.
As one of the states that comprises the Four Corners (along with Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado), the advantages that come when one decides to incorporate in Utah are plentiful.
Nicknamed the Beehive State, Utah has been nationally ranked within the top three states in the country as the best states for business, according to Forbes. The state’s biggest industries include mining, cattle ranching, salt production, government services, and tourism, the latter of which notably rose after the end of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Major companies including Overstock.com, 1-800 Contacts, Ancestry.com are all headquartered within the state as well and Thumbtack.com gave Utah an A+ in the overall friendliness and ease of starting up a business that Utah provides.
Operating agreements are one of the most vital, and overlooked, tools in running a limited liability company. We’ve actually covered operating agreements as part of our ‘ABCs of MyCorp’ series, but we never delved into what an operating agreement should actually say. As a quick refresher, an operating agreement is essentially a document that defines how the LLC will be run, and the SBA recommends that every LLC draft one. The trouble is that only a couple of states, like Missouri and New York, legally require new LLCs to have an operating agreement. But without the rules, structure, and regulations an operating agreement provides, your LLC could be in serious trouble if partners disagree, a member wants to leave, or if the state starts questioning the validity of your LLC. Operating agreements are also pretty easy to draft and only need to cover a few key areas.
This week we are looking at Texas – the Lone Star State. As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. The state has successfully accommodated changes in the economy and US consumption – though it was originally a cattle state, oil rich land and a strong infrastructure has turned the cowboy state into one of the economically diverse states in the USA. In their Best States for Business survey, Forbes ranked Texas at #7 with the state’s economic climate in first place and most analysts also expect Texas to see some serious growth in the next few years. If you’ve ever wanted to start a business, Texas is a great place to do it. But how hard is it to start a business, form an LLC, or incorporate in Texas?
What do you need to start a business in Texas?
Surprisingly little! Some states require sole proprietorships, which are the simplest type of business entity, to register before they do business. All Texas requires is that the sole-proprietorship’s owner file an ‘Assumed Name Certificate,’ also known as a ‘Doing Business As’ name, with the County Clerk. Depending on where you plan on doing business, and what sort of business you run, you may also need to file for a business license – the Small Business Administration has a handy tool to help new business owners figure out exactly what they need on that front!
The term ‘Foreign Corporation‘ sometimes confuses people. Though it can also refer to a corporation from a different country, when business advisers refer to a Foreign Corporation or LLC, they are usually talking about a domestic company with permission to operate in a state other than the one the company was formed in. This permission is often called a ‘foreign qualification,’ and it effectively registers your company with the new state so the state can collect taxes. With it, you can open up another branch of your company, or move your base of operations, without changing states. But why would a business want to do that?
Why would you want a foreign qualification?
There are a few reasons why a business chooses to qualify as a foreign entity in other states. One of the main ones being that the company simply wants to expand its operations – sales could be strong in their home state, and they figure they’ll take a crack at opening another store or office in a neighboring state. Since you need permission to do business in another state, they pursue a foreign qualification. However, some business owners also believe that they may save money on taxes by forming a business in a state like Nevada or Delaware, and then qualifying in the state they actually do business in. There are pros and cons to incorporating in another state, so be sure to weigh your options carefully.
If it’s April 15th, it must be Tax Day. Not exactly the most exciting day on the calendar. But what if we told you that, for today only, we would help you form your own LLC or incorporate FOR FREE!
Today marks MyCorporation’s third year running offering new entrepreneurs the chance to form an LLC or incorporate for free! All you have to do is use the coupon code MYFREE at checkout, and you’ll get our basic $69 LLC or Corporate Formation package for free – all you have to pay are the state fees!
As many of you may know, incorporating your business or forming an LLC comes with plenty of benefits. Not only can the right business entity help you save on taxes, but incorporation and LLC formation both add an extra layer of protection to your personal and professional assets, and gives your business an added air of legitimacy.
Normally priced at $69, our basic bundle includes an incorporation or LLC with a name check, document preparation and filing, a free domain name, annual report and registered agent services, and QuickBooks Simple Start! So if you’ve ever thought about starting an LLC or corporation, now is your chance to form an LLC or incorporate for free!
Remember that the coupon code for the Free Day promotion is MYFREE. Visit MyCorporation.com between 12 AM PST to 11:59 PM PST on April 15th and get started by answering a few simple questions about your business. MyCorporation customer care representatives will also be available from 6 AM PST to 6 PM PST on April 15th. Just give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772!
*’Free Day’ offer only redeemable on April 15th, 2014, between 12 AM PST and 11:59 PM PST. Offer is solely for MyCorporation’s Basic Incorporation or LLC formation package, normally priced at $69. One offer redeemable per customer. Customer retains responsibility for paying any applicable state and federal fees.
This week on 50 States of Incorporation, we take a look at ‘The Palmetto State,’ South Carolina! Also know as ‘The Rice State’ and ‘The Swamp State,’ South Carolina’s official nickname comes from the state tree, the Sabal Palmetto, which distinguished itself during the revolutionary war. It was a fort made of Palmetto logs that repulsed the British fleet from Sullivan’s Island back in 1776! But South Carolina has a lot more to offer than strategically useful flora. Though it was hit hard by the recession, its strong agricultural heritage, and the state’s friendly attitude towards business, has really boosted its recovery. So what should South Carolinian entrepreneurs know about their state? And what does it take to open up a business and incorporate in South Carolina?
Are there any benefits to running a business in South Carolina?
Plenty! South Carolina is actually one of the most business-friendly states in the USA. Thumbtack gave the state an A- in overall friendliness, and South Carolina has the tenth lowest tax burden of all states. It also makes sense to incorporate in South Carolina as the state boasts a low, 5% flat corporate income tax rate. Of course, South Carolina does all it can to help small businesses within the state. The South Carolinian Secretary of State’s office maintains a Small Business One-Stop Site to help new entrepreneurs find and file for everything they need to get their business up and running, and the Department of Commerce is proud to offer multiple growth incentives to businesses with the state.
For years, MyCorporation has been honored to help thousands of new entrepreneurs to get their new small business started on the right foot by incorporating or forming an LLC. But business maintenance doesn’t end when the articles of incorporation are filed! There are actually a few more steps to ensuring your new entity is compliant and ready for business. In order to help educate new business owners, and answer one of our most commonly asked questions, we are happy to reveal our new video, “What happens after you incorporate or form an LLC?”
Step 1. Apply for an Employer Identification Number. An EIN is going to be needed if you want to open a business bank account, or if you want to hire employees.
Step 2. File for trademark protection, and begin protecting your brand. You should also buy a domain name and secure social media properties as soon as possible.
Step 3. Look into what business licenses you have to apply for. Licensing varies depending on locality, entity, and industry, so it is a good idea to consult with a professional who can help you figure out exactly what you need.
Step 4. Remember to stay on top of annual maintenance. Most states will require business entities to file an annual report, which will have some basic information on your business like its name, address, registered agent, and industry. You also have to document any changes to the corporation or LLC. If you bring on new owners, or new investors, make sure to make note of it. You should also update your operating agreement or bylaws as new owners and investors will probably want a say in how the company is run.
Step 5. Thinking about expanding outside of your home state? Well, remember that you have to apply for permission to do business in any new state. If you don’t, you could be looking at hefty fines and dissolution of your business in that state. So don’t forget to file to qualify as a foreign entity in any state you plan to expand into.
Have any questions about corporate or LLC maintenance? Need help figuring out what you need to file? Just give MyCorporation a call at 1-877-692-6772 and we will be happy to help you out!