Instructions for Incorporating a Business

By Annie Mueller

  • Overview

    Incorporating a business is a fairly simple process--the most important thing is to take the steps in the right order. Start out by gathering some specific information about your state's requirements, and then proceed as directed below. Fill out a few forms and you're incorporated.
    Instructions for Incorporating a Business
    • Step 1

      Follow the link below (a list of states) to determine your state's method of checking on and reserving a business name. Most states have a toll-free number that you can call for a name check, and you can reserve the name for a small fee at that time.
    • Step 2

      The incorporation of a business is done through the state, not federal, level; thus, every state has slightly different laws and requirements for a business to be incorporated. While the process is similar for all states, certain details and fees vary.

    • Step 3

      Download the forms for incorporation according to what your state requires. In most cases, the basic requirement to incorporate a business is the Articles of Incorporation (or Organization) form for the type of corporation you want to form. Your options, in most states, are to form a not-for-profit business, a for-profit corporation, a limited liability corporation, a limited partnership or a limited liability partnership. Many young businesses go with the limited liability corporation, as it is relatively simple to form one and protects your personal assets from being liable as business assets.
    • Step 4

      Most of the documents you must fill out are only a page or two. Some states will require that you have a registered agent--in most cases, you can fulfill that obligation yourself. Call your Secretary of State's office to make sure. If you are going for a corporate entity other than a LLC, download sample Articles of Incorporation documents, make simple changes to match your business and use those rather than writing your own. See the resources box below for a link to sample Articles of Incorporation.
    • Step 5

      Submit the forms with appropriate fees to the Secretary of State's office. Every state has different fees and filing methods, but most have online submission and payment options.
    • Step 6

      Keep a copy of all the forms submitted for your records. Print, date, and file the forms as you submit them, along with the check number or receipt of payment.
    • Step 7

      Get an employer identification number, also known as a federal tax identification number. Go to the link provided below on the IRS website. You can apply for an EIN online or by phone, or download the form and return it via fax or mail.
    • Skill: Moderate

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