Fastest Ways to Start Your Biz
So you’re ready to take the leap?!Ready to make your business official, complete with your very own legal name?Congrats! This is one of those moments entrepreneurs crave - when a dream becomes a tax ID number!
Regardless of whether you have chosen sole proprietorship, LLC or corporate for your structure, you will need to make your entity recognized by federal and state tax administrations.
Online services to handle this task have been around for many years, and not surprisingly, they’ve improved with age. No matter which service you choose, you will be walked through a series of questions and directed to other sites if need be. So fill up your coffee and let’s look at the most popular services.
LegalZoom is the OG of online services in this area, having been around since the end of the last century (1999). They offer online services for forming your business as well as setting up wills and trusts, and helping with patents and other intellectual property. LegalZoom also has access to lawyers in case you want to talk to a professional.
For a sole proprietorship, there isn’t anything you need to do, necessarily, unless you want to set up a DBA (prices start at $99). LLC formation packages start at $49 and Corporation filings begin at $149. Each package will also have filing fees which vary by state and complexity. LegalZoom can also help you determine if you need any business licenses based on your location and business type.
Note: I have used LegalZoom in the past and it's pretty easy, just don't let them upsell you a bunch of stuff you don't need. I have used this for a couple of companies - and I have helped others set up their LLCs this way. If you have a sole proprietorship and you don't have a DBA (meaning you will use the name of your biz as the biz name) then all you need to do is register the SP locally. NOLO has some info if your are confused. I suggest an LLC, if possible, though, because it offers you more protection, shelter from liability.
Stripe, the online payment company, launched Atlas to take a different approach to forming your business entity. Not surprisingly, Atlas has a financial piece and when you set up your Delaware-based Corporation or LLC, you then set up your bank account complete with debit card. Of course, you’ll also get a Stripe account so you can begin accepting payments in minutes.
Atlas also has several free online guides to help get you smart about the intricacies of setting up a business from recruiting to writing web copy to setting up retirement plans. Atlas charges a flat fee of $500 to handle everything, including financials.
Note: I have used Atlas and it's pretty awesome. I suggest it for tech companies. They also have a pretty great network and some freebies from AWS, etc. When my cousin Jerod and I created the AI tool for Twitter we were accepted to the Atlas beta and it was awesome, super simple.
IncFile was founded in 2004 and offers a wide selection of business-related legal services. They tout their “incorporation specialists,” and offer several services for free the first year. IncFile can help you with your LLC, Corporation or Non-Profit formation with live help in case you get stuck.
IncFile touts that there pricing starts at $0 + State Fees, but you don’t get the necessary Federal ID for that amount and quickly find you need to step up to the Gold package which for an LLC based in Virginia, begins at $249. An S-Corp in the same state is $224 for the Gold package.
Note: I have not used IncFile but I have heard great things about it.
Rocket Lawyer takes a much broader approach to legal services offering to help you set up your company and also assist in your divorce (let’s hope it won’t come to that!). They can set up your entity and obviously has lawyers you can talk to should you have questions. If you need a business lawyer, their online directory could prove handy.
Rocket Lawyer promotes their membership, and if you join for $39.99 per month then many services, including federal incorporation are included, but you’ll still have to pay state fees and a registered agent fee. If you think you will need help with contracts or other legal hurdles, this could be a great choice.
Note: I use Rocket Lawyer for contracts - like simple NDAs. It's a pretty useful resource for business owners.
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