All businesses start with some type of business structure.  Before starting your business choosing a form and preparing the necessary documentation should be one of the first things an entrepreneur does. Your decision for choosing a business structure should be based on the needs of your business and the products and services you will be providing. Carefully reviewing each form will help you decide which business form would be the most operationally effective for the business. 

Decide what type of legal form to take.  The form or structure of your business describes the way it’s organized, who owns it, how profits and losses are divided and the way decisions will be made. It also affects how you’ll pay taxes and how easy it will be to grow the business. A few hours invested now could lead to increasing the bottom line of your profits later.

Choose a business name. Choosing a name for the business is one of the most important aspects of incorporating your business. You should put a lot of thought into what you want to name your business. It is good to have the name of your business focus around the type of product or service you will provide. Customers should not have to guess what you do.  

Check availability of your name choice. You can verify if the name you have chosen is available through your state web site or by calling your state office. You can also sign up for newsletters that will provide you with the latest names that were chosen in your state. Please do this before filing your articles of incorporation. If someone has already chosen your name any documents you file with the same name will be rejected.  Once you have decided on a name if you plan on doing business in other states you can have your name trademarked.  

Prepare and file articles of incorporation with the state. Depending on the business structure you choose you will have to file this paper work. Articles of incorporation apply to the following structures cooperative and corporations.  Articles of incorporation are a document that states the name of your business, address, members of the business and purpose and stock information. Article of incorporation can sometimes be more detailed.  Consult with a lawyer if you need further help in filling out this information.

Pay your filing fees. Before paying filing fees make sure your documents are compliant with the applicable requirements for submitting forms to your Secretary of State.  The fees associated with incorporating a business and can vary per business structure. You can find these requirements along with the fees on your state web site.  

File all your documentation. Be sure to keep copies of your documents in a secure place. You may have to refer to this information a later date.

Incorporating a business