How to Start an LLC?

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, isn’t just a buzzword in the business world; it’s a practical, flexible option for people like us looking to protect personal assets while keeping things relatively simple.

How to start an LLC. An infographic explain 9 staeps to form an LLC

Planning Your LLC

Choosing a Business Name

Picking a name for your LLC was more fun and challenging than I expected. You want something catchy, sure, but it also has to meet state-specific requirements.

For me, it meant the name couldn’t be the same as any other business registered in the state, and it had to include “LLC” or “Limited Liability Company” at the end.

I spent a good amount of time on my state’s business entity search website to make sure my dream name wasn’t already taken.

Choose a State

While some states like Wyoming, Nevada, and Delaware are popular for filing a new business entity, for most people the state where the business is located is the best state.

Understanding LLCs

First off, let’s talk about what an LLC actually is. Imagine having the liability protection of a big corporation but with the tax benefits and flexibility of a smaller operation.

That’s your LLC in a nutshell. It’s this unique structure that shields your personal assets (like your house or car) from business debts and lawsuits, which, believe me, provides peace of mind when you’re trying to sleep at night.

I did some research comparing an LLC and a corporation and an  LLC vs S Corp and decided to go with an LLC, it seemed to be the appropriate choice for me.

Designating a Registered Agent

The term “registered agent” sounded fancy and a bit intimidating at first, but it’s pretty straightforward. This person or company agrees to receive legal documents on behalf of your LLC.

I went with a registered agent service because I didn’t want to be tied to my office waiting for potential legal documents, and honestly, the privacy aspect was appealing.

Your registered agent needs to have a physical address in the state where your LLC is formed and be available during business hours.

It’s a crucial role, ensuring you don’t miss any important legal notices.

Registering Your LLC

Filing Articles of Organization

This step is where things started to feel real for me. The Articles of Organization is a simple document that officially forms your LLC with the state.

It sounds more complicated than it is. The form required basic info like my LLC’s name, the address, and the names of the members (that’s LLC-speak for owners).

There was a filing fee, which varied by state, but considering this was the document that brought my LLC into legal existence, it felt like money well spent.

Creating an Operating Agreement

Not all states require you to have an Operating Agreement, but I decided to create one for my LLC, and I recommend you do the same.

It’s essentially a rule book for your LLC, outlining how you’ll run the business, share profits, and manage changes in ownership. It helped me and my partners (yes, I decided not to go solo) set clear expectations from the start.

Plus, having it written down gives you a roadmap to refer back to when making big decisions.

This journey of forming an LLC taught me a lot, not just about the legal steps involved, but also about the importance of planning and thinking through the future of my business.

The peace of mind and flexibility I gained made all the effort worth it.

Moving forward with the process of setting up my LLC was an adventure filled with learning and strategic decisions, especially when it came to compliance and regulation.

Let me walk you through the next steps that solidified the foundation of my business.

Compliance and Regulation

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

Once my LLC was officially formed, the next hurdle was ensuring I had all the necessary licenses and permits. This step felt like a treasure hunt, where the “treasure” was the peace of mind knowing I wouldn’t get shut down for oversight.

Depending on your location and industry, the requirements can vary significantly. For my online retail business, I needed a sales tax permit from my state’s revenue department and a home occupation permit since I was operating out of my apartment.

I found a helpful checklist on my city’s website that guided me through what I needed. It was crucial to get this right, as operating without the necessary permits can lead to fines or even legal trouble.

Understanding Tax Requirements

Taxes… the word alone can send shivers down your spine. But with an LLC, navigating tax season became a bit less daunting.

The default tax status of an LLC is a “pass-through” entity, meaning the business itself isn’t taxed. Instead, the profits and losses pass through to the owners’ personal tax returns.

However, I learned that you could elect to have your LLC taxed as a corporation if that suits your financial situation better. I consulted with a tax advisor to make the right choice for my business.

It’s also worth noting that even as a pass-through entity, there are still state and federal taxes to consider, like self-employment tax and, in some states, an LLC tax or fee.

Ongoing Compliance Requirements

Keeping my LLC in good standing involved a bit more than just setting it up and forgetting about it.

Most states require annual or biennial reports, along with a filing fee. These reports update the state on your LLC’s basic information, like your current address and the names of members.

I set calendar reminders for these deadlines because falling behind could result in penalties or even having my LLC dissolved.

Using an LLC Service to Form Your LLC

The first time that I formed an LLC was done with a local attorney. The guy charged $600 for about 10 minutes of work. I used LegalZoom as the registered agent back then.

After that, for my second LLC I thought about doing the diy route but changed course and went with the LLC service Northwest Registered Agent

Using an LLC formation service was a decision I didn’t take lightly. Like I said, I thought, “I can handle this myself.”

But as I delved deeper into the process, I realized that there’s a lot more to starting an LLC than just filing paperwork.

That’s when I decided to use an LLC formation service, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer.

Here are some benefits I discovered along the way:

Expertise and Peace of Mind

The most immediate benefit was the expertise these services offer. LLC formation companies specialize in the legalities and nuances of starting a business.

They know the ins and outs of each state’s regulations, ensuring your LLC is formed correctly and efficiently.

This expertise provided me with peace of mind, knowing that professionals were handling the critical aspects of my business formation.

Time Savings

Time is a commodity I couldn’t afford to waste. Using an LLC formation service saved me hours that I would have spent navigating complex legal documents and state websites.

Instead, I was able to focus on planning other aspects of my business, like strategizing my market entry and refining my product offering.

The time savings alone made the service worth it.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Mistakes in the LLC formation process can be costly and time-consuming to correct. An LLC formation service helps avoid common pitfalls, such as incorrectly filled forms or missing deadlines for important filings.

This benefit was particularly valuable to me, as I learned that even small errors could lead to delays or rejection of your LLC application.

Additional Services and Support

Many LLC formation services offer more than just filing your Articles of Organization. They provide a range of additional services, such as obtaining your EIN, registered agent services, compliance alerts for annual reports, and even creating an Operating Agreement for your LLC.

These added services can streamline the setup of your business, ensuring you’re not just legally formed but also positioned for operational success.


While there’s a fee associated with using an LLC formation service, I found it to be cost-effective in the long run. The potential costs of making a mistake in the DIY process, not to mention the time I saved, made the service fee seem reasonable.

Additionally, many services offer packages at various price points, allowing you to choose the level of assistance that fits your budget and needs.

Ongoing Support

Lastly, the ongoing support offered by many LLC formation services was invaluable. Having a knowledgeable team to answer my questions and guide me through the next steps of business ownership was reassuring.

This support didn’t just end after my LLC was formed; I had access to resources and advice for growing and maintaining my business, which has been incredibly helpful.

Using an LLC formation service was one of the best decisions I made in my business journey. It simplified the process, saved me time, and provided a safety net against common errors.

For anyone on the fence about whether to go it alone or use a service, I’d highly recommend considering the benefits of professional help. It allowed me to start my business on the right foot, with more confidence and less stress.

Launching Your LLC

Opening a Business Bank Account

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to open a business bank account specifically for my LLC. It helped me keep my personal and business finances separate, simplifying accounting and tax filing.

To open the account, I needed my LLC’s EIN (Employer Identification Number), a copy of the Articles of Organization, and the Operating Agreement. Shopping around for a bank that offered the services I needed at the lowest fees was well worth the effort.

Setting Up Accounting and Bookkeeping

Getting my finances in order from the get-go was a priority. I explored various accounting software options, ultimately choosing one that was user-friendly and catered to small businesses.

Keeping meticulous records of income, expenses, and invoices not only prepared me for tax time but also gave me insights into the financial health of my business.

It was empowering to see where my money was coming from and going to, helping me make informed decisions about the future.

Insurance Considerations

Lastly, getting the right insurance for my LLC was something I hadn’t initially considered, but it turned out to be crucial.

Even with the liability protection an LLC offers, insurance provided an extra layer of safety. I opted for general liability insurance to start with, covering potential accidents or damages that could occur.

Starting my LLC was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life.

It required diligence, research, and a bit of patience, but seeing my business come to life and operate smoothly made it all worthwhile.

Launching my LLC was a significant leap towards achieving my entrepreneurial dreams.

It taught me the value of meticulous planning, the importance of compliance, and the art of strategic decision-making.

LLC Formation FAQs

How much does it cost to start an LLC?

The cost to start an LLC varies significantly by state due to differing state filing fees for the Articles of Organization. On average, you can expect to pay between $50 and $500 for state filing fees.

Additionally, if you use an LLC formation service, there will be service charges, which can range from a basic fee of around $50 to over $300, depending on the level of service and support you choose.

Keep in mind, there may be additional costs for obtaining necessary licenses, permits, and for ongoing compliance filings like annual reports.

Can I run multiple businesses under one LLC?

Yes, it’s possible to operate multiple businesses under one LLC. This can be done by either running all the businesses directly under the main LLC or by using the main LLC to hold other LLCs or businesses.

This approach can simplify administration and might offer tax benefits.

However, keep in mind that all businesses under the umbrella of one LLC will share the liability. If one business incurs debt or faces legal action, all parts of the LLC could be affected.

It’s essential to carefully consider the implications and possibly consult with a financial advisor to ensure this structure aligns with your business goals and risk tolerance.

How long does it take to form an LLC?

The time it takes to form an LLC varies by state and can depend on the method of filing (online vs. mail) and the current workload of the state’s filing office.

Online filings can often be processed more quickly, sometimes in as little as 24 hours in some states.

However, if you’re filing by mail, the process can take several weeks. On average, you can expect the formation of your LLC to take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

It’s also worth noting that some states offer expedited services for an additional fee, which can significantly reduce the waiting time.

Planning ahead and choosing the right filing method can help ensure your LLC is up and running in your desired timeframe.


author avatar
Brian Wilson Writer and Editor
Brian Wilson is the content manager and founder of LLC Radar. Brian grew up in North Texas, just outside of Dallas, and has a bachelor's degree in business from Southern Methodist University. Since graduating from SMU, Brian has gained over 10 years of experience in business writing for several online publications. Brian resides in Plano, Texas and he can be reached by email: Phone: 972-776-4050


  1. Avatar Robert A. says:

    Brian, nice walkthrough on starting an LLC.
    As someone who’s been on the fence about which business structure to choose, your article shed light on the unique advantages of an LLC, particularly the liability protection and tax benefits.
    The step-by-step guide demystified the process and made it seem much more approachable.
    I’m now seriously considering the LLC route for my startup and feel more confident about navigating the process.
    Keep up the great work with these informative pieces!

  2. Great article! The FAQ section had some good tips. I was especially curious about converting my sole proprietorship into an LLC, and you addressed that question perfectly. It’s clear that the flexibility and protection offered by an LLC make it a worthwhile consideration for many business owners. Also, the point about running multiple businesses under one LLC sparked an idea for expanding my own business endeavors. Really appreciate the thorough breakdown and practical tips.

  3. Fantastic article! I recently started my journey into forming an LLC and found the insights on compliance and regulation particularly enlightening. I wish I had this article when I was in the initial stages; it would have saved me so much time and confusion, especially around obtaining the necessary licenses and understanding tax requirements. The emphasis on keeping personal and business finances separate is a golden nugget of advice for any new business owner. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive guide!

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