Get Organized in 2016: Your Startup’s Business Documents Checklist
Running a company is a ton of fun, especially when your sales are good and you have lots of happy customers. Unfortunately, you can run into a snag if you do not handle what some refer to as “admin stuff” and others call necessary evils.
If you practice good organization early by placing all your documents in the cloud in an organized fashion, you will save yourself a ton of stress down the road.
The Secretary of State in your state is a good source of information to determine what documents you must file after your incorporation or LLC formation.
Here are some considerations:
Articles of Organization (if You’re an LLC) or Articles of Incorporation (if You’re a Corporation)
You can verify that your entity is in existence and filed by checking your state database. Here’s how to check for your state. Confused about the differences between an LLC and a corporation? Check out this blog.
EIN/Tax ID Number
Note: Do not pay for this! Any service or lawyer that charges you should be ashamed as it is super easy to do yourself. Click this link to apply after you form your business. Not sure why you need a tax ID number? Read this.
Bylaws or Operating Agreements
Some states may ask you to file these documents, and many banks require them as well. If you are unsure of the requirements you can call a lawyer or contact the Secretary of State in the state where you formed your business.
Most states recommend that you have at least one board meeting per year. Keeping meeting minutes is also a good idea. In addition, consider having these documents ready to go as well:
- Notice of Organizational Meeting
- Shareholders’ Agreement
- Notice of Special Meeting of Directors
- Waiver of Notice of Meeting
Most states want you to file an annual report. Check this link for details on the state where you formed your business
If you formed your entity in Delaware, you will most likely have to file as a foreign entity in the state(s) in which you plan to operate (and, more specifically, in which you plan to open a bank account). For example, if you file an LLC in Delaware but live in Florida you will have to file as a foreign entity in Florida in order to do business there.
Registered Agent Information
Some services really push that you use them as a registered agent. Keep in mind you only have to pay extra to have a registered agent if you are forming a business entity and you do not have an address in that state that is capable of receiving mail. This is most common with entities registered in the state of Delaware. Although there are some reasons for having a registered agent in a state where you do not do business, it is not required.
Statement of Good Standing
Different states call this document by different names. In the internet age, most banks no longer require them. Keep in mind that most states allow you to verify on their website if your entity exists so this may not be needed. Check here before you fork over the extra money.
If you decide that double taxation is not for you and your startup is not backed by venture capital, you may want to turn your organization into an S-Corp. Follow these instructions and complete Form 2553. Or, of course, find a tax guru you trust to bang it out for you. Note: there are two different possible addresses and make sure you sign your name on page three where the boxes are
Some states such as New York require that you publish the fact that you formed your LLC in the newspaper. You may find the form simple enough to complete on your own without a lawyer.
Starting a business is hard! Finding a guru that you trust to help you is essential to allowing you to focus on what is most important.
PS — If you are interested in getting help with business forms contact us here.
PPS — Here is an awesome podcast I was featured on.
PPPS — Make sure you have a great day
Derek Distenfield is CEO and Co-founder of NextGenJustice which offers legal and tax solutions without lawyers in four main areas of law: family, business, estate, and tax preparation. More articles can be found at http://nextgenjustice.com/blog/.
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Originally published at nextgenjustice.com on January 26, 2016.