Starting a business or LLC isn’t difficult! Arguably it’s the easiest part of running a small business.
So you’ve brainstormed the best business name with the perfect products. Now what?
Especially in Wyoming (but also in other states), setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is relatively easy to do all on your own. Don’t automatically think you must pay a lawyer or some third party to do this step for you.
Always check your own state’s requirements!
free downloadable checklist included at the end of the post.
check for business name availability
I know you’ve spent time determining the best business name to attract customers and properly represent what you sell. But have you checked if that name is available as an LLC?
There’s nothing more gutting than choosing your name, buying stationary, setting up social media accounts for a business name and then finding out it’s already taken!
Avoid all the extra work of changing a name by checking with your state’s available name database and the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). While you can register in your state if the name is available, the USPTO shows the availability of your chosen name at a Federal (interstate) level.
Wyoming has a great checklist provided on the Secretary of State’s website to guide you through this process. Your own state, if not Wyoming, probably has the same.
When choosing your business name, there may be some rules that your state requires regarding what it starts with. For example, in Wyoming the name must be filed through mail for further consideration if the first word in the name is “A” or “The”. However, “Arda Acres” is not an issue and I filed online because the “A” is part of a totally different word.
More naming considerations for Wyoming are found here for your convenience.
How does this grow sovereignty?
Earning extra income passively or actively helps to set us up for success all the way to retirement. Every person is responsible for him or herself so self-reliance is key.
A safety net is not always available if times of hardship.
Using a LLC or other type of legal entity helps to protect personal assets in the event of an issue during the normal course of business.
complete registration with the Secretary of State (Articles of Organization)
The actual registration for the LLC is really simple online (even through the mail). The online wizard walks you through all the steps. Be prepared to pay a fee at the end of the forms to complete registration.
The information provided during registration becomes public knowledge so try to mask your personal information if at all possible.
For a Registered Agent (RA), your CPA could function in this role or you can hire a third party. This prevents your personal address from being listed under your business in the public database. The RA is someone who can accept legal mail on the business’ behalf. It can be you or a third party.
If your business is at home, you may have no option but to list your personal address as the business location. I have seen people use a PO box but this is typically against the rules. Check with your state!
For your phone number, a free Google Voice number is an option to avoid posting your personal phone number. A Google Voice number is easy to setup and use on your phone.
Once you’ve completed the filing online, the approval is instantaneous if everything meets their requirements. Pay the fee and you’re done! Save these documents because you’ll need them for the life of the LLC and especially to open a business checking account.
Did you know?
A LLC can be filed as a single-member entity (only one person, no partnership) which means the business financials can be filed on the individual 1040 tax return.
If a LLC is taxed as a partnership (2 or more members/partners), then a separate tax return is required (filed in March annually) and an Operating Agreement is required during registration and when opening a business checking account.
get an EIN from the IRS
An EIN (Employer Identification Number or Federal Tax Identification Number) is required to open a business checking account, hire employees, and pay taxes.
Obtaining an EIN is also a simple (and free!) process with an instantaneous approval. Apply online and print these documents to open a business checking account.
open a business checking account
Once you’re all setup on the legal side, now you have the documentation to open a business checking account. My vote is to go local rather than large bank chains.
To open a business checking account, you will typically need the following documents:
- Check or cash for your first deposit to fund the business
- Drivers license
- Articles of Organization papers from the Secretary of State
- EIN from the IRS
- Operating Agreement (if not a single-member entity)
Opening the account can take a while due to all the paperwork so make sure you don’t have an appointment to run off to. Also call ahead to make sure someone is available to walk you through the process and to double-check on the documentation required.
setup a bookkeeping system
To make your life (and your CPA’s life) easier around tax season, it’s imperative that you set up a streamlined, efficient, and accurate system of bookkeeping.
It really doesn’t have to be fancy. I don’t recommend paper and pencil, but Excel is a great way to track business expenses. QuickBooks is also a great option but is costly especially when you’re just starting a business.
Make sure you keep personal expenses separate from business expenses.
ways to pay for business expenses
Your business checking account will typically come with a debit card. I do no recommend using a debit card. If the card is used fraudulently by someone else, the money is gone whereas with a credit card you can dispute the charge.
Having business checks on hand will be more useful than you expect. I never anticipated writing so many checks until I started a business. I recommend checks with a carbon copy page to track cash outflows outstanding for an audit trail.
Having cash on hand is helpful, especially when living in rural areas. Cash is king where I live and many vendors prefer cash and I’m happy to oblige.
Having a business credit card makes purchases way easier to track and dispute (if need be). Plus actual cash outflows are delayed for a month which means you can spread out the hit to cash.
I’ve always gone with Chase business cards and have received great service over the years but there are many options available.
No matter what, make it easy to pay AND TRACK vendors for business expenses.
ways to receive payment from customers
Same as paying your vendors, your customers will want multiple ways to pay you!
Have a cash box if you plan to sell at craft fairs, farmers markets, or a retail location. Not everyone wants to use credit cards and you can avoid having to pay credit card merchant service fees.
Did you know?
A legal business entity helps to separate personal assets from business assets in the off chance of a lawsuit. This makes it so the aggrieved party cannot go after our personal assets and only the business assets.
However, piercing the corporate veil will result in an aggrieved party’s ability to go after our personal assets. If we mix personal and business revenue and expenses with no clear delineation, there’s no way for the courts to differentiate the two. Personal liability to business issues grows as finances are mixed.
Accepting checks works great as well as long as you have a trustworthy clientele. Bounced checks are never fun to deal with and you may not be able to get the necessary funds from the client or your product back.
Accepting credit cards via third parties like Stripe or Square can work seamlessly as well using your cellphone and some extra hardware. However, you will have to pay merchant service fees to use these third party vendors.
Whatever avenues you choose make sure you don’t miss out on sales because your customer wants to pay in a way you can’t accept.
overwhelmed with taxes?
Hiring a CPA doesn’t have to be stressful. Learn how and why to hire a CPA along with questions to ask them before hiring.
Free downloadable list of questions included!
marketing must haves
Now that you have all your ducks in a row, it’s time to find customers who would benefit from your products and services. Marketing is your next step.
Claim your Google Business Profile – You can fill out your location, products/services, hours, pictures, and customers can leave reviews. This is a powerful tool that you don’t want to miss out on claiming.
Claim your social media accounts. You can focus on one social media platform or you can go hog wild and claim them all even if just for future use. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and X (Twitter) are great starting points.
Start a weekly or bimonthly newsletter to keep in touch with your customers and offer them new products. You don’t own your audience on social media platforms.
You could lose those accounts at the companies’ whims and lose all your business traffic. Email addresses for your newsletter are yours and are your most precious marketing tool. Gather email addresses through social media accounts.
Build a website (simple or complex) to showcase your products and services You could also use Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, or sites like Fiverr to showcase what you have to offer. However, a website also helps your customers get to know you better and entices them to join your newsletter list.
To build a website, choose a hosting company and a domain name (using your business name).
Square, Shopify, and WordPress are all great options. I recommend BigScoots for your hosting company. This post you’re reading sits on a WordPress site. Don’t feel the need to spend a lot of money here. You can build a great site all for free (besides domain name and hosting).
LLC annual registration
Your LLC will require annual registration to report certain information to the State. It’s typically due the first day of the month you created the LLC.
So if you created an LLC on September 21st, your registration is due September 1st of each year. Check your State’s requirements for more.
(optional) hire a CPA
You don’t have to go it alone. When finance and accounting aren’t your background, this can all be overwhelming. Especially taxes!
A good CPA is worth their weight in gold to advise you throughout the year and to mitigate your tax liability so you pocket more of your hard earned money.
If you’re interested in hiring a CPA, check out this post here.
Creating your business is a fun and exciting experience and it shouldn’t be costly, time-consuming, and frustrating. Stick with the basics and learn as you go along. That’s what we all do.