How to Make an LLC Yourself

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

How to Make an LLC Yourself

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Forming a limited liability company (LLC) is a relatively simple process. With online forms available in most states, a savvy entrepreneur could take a do-it-yourself approach to starting their own business without enlisting a lawyer's help. However, because starting any business comes with nuances and complexities, many business owners choose to seek professional advice and guidance. If you intend to set up your own LLC, it is important to ensure you are meeting all of your state's requirements for both the formation and ongoing registration of your business. Doing so can help protect your legal liability.

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1. Choose a name.

Before you launch an LLC, you need to choose a name for your new business. The name cannot already be in use by another business in your state nor can it be misleading to the public. Refer to the website of your state business authority, often the Secretary of State, to check name availability before proceeding with registering your LLC. Your state may also require you to include "LLC," "L.L.C.," or something similar as part of your business's official name.

In some states, entrepreneurs can reserve an intended business name for a period of time before filing articles of organization. If you want to ensure you can use a specific name but are not quite ready to form your new company, you may benefit from reserving a name in advance.

2. Prepare and file articles of organization.

Articles of organization are what officially establishes your new LLC. This legal document is filed with the secretary of state where you plan on operating your LLC.

General forms and filing instructions are sometimes available electronically through your state business authority's website. Those forms should include all of the information required to establish a new business. Other options include using a reputable legal documents provider or working with a business attorney licensed in your state.

Articles of organization are state-specific, and each state assesses different filing fees for starting a new LLC. In some states, entrepreneurs can choose to pay higher fees for expedited filing turnaround times.

3. Develop an operating agreement.

The operating agreement of an LLC is the governing document establishing business ownership and formalities for its owners, also called members. The operating agreement should identify how LLC membership and voting rights are divided, describe how members will work together on key decisions such as adding or removing members and hiring managers, provide formalities for member meetings and voting, and document the members' agreement regarding how dissolution of the company would be handled.

Purchasing a customizable operating agreement from a reputable provider or working with an experienced business law attorney can help ensure you create an operating agreement tailored to your business' structure and needs, helping protect your interests and rights.

4. Follow state-specific requirements.

Some states require would-be LLC creators to publish notice of their intent to create a new business in a newspaper.

Another requirement that may apply involves making additional filings for professional businesses. When licensed professionals such as attorneys, medical professionals, or accountants own an LLC, some states require that the business be established as a professional limited liability company (PLLC). In other states, LLC members must make initial and ongoing filings with a professional responsibility board.

Establishing a new LLC is generally a fairly straightforward process, but it's important to follow all applicable requirements. It may be beneficial to contact your state's business authority, your profession's licensing board, or a business law attorney in your state to avoid potential legal trouble.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.