So, you've finally decided to incorporate. Is that sweat in your palms? It shouldn't be. Incorporation, though understandably intimidating, is probably the easiest part of starting a small business. Considering the fact that you have to deal with hiring employees, handling payroll, working out your taxes, establishing your brand, etc., filling out some measly government documents should be a breeze. I suppose there is the fact that they're written in a pretty strange form of English that's foreign to most non-lawyers. Whatever the hang-up, you can shed it. These four companies are the cream of the crop among legal assistant websites ready to speed you through the process of incorporation with the ease of a Japanese bullet train. Take a moment to compare your options, as there is undoubtedly a perfect fit lingering herein.
Zooming Toward Incorporation
Starting a business can be nerve wracking, and knowing that you have a company behind you with a proven track record and a recognizable name can go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable. LegalZoom has spent the past 15 years building that trust with their clients, and the result is an easy, expedient process for the vast majority of your legal processing needs.
In the avenue of LLC creation, LegalZoom employs a very simple questionnaire after the fulfillment of which you can sit back and await the arrival of your LLC. Now, there are three pricing tiers to choose among, but they are the most expensive of any company's on our list. Each one offers something incrementally finer than the next, like faster turnaround, additional materials like company seals and binders, and even a 30-day trial attorney advice specialist at the highest level.
Now You Can Build Your Own LLC Package
Not every LLC package is going to meet the needs of the myriad incorporated entities in the marketplace. After all, there are endless possibilities for the kinds of companies you can create. That's why BizFilings offers customized packages for your LLC that you can build from their basic package upward, a la cart.
Of course, there are still three basic tiers with increasing benefits as you spend more, each of which is structured to fit the most common needs of different sized corporations, so you don't have to go the piecemeal route. The pricing is competitive, especially since you can select only which services you need.
Other add-ons are available to you outside these offerings, as well, like business licensing packages, 48-hour rush filing, and more.
The Name Sounds Evil, But The Prices Are Unbeatable
When all the legal help sites start to sound the same, it's understandable for you to get frustrated. At this point, you might start to ask yourself if it really matters which one you choose. So many of them offer up about the same things at each of their three respective tiers. Surely, something's got to give.
That's where CorpNet comes in. Yeah, the name sounds evil, but they have the most competitive pricing on the market for LLC incorporation in a tiered pricing system. You can get basic filing done with a name availability check and officially filed articles of organization for just $79 before your state's applicable fees. None of the tiers offer free shipping, but the lower prices help justify that.
What's more, CorpNet offers a few things right out of the gate that you have to dig around a pay for with other services, like an indemnification clause, company banking resolution, and a template or custom operating agreement with minutes, depending on which tier you select.
Let The Mold Break, And The Savings Flow Forth
Just when you thought another set of licensing tiers was going to come along and break your spirit, Rocket Lawyer went and took the traditional LLC registration mold and turned it on its head.
The important thing is to think of Rocket Lawyer as more of a law firm on retainer than as a company that helps you get incorporated and then washes its hands of you. That's because Rocket Lawyer's services are best priced for members. You can still incorporate as a non-member, but the other companies have Rocket Lawyer's one-and-don pricing beat.
Membership with Rocket Lawyer, however, can be as inexpensive as $33 per month if you pay annually, and for that cost you can incorporate as many entities as you want for no extra money save the state filing fees you always owe. In addition to that, Rocket Lawyer provides you with all sorts of document creation, easy electronic signatures, and secure cloud storage. Sure, there's always a chance that you could sign up, pay a ton of money over a year, use the service for a single incorporation, and then never need them again, but once you're incorporated, it's nice to have them in your corner.
Forming An LLC: In-Depth
There are but a few milestones a person can achieve in the pursuit of the American dream. Among them are home ownership, starting a family, and opening one’s own business. It’s an oft-repeated maxim that there is no true freedom if you’re working for somebody else, that the only true freedom comes in the form of self-employment.
If you want to start a business, you’re going to have to incorporate one way or another. It’s a reality of the tax system, but you shouldn’t look at it as a burden. In fact, incorporation can offer you a great deal of flexibility and protection both for your business and for you as one of its founders.
Cover Your Assets
Yes, there’s meant to be a pun in that. After all, LLC stands for Limited Liability Company, and it’s that limited liability that can make so much of the difference.
Let’s say your LLC takes loan from a creditor toward the establishment of a brick-and-mortar storefront. Up until this point, you’ve been making your unbelievably delicious cupcakes in the privacy of your own home and selling them barely above cost to local bakers. Now, the whole community knows the brand by name, and the bakers are all demanding you make them more of your treats so they can keep raking in the dough.
You see that it’s going to be much more profitable for you to incorporate, take out a loan, open a shop, and sell the cupcakes yourself at the same markup the local bakeries had been charging. The business plan is sound, the brand is established, and all you need to do is put in the work.
But let’s say a young employee slips on some icing and breaks her arm, losing her scholarship to Big Time University for discus in the process. She spilled the icing herself, but her parents are crazy over her future and decide to sue your business, bankrupting it.
This is a sad tale, but it’s got a great cautionary message. Since your business is incorporated, you aren’t liable as an individual to the debts incurred by the lawsuit or the unpaid debt to your creditor. If you’d just gone and bought a property with a signature loan from a bank and started up that way, telling yourself you’d wait to incorporate until you expanded, well, you’d be on the hook for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. See what a few hundred bucks and a little easy paperwork can save you?
LLC’s The Way To Be
There are certainly forms of incorporation other than the LLC. I know some folks whose businesses were better fits as C-corps, S-corps, or non-profits. For most people starting out, the LLC is the easiest and most affordable option, offering the majority of solutions a bourgeoning business is liable to need.
You can also create operating rules by which your LLC is governed, that way you aren’t roped into the rules put forth by the state. This, too, will create greater flexibility in the way you go about your business. What’s more, if you’re head hurts every time you hear the word ‘compliance,’ you’ll be glad to note that LLCs are among the least compliance-driven entities in the tax code.
Who’s Incorporating Whom?
Now that you’ve been given sufficient information to believe that your business is best suited for incorporation as an LLC, we need to figure out which one of these companies is going to be the best fit.
There are folks who go it alone. I cannot advise against this enough. There is nothing more tragic than getting into a situation like the cupcake debacle above and finding out your LLC is useless because you forgot to cross a t or dot an i somewhere within the paperwork.
Online options are so popular because they’re unbelievably secure and ridiculously simple to execute. Most pages require that you fill out a few simple documents that are broken down into easy-to-understand questionnaires devoid of incomprehensible legal babble and put into terms you and I could easily get. The result is a faster process that requires you to take far fewer aspirin than you might otherwise.
From one company to the next, the differences range mainly in what you can get for a given price. Three of our top four recommendations base their pricing in a three-tier system, with benefits increasing as you pay more and more up the ladder. One of those three offers an a la cart option if you’re more into custom packages, but the tiers are usually well-designed enough for the average business.
Our top pick is a little different. Basically, you become a member, and after that you can incorporate for free. All you have to do is pay the standard filing fees through your state and you’re set. Of course, that doesn’t mean you get the equivalent of a top tier package for a small monthly fee. That membership will outfit you with a very basic LLC package, which you can upgrade to include binders adorned with the company seal, membership certificates, and other paraphernalia for a certain price.
The LLC In History
Partnerships and associations of various types existed in American and world business reaching back at least into the 19th century, the most prominent of which was a German law in 1892. Some American states had similar provisions in the early late 1890s, as well.
It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century, after the German law inspired LLC-like creations in over 18 European and Latin American countries, that the US, by way of a state law in Wyoming, got their hands on something that was truly a child of the German statute.
Now, LLCs are an integral part of American business, giving even the smallest enterprises access to the first rung in a long, harrowing ladder into the upper echelon of free market capitalism.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information provided on this website is accurate at the time of writing, the information provided is for general guidance only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Always consult a qualified Intellectual Property lawyer operating in your local jurisdiction.