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Starting a Company – The Paperwork

So you’ve decided what to call your company, you know what type of company you want to start, and now you want to buckle down and make content.

Well, everything you’ve done so far has been just planning. Until you file with your secretary of state (google it or use the website to find the address) you don’t have the protection of the legal structure you’ve chosen. You have some protection, provided you actually do file the paperwork correctly within a reasonable period of time, but you don’t have the full protection for taxes or legal liability until the paperwork is filled out and approved by the Secretary of State’s office, or whichever local state office registers corporations.

Filing the paperwork might require signatures by every founding member of your company, or it might just require one signature, depending on the corporate structure and the state requirements. Some states, like Nevada, combine the Master Business License Application with part of the New Business Registration process, so that new businesses get signed up for both at the same time, and only need to fill out one form.

In addition to a state business license, you might need one from your county and municipality, depending on what kind of company you are starting, and what your jurisdiction requires. The forms are often online, but can also usually be obtained by calling City Hall directly and requesting a packet.

As you can tell from the differences in types of company from the last post, it’s usually a good idea to have an attorney help you with the process of filling out the forms. Many small firms will charge a flat rate for their assistance, which usually includes the fees charged by the state as well. Even with a lawyer’s help, you might encounter problems because of the way registration occurs, or because of processing or other human error.

After getting the certificate from the registering agency, congratulations! You can now create content that is or will be owned by the company, and not your potential employees (as long as you get them to sign the right paperwork before they start working, too), and lawsuits will be filed against the company, and hopefully not your house. Most filings require annual reports to the Secretary of State’s office, and if or when you get employees, you’ll need an IRS Tax ID and other money matters which a CPA can help you figure out. Remember to keep the money separate, and only pay yourself back for the costs of starting up, and a legitimate salary, and you should be able to keep it that way.

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Posted in Make-Up Post.