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How to Form an LLC Quickly and Cheaply

Most lawyers won’t tell you this, but you can form an LLC by yourself. It’s fast and affordable. You’ll need a little patience and attention to detail, but that’s it. And for a very limited time, JUSTLAW will even do the work for you. Free of charge!  That’s right. See the button below for more details.  (Estimated 3 min read)

1. The LLC Business Type
2. Clear the Name
3. Get a Registered Agent
4. File the Articles of Organization

Want to form a limited liability company (LLC) yourself, quickly and cheaply? To do so, you need to select a business name, appoint a registered agent (which in some cases can be you), file the Articles of Organization, obtain an Employer Identification Number, and open a business bank account. The time and cost associated with forming a new LLC varies by state.

The LLC Business Type

The LLC entity type is probably the most popular business type in 2021. This popularity stems from its flexible nature, limited liability protection and ease of administration, especially in contrast with traditional corporations. Many entrepreneurs would like to set up an LLC, but have avoided it due to time and costs. A traditional attorney might charge upwards of $2,500 to form an LLC and complete and prepare the associated paperwork. This essential primer will help you understand how you can form an LLC by yourself.

Clear the Name

Searching your state’s database of corporate names before you file the Articles of Organization might be a good idea. If your name is relatively common, someone else may have already taken it. That would lead to your filing being rejected. Many secretaries of state, such as Delaware, have free, online databases where you can research the availability of any name you have in mind. In some states, you can even reserve a name online by paying a small fee. Naming requirements may vary slightly from state to state, but generally you must assure:

  1. Your LLC name must differ from the names of other businesses that are already registered in the state; and
  2. Your LLC name must contain a limited liability signifier, such as “LLC”, or “Limited Liability Company”. Eg, ACME LLC.

Get a Registered Agent

The name and address of a registered agent are normally required on the formation papers for your LLC. An agent is a person or entity tasked with receiving legal papers on behalf of your LLC in the event that your company is sued. The agent must have a physical address in the state and must be available during work hours on all workdays for this purpose.

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File the Articles of Organization

Articles or Organization are usually submitted to the state’s Secretary of State along with a filing fee. When the Secretary of State accepts your Articles of Organization, your LLC has officially been formed. Many states will accept articles and have your company “live” in 24-48 hours. This document provides the fundamental details on your business, such as:

  • The name and address of the company.
  • The business purpose of the company (e.g., “to engage in e-commerce cat food sales”).
  • A statement on whether the company will be managed by a manager or the members.
  • The name and address of the registered agent of the LLC.

Although successfully filing the Articles of Organization indicates that the state recognizes the LLC, there are additional steps to get yourself truly in business.

After the Articles have been filed and accepted, other considerations are:

  • Publishing the Articles of Organization. In some states, such as New York, new LLCs must publish the fact of their formation in a local newspaper and to file an affidavit of publication with the state. Publication costs can exceed $1,000, so you should consider this fact when selecting a state.
  • Drafting an operating agreement. You will not file your operating agreement with the state, but you need one as an internal contract between the members of the company. If you have partners, or other members, you should likely find a good business lawyer to help you with this work.
  • Procure an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Banks and governments both require an employer identification number. This number acts, in essence, as a social security number for your new company. EINs are available free at the IRS website.
  • Getting a business bank account. Your LLC will need a business bank account or the members’ limited liability protection can be called into question by the authorities.
  • Determine if your business requires a license.  Some states or cities may require you to obtain licenses to do business. It varies by jurisdiction and a complete survey is beyond the scope of this primer, but Google will at least get you started.

Hopefully, this primer gives budding entrepreneurs all they need to set up an LLC alone. If not, and you’d still like to set up your own LLC, for a limited time (through Labor Day 2021), JUSTLAW will do the paperwork for free. JUSTLAW maintains a network of over 300 attorneys in all 50 states. Our lawyers graduated from places like Harvard, Yale, Berkeley and UVA.   Click the button below to get started.

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9 Steps to Start Freelancing the Right Way

June 30, 2021
New York, New York

In a recent podcast from the Wall Street Journal, a different kind of outbreak was featured in the episode “Why is everyone quitting? Workers, especially young ones, are leaving their full-time jobs in droves in search of more satisfying, more flexible and often more lucrative work. In fact, 2.7% of workers quit their job in April 2021, according to the podcast.  And freelancers are more in demand than ever before, as everyone from small businesses to large corporations hires freelancers for a variety of projects, ranging from copywriting and web development to catalog design and consulting.

Working as a freelancer typically means working your own hours ( remember, if you’re successful, you’re going to have a new boss: your clients) on your own terms. But it also means sourcing your own clients and managing an entire business yourself. 

If freelancing sounds like the right fit for you, this guide can help you. Below we outline 9 simple steps you should take in order to get started in your new career as a freelancer. 

1.  Set up a website. Establishing an online presence for yourself is important. Clients need to be able to look at your work and find you quickly. Maintaining a basic website is fairly simple. Nowadays, no-code platforms like Squarespace allow you to get a professional looking site designed and launched without any particular design or html expertise.

Remember that your website will need a well drafted privacy policy, terms of use and it should be compliant, at minimum, with the ADA’s laws on accessibility, the GDPR if you’re doing business in Europe, and the CCPA if you’re doing business in California. Subscription legal plans for small business sometimes include this legal work at no additional cost.

2.  Get a DBA, sole proprietorship or another entity. For most business entities other than LLCs and corporations, the legal name of the business is the personal name of the business owner(s). If you want to do business as “John Doe”, you can stop reading this section now, as nothing else is required. However, if you plan to do business under a name other than your own, such as ACME Digital Consulting, or if you want to set up a bank account under your business’s name, you’ll likely need a DBA. In this case, you’ll be operating as a “Sole Proprietor” and should become familiar with two tax forms: W-9 and 1099-MISC.

3.  Plan for taxes. Equally important to your choice of business structure (#2 above) is planning to optimize your taxes. Expenses on business meals, home offices, and mileage when you’re driving for business, among other items, can all serve to minimize your income – through deductions – and lower your tax liability. Understanding the tax impacts of these expenses will be important to your finance well-being, so start early. 

4.  Get your permits in place. In addition to a DBA, your state may have specific laws for individuals doing business. Research and obtain any state and local permits or licenses you’ll need for your business. Or check a site like NerdWallet that does some of the research for you.

5.  Order business cards and stationery. A significant challenge as a freelancer will be sourcing clients (more later). Online companies like VistaPrint offer inexpensive solutions for business cards and stationary, to give you a polished and professional look, and to make sure you make a lasting impression as your network grows. 

6.  Think about your future. As a freelancer, you’ll have to sort out your own path for retirement savings, medical insurance, dental, etc. Speak with your accountant or a financial advisor and set up a plan to make sure your needs and goals will be met and review websites like Value Penguin to see and compare health insurance quotes from a variety of insurers.

7.  The infrastructure plan. Without the right tools to perform your trade, your work product and efficiency will suffer. Freelancers will often tell you that while working at your leisure sounds glamorous, there are a few drawbacks. For some, the solitude can get lonely. Freelancers working remotely can’t talk to a co-worker between projects the way employees in an office can. On the other hand, freelancers don’t have to deal with office politics.
For maximum productivity, set up an in-home office, or find another place where you can focus and get work done. The absence of a boss down the hall may be a highlight; however, that just means you have to be the one to manage deadlines and productivity.

8.  Promote and network. Working for yourself means promoting yourself, and getting started as a freelancer can be very time-consuming. Online networks like LinkedIn permit you to publish your goals, ask questions, and network with other professionals.

But don’t stop there. Spread the word to friends and family that you’re venturing into freelancing and ask for referrals where appropriate.Set up a blog. A blog can help you connect with other freelancers and bloggers as well as potential clients. It will also help your website with search engine optimization (SEO) over the long term.

9.  Be an influencer. You don’t need a famous TV show or a massive social media following to be an influencer. You just need to own your lane. So figure out what it is, and get to work. Many times, asking and answering questions is the easiest way to get people involved and invested in what you do, and while you could meet 10 people during a networking event, you could meet 75 online. When you combine a strong digital presence with meaningful personal interactions, you’ll really see your stock rise. So get busy! 

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Working as a freelance entrepreneur can be intellectually rewarding and financially lucrative, but you need to build the right foundation from the beginning. Using this article as a guide to start laying that foundation can help you to later focus on your work, your customers and enjoying the flexibility you’ll gain from this important career choice.