Incorporating a business can be a great way to reduce your personal liability. You may also want to incorporate for other reasons. But no matter why you choose to form a corporation, doing it right is important. Here are four of the most notable issues you want to consider, before you start developing your articles of incorporation.
1. You Need a Physical Address in the State Where You Incorporate
While it can be tempting to incorporate in a particular state because of tax laws or other requirements, you still need a physical address in that state to file for incorporation there. That means a street address, not a PO Box. The good news is that you can use just about anyone who's over the age of 18 as a registered agent, and send documents to their address with their permission. You don't need a physical business office in the state, and can hire a professional registered agent, if you don't know anyone there.
2. You Need a Unique Business Name
Your corporation's name can't be anything that's the same as another company registered in the state. You have to make sure you're not choosing something that's too close to another company's name, either. You also can't use certain, restricted words. For example, you can't use "doctor" as part of your name unless someone who is central to the corporation is actually a doctor. You also need to use "corporation," "company," or "incorporated" at the end of your business' name.
3. Decision-Makers Must be Listed
Listing your decision-makers is a requirement for your articles of incorporation. Those include the incorporators and the directors. At least one person who prepared, signed, and filed your business' articles of incorporation must be listed as an incorporator, and there are some states that require your Board of Directors to be listed. The minimum number of directors for your corporation is generally between one and three.
4. You Will Be Asked to Note Your Shares of Stock
Your corporation's owners, or shareholders, should be listed in internal documents. You don't have to put them in the articles of incorporation when you file, but you do generally need to list how many shares of stock your corporation is allowed to issue. How many of those shares each shareholder owns can be part of your internal documents, as well.
Once you've gotten all of these areas decided and ready to go, you can create articles of incorporation, bylaws, and any other documents you want to be part of your formation and initial development. Then it's time to get everything registered, so you can start operating your new corporation and building your customer base.