Business Formation QuickStart
Entrepreneurs must juggle countless tasks and competing priorities well before they open shop, including the creation of a legal structure. Business formation is a necessary early step when starting a business, whether you're registering a simple DBA, incorporating or forming a partnership.
The way in which your business is formed will determine the personal liability of the founders, how taxes are paid, and other important details. For example, a sole proprietor typically makes decisions on her or his own, while a partner in a partnerships must get approval from all other partners prior to making major decisions for the company. The main business legal structures are:
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
The following checklists and articles will help you quickly get started with the process of creating a legal structure for your new business.
Starting a Partnership
- Checklist: Starting a Partnership - Step-by-step list to help you form a partnership.
- Creating a Partnership Agreement - Overview of a partnership agreement, which defines the business relationship.
- Partnerships - Articles, checklists and various resources pertaining to business partnerships.
Incorporating a Small Business
- Checklist: Starting a Corporation - List of crucial steps for starting a corporation.
- How to Incorporate a Business - In-depth information about the process of incorporation.
- Corporations - Various articles and FAQs pertaining to corporations.
Starting an LLC
- Checklist: Starting an LLC - Step-by-step primer to help you start an LLC.
- How to Form an LLC - Detailed overview of how to form an LLC.
- Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) - Articles, checklists and other resources pertaining to LLCs.
Forming a Nonprofit
- Checklist: Starting a Nonprofit Corporation - Important steps to follow when starting a nonprofit.
- How to Form a Nonprofit - In-depth information about forming a nonprofit.
- Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt Organizations - Government resources, guides and articles related to nonprofit organizations.
- State Guide: Corporations Offices - Links to corporations offices in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
- State Guide: Forms and Filing Fees for Business Formation - Links to state-specific information on business formation filing fees and forms.
- State Guide: Tax Agencies - Links to the tax agencies of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
Tax Information from the IRS
- Tax Forms: Sole Proprietorships - Filing requirements of sole proprietorships, with applicable tax forms.
- Tax Information for Partnerships - FAQs, updates, tutorials and related tax information for partnerships.
- Tax Forms: Partnerships - Filing requirements of partnerships, with applicable tax forms.
- Tax Information for Corporations - Collection of FAQs, updates and other tax information for corporations.
- Tax Forms: "S" Corporations - Filing requirements of "S" corporations, with applicable tax forms.
- Tax Information for LLCs - Overview of tax requirements for limited liability companies (LLCs), with links to forms.
- Tax Information for Nonprofits - Various updates and guides pertaining to the filing requirements of nonprofits.
Consult with an Attorney Before You Choose a Business Structure
There are many processes that entrepreneurs can do on their own, including some tasks related to business formation. But the formation of most business entities, particularly LLCs and corporations, may benefit from the help of a trained lawyer. Find a business and commercial attorney near you.
See FindLaw's Incorporation and Legal Structures section to learn more.