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Checklist: Starting a Corporation

If you are thinking of starting a corporation, below is a checklist of steps to take before you open for business. Keep in mind that your corporation's start-up requirements might vary from the list below, depending on the specific type of business you are in, and where your business is located.

  1. Decide on a business name for your corporation. Keep in mind that your state may require that your corporation's name include an identifying word such as "incorporated," "limited," "corporation," or an abbreviation of such a term. (Learn more: Pick a Winning Name for Your Business)

  2. Search availability of your corporation's chosen business name, and for similarity to existing names. (Learn more: Make Sure Your Proposed Business Name is Available)

  3. Register your corporation's name (including as a "fictitious business name"). (Learn more: Registering Your Business Name)

  4. Pick a place to incorporate. (Learn more: Forming a Corporation: Where to Incorporate)

  5. Choose directors for your corporation. (Learn more: Corporate Structure: Directors to Shareholders)

  6. Create and sign your corporation's articles of incorporation. (Learn more: Writing and Filing the Articles of Incorporation)

  7. Write your corporation's by-laws. (Learn more: Writing Corporate By-Laws)

  8. Create a shareholder agreement (if necessary). (Learn more: Shareholder Buyout Agreements)

  9. File your corporation's articles of incorporation with your state's Secretary of State office, and pay related filing fees.

  10. Elect "S" corporation tax status (optional).

  11. Open a separate bank account for your corporation.

  12. Start a minute book for your corporation's meetings.

  13. Hold your first board of directors' meeting.

  14. Issue certificates to your corporation's initial stockholders (if applicable).

  15. Obtain business licenses and permits for your corporation from:
  16. Follow all legal requirements for running a corporation.

Incorporating can be a long-term benefit to your new business in the long run, but the process can be complicated. To ensure that your new business complies with your state's legal requirements at all steps in the incorporation process, you may wish to consult an experienced business attorney. Click here to learn more.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified business organizations attorney to help you
choose the best formation for your business.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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