Step 1) Choose a Name for Your Tennessee Corporation

Choose a Business NameWhen starting a business in Tennessee, the first order of things is to choose a name for your corporation.

The first important criteria to naming conventions for Corporations is that the corporate name should have either one of the following: ‘Corporation’, ‘Company,’ or ‘Incorporated’ or any of these abbreviations will do: ‘Corp.’, ‘Inc.’, or ‘Co.’.

Your name should uniquely identify your Corporation, meaning it should not be similar sounding or looking to any existing business name registered under the Secretary of State. Make sure to use the Tennessee business name search tool to see if the name you’ve chosen is still available.


Step 2) File the Corporate Charter

Register an LLCA Corporation can be legally created by filing a Corporation in Tennessee by filing your Charter to the Secretary of State of Tennessee.

Take note to include the following into your charter, and make sure you have everything correct: corporate name and complete address; complete name and street address of the Registered Agent; the number of shares authorized for issuance by the Corporation; complete name and address of each of the incorporators, and date of effectivity of charter.

For incorporating in Tennessee, the charter must be filed through mail.

Filing fee: $100


Step 3) Choose or Find a Tennessee Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentA Tennessee Registered Agent is your agent for service of process. This professional is in-charge of receiving all legal documentations in behalf of your company. A duly Registered Agent in Tennessee should have an existing street address and office within the state to receive these documentations. She or he should be available during office hours at all times.

That said, you can hire a Registered Agent service and pay up to $160/year, or get a Tennessee Registered Agent free of charge when you form your Corporation with IncFile – which is $100 less than other online incorporation services.


Step 4) Start a Corporate Records Binder

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsA corporate records binder is simply a record book where you keep all your corporate documents collated and stored.

From your Tennessee Corporation registration documents to your minutes of the meeting, everything should be kept on here. This corporate records binder is available in your local office supply shop or you can directly go to Amazon to buy it.


Step 5) Choose the Initial Directors for Your Corporation

Choose the Initial DirectorsAs the incorporator of your business, it is your responsibility when forming a Corporation in Tennessee to elect your initial set of Corporate directors.

These directors will function on your Tennessee Corporation board for the meantime until the first yearly meeting of shareholders. The incorporator should record the complete name and address of each initial director in the ‘Incorporator’s Statement’, and this document should be kept in the Corporate Binder.


Step 6) Hold the First Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsOnce you have elected your initial directors, you can now proceed to the first board of directors meeting. At this meeting, the following programs should be discussed and settled upon:

Note: Should your Corporation be an S Corp, you will also have to approve this status during this meeting as well. As part of starting a Tennessee Corporation, keep in mind that after the meeting, the signatures of each initial director should be affixed on the minutes of the meeting.


Step 7) Take Care of Your Tennessee Business Tax & Licensing Requirements (Required)

Business LicensesTennessee business taxes should be complied to avoid any problems with the IRS in the future for your Tennessee Corporation maintenance. Follow the three simple steps below to be compliant:

  1. Register for an (EIN) Employer Identification Number at the IRS website.
  2. Make sure to fulfill all business taxes obligations by submitting all the requirements. To check which business obligations apply to your Tennessee Corporation, check our Tennessee tax guide.
  3. For S Corp corporation status, file a Form 2553 Election to the Secretary of State of Tennessee. Make sure that the form is signed by all shareholders. For more information on the S Corp status, check here.

Tennessee business licenses are also mandatory to be a legally operating business within the state and to be compliant.

Without your business licenses, your business may be in danger of being padlocked. Make sure you’re ahead of these obligations with the help of our Tennessee business license and regulations guide.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountThe next step to starting a Tennessee business is to start a separate bank account. This is important because you will be able to keep your personal and business finances separate in the eyes of the law.

Plus, when tax time rolls around, you will be able to organize your obligations and handle everything with minimal stress. For the best business bank accounts, check out this roundup.


To-Do After Starting a

Tennessee Corporation

Now that you have followed the steps above, you are officially a Tennessee Corporation. Other than those 8 steps that are based on state guidelines, here are 3 additional steps based on best practices for starting a successful Corporation. Not required, but highly recommended.

1) Write a Funding Ready Business Plan (Recommended)

Write a Business PlanA business plan is crucial to get financing during the startup process and impress any lenders you reach out to. The business plan is your sales pitch, and it will also be your guide to success in the future. It is not a requirement, but most, if not all, businesses have a business plan.

LivePlan (25% Off Discount Code) is a software geared towards helping you create a funding ready business plan through video walkthroughs and real industry examples. Over 300,000 entrepreneurs like you have planned for success with this tool.

Read the LivePlan review for more info.


2) Build a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteAs you start a Corporation in Tennessee it’s important to have a business website. This will give you a solid online presence and credibility aspect. Thankfully you don’t have to be tech savvy to start a website since there are platforms like WordPress that are easy to get started.

Learn how to build a business website through this walkthrough guide.


3) Prepare Corporate Bylaws (Recommended)

Prepare Corporate BylawsTennessee Corporation bylaws govern your organization’s operations. Although not a state mandated requirement, no sane incorporator would operate his business without Corporate bylaws. During incorporation, these bylaws are not filed with the state, but it is one way to prove your corporation’s legitimacy.

Note: Again, Corporate bylaws is not stipulated as a provision to incorporation in Tennessee, but it comes highly advised to make one for your Corporation.

As advised, this guide should be taken as legal advice for starting a business in Tennessee, we do not claim that this is a legal document nor should it be taken as such. Please talk to your lawyer if you have further questions on how to form a Corporation in Tennessee or you plan on starting a new business.

Need Help Forming Your Corporation?

Have a reliable incorporation service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your business and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Although both offer virtually the same service, IncFile is $100 less and our top pick. Enjoy!

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