STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR LLC NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Keep in mind your LLC name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C’ are also acceptable. Also, because there is no name reservation allowed by the state, only register when you’re ready to organize your business.

STEP 2) CHOOSE/APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

An Iowa Registered Agent is an individual or recognized business entity in the state with a street address (typically non-P.O. Box) responsible for receiving and helping to handle all official paperwork like state filings, legal forms, tax forms, notices, court documents, etc. The #1 thing is that they’re timely and always available during their regular business hours.

That said, you can hire a third party service and pay up to $160 a year or get an Iowa Registered Agent free of charge when you Incorporate with IncFile. They source the documents you need, are always timely, have great customer service, and so much more.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION

Register an LLCNow that you have the first couple steps covered, the next step to register your LLC in Iowa is to complete and file the Articles of Organization form. In essence it declares to the state the name and address of your business, all partners, your Registered Agent along with other business basics for legal transparency.

While there’s no template supplied by the state, the form does come with instructions and there are tons of state-based resources through the Secretary of State to help you out if you don’t have a legal team and aren’t working with a filing service.

Filing Fee: $50

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your BusinessYour EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is required in the same way individuals are required to have social security numbers. With it your business will legally be able to hire employees, create official business bank accounts, and get through tax season. It’s not optional.

While there are numerous ways to get your EIN, you can apply online and get one free of charge through the IRS Website.

STEP 5) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

To avoid any tax, asset, or financial confusion as an LLC, open a completely separate checking account for your brand. Don’t mix and mingle accounts! This is a huge mistake entrepreneurs make that’s 100% avoidable. Plus, these days there are tons of perks to opening business bank accounts. In fact, some banks will literally pay you to do business with them folks, no kidding!

Shop around at both state and national banks/credit unions to see who offers the best deal and most convenience. For a brief breakdown on some of our favorite options check out this short Checking Account Guide.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating Agreement

Nope, this one isn’t mandatory or a legal requirement, but it should be in our opinion because it adds a layer of safety for everyone involved (including the company) and lays out clearly defined duties/responsibilities. It also, “defines each member or manager’s rights, powers, and entitlements. This includes capital accounts, membership interest, distributions of profit and allocated tax responsibility, etc.” So obviously it’s very important, especially if you aren’t a solopreneur.

To get started, consider checking out Rocket Lawyer’s Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself.

STEP 7) SQUARE AWAY IOWA TAXES & LICENSING

Small Business Taxes

It’s about that time to get through the real regulatory red tape. Thankfully Iowa is a business/startup-friendly state with plenty of perks. If you don’t have an attorney, please once again consider working with a professional filing service like the very least. They’ll be able to get each and every form you need, detail each fee that needs to be paid, and make the process so much smoother!

Bookmark the Des Moines district office of the Small Business Administration and IA Source Link’s page because they’re likely going to be go-to sources for a variety of things.  Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that takes care of the legwork for you!

OPTIONAL) CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business Plan

Honestly, you don’t need to be a brilliant wordsmith, have an MBA or business degree, or tons of experience building brands to create an effective presentation-ready business plan. There’s really no reason not to empower your ideas with a solid game plan, and hundreds of reasons to get serious about it. Furthermore, behind every single legitimate success in the business world is a detailed plan that got it from milestone to milestone.

If you understand the power of planning and would like to know more, check out the free resources we’ve put together below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Our free email-based Business Plan Course is designed to take you smoothly through the process step-by-step.

OPTIONAL) BUILD A FUNCTIONAL BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

Every legitimate brand must maintain a digital presence whether that be a blog, a responsive agency-based site, or a comprehensive eCommerce platform. Thankfully over the last four or five years the process has evolved far beyond the conventional “Hire a Designer” method which can be great, or a complete disaster if you’re not careful…

Thanks to website-builder platforms like Wix and SquareSpace it’s become a ton easier, cheaper, and less time consuming. If you want to do everything yourself or through a designer, WordPress is still one of the go-to’s. Check out this brief WordPress Tutorial to explore the possibilities.

Need Help Forming Your LLC?

Have a reliable LLC filing 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!

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form an LLC in Iowa isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form an LLC in Iowa or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.