To secure and register your brand name should be unique, not too similar to another registered name in TN, 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.
Your 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. If needed, you may file an Application for Reservation of LLC Name with the Sec. of State that’s valid for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $20
When starting an LLC, your TN Registered Agent is your intermediary or a representative of your brand who accepts and helps handle/process all official documents like state filings, tax forms, legal notices, and so forth. In some states you can be your own, or elect someone within your organization but you should check with the TN to be sure.
Typically it comes down to either hiring a 3rd-party professional and paying up to $160/yr, or you can get a certified agent free of charge when you Incorporate with IncFile. They take care of handling the paperwork in a timely manner for you along with a lot more depending on your specific startup package.
Download the Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization (if being formed in TN vs transferred from another state) and read all the instructions very carefully. There are four ways to file: e-File through the NewBiz system, mail, walk-in, or paper submission.
This is a serious declarative document that discloses the basics of your LLC for the public record. The instructions are substantial so don’t be afraid to work with the best attorney you can afford or a professional incorporation service who can help with this and the regulatory stuff in step 7 as well.
Filing Fee: $50 per member; $300 min & $3,000 max.
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is more essential red tape which makes it possible to legally hire employees, set up an official bank account in step 5, and get through tax season. You can’t conduct business without one, but thankfully it’s a snap these days to get synced with “the system” so to speak.
Quick, easily, and free of charge you can get yours through the IRS Website.
With your EIN setup, start researching to see which state/local/national bank or credit union offers the most in terms of overall perks and services. There are a ton, so to begin brushing up browse this brief Checking Account Guide for small businesses with the more mainstream players.
Aside from this aspect, its important that your company has its own completely separate account or financial persona apart from any other accounts of any kind. This is about protecting yourself, your assets, your team, and the brand. Don’t be sloppy!
While this document isn’t mandatory or a legal requirement, what it does is add another layer of safety for everyone involved and details 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.” It may be optional, but it shouldn’t be in our opinion.
To get started, consider checking out this savvy Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself for your specific circumstances.
Tennessee is an awesome place to be in business, but to be honest, everyone should turn to professionals for this part to ensure there aren’t any costly or time consuming hiccups. That being said, depending on the nature of your business it may be a breeze to get the licensing and taxes taken care of.
To get started yourself bookmark the Nashville district office of the Small Business Administration, and the state’s Business Enterprise Resources page because they’re going to be go-to sources. Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that handle the legwork.
There are three specific reasons we love helping entrepreneurs start to plan their businesses better: 1) studies have proven it improves the odds of your follow-through across the board, 2) because eventually you’ll need it to attract the right partners/stakeholders and acquire outside funding, and 3) the process of planning itself is incredibly valuable.
To see what we mean begin by digging into the links below.
QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING
After all that hard work above, from verifying your brand name to establishing your startup’s game plan, it’s time to set up the initial company website. And we say initial because it will continue to change and evolve and grow over time, or at least it should otherwise it will stagnate and end up in the gutters of the internet.
If you’re doing this solo or there’s no in-house designer on your team then begin your journey by checking out the heavy hitters in website building platforms like Wix, SquareSpace and Shopify. Another powerful CMS and publishing platform is WordPress. Check out this free WordPress Tutorial to see the potential.
Note that this article on how to form an LLC in Tennessee 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 Tennessee or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.