STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in WA, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a free 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. If needed, you can file a LLC Name Reservation form with the Sec. of State that’s good for 180 days.

Filing Fee: $30

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

Your WA Registered Agent is a sort of legal representative of your brand, but not in a lawyer or attorney-sense. It’s their job to officially receive/process important business documents like state filings, legal notices, tax forms, and so forth. This is why they have to be either a WA resident individual or a registered business entity and be reliable during all regular business days/hours.

That said, you can hire 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a registered agent free of charge when you Incorporate with IncFile. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) FILE CERTIFICATE OF FORMATION

Register an LLCDownload the Certificate of Formation form and file it with the Sec. of State through mail or the Online Application. It’s a declarative statement for the public records that includes:

  • Name and address of the LLC;
  • Name, address and signature of the LLC’s Registered Agent;
  • LLC’s effectivity date of formation;
  • Indication whether the LLC will be managed by a member or a separate manager.

Filing Fee: $180 mail or $200 online

STEP 4) REQUEST AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

What’s an EIN, or Employer Identification Number? It’s almost exactly like a social security number but for businesses instead of flesh and blood individuals. You’ll need it to process taxes, set up business bank accounts, to legally hire employees and more. But don’t worry, it’s as easy as pie to get one these days.

To get your free EIN number, you can print out and mail in This IRS Form or apply online using the IRS Website.

STEP 5) SETUP A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

First and foremost, make sure that your LLC’s bank accounts aren’t mingled with any others of any kind. It’s a huge mistake you can avoid with ease, okay? Secondly, don’t just assume where you bank personally is the best choice. Is it convenient? Sure, but there are tons of places to build your brand’s financial persona and many of them are likely offering much better deals and incentives.

To learn about some of these perks from the mainstream perspective browse this free Checking Account Guide.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating AgreementIn Washington, an Operating Agreement serves as the internal rule book of business operations that trumps the default state rules that take over if there isn’t one in place. It also defines internal agreements between its members in terms of financial/management duties and responsibilities. Very important! Even if you’re a solopreneur or two-man-band.

You can create your LLC’s document now with the help of this savvy Operating Agreement Tool which can be fully customized to fit your specific circumstances.

STEP 7) HANDLE BUSINESS TAXES & LICENSING

Small Business TaxesSo, this is the step where we tell you that you should ideally work with the best attorney you can afford, a tax attorney/accountant, or an incorporation provider so that there’s no mistakes and your LLC is 100% compliant in terms of taxes, licensing, and any needed permits depending on the nature of your business.

If you’re doing this solo, bookmark the Seattle district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s Small Biz Development Center because they’re likely going to be go-to sources.  Also, consider professional Business License Research packages.

OPTIONAL) BUILD YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanYou’ve got SOME kind of plan, right? Or are you completely and utterly winging it? If so, that’s okay, it’s normal, it’s also a huge contributing factor to why so many startups fail inside the first year or two. But the moment you bump shoulders with a serious operation, they’ll show you a streamlined presentation-ready plan that helps them get from goal to goal.

Just take the plan you have, and dig in. Get real with the core fundamentals – marketing, competition, pitch, forecasts, budgeting, etc. If you’d like some help, check out these links below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

OPTIONAL) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteNow that all the paperwork is done, it’s time to build the initial digital foundation of your LLC. No 21st century business can survive without an online presence for a LARGE variety of inescapable reasons. And no one’s saying it has to cost a mountain of time or cash, but there needs to be at least a basic-responsive store/site in place.

To see what we mean, check out what the developers over on WebsiteSetup.org have to say about it. Even if you already have one, the way they go through How to Make a Website is a mini-education most never get. Check it out!

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 Washington 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 Washington or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.