STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

The very first thing to do is ensure that the name you’d like isn’t already taken, doesn’t contain restricted words, or is too similar to another name under the eyes of state law. Before doing anything else, use the Wisconsin Business Entity Search system to check, and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Must contain the words “Limited Liability Company,” or “Limited Liability” or abbreviation “Co.,” or “L.L.C.” or “LLC.” If needed, you can also file a Name Reservation Application form with the WI Dept. of Financial Institutions that’s good for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $15

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

Every company in the state must have a Wisconsin Registered Agent to represent their brand; to receive and help to handle/process legal paperwork like all state filings & important business forms, legal notices, etc.

Basic requirements are that this agent be a WI resident/registered business entity with a non-P.O. Box physical street address and available M-F during all regular business hours. That said, you can hire an outside professional and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you Incorporate with IncFile.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION

Register an LLCDownload and file LLC Articles of Organization with the WI Dept. of Financial Institutions through postal mail, or using their online filing system once you’re ready to create your business entity. This is a declarative form for the public record that discloses the basics of your brand including:

  • Name and address of the LLC;
  • Name and address of the LLC’s Registered Agent;
  • Name and address of the LLC’s organizer(s);
  • Indication whether the LLC will be managed by a manager or a member;

Filing Fee: $130 Online & $170 Mail

STEP 4) REQUEST AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

Once you’ve gotten the name taken care of, have your registered agent, and are getting ready to file your articles, the next is to get the ball rolling on obtaining an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. This is a unique 9-digit identifier used by the state/federal government to track business activity, process taxes, allow you to legally hire employees, open business bank accounts, etc.

Almost every transaction your business engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly, easily and free of charge by applying online through the IRS Website.

STEP 5) SETUP A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

Here’s where you need to decide where to bank. And this isn’t personal banking, so if you’re brand new to this then PLEASE conduct some research! Look at different local, state, and national banks as well as credit unions. There’s plenty of great deals, perks, incentives and kickbacks to be had. Tons!

The other big important factor is making sure to completely separate your brand’s financials from data streams and bank accounts of any other kind. Here’s a quick breakdown article of Business Checking Accounts from some of the biggest banks to begin your research.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating Agreement

This isn’t mandated by WI or federal law, but we think it should be for a variety of reasons. First, it sets down on paper the managerial/financial duties and responsibilities of all owning and managerial parties. This includes profit sharing, ownership percentages, and your own stipulated rules of operation.

Not only will this add layers of protection for everyone involved, including your new company’s LLC status, but it also trumps default state rules which take over if you don’t have this document in place. To get started, check out this savvy Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself.

STEP 7) HANDLE BUSINESS TAXES & LICENSING/PERMITS

Small Business TaxesAs a legally registered LLC, you’re required to pay Wisconsin business taxes and get all necessary licenses/permits to be compliant. Come tax season, it’s your responsibility as a business owner to submit the necessary reports and file the appropriate tax returns as deemed essential for the type of business you operate.

If you’re setting up the groundwork solo, bookmark the Milwaukee district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s SBDC because they’re likely going to be go-to sources.  Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that take care of the legwork.

OPTIONAL) START YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business Plan

Chances are you don’t have any “formal” or professional-grade business planning in place, right? Most startups don’t when they just get off the ground. There’s too much change, uncertainty, iteration and evolution. That’s fine, but, sooner rather than later (ideally) you’ll be ready to start honing in on core fundamentals.

If you’re interested, what’s happened over the last handful of years in the business planning software world is astounding! See what we mean in the links below:

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

OPTIONAL) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteIf you don’t have a designer in the wings, or you aren’t one and neither is anyone on your team, don’t worry. Setting up business websites is now 110% mainstream and established so there are TONS of beginner-friendly, or non-savvy, options: Wix, SquareSpace, Shopify, and WordPress are just a handful of the titans.

If this interests you, consider learning the basics of How to Make a Website for free through the team at WebsiteSetup.org then apply what you learn. Here’s to massive brand expansion, rapid growth and a prosperous year ahead for you and your new Wisconsin LLC!

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