Staying compliant isn’t optional. You can’t simply opt out of getting properly licensed, staying on top of tax obligations, or keeping track of your important legal paperwork. And unfortunately, everything that compliance entails can be incredibly overwhelming — especially if you don’t have the budget to work with a business attorney.
We’re here to discuss some of the most helpful, affordable services for the five pillars of business compliance: licensing and taxes, legal services, registered agent services, business insurance and foreign qualification. Make sure to use the links throughout this guide to learn more about what each service has to offer your business. Enjoy!
Business License And Tax Services
When it comes to getting licensed and making sure you’re compliant with the so-called “tax man”, the question for most folks is whether to take care of these issues themselves, hire an attorney, or work with a service like CorpNet or Incfile.
Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be able to manage fairly easily on your own. That said, often there are layers of federal, state and local red tape to deal with, so we do recommend getting professional assistance to avoid making any costly mistakes. We’ve reviewed the best providers to make the decision easier for you.
In this IncFile business license service review, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons, pricing and features, customer feedback, and more.
Registered Agent Services
A registered agent is the person or business entity responsible for receiving notices and other legal documents on behalf of your company. Essentially, their purpose is to prevent you from saying “Wait, I never received that!”
Unfortunately, taking on this role yourself (which some states allow) is often more trouble than it’s worth, while working with an independent professional can cost a substantial amount of money.
For these reasons, we believe the best way to get a registered agent is through an online service like ZenBusiness. They offer registered agent services for a small annual fee.
Zenbusiness Site - "Unlike the competition, we use technology and automated processes to provide a fast and low-cost business formation service that meets your unique business needs."
Business insurance is all about risk management. Just like any other type of insurance, it involves paying a small fee to prevent huge financial loss. This isn’t just a good idea for massive corporations — even solopreneurs and small business owners have a lot to gain from protecting the assets they have wrapped up in their business ventures.
Sure, not every business out there needs it, but typically the more layers of protection you can reasonably afford, the better off you’ll be. Learn about some of the most reliable business insurance providers available, AmVenture and Hiscox.
This review will analyze Hiscox’s business insurance policies to help you determine if their service is right for you.
Online Legal Services
In our ultra-litigious society, the cost of getting the legal facts straight is extremely high. To address this problem, online legal service providers like Rocket Lawyer have streamlined the process of acquiring and filing legal documents, and some even provide access to legal professionals at affordable rates.
Are these services as reliable as having a legal team behind you? No. But they’re still definitely worth looking into if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer. To learn more, dig into our reviews of the best providers on the market.
Rocket Lawyer Site - "Rocket Lawyer offers legal services you can trust at prices you can afford."
If you’re hoping to start a company in a state other than your own, or expand your current business to an out-of-state location, you’re probably in need of foreign qualification services. In order to legally operate in a foreign state, you’ll have to file some essential paperwork with the state government.
We believe the best way to handle this process is to use a service like Incfile. By handing the reins over to a professional, you’ll be able to focus on the other pressing needs of your business.
While the DIY route is always an option, we wouldn’t recommend it for most entrepreneurs. Foreign qualification requirements vary from state to state, making for a pretty complicated process in some locations. Use the links below to learn about some of the most reputable foreign qualification services on the market!
Incfile Site - "We have the answers to all your questions regarding what constitutes doing business in another state and how to get the proper paperwork done to be legitimate."
Many businesses are required to file annual reports to stay compliant with state agencies. This is yet another task that you can either take on yourself or delegate to a professional filing service, like LegalZoom.
While most states don’t have especially complex requirements for annual reports, the DIY option can still be a hassle. As with all legal filings, hiring a professional to do the paperwork for you gives you one less thing to worry about!
LegalZoom Site - "Not all states require a report when you first set up your company, but most require that your company file either an annual or biennial report for as long as your company exists. Creating and filing your annual reports is fast and easy."
Frequently Asked Questions
Will these resources be enough?
It depends. If you’re in a high-risk line of work, you may want to consult with an attorney rather than rely solely on online services. That said, for many folks, leveraging the services above is enough to keep a business totally safe and compliant.
Should I work with a lawyer instead?
If you can afford it, yes. Having a business attorney is ideal, but the costs add up quick, which is why online legal services are becoming so popular.
What if I have questions?
Customer support varies among the providers we’ve discussed, but most of them have knowledgable customer support teams to take care of any questions or concerns you have. One great feature of Rocket Lawyer is that they set you up with a business attorney in your area to answer any of your legal questions.
How much can I really do on my own?
It depends on the amount of time you have and the complexity of your business venture. There’s a big difference between the compliance requirements for a 100% digital business and a restaurant chain. Getting professional help with at least a few of the things we discussed above is really the smartest way to go.