STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

First, let’s make sure the name you’d like for your brand is available and likely to be accepted or approved by the state. It should be unique and without restricted wording. To check, conduct a Name Availability Search through the state, and if there may be trademark issues use the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Also, keep in mind your name should contain the words Corporation’, ‘Company’, ‘Association’, ‘Incorporated’, ‘Foundation’, ‘Club’, ‘Union’, ‘Society’, ‘Limited’, or ‘Syndicate’. Abbreviations of the words listed are also acceptable. If needed, you can also have the Name Reserved for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $75

STEP 2) GET A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

Your Delaware Registered Agent is your intermediary, a representative of your company who accepts and helps handle/process all official documents like state filings, tax forms, legal notices, and so forth. Whether they’re an individual or a registered business entity they must have a physical DE address and be available during all regular business hours.

So basically, you can choose to hire an outside third-party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified/dedicated agent free of charge for a year when you incorporate with IncFile or CorpNet.

STEP 3) FILE CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCFor your brand to be recognized as a legal corporate entity, a Certificate of Incorporation must be properly filled out, signed, notarized and filed with the Secretary of State of Delaware. Important information such as the Corporation’s name and address, corporate purpose, complete name and street address of the Registered Agent, and other pertinent information is required for the public record.

You can file this form online or through mail. The standard filing fee is $89. However, you need to pay $9 for every additional page.

STEP 4) GET A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsThink of this as the hard copy record book where all critical corporate documents are kept like the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc. It’s the ultimate company binder! They’re very common and while not necessary having one is highly recommended for all serious business entities.

You can find them at nearby office supply stores or on Amazon, but we’re huge fans of Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books/binders you can brand for as little as $99.

STEP 5) APPOINT DIRECTOR, MEET, DISCUSS BYLAWS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsAppoint at least 1 director who among other things will oversee the Delaware corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:

  • Appoint officers & discuss/create Corporate Bylaws.
  • Choose a bank & approve the issuance of stock certificates.
  • Agree on corporate seal and adopt official stock certificate form.
  • Approve s-corp (opt.). Record Minutes of Meeting, have directors sign, then add to records book.

STEP 6) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank AccountIdeally this subject was discussed in your initial meeting. And listen, if it needs to be tackled for a little bit that’s fine because where you choose to set up your corporation’s financial foundation is critical. It’s not a choice to take lightly, especially if you don’t have a CFO aboard yet.

Fees and interest rates matter. Overall business services, location and availability matters. There are local, state, and national banks as well as credit unions and online-only banks to consider. Once chosen, ensure the accounts have strict access control and aren’t mixed with accounts of any other kind for tidy numbers-keeping.

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesBecause forming a corporation in Delaware is so popular, their regulatory environment isn’t as complex as other states. However, be sure to do your homework on this step and adhere to your tax and licensing requirements.

  1. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) easily for free through the IRS Website.
  2. Bookmark the Wilmington Small Business Admin office & the Division of Corp’s Business Services.
  3. To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
  4. Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that take care of the legwork for you.

OPTIONAL) OPTIMIZE YOUR BUSINESS PLANS

Write a Business PlanUnlike the average small startup or solopreneur operation, corporations need to approach planning very seriously because growth is essential. Not only growth, but funding and forming profitable partnerships. For any of this to happen your company needs to have a presentation-ready plan to show interested investors, stakeholder, and lenders.

Not some huge mammoth 40-page conventional plan, but a good looking branded plan that’s streamlined around showcasing core fundamentals like marketing, competitive analysis, financials, forecasts, etc. To dig into this more thoroughly check out our free resources below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Our guide to Business Planning Software breaks down the best user-friendly solutions to help you strategize. (Spoiler Alert: LivePlan is the clear winner, in our opinion.)

OPTIONAL) BUILD A BUSINESS WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteIf there’s already a web designer/developer on your team and your company site is already published, then fabulous. However, for those of you who have done everything above, so much work, but don’t have one…well, we understand it can be daunting. Should you outsource? Yes, probably.

That is unless you have someone that understands the big website-builder platforms like Wix, or Weebly. These days you don’t necessarily need to spend as much or hire a full-time developer to get a basic, responsive agency-style site published.

Need Help Forming Your Corporation?

Have a reliable incorporation 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 a corporation in Delaware 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 a corporation in Delaware or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.