STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your new brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name, 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.

Keep in mind your brand name should contain the words ‘Corporation,’ ‘Company,’ ‘Incorporated,’ or ‘Limited.” Abbreviations for these words are also acceptable. If needed, you can have it reserved by filing an Application for Reservation of Name.

Filing Fee: $10

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

When starting a corporation, Hawaii Registered Agent is your intermediary or a representative of your brand who accepts and helps handle all official documents like state filings, tax forms, legal notices, and so forth.

So basically you can either hire a 3rd-party professional and pay up to $160/yr, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you incorporate with IncFile or Incorporate.com. They take care of handling the paperwork in a timely manner for you along with a lot more depending on your specific startup package.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCTo make your Hawaii Corporation officially, now that you have a registered agent, you’re need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Business Registration Division of DCCA either through Online Application or through mail. Information that will be disclosed for the public record includes:

  • Corporate name, address, and purpose,
  • Full name and complete address of Registered Agent,
  • Full name and complete address of the incorporators,
  • Number of shares Corporation is authorized to issue, and so on.

Filing fee: $50

STEP 4) GET A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

Think 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) SELECT INITIAL DIRECTOR, MEET, DISCUSS BYLAWS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Appoint at least 1 director who among other things will oversee the Hawaii 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 Account

Ideally, during your first shareholder meeting you spent some serious time going over where to bank and set up your corporation’s financial foundation. With so many different banks and credit unions (local, state, national) with tons of different fee structures, incentives, kickbacks, and other business services this shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The other issue is to make sure corporate accounts aren’t connected or mixed with any accounts of any other kinds. It should be a dedicated and separate account for easy financial tracking and tax purposes synced with your accounting software.

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesAs a legally operating corporation, you’re required to be 100% compliant with all relevant local/state/federal agencies. Ideally you should have an attorney or at least dedicate time to knocking this out yourself and doing the homework. That said, here are four resources to get started:

  1. Obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number quick, easy and free through the IRS website.
  2. Bookmark the Honolulu Small Business Administration office and DCCA’s Business Registration.
  3. To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
  4. Consider professional Business License Research packages that take care of the legwork for you.

OPTIONAL) BUILD A FUNDING-READY PLAN

Write a Business Plan

Unlike other types of businesses, corporations tend to need funding pretty earlier on which is why “funding-ready” plans are much more prevalent. What this means is that the basics are clearly refined and set down in a nice presentable plan ready to show investors, VCs, lending institutions, etc.

From marketing and budgeting, to competitive analysis and financial forecasts, these folks want to be able to quickly assess the core fundamentals of your brand to decide whether it’s a solid worthwhile investment or not. To learn more check out the links below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Our free email-based Business Plan Course is designed to take you smoothly through the process step-by-step.
  • Our guide to Business Planning Software breaks down the best user-friendly solutions to help you strategize better. (Spoiler: We’re huge fans of LivePlan, plus they offer our readers a special discount.)

OPTIONAL) BUILD A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteNot every business needs to make digital marketing the cornerstone of their growth strategy, or even put much emphasis into building a digital presence…but a website is necessary nonetheless. What will potential customers and stakeholders find when they search for your brand online to see what it’s about and what people might be saying?

There’s a lot of options to get running smoothly if you don’t have an in-house designer, for example Wix or Weebly. They’re both affordable and very easy to use.

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 an corporation in Hawaii 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 corporation in Hawaii or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.