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 Kentucky, 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 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 for 120 days by filing a Reservation or Renewal of Registered Name form.

Filing Fee: $15

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

Forming a corporation requires a qualified Kentucky Registered Agent to receive and help you officially process legal notifications/filings from the state, for example the Articles of Incorporation. Do keep in mind this agent must be a Kentucky resident or authorized Kentucky business entity with a physical street address that’s always available during regular business hours.

In terms of pricing you can either hire on outside professional yourself and expect to pay up to $160/yr, or get a Registered Agent free when you register a corporation through IncFile or Incorporate.com.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCHead to the KY Sec. of State’s Business Filing Forms page and choose the correct articles depending on if your corporation is For-profit, Non-profit, or a Professional Service (Foreign corps file a Certificate of Authority). These forms are declarations for the public record concerning the basics of your entity:

  • Kentucky Corporation name and address;
  • Registered Agent name and physical address;
  • Incorporators’ name and address;
  • Number of shares the Corporation is allowed to issue.

Filing Fee: $50, and $10 “Organization Tax Fee” if issuing less than 1,000 shares.

STEP 4) START A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsAlthough a Corporate Records Book isn’t required by the state, it’s an incredibly good idea because it helps organize your corporation and keep all critical pieces of red tape in one place. They’re very common, typically well-branded and impressive looking.

As the name of the book implies, it’s a record holder of your Kentucky Corporation registration documents, your business licenses and permits, minutes of meetings, state filings, and other important documents. We’re huge fans of professional Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books for as little as $99.

STEP 5) APPOINT DIRECTORS, MEET, AND DISCUSS BYLAWS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

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

  • 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 the meeting“, have directors sign, then add to records book.

STEP 6) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank AccountDuring the meeting, ideally your team will discuss the many different options and consider them: local, state, and national banks as well as credit unions. With so many different perks, incentives, various fee structures, and business services, this step shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Once a choice has been made, then all that’s needed is to ensure no other accounts, personal or business, will mix or mingle with the corporate account so the financial data is clean and tidy for records and tax purposes. To help keep your finances in order, an accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks can be a huge time saver.

STEP 7) TACKLE TAXES & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesHere are some important initial steps to take:

  1. Process your free Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS website.
  2. For “S-Corp Status” (optional), you need to file Form 2553 Status Election.

Also, bookmark the Louisville district office of the Small Business Administration and the Kentucky One-Stop Website because they’re likely going to be go-to sources for a variety of things along the way. And, if you need help with this step, consider professional Business License Research packages that source all needed documents for you quickly without any mishaps.

OPTIONAL) WRITE YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business Plan

Because of the nature of a corporation, you don’t have to go about planning alone. So it’s time to start nailing down the specifics of your brand that includes marketing approach, competitive analysis, company culture, goals and milestones, etc.

The process itself is very powerful, not just for the company but for managers and the whole team as well. It’s incredibly important and the more minds you can meld with on this, the more specific and refined you get the better. To dive in, consider 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 solutions helping startups plan better. We highly recommend LivePlan, but there are other great options too.

OPTIONAL) BUILD A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

If you already have a site, then you already to some degree understand how critical they are in today’s marketplace. Simply can’t be in business without one! Will it be the cornerstone? No, maybe not. Your business model might not put much emphasis on digital marketing, but one is necessary nonetheless.

There needs to be something people can engage with and use to investigate your brand. To get started, we highly recommend looking into Wix or Weebly (which both offer free trials and are very easy to use), but you can see all the best business website builders on our buyers guide.

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