STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE BRAND NAME

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name with the Department of Assessments and Taxation, 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. In Maryland you can also reserve a trademark by filing a Trade Name Application.

Filing Fee: $25 regular, $50 expedited, $75 total expedited

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

A Maryland Registered Agent is either a resident individual or a registered business entity that receives and helps to handle/process all official documentation on your brand’s behalf – court documents, tax forms, legal notices, state filings, etc.

The agent will need to have a street address in the state and always be available during normal M-F business hours. It’s important this agent is timely and professional. You can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when starting a corporation with IncFile or CorpNet.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCOnce you have a registered agent, when you and your board agree the corporation is ready, you can make it an officially recognized business entity by filing Articles of Incorporation with the Department of Assessments and Taxation by mail. It asks for basic information to disclose for the public record including:

  • 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: $100 + $20 for “Organization & Capitalization” fee.

STEP 4) MAINTAIN 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) ELECT 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 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

When you start a Maryland corporation, it’s very important to keep all personal and business assets/accounts completely separate. So don’t take this lightly. Where should you start building the financial foundation of your brand? Who is offering the best overall business services to corporate clients, relative to location and other conveniences?

If you think it’ll be helpful, look into this short breakdown of Business Checking Accounts to start brushing up if all this is unfamiliar territory. Where your corporation banks is an important move, which is why it should be discussed at length in your initial shareholder meeting.

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. Get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, quickly and for free through the IRS Website.
  2. Bookmark the Baltimore Small Business Administration office and the state’s Business Express.
  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) CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business Plan

Of course you and your board have some kind of plan on the table, right? If your corporation is like many others, you’ve got about six months to figure this stuff out (marketing, competition, financials, culture, etc.) because soon the people you need to impress will all require a solid business plan.

All serious potential partners, stakeholders, investors, lending institutions, VC-types, funds, organizations, competitions, and so on will need to see one before they take your brand seriously. To learn more, dig into our free resources 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.
  • Use our Business Plan Software guide to see which mobile-friendly solution best suits your team. We’re huge fans of LivePlan, plus they offer our readers a special discount.

OPTIONAL) BUILD A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

If you aren’t a designer and have no in-house designer or best friend that can do set up your company website, there are plenty of cost-effective options that won’t strain your budgets. Platforms where you can set up an account and get a one-stop-shop solution – Wix, SquareSpace, Shopify (specifically ecommerce), etc., just to name a few.

More and more are popping up every month it seems as the process gets streamlined and made more simple for businesses that just need a basic agency site, eCommerce store, or landing page to establish their digital presence.

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