Step 1) Verify & Secure Brand 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
Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use WEEBLY to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!
Step 2) Appoint 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
Once 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
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.
Step 5) Elect Initial Director, Meet, Discuss Bylaws
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:
Step 6) Open A 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
As 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:
- Get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, quickly and for free through the IRS Website.
- Bookmark the Baltimore Small Business Administration office and the state’s Business Express.
- To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
- Also, consider a reliable business license service that takes cares of the legwork for you.