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 Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, 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 submit an Application for Reservation of Name to reserve it for 6 months.

Filing Fee: $25

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

A Michigan Registered Agent is required by the state to act as an intermediary of sorts. It’s their job to receive and help handle/process all official paperwork like state filings, court documents, tax forms, legal notices, and so forth. This is why it’s so important that they’re always available during regular M-F work hours and timely.

The agent can be an individual resident of Michigan or a registered business entity, but they must have a physical street address. That said, you can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get one free of charge when you start a corporation through IncFile or CorpNet.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLC

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 Organization with the Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs. It asks for basic information to disclose for the public record including:

  • The name and address of the business
  • The number of shares authorized, the value they hold, and any transfer restrictions
  • The addresses and names of the president, initial directors, secretary, and treasurer
  • The type of business structure chosen

Filing fee: $50 for up to 60k initial shares, $100 for additional shares up to 1 million, plus the $10 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) CHOOSE THE INITIAL DIRECTORS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsAppoint at least 1 Director who among other things will oversee the corp 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

Your CFO, or you with your board need to seriously consider this step. It’s not personal banking, so if you’re brand new to this then please do some homework and shop around. Look at different local, state, and national banks as well as credit unions. There’s plenty of great deals, perks, reduced fees, and kickbacks to be leveraged.

The other big important factor is making sure to completely separate your brand’s financials from data streams and bank accounts of any kind. Here’s a quick breakdown article of Business Checking Accounts from some of the biggest banks to begin your research.

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business LicensesAs a legally operating MI 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, for free through the IRS website.
  2. Bookmark the Detroit Small Business Administration office & LARA 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) WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business Plan

Are you a planner? Is strategy your forte or do you and your board prefer winging it through the weeds for the first couple years and if you make it…then you’ll sit down and chisel out a formal plan moving forward? At some point soon your brand will need help from potential stakeholders, investors, VC-types, new talented partners, lending institutions, and so forth.

The only kind of people you want to work with will ask to see your business plan, right? Not some monster collegiate-level tome, but a streamlined funding-ready outlook of your pitch, executive summary, marketing, financials, team structure, etc. The sooner you begin creating this plan, well, the better we’d say.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Our free Business Plan Guide is designed to take you smoothly through the process step-by-step.
  • Our Business Plan Tool guide will help you create a presentation-ready breakdown of your brand. (Spoiler Alert: LivePlan is the clear winner, in our opinion.)

OPTIONAL) BUILD A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business WebsiteNow that your corporation’s legal and financial foundations are laid, it’s time to forge the digital presence of your brand. Your website is home base, whether that’s an eCommerce store or agency-style platform doesn’t matter. Consumers of all kinds are now trained to investigate the digital persona of just about everything.

Here’s the key, it just needs to be functional. That’s all. Forget the bells and whistles and focus first on being laser-focused about the goals of your site then making it as easy as possible for web-users to accomplish that. And if this is your first time, check out an easy to use website builder like Wix or Weebly.

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