Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name
To secure and register your 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 Sec. of 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 words like ‘Corporation,’ ‘Company,’ ‘Incorporated,’ or ‘Limited.” Abbreviations for these words are also acceptable. If needed, you can file an Application for Reservation of Name through postal mail.
Filing Fee: $25
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 Registered Agent can be an individual resident of the state or a legally registered domestic/foreign business entity with a physical street address and regular business hours. On behalf of your brand they receive and help process important business documents like state filings, tax forms, legal notices and so on. They're essential and required by law.
That said, you can hire 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a Missouri Registered Agent free of charge when you register a corporation through IncFile or CorpNet. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Articles Of Incorporation
With a registered agent, once you’re ready to make your brand official, set up an account with the state to file Articles of Incorporation. 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
Step 4) Get 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 Director, Meet, Discuss Bylaws
Appoint 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:
Step 6) Open A Business Bank Account
Okay, so where do you and your board/CFO plan on establishing the financial groundwork of your Missouri corporation? The first thing to ensure is that no other financial data-streams or accounts of any kind will get into the mix and muddy the waters. Keep everything separate. Then, shop around at different local, state and national banks as well as credit unions to get a good idea of your options.
To get your research going, check out this short free quasi-guide to Business Checking Accounts from the more big bank perspective. It should help give you a basic idea of the numbers involved.
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 buckle down and make sure everything is taken of yourself. Here are four resources to get you started:
- Get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, free and quick through the IRS Website.
- Bookmark the St. Louis Small Business Administration and the State’s Business Services.
- To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
- If you need help, consider professional business license services that handle the legwork for you. The service isn't required, but certainly helpful.