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 North Dakota, 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 name must contain words like, “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Company”,  or “Limited”. Abbreviations like, “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.” or “Ltd.” are also acceptable. If needed, file a Reserve Name Application with the Sec. of State for via mail, fax, or card.

Filing Fee: $10

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

Your North Dakota registered agent can be a resident of the state or a local/foreign company registered in North Dakota, however a physical address is required. It’s their responsibility to receive and help process all important documentation like state filings, court notices, tax forms, etc.

You can either choose from this List of Registered Agents provided by the Secretary of State, use a private service which can cost up to $160/year. or get a registered agent free of charge when you register a corporation through IncFile or Incorporate.com.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLCWith 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, and so on.

Filing Fee: $100

STEP 4) GET 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 DIRECTOR, MEET, DISCUSS BYLAWS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsAppoint at least 1 initial Director who among other things will oversee the North Dakota 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 AccountAs discussed in our last step, your initial meeting should take time to either a) appoint a qualified CFO to handle this, or b) collectively choose a great place to establish the brand’s financial foundation. Where you bank is important, but can scale over time from smaller to larger local, state, or national banks and credit unions.

If you think it’ll be helpful, look into this short breakdown of Business Checking Accounts to start brushing up on the basic numbers involved. After deciding it’s just a matter of keeping this data stream isolated and separate from accounts of any other kind for security and better analytics.

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business Licenses

When starting a business, 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 a free EIN, or Employer Identification Number, quickly through the IRS website.
  2. Bookmark the Fargo Small Business Administration and the state’s Business Dev Center.
  3. To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
  4. Consider professional Business License Research packages that handle the legwork for you.

OPTIONAL) WRITE A FUNDING-READY BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business PlanCorporations do require more formal and serious business planning that focuses on core fundamentals like marketing, budgeting, financials and forecasting, management structure and company culture, etc., than average startups/solopreneur operations.

The good news is that these days the old school 50-page tomes aren’t as needed anymore thanks to modern software that can transform data into curated, presentation-ready plans to please shareholders, investors, lending institutions, and so on. To learn more check out the free resources we’ve put together below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Our free Business Plan Guide is designed to take you smoothly through the process step-by-step.
  • Our guide to Business Planning Software breaks down the best user-friendly solutions to help you strategize better. We’re huge fans of LivePlan, plus they offer our readers a special discount.

OPTIONAL) BUILD A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

No one’s saying you need to hire a digital marketing director and begin funneling resources into building a magnificent work of website-art to represent your brand. Thanks to advances in web-design and development, there are much trimmer and streamlined solutions that come with one-click apps, intuitive dashboards, already responsive and sharp customizable themes, etc.

Wix and SquareSpace are two big names these days, along with Shopify if you’re going 100% eCommerce. Either way you’re in good hands, as all three of these business website builders are affordable and easy to use.

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 North Dakota Corporation 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 North Dakota Corporation or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.