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 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
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
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
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, and so on.
Filing Fee: $100
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 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:
Step 6) Open A Business Bank Account
As 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
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:
- Get a free EIN, or Employer Identification Number, quickly through the IRS website.
- Bookmark the Fargo Small Business Administration and the state’s Business Dev Center.
- To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
- Consider professional Business License Research packages that handle the legwork for you.