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 in South Carolina, 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 name must contain words like “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” or “Limited,”. Abbreviations for these words like “Corp.,” Inc.,” “Co.” or “Ltd.” are also fine. If needed, you can file an Application to Reserve Corp. Name form with the Sec. of State that’s good for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $25

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent performs “service of process”, or in other words they’re responsible for receiving and helping process important documents like state filings, legal notices, and tax forms on behalf of your corporation. The agent can be an individual resident or a domestic/foreign business entity registered with the state. A physical street address is also required.

You can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get your agent free of charge when you incorporate with IncFile or CorpNet. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLC

Once you have a registered agent and the company is ready to become an official business entity, file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. It declares the basics of your brand for the public record including:

  • Corporate name and address;
  • Registered Agent, incorporators, directors names and address;
  • The number of stock shares authorized issuance;
  • Remember to include CL-1 form (initial annual report) with the Articles!

Filing Fee: $135

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 Directors

Appoint at least 1 Director who among other things will oversee the South Carolina 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 Account

Now it’s time to get your corporate financial house in order. Set up a checking account under your company with a good bank. Don’t be hasty though, there’s a large assortment of local, state, and national banks along with credit unions to choose from. And make absolutely sure that your business accounts are separate from any/all other accounts.

If needed, familiarize yourself with the perks involved and what they mean year-over-year. Check out this great breakdown article on the basics of Business Checking Accounts to get a jump on things.

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business Licenses

As a legally operating South Carolina corporation, you’re required to be 100% compliant with all relevant local/state/federal agencies. Ideally you should have an attorney or be working with a business filing service. Otherwise, here are four steps to get started:

  1. Get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, free and easy through the IRS website.
  2. Bookmark the Columbia Small Business Admin and the state’s Dept. of Commerce page.
  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 BUSINESS PLAN

Write a Business Plan

How do you intend to get the most out of your business ideas and expand this corporation into the most it can be without a plan? And, what kind of plan do you want, a mediocre slider presentation, or a gorgeous document/PDF you can proudly show potential partners, lending institutions, and investors?

Help yourself and your brand identify unforeseen issues and address impending problems effectively. From marketing and financials to your executive summary and pitch, leverage the power of a great game plan. See what we mean in the links below.

QUICK LINKS TO BUSINESS PLANNING

  • Our guide to Business Planning Software touches on top user-friendly solutions to help you strategize better. We’re huge fans of LivePlan, plus they offer our readers a special discount.

OPTIONAL) PUBLISH A COMPANY WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

When it comes to getting your brand’s website up and running, or maintaining and updating it over time, no one’s saying it should be easy. Where do modern corporations begin and their digital brands end? For consumers of all kinds your company website is as much a part of your brand as your product or service.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an in-house designer on board yet, there are plenty of one-stop-shop platforms like Wix and Weebly who’ve changed the game. We have used both and highly recommend trying them out. Enjoy!

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 South Carolina 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 South Carolina corporation or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.