Step 1) Verify & Secure Brand 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
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 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
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
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 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:
Step 6) Open A 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
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:
- Get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, free and easy through the IRS website.
- Bookmark the Columbia Small Business Admin and the state’s Dept. of Commerce page.
- 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.