Step 1) Verify & Secure Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered Vermont name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through 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 include words like “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Company”, or “Limited”. Abbreviations like “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.” or “Ltd.” are also acceptable. If needed, you can file an Application to Reserve Specified Business Name form that’s good for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $20
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 Vermont registered agent can be an individual resident of the state or a legally registered business entity with a physical street address and regular M-F business hours. On behalf of your corporation 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 work with a professional and expect to pay up to $160/yr, or get a registered agent free of charge when you incorporate with IncFile or Incorporate.com. They handle this along with much more depending on which startup package you opt for.
Step 3) File Articles Of Incorporation
Now that you’ve got a registered agent, to make your corporation an official business entity by filing Articles of Incorporation with the Sec. of State that disclose for the public record some basics of your brand including:
- Corporate name, address, and statement of purpose,
- Corporate registered agent name, signature and address,
- Number of shares corporation is allowed to issue,
- Corporate officers and directors names and addresses,
- Incorporator name and address and so forth.
Filing Fee: $75
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 Directors, Meet, Discuss Bylaws
Appoint at least 3 initial directors who among other things will oversee the Vermont 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 Bank Account For Business
When you start a Corporation in Vermont, it’s very important to keep all personal and business assets/accounts completely separate. So don’t take this lightly. Where should you start building the financial foundation of your brand? Who is offering the best overall business services to corporate clients, relative to location and other conveniences?
If you think it’ll be helpful, look into this short breakdown of Business Checking Accounts to start brushing up if all this is unfamiliar territory. Where your corporation banks is a critical move, which is why it should be discussed at length in your initial shareholder meeting.
Step 7) Handle Taxation & Licensing/Permits
As a legally operating Vermont 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 filing service. Otherwise, here are four resources to get started:
- Get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, free and easy through the IRS website.
- Bookmark the Montpelier Small Business Admin and the state’s chapter of the SBDC.
- 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.